Political Musings May 7, 2014: Monica Lewinsky returns with Vanity Fair tell all as Hillary Clinton tops polls





Monica Lewinsky returns with Vanity Fair tell all as Hillary Clinton tops polls

By Bonnie K. Goodman

History Buzz August 20, 2012: Julian Zelizer: In convention speeches, history is made


History Buzz


In convention speeches, history is made

Source: CNN, 8-20-12

After losing the nomination to Gerald Ford, left, Ronald Reagan delivered an impromptu speech at the 1976 GOP convention.

After losing the nomination to Gerald Ford, left, Ronald Reagan delivered an impromptu speech at the 1976 GOP convention.


    • Speeches are the highlight of each party’s political convention, says Julian Zelizer
    • Some speeches put forth ideas that shape the next generation of candidates, he says
    • Others eviscerate the opposition, permanently defining candidates and parties, he says
    • Zelizer: Some speeches inspire, others make instant stars, and others flop resoundingly


Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and of the new book “Governing America.”

Now the party is really starting. Democrats and Republicans are preparing to gather to hold their conventions, each using this precious time to tell the nation what its presidential candidate is all about….

Without any more deal-making in smoke-filled rooms, speeches are the highlight of the convention. Even when speeches are made at conventions whose candidate winds up losing, they can offer ideas and rhetoric that become integral to the party for decades to come. A look back at history reveals that there are different types of speeches that we might see in the coming weeks, each with very different purposes and effect….READ MORE

Political Buzz May 31, 2012: President George W. Bush Returns to White House for Portrait Unveiling — Barack Obama Hosts his ‘Predecessor’


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.


Luke Sharrett for The New York Times
George W. Bush stood next to his official portrait during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.


A Gracious and Civil Prelude to a Hanging: President Obama put partisanship aside for a few hours to pay tribute to his predecessor at the official unveiling of George W. Bush’s official White House portrait…. – NYT, 5-31-12

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss: “It’s wonderful to see because so often in American history, you had presidents hiding the portraits of predecessors they didn’t like. In recent years, instead, this has become a rare presidential ritual of national bipartisanship.”

  • Presidential portraits: Bushes, Obamas share rare moment of warmth: Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush returned to the White House on Thursday for a rare shared moment with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
    The occasion was the unveiling of the Bushes’ official portraits, a 50-year old tradition that brings together past and current presidents in the East Room every four to eight years. For the Bushes and the Obama, it was an occasion for humor, graciousness, emotion and warmth…. – Politico, 5-31-12
  • Bush, Obama on stage together share laughs: President Barack Obama shared the stage with former President George W. Bush, the predecessor he often inveighs against, in a friendly White House welcome for the unveiling of the 43rd president’s official portrait…. – Boston.com, 5-31-12
  • George W. Bush’s White House portrait unveiled in ceremony with Obama: President George W. Bush and Laura Bush were back in Washington on Thursday for the unveiling of the portraits of the former first couple that will hang at the White House. They were joined by President Obama and the former chief….. – LAT, 5-31-12
  • Bush thanks Obama for inviting his “rowdy friends” to portrait hanging: Former President George W. Bush brought a light-hearted tone to the unveiling of his official White House portrait on Thursday, winning over an audience of friends, family and former colleagues with jokes.
    Standing beside his portrait after its unveiling in the White House East Room, Mr. Bush chided the cheering audience to quiet down and thanked President Obama “for inviting our rowdy friends to my hanging.”… – CBS News, 5-31-12
  • Obama praises predecessor as George W. Bush portrait unveiled: In a rare public tribute to his predecessor, President Obama unveiled the formal White House portrait of George W. Bush on Thursday, praising his “strength and resolve” after the9/11 terrorist attacks. LAT, 5-31-12
  • George W. Bush presidential portrait is unveiled. Who paid for it?: Though no longer the ‘haphazard affair’ it once was, the process of creating a presidential portrait like George W. Bush’s is not an easy process. But taxpayers don’t pick up the tab…. – CS Monitor, 5-31-12
  • Bush is back: Portrait event stirs up odd politics: President Barack Obama is welcoming his favorite foil, former President George W. Bush, back to the White House on Thursday for the official unveiling of Bush’s portrait…. – AP, 5-31-12
  • Barack Obama to host George W. Bush at White House: President Barack Obama has made him a foil for more than three years, the man he blames for the “mess” he inherited of an economy in free fall and wars gone astray. But it will be smiles and handshakes…. – McClatchy-Tribune News Service, 5-30-12
  • Obama to pause, salute Bush for a day: President Obama will preside over the unveiling of the official portraits of President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush in a White House celebration…. – The Seattle Times, 5-30-12
  • Odd politics, but tradition: Bush back at White House for portrait unveiling: President Barack Obama frequently bad-mouths George W. Bush’s record as a disaster. So here comes the odd part: Obama is about to proudly preside as Bush’s image and legacy are enshrined at the White House forever…. – WaPo, 5-31-12

Obama Welcomes George W. Bush Back to the White House

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-31-12

Despite frequently blaming his predecessor for the “messes” he inherited, President Obama on Thursday will welcome former President George W. Bush back to the White House to honor his legacy.

The 43rd president and his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush, will be back at their former home for the official unveiling of their portraits, an often uncomfortable presidential tradition.

The White House maintained Wednesday that Obama is looking forward to the event and that it’s “not at all” awkward.

“Look, there are differences… without question, between [President Obama’s] approach and the approach and the policies of his predecessor,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.  “That was certainly the case when, I believe, President George W. Bush had President Clinton to the White House for his portrait unveiling.  And I think it is well-established that those two now-former presidents have a good relationship…. I think there is a community here with very few members that transcends political and policy differences.”…READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Former President George W. Bush and Former First Lady Laura Bush at the Official Portrait Unveiling

East Room

1:31 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  Thank you, Fred, for that introduction.  To President George H. W. Bush and Barbara, to all the members of the Bush family who are here — it is a great privilege to have you here today.  And to President and Mrs. Bush, welcome back to the house that you called home for eight years.

The White House is many things at once.  It’s a working office, it’s a living museum, it’s an enduring symbol of our democracy.  But at the end of the day, when the visitors go home and the lights go down, a few of us are blessed with the tremendous honor to actually live here.

I think it’s fair to say that every President is acutely aware that we are just temporary residents — we’re renters here.  We’re charged with the upkeep until our lease runs out.  But we also leave a piece of ourselves in this place.  And today, with the unveiling of the portraits next to me, President and Mrs. Bush will take their place alongside men and women who built this country and those who worked to perfect it.

It’s been said that no one can ever truly understand what it’s like being President until they sit behind that desk and feel the weight and responsibility for the first time.  And that is true.  After three and a half years in office — and much more gray hair — (laughter) — I have a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the Presidents who came before me, including my immediate predecessor, President Bush.

In this job, no decision that reaches your desk is easy.  No choice you make is without costs.  No matter how hard you try, you’re not going to make everybody happy.  I think that’s something President Bush and I both learned pretty quickly.  (Laughter.)

And that’s why, from time to time, those of us who have had the privilege to hold this office find ourselves turning to the only people on Earth who know the feeling.  We may have our differences politically, but the presidency transcends those differences.  We all love this country.  We all want America to succeed.  We all believe that when it comes to moving this country forward, we have an obligation to pull together.  And we all follow the humble, heroic example of our first President, George Washington, who knew that a true test of patriotism is the willingness to freely and graciously pass the reins of power on to somebody else.

That’s certainly been true of President Bush.  The months before I took the oath of office were a chaotic time.  We knew our economy was in trouble, our fellow Americans were in pain, but we wouldn’t know until later just how breathtaking the financial crisis had been.  And still, over those two and a half months — in the midst of that crisis — President Bush, his Cabinet, his staff, many of you who are here today, went out of your ways — George, you went out of your way — to make sure that the transition to a new administration was as seamless as possible.

President Bush understood that rescuing our economy was not just a Democratic or a Republican issue; it was a American priority.  I’ll always be grateful for that.

The same is true for our national security.  None of us will ever forget where we were on that terrible September day when our country was attacked.  All of us will always remember the image of President Bush standing on that pile of rubble, bullhorn in hand, conveying extraordinary strength and resolve to the American people but also representing the strength and resolve of the American people.

And last year, when we delivered justice to Osama bin Laden, I made it clear that our success was due to many people in many organizations working together over many years — across two administrations.  That’s why my first call once American forces were safely out of harm’s way was to President Bush.  Because protecting our country is neither the work of one person, nor the task of one period of time, it’s an ongoing obligation that we all share.

Finally, on a personal note, Michelle and I are grateful to the entire Bush family for their guidance and their example during our own transition.

George, I will always remember the gathering you hosted for all the living former Presidents before I took office, your kind words of encouragement.  Plus, you also left me a really good TV sports package.  (Laughter.)  I use it.  (Laughter.)

Laura, you reminded us that the most rewarding thing about living in this house isn’t the title or the power, but the chance to shine a spotlight on the issues that matter most.  And the fact that you and George raised two smart, beautiful daughters — first, as girls visiting their grandparents and then as teenagers preparing to head out into the world — that obviously gives Michelle and I tremendous hope as we try to do the right thing by our own daughters in this slightly odd atmosphere that we’ve created.

Jenna and Barbara, we will never forget the advice you gave Sasha and Malia as they began their lives in Washington.  They told them to surround themselves with loyal friends, never stop doing what they love; to slide down the banisters occasionally — (laughter) — to play Sardines on the lawn; to meet new people and try new things; and to try to absorb everything and enjoy all of it.  And I can tell you that Malia and Sasha took that advice to heart.  It really meant a lot to them.

One of the greatest strengths of our democracy is our ability to peacefully, and routinely, go through transitions of power.  It speaks to the fact that we’ve always had leaders who believe in America, and everything it stands for, above all else — leaders and their families who are willing to devote their lives to the country that they love.

This is what we’ll think about every time we pass these portraits — just as millions of other visitors will do in the decades, and perhaps even the centuries to come.  I want to thank John Howard Sanden, the artist behind these beautiful works, for his efforts.  And on behalf of the American people, I want to thank most sincerely President and Mrs. Bush for their extraordinary service to our country.

And now I’d like to invite them on stage to take part in the presentation.  (Applause.)

(Portraits are unveiled.)

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Thank you, sit down.  Sit down.  Behave yourselves.  (Laughter.)  Mr. President, thank you for your warm hospitality.  Madam First Lady, thank you so much for inviting our rowdy friends — (laughter) — to my hanging.  (Laughter.)

Laura and I are honored to be here.  Mr. Vice President, thank you for coming.  We are overwhelmed by your hospitality.  And thank you for feeding the Bush family, all 14 members of us who are here.  (Laughter.)  I want to thank our girls for coming.  I thank Mom and Dad, brother, sister, in-laws, aunts and uncles.  I appreciate you taking your time.  I know you’re as excited as Laura and me to be able to come back here, and particularly thank the people who helped make this house a home for us for eight years, the White House staff.

I want to thank Fred Ryan and the White House Historical Association and Bill Allman, the White House curator.  I am pleased that my portrait brings an interesting symmetry to the White House collection.  It now starts and ends with a George W.  (Laughter and applause.)

When the British burned the White House, as Fred mentioned, in 1814, Dolley Madison famously saved this portrait of the first George W.  (Laughter.)  Now, Michelle, if anything happens there’s your man.  (Laughter and applause.)  I am also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would George do?  (Laughter.)

I am honored to be hanging near a man who gave me the greatest gift possible, unconditional love — and that would be number 41.  (Applause.)  I want to thank John Howard Sanden for agreeing to use his considerable talents to paint my likeness.  You’ve done a fine job with a challenging subject.  (Laughter.)

In the portrait, there’s a painting by W.H.D. Koerner called, “A Charge to Keep.”  It hung in the Oval Office for eight years of my presidency.  I asked John to include it, because it reminds me of the wonderful people with whom I was privileged to serve.  Whether they served in the Cabinet or on the presidential staff, these men and women — many of whom are here — worked hard and served with honor.  We had a charge to keep and we kept the charge.

It is my privilege to introduce the greatest First Lady ever — sorry, Mom.  (Laughter.)  Would you agree to a tie?  (Laughter.)  A woman who brought such grace and dignity and love in this house.  (Applause.)

MRS. BUSH:  Thank you all.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, darling.

Thank you, President and Mrs. Obama.  Thank you for your kindness and your consideration today.  It was really gracious of you to invite us back to the White House to hang a few family pictures.  (Laughter.)  And I’m sure you know nothing makes a house a home like having portraits of its former occupants staring down at you from the walls.  (Laughter.)

This is not the first time I’ve had the opportunity to confront an artistic likeness of myself.  A few years ago, just after the 2008 election, a friend sent me something he’d found in the gift shop of the National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia.  It was a Laura Bush bobblehead doll.  (Laughter.)  He said he found it on the clearance shelf.  (Laughter.)

But I’m flattered and grateful to know that this particular work has a permanent home.  And thanks to the masterful talent of John Howard Sanden, I like it a whole lot better than I do that bobblehead doll.  (Laughter.)

Thank you very much, John Howard Sanden — you’re terrific to work with.  And thanks to Elizabeth and your family who have joined you today.  Thank you very, very much, John.  (Applause.)

And, of course, it’s meaningful to me as a private person to know that these portraits will be on view at the White House, that my portrait will hang just down the hall from my mother-in-law, and that George’s portrait will hang very close to his dad’s.  But what’s more meaningful is it’s meaningful to me as a citizen.  This was our family’s home for eight years.  It was our home, but it wasn’t our house.  This house belongs to the people whose portraits will never hang here, the ordinary and not-so-ordinary people whose lives inspired us and whose expectations guided us during the years that we lived here.

In this room are many of the people who stood by us as we faced the tragedy of September 11th, and who worked with us in the years after.  Thanks to each and every one of you for your service to our country.  (Applause.)

I hope others will see in this portrait what I see:  a woman who was honored and humbled to live in the White House during a period of great challenge, and who will never forget the countless American faces who make up the true portrait of that time.

Thank you all very much.  Thanks so much.  And thank you, Michelle, if you want to come up.  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, I don’t think we have enough tissue to go around.  (Laughter.)  Jenna and Barbara, they’re just a mess.  (Laughter.)  But I want to thank President and Mrs. Bush for joining us today.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Laura for providing such a wonderful model of strength and grace for me to follow as First Lady.  It is an interesting job, and it’s just been amazing to learn from your example not just as a First Lady, but as a mother of two wonderful daughters.  You’re on the other side of where we hope to be — (laughter) — in a couple of years — two daughters that sit up straight and cry when they’re — (laughter) — and think lovingly about their mom and their dad.  (Laughter.)  We’re working towards that goal, but you’ve done a terrific job.

And I also want to echo Barack.  We couldn’t be more thankful for the warmth and graciousness that both of you showed — all of you showed — our family when we moved in three years ago.  It is truly, truly a privilege for us to occupy this house.  And hopefully, we are setting the same example of warmth and love and hope that you all have provided as well.

The warmth is truly reflected in these portraits, and I promise you — (laughter) — I promise, I’m going straight for — (laughter) — and I’m sure it will be closer right down the stairs, and I’ll get right to it.

So I am thrilled for all of the White House visitors who will soon have the chance to enjoy them as well.  And I’m thrilled for both of you as you join these incredible Americans whose portraits are already displayed here at the White House.

So congratulations again.  Congratulations on the work that you have done, the example that you have provided to this country, and what it means to be an American family.  We are so happy and proud and honored to be a part.

And with that, it is my pleasure to invite you all to join us for a reception right outside in the State Room.  Now it’s time to eat.  (Laughter.)  Thank you all so much.  (Applause.)

1:50 P.M. EDT

May 31, 2012

Background Information on the Presentation of Portraits of President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Welch Bush

President George Walker Bush
President George W. Bush is portrayed standing in the center of the Oval Office in the West Wing. His right hand rests on an armchair made for the White House in 1818 by District of Columbia cabinetmaker William King, Jr. A corner of the “Resolute desk,” presented to the White House by Queen Victoria in 1880, can be seen behind the chair. Over his right shoulder hangs a 1929 western painting, A Charge to Keep, by William H. D. Koerner. The President, who had used the same title for his 1999 memoir, often called attention to that painting and its significance.

Mrs. Laura Welch Bush
For the setting of her portrait, First Lady Laura Bush selected the Green Room, as refurbished with her active participation in 2007. Wearing a midnight blue gown, she rests her left hand on a lyreback armchair attributed to the famous New York cabinetmaker, Duncan Phyfe, c.1810. Federal easy chairs, among antique American furniture added to the room in 1971-72, were reupholstered in a rich salmon-colored silk. The 1767 David Martin portrait of Benjamin  Franklin hangs over the neoclassical mantel, acquired for the White House in 1818.

About the Artist
John Howard Sanden, born in 1935 in Austin Texas, now lives in Connecticut and maintains a studio in Carnegie Hall in New York City. Well known for his portraits of leaders of industry and education, he received the first John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the American Society of Portrait Artists in 1994.

As usual, the White House Historical Association contracted with the artist selected by the subjects and will donate the finished paintings to the White House as a gift of the George B. Hartzog, Jr. White House Acquisition Trust. In 2010, President Bush selected John Howard Sanden to execute his White House portrait.  The success of the sittings and the portrait itself, completed in 2011, led Mrs. Bush to select Sanden for her portrait as well, finished in early 2012.

History Buzz May 10, 2012: Robert Caro: LBJ’s ‘Passage of Power’: The Transformation of a ‘Legislative Genius’


History Buzz


Robert Caro: The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4

LBJ’s ‘Passage of Power’: The Transformation of a ‘Legislative Genius’

Source: PBS Newshour, 5-10-12


Historian Robert Caro has spent nearly four decades telling the story of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Gwen Ifill and Caro discuss the pivotal four years between 1960 and 1964 when Johnson rose from senator to an overshadowed vice president, and then to president — the premise of his latest biography, “The Passage of Power.”


JUDY WOODRUFF: And finally tonight, the unfolding drama of a political figure at a key turning point in American history.

Gwen Ifill has our conversation.

GWEN IFILL: Historian Robert Caro has spent nearly four decades telling the story of a single man, former President Lyndon Baines Johnson. The fourth hefty volume in his series of biographies is “The Passage of Power.” It covers the pivotal four years between 1960 and 1964, as Johnson rose from senator to vice president then, through the stunning tragedy of the Kennedy assassination, to president.

And there is yet a fifth volume to come.

Robert Caro joins me now.

Thank you.

ROBERT CARO, author: Nice to be here.

GWEN IFILL: It seems like this is a book about transformation.

ROBERT CARO: Yes, the transformation of Lyndon Johnson at the beginning of it is the mighty Senate majority leader, the most powerful majority leader in history.

He descends to the pit of the vice presidency and three years of humiliation. And then, in a single crack of a gunshot, it’s all reversed, and he’s president of the United States.

GWEN IFILL: You use that term crack of a gunshot throughout the book. It seems like that that is the running theme.

ROBERT CARO: Well, you know, and the people who are in — when you ask John Connally, for example, he says: Everyone else thought it was a motorcycle backfire or a firecracker. But I was a hunter all my life. I knew it was the crack of a hunting rifle.

So does the Secret Service agent in Johnson’s car. At the moment the gunshot fire — sounds, he sees President Kennedy two cars above start to fall to the left. He whirls around, he grabs Lyndon Johnson’s shoulder, throws him down to the floor of the car, leaps over the backseat, and lays on top of him — Johnson was later to say, “I will never forget his knees in my back and his elbows in my back” — and shields Johnson’s body with his own as they’re racing to Parkland Hospital.

GWEN IFILL: This moment, this transformative moment in our history, happened just at a time when Lyndon Johnson was his most miserable in his entire public career as vice president.

ROBERT CARO: He was telling his aides to find other jobs. He said, I’m finished. Go with somebody else.

GWEN IFILL: And it’s possible that Kennedy thought he was finished, too.

ROBERT CARO: Well, it certainly was starting to look like that might be more of a possibility.

GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk a little bit about his relationship with the Kennedys.

Garry Wills wrote one of the reviews of this book. And he described the book as a moral disquisition on the nature of hatred.

ROBERT CARO: Well, you know, there are three strong personalities, Lyndon Johnson, Jack Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy.

Lyndon Johnson despises Jack Kennedy. When he’s the Senate majority leader, Kennedy is a young senator. Johnson said of him, he’s pathetic. He was pathetic as a senator. He didn’t even know how to address the chair. He used to mock him. He used to literally call him not a man’s man. He said — he used to say to people, you know how skinny his ankles are? And he’d hold up his fingers like this.

He doesn’t realize. He thinks he’s going to have the Democratic nomination in 1960. He doesn’t realize that this young senator for whom he has no respect really is a great politician and is racing around the country corralling delegates, impressing people, and taking the nomination away from him. By the time Johnson wakes up, it’s really too late.

GWEN IFILL: And that his little brother, who eventually was considered really — the real number two when President Kennedy was president, even though he was attorney general, that he would be undercutting him at every turn. At least, that’s the way Johnson saw it.

ROBERT CARO: Bobby Kennedy, you know, you hate to use words as a historian like hatred, but hatred isn’t too strong a word to describe the relationship between Robert Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. They hated each other.

Robert Kennedy said of Lyndon Johnson after his brother was killed, he said — he never would call Johnson president. So when he uses the word president, it’s his brother. He said, my president was a gentleman and a human being. This man is not. He’s mean, bitter, vicious, an animal in many ways.

GWEN IFILL: An animal.

There were two episodes right around the assassination between them, one in — when — actually when Lyndon Johnson call Robert Kennedy to ask if it was okay to get sworn in, in Dallas, and the other when Bobby Kennedy arrived at Air Force One when the plane landed in Washington.

ROBERT CARO: That telephone call, you know, is one of the things that when you learn about it, you’re really sad. I mean it’s a moment you can hardly understand.

Robert Kennedy is sitting by the swimming pool at Hickory Hill, his place in Virginia. Suddenly, he sees a workman painting the house clap a transistor radio to his ear and come running down toward the pool. At the same moment, the telephone rings on the table by him. And Ethel, his wife, picks it up. And it’s J. Edgar Hoover to tell Robert Kennedy that his brother has been shot.

Less than an hour later, the man that Robert Kennedy hated is on the phone to him asking the formalities of how he assumes his brother’s power. The secretary who took down the oath, Johnson asked Robert Kennedy for the wording of the oath.

You know Kennedy — he could have asked any one of a hundred people for that. And the secretary — Kennedy has Nicholas Katzenbach, his deputy, give him the oath. I asked the secretary, a woman name Marie Fehmer, who still lives in Washington, you know what it was like. And she says, Katzenbach’s voice was like steel. Bobby wasn’t. He had started. I thought, you shouldn’t be doing this.

GWEN IFILL: Jackie Kennedy was also — we see her in that photograph. And she gave great legitimacy to the passing of power by standing next to Lyndon Johnson when he took that oath. But she had mixed feelings as well about Johnson.

ROBERT CARO: Well, you know, she once wrote to Ted Sorensen after — you must know how frightened my husband was that Lyndon Johnson might become president.

This is really after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the — Johnson was so hawkish in the meetings of the ExComm.

GWEN IFILL: He was hawkish and he was pretty much pushed to the side as well. . .


GWEN IFILL: . . . during that period.


GWEN IFILL: So, let’s keep back on this transformation theme.

So he becomes president through no actions of their own. There’s this boiling resentment. This is this grief which overcomes all of the members of the Kennedy inner circle.


GWEN IFILL: And yet here comes the Texan to take over. And in his first speech to a joint session of Congress, what does he do? He decides to take on civil rights.

ROBERT CARO: Yes. And he says the most important thing we can do is pass the civil rights bill that Jack Kennedy introduced and fought for, for so long.

And he picks up this bill. You know, at the time that Kennedy was assassinated, at the moment he was assassinated, his two top-priority bill, civil rights and tax cuts, are really dead in the water. And Congress — Congress has stopped them. The Southerners control I think it’s nine of the 16 great standing committees of the Senate. They control the Senate absolutely.

The civil rights bill hasn’t even gotten over to the Senate. It’s in the House Rules Committee, which is ruled over by Judge Howard W. Smith of Virginia. And he is refusing even to tell anybody when he will get to have hearings on the civil rights bill.

Johnson — you know, Johnson was a genius. He was a legislative genius. He remembers that a representative, Richard Bolling of Missouri, has introduced the discharge position to take the bill away from Smith’s committee. Now, these petitions seldom go anywhere. And a president is never behind them because it’s challenging all the House prerogative.

Johnson makes a call to Bolling. And you have to say the first half of the call is Johnson saying, I will never interfere with the House prerogatives. Then, he says to Bolling, do you see any way to get this out of committee? Bolling says no. And I wrote in the book, if there was only one lever, Lyndon Johnson was going to push it. And to watch him push that discharge petition through and get the civil rights bill is legislative genius.

GWEN IFILL: It’s the old Lyndon Johnson that we know from “Master of the Senate,” your last book.


GWEN IFILL: And it’s him come back. But — and in it, he also says — you quote him as saying to Doris Kearns Goodwin, the historian, “I had to take the dead man’s program and turn it into the martyr’s cause.”


And he uses the sympathy that people had for Kennedy. That helped him get the bills moving, but none — he also uses his great knowledge of legislative techniques and the secrets of the Senate to get these bills moving.

GWEN IFILL: And in the next book, we will hear about what brought him down. And that’s the war in Vietnam.

ROBERT CARO: Very dark story.

GWEN IFILL: Very dark story.

ROBERT CARO: Sad story.

GWEN IFILL: But we look forward to reading it.

Robert Caro, thank you so much.

ROBERT CARO: Thank you, Gwen.

JEFFREY BROWN: You can find more of Gwen’s interview with Robert Caro, plus photos from his book on our website.

History Buzz May 3, 2012: David Maraniss’ “Barack Obama: The Story” Puts President’s Early Romantic Life & Political Views on Display — Excerpts


History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.



Genevieve Cook with a young Barack Obama.Vanity Fair
YOUNG LOVERS: Genevieve Cook with a young Barack Obama.

David Maraniss: Barack Obama: The Story

From one of our preeminent journalists and modern historians comes the epic story of Barack Obama and the world that created him.
In Barack Obama: The Story, David Maraniss has written a deeply reported generational biography teeming with fresh insights and revealing information, a masterly narrative drawn from hundreds of interviews, including with President Obama in the Oval Office, and a trove of letters, journals, diaries, and other documents.
The book unfolds in the small towns of Kansas and the remote villages of western Kenya, following the personal struggles of Obama’s white and black ancestors through the swirl of the twentieth century. It is a roots story on a global scale, a saga of constant movement, frustration and accomplishment, strong women and weak men, hopes lost and deferred, people leaving and being left. Disparate family threads converge in the climactic chapters as Obama reaches adulthood and travels from Honolulu to Los Angeles to New York to Chicago, trying to make sense of his past, establish his own identity, and prepare for his political future.
Barack Obama: The Story chronicles as never before the forces that shaped the first black president of the United States and explains why he thinks and acts as he does. Much like the author’s classic study of Bill Clinton, First in His Class, this promises to become a seminal book that will redefine a president.

Sunday, January 22, 1984
What a startling person Barack is—so strange to voice intimations of my own perceptions—have them heard, responded to so on the sleeve. A sadness, in a way, that we are both so questioning that original bliss is dissipated—but feels really good not to be faltering behind some façade—to not feel that doubt must be silenced and transmuted into distance.

Thursday, January 26
How is he so old already, at the age of 22? I have to recognize (despite play of wry and mocking smile on lips) that I find his thereness very threatening…. Distance, distance, distance, and wariness.

Sunday, February 19
Despite Barack’s having talked of drawing a circle around the tender in him—protecting the ability to feel innocence and springborn—I think he also fights against showing it to others, to me. I really like him more and more—he may worry about posturing and void inside but he is a brimming and integrated character.
Today, for the first time, Barack sat on the edge of the bed—dressed—blue jeans and luscious ladies on his chest [a comfy T-shirt depicting buxom women], the end of the front section of the Sunday Times in his hand, looking out the window, and the quality of light reflected from his eyes, windows of the soul, heart, and mind, was so clear, so unmasked, his eyes narrower than he usually holds them looking out the window, usually too aware of me.

Saturday, February 25
The sexual warmth is definitely there—but the rest of it has sharp edges and I’m finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all. I have to admit that I am feeling anger at him for some reason, multi-stranded reasons. His warmth can be deceptive. Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness—and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me.

Becoming Obama: When Barack Obama met Genevieve Cook in 1983 at a Christmas party in New York’s East Village, it was the start of his most serious romance yet. But as the 22-year-old Columbia grad began to shape his future, he was also struggling with his identity: American or international? Black or white? Drawing on conversations with both Cook and the president, David Maraniss, in an adaptation from his new Obama biography, has the untold story of the couple’s time together…. – Vanity Fair, 6-12

Related: David Maraniss discusses his biography of President Barack Obama—and his reaction to Genevieve Cook’s diaries being used—in a VF.com Q&A.Vanity Fair, 6-12

David Maraniss’s ‘Barack Obama: The Story’ Excerpted in Vanity Fair: Juiciest Bits: Sleeping at the university library. Writing love letters to a white woman describing ‘bourgeois liberalism.’ Nope, this isn’t Lena Dunham you’re reading about; it’s President Obama, at least according to David Maraniss’s ‘Barack Obama: The Story.’ Ben Jacobs combs through the excerpt and finds the best parts…. – The Daily Beast, 5-2-12

  • Running for President? How Embarrassing!: Exactly how embarrassing is it to be President of the United States? That’s the question we tackled today on the Bottom Line. And of course it’s the recent Vanity Fair article by David Maraniss that raises the topic…. – ABC News, 5-3-12Author tracks down Obama’s former girlfriends: No one has heard from Barack Obama’s former girlfriends until now, when two of them — Genevieve Cook and Alex McNear, complete with love letters and a diary detailing their relationships — surface in a new Obama biography by David Maraniss … – Chicago Sun-Times, 5-2-12
  • New Obama book is cookin’: Author David Maraniss, whose much anticipated biography of President Obama titled Barack Obama: The Story, hits bookshelves next month — found two of the president’s old girlfriends…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 5-2-12
  • He had great sexual warmth: Obama’s secret Australian girlfriend tells all in new book: YOU’RE a smart-looking dude fresh out of college with the whole of New York to romance.
    You’ve just broken up with a chick from California – it was a long-distance thing and she was a serious literary type who made you write to her about T.S. Eliot.
    But then you meet a hot young primary school teacher in a kitchen at some party. You’re wearing jeans, a T-shirt and cool leather jacket. She has an accent and it turns out she’s the daughter of a diplomat. From Australia. A week later she spends the night with you. Score.
    She’s comfortable with you lounging around bare-chested in a blue and white sarong – hey, she grew up in Indonesia too – and doesn’t mind that you wear Brut, smoke and eat raisins.
    For some reason you break up and years later, while you’re making a name for yourself in politics, you decide to write an autobiography.
    Except, you don’t talk about the raisins, the sarong or the fact she’s an Aussie. You just refer to her as “woman in New York that I loved”. And then you start making stuff up.
    Which would be fine, if you didn’t go on to become the President of the United States. News.com.au, 5-2-12
  • NY flame dishes on Obama’s romantic ways when he was 22: Long before he was courting voters, a young Barack Obama was a 22-year-old college grad in New York who knew how to seduce young women while he struggled with his own racial identity.
    Excerpts of David Maraniss’ biography, “Barack Obama: The Story,” in Vanity Fair portray the future president as a smooth operator — disarming and engaging with the ladies yet guarded and detached.
    In a series of diary entries from one of his lovers here in the Big Apple, a never-before-seen side of the now-guarded president is revealed — with descriptions of his “sexual warmth” and his penchant for lounging at home in a sarong.
    Then-girlfriend Genevieve Cook made it abundantly clear in her diary entries, included with excerpts of the book posted on Vanity Fair’s Web site yesterday, that he spoke softly — and used his charm to win her over.
    “The sexual warmth is definitely there — but the rest of it has sharp edges, and I’m finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all . . .” Cook, then 25, wrote.
    But she also sees hints of the future Obama, known for his reserve and guardedness.
    “His warmth can be deceptive. Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness — and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me.”… – NY Post, 5-2-12
  • The dangerous new Obama book: Months before Barack Obama knew Mitt Romney would be his political opponent in 2012, the president knew the identity of his foremost literary challenger: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Maraniss, who had been reaching out to Obama’s old friends, classmates and lovers for the past several years.
    The product of his big dig, “Barack Obama: The Story,” seems to be a nuanced, even sympathetic portrayal culled from people who still admire Obama. Yet, make no mistake, this is a dangerous book for Obama, and White House staffers have been fretting about it in a low-grade way for a long, long time — in part because it could redefine the self-portrait Obama skillfully created for himself in 1995 with “Dreams from My Father.”
    The success of “Dreams” has given Obama nearly complete control of his own life narrative, an appealing tale that has been the foundation of his political success. But Maraniss’s biography threatens that narrative by questioning it: Was Obama’s journey entirely spiritual and intellectual? Or was it also grounded in the lower realms of ambition and calculation?…. – Politico, 5-3-12
  • Australian ex-girlfriend’s diaries show Obama in love: Washington: Secret diaries of an Australian woman who was one of the young Barack Obama’s girlfriends, show not only the warmth and trust of the future President in love, but also hint at his reserve and “coolness.” Accounts of the 1980s romance … – NDTV, 5-2-12
  • Just one old Obama girlfriend gets glory: So a new biography of Barack Obama reveals that in the president’s own memoir — “Dreams from My Father” — he smooshed together several old girlfriends into a … composite. Obama’s excuse to biographer David Maraniss, whose book is … – Boston Herald, 5-2-12
  • He had great sexual warmth: Obama’s secret Australian girlfriend tells all: Book reveals Obama’s New York love She was the daughter of an Aussie diplomat Questions surround veracity of President’s memory YOU’RE a smart-looking dude fresh out of college with the whole of New York to romance. You’ve just broken up with a chick…. – Herald Sun, 5-3-12
  • Dear diary: Obama’s ex sheds light on romance and the man: A portrait of a young Barack Obama in love emerged Wednesday with excerpts of an upcoming book appearing in Vanity Fair magazine that delve into the president’s 1980s love affair with an Australian-born woman three years his senior…. – Hamilton Spectator, 5-2-12
  • Ohbama! New book reveals President’s lovelife: Barack Obama was looking for love in New York City. The future President, who in 1983 was a recent graduate of Columbia University, chatted up an assistant teacher at a party that Christmas, according to a revealing new book…. – New York Daily News, 5-2-12
  • New book sheds light on Obama’s former girlfriends: A NEW book has shed light on some of President Barack Obama’s early romances during his college and post-college years. The revelations came out in a Vanity Fair magazine article featuring excerpts from Washington Post reporter David Maraniss’ new book…. – Herald Sun, 5-2-12
  • Obama’s ex-girlfriend: what her diaries reveal: As a recent college grad in New York, Barack Obama fell in love with a young white woman named Genevieve Cook. Passages from her diary appear in a new biography of the president…. – CS Monitor, 5-3-12
  • Ex-girlfriend tells of her romance with ‘guarded’ student Obama: When a woman a few years older told a 22-year-old Barack Obama, “I love you,” he replied, “Thank you”. In the journal she kept throughout their roughly one-year relationship, the girlfriend, from Australia and white, once noted: “The sexual warmth is … – The Independent UK, 5-3-12
  • The diary of Obama’s lover from Australia: Australia has finally got a piece of a US President. Barack Obama was just out of law school when he began a two-year affair with Genevieve Cook, daughter of an Australian diplomat. He was 22. She was 25. In 1983 she was teaching primary school…. – Stuff.co.nz, 5-3-12
  • Obama was sexually warm, but emotionally cool, early girlfriend says: Twenty-two years old, just graduated from Columbia University and about to enter his first meaningful romantic relationship, Barack Obama charmed a young Australian woman at a Christmas party in 1983. Sitting on an orange bean bag in the sixth-floor…. – Globe and Mail, 5-3-12
  • Obama’s Aussie ex-girlfriend wrote of love: Secret diaries of an Australian woman who was one of young Barack Obama’s girlfriends, show the warmth and trust of the future president in love, but also hint at his reserve and “coolness.” Accounts of the 1980s romance between Genevieve Cook…. – Ninemsn, 5-3-12

Barack Obama
Barack Obama while a student in New York. After his graduation he embarked on a series of love affairs. Picture: AP


Genevieve Cook
She had a voice like a wind chime: Genevieve Cook, the girl Barack Obama referred in his autobiography as “woman in New York that I loved”. Picture: Family photo / Washington Post

History Buzz April 1, 2012: Top 6 April Fool’s Day Political Pranks & Jokes


History Buzz


April Fool’s six best political pranks on politicians, pundits and people

Source: Washington Times, 4-1-12

You would think we would learn, but every year, somewhere, someone, including politicians, forgets that April 1 is April Fool’s Day. And they get pranked. This has been going on for centuries.

Here are six great political hoaxes for everyone, no matter what your political persuasion. Enjoy:

1. Richard Nixon Comes Out of Retirement to Run for President…

2. Wisconsin Capitol Ripped Apart by Mysterious Explosions…

3. Taco Bell Buys the Liberty Bell and Plans to Rename It…

4. GOP Lauds Obama’s Achievements…

5. Alabama Legislature Follows the Bible and Changes Pi…

6. Obama Orders Auto Makers to Pull NASCAR Funding…

This being an election year, we have to ask who will get fooled this year? Will Democrats play tit for tat, striking  back with their own version of the Obama ad, and target Mitt Romney? Rick Santorum has already released his creepy political ad, “Welcome to Obamaville” and it wasn’t even April Fool’s.

So does he have something equally menacing to air about Romney?

We can only hope so. It just isn’t April Fool’s Day if the politicians aren’t out there punking one another.

Campaign Headlines March 9, 2012: The Parallels Between Mitt Romney and George H.W. Bush



The Parallels Between Mitt Romney and George H.W. Bush

Source: NYT, 3-8-12
Mitt Romney, right, is working to appeal to both the Republican establishment and its outspoken conservatives.  The elder George Bush, left, at a Texas stop in 1992, faced the same challenge.

Left, J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press; right, Yana Paskova for The New York TimesMitt Romney, right, is working to appeal to both the Republican establishment and its outspoken conservatives.  The elder George Bush, left, at a Texas stop in 1992, faced the same challenge.

8:08 p.m. | Updated As a presidential candidate, he was awkwardly disconnected, a wealthy Republican who struggled to earn the trust of the conservatives in his party.

Now, two decades later, that candidate, the elder George Bush, is serving as a kind of political object lesson for a kindred spirit, Mitt Romney.

As Mr. Bush tried to do, Mr. Romney is working to bridge two worlds inside the Republican Party: an establishment wing with which he feels comfortable and a rabble-rousing wing that has a big influence over policy and ideology.

Mr. Bush managed to reconcile and unite both of those sometimes opposing forces, but not until he sought the White House as a sitting vice president in 1988. And those same divisions and suspicions from conservatives helped scuttle his re-election campaign four years later.

Mr. Romney now faces some of the same challenges….READ MORE

History Buzz February 20, 2012: Presidents’ Day Quiz: How well do you know our chief executives?



History Buzz


Presidents’ Day: How well do you know our chief executives?

Source: LAT, Chicago Tribune, 2-20-12

At the funeral of President Richard Nixon in 1994, from left: Then-President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton; former presidents and first ladies George H.W. and Barbara Bush, Ronald and Nancy Reagan,  Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, and Gerald and Betty Ford.

At the funeral of President Richard Nixon in 1994, from left: Then-President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton; former presidents and first ladies George H.W. and Barbara Bush, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, and Gerald and Betty Ford. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Happy Presidents’ Day. This holiday, which dates to 1971, originally was meant to celebrate the birthdays of George Washington (Feb. 22) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) but it’s also meant to honor all presidents. In the spirit, we offer you this quiz. How well do you know our chief executives? You’ll learn lots from visiting the 13 presidential libraries. Forty-four presidents have been installed in office, but there are only 43 people who have been president. Why? Take the quiz below and find out:

1. Barack Obama was the first sitting senator to win election to the presidency since what man?

2. Who was the first president to be impeached?

3. To what party did John Quincy Adams, the sixth president, belong?  Extra credit: Who was his father and when was he president?

4. Name another father-son presidential pair.

5. Who were the vice presidents of that father-son presidential pair in Question 4?

6. Who was the first president to die in office?

7. Who was the last president born under British rule?8. Whose grandson became president of the United States four dozen years after he was president?

9. What president was born in Iowa but orphaned at age 9 and sent to live in Oregon?

10. What president and his wife were Stanford graduates?

11. Which president graduated in 1809 from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania?

12. What president refused renomination in 1880 and thus served only one term?

13. Who was elected president after Rutherford Hayes?

14. How long did James Garfield remain in office?

15. Who served as James Garfield’s secretary of War?

16. Who succeeded James Garfield and how many terms did he serve?

17. What president suffered what was then called Bright’s disease?

18. Who is the only president to serve two terms that weren’t consecutive?

19. Who was the last Civil War general to serve as president?

20. William McKinley was shot and killed in September 1901. He was succeeded by a man his campaign manager called “that damned cowboy.” Who was that?

21. What president frequently declared, “Politics makes me sick”?

22. What president died in 1923 in San Francisco?

23. What president died 10 months after his wife died of lung cancer? (He was out of office when he died.)

24. This president graduated from West Point in the class that was called “the class the stars fell on” because it produced 59 generals. Who was that and what year?

25. Which former president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002?Answers:

1. John Kennedy

2. Andrew Johnson

3. National Republican. John Q. was the oldest son of the second president, John Adams, 1797-1801.

4. George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush

5. Dan Quayle for George H.W. Bush and Dick Cheney for George W. Bush.

6. William Henry Harrison, who died just a month after taking office.

7. William Henry Harrison.

8. William Henry Harrison.

9. Herbert Hoover.

10. Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou.

11. James Buchanan

12. Rutherford Hayes

13. James Garfield

14. Four months. He was shot July 2 and died Sept. 19, 1881.

15. Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln.

16. Chester Arthur. One term.

17. Chester Arthur. He lost the nomination for a second term, even though he knew he had Bright’s, a kidney disease. He died a year after leaving office.

18. Grover Cleveland

19. Benjamin Harrison

20. Theodore Roosevelt

21. William Howard Taft

22. Warren G. Harding

23. Richard Nixon

24. Dwight D. Eisenhower. 1915.

25. Jimmy Carter

History Buzz February 20, 2012: Presidents’ Day Gallup Poll: Americans rate Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton best of recent presidents — Richard Nixon & George W. Bush rated worst


History Buzz


Presidents’ Day Gallup Poll: Americans rate Reagan, Clinton best of recent presidents

Source: LAT, 2-20-12

Reagan & Clinton

Former President Ronald Reagan presents then-President-elect Clinton with a jar of red, white and blue jelly beans in November 1992. (Paul Richards / AFP)

Presidents Day — or Washington’s Birthday, if you prefer — is a time to celebrate all of America’s past commanders in chief. Among the nation’s most recent leaders, two are celebrated far more than others: Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

That’s the finding of Gallup, at least, which recently asked Americans to judge how the last eight presidents will go down in history.

Sixty-nine percent said Reagan would go down as “outstanding” or “above average,” compared to just 10% who said “below average” or “poor.” Clinton was rated favorably by 60% of those surveyed, a 10-point improvement from the last time Gallup asked the question in early 2009. Twelve percent rated him negatively, down from 20% three years ago….READ MORE

How do you think each of the following presidents will go down in history -- as an outstanding president, above average, average, below average, or poor?

Americans Judge Reagan, Clinton Best of Recent Presidents

Public split on whether Obama will be judged positively or negatively

Source: Gallup, 2-17-12

Americans believe history will judge Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton as the best among recent U.S. presidents, with at least 6 in 10 saying each will go down in history as an above-average or outstanding president. Only about 1 in 10 say each will be remembered as below average or poor. Three years into Barack Obama’s presidency, Americans are divided in their views of how he will be regarded, with 38% guessing he will be remembered as above average or outstanding and 35% as below average or poor….READ MORE

Gallup: Reagan and Clinton are favorite presidents

Source: USA Today, 2-20-12

Americans say Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton will be judged the best presidents of the past four decades, the Gallup Poll reports.

At least six in 10 respondents say Reagan and Clinton will be considered an above average or outstanding president, Gallup said.

“Three years into Barack Obama’s presidency,” Gallup said. “Americans are divided in their views of how he will be regarded, with 38% guessing he will be remembered as above average or outstanding and 35% as below average or poor.”

The poll said, “Aside from Clinton and Reagan, only George H.W. Bush gets significantly more positive than negative ratings. (Richard) Nixon and George W. Bush are rated as the worst, with roughly half of Americans believing each will be judged negatively.”

The key to the popularity of Reagan and Clinton: They governed during good economies and got credit for improving them.

It’s worth nothing that Reagan and Clinton also survived scandals during their tenures: Reagan, the Iran-Contra imbroglio; Clinton, impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky matter.

Presidential ratings change over time, the pollsters noted…..READ MORE

Presidential Report Card: How Will Recent Presidents Go Down in History?—PICTURES

Source: National Journal, 2-17-12

Asked in a recent Presidents Day Gallup poll to rank eight modern presidents, respondents said Ronald Reagan and then Bill Clinton will go down in history as outstanding or above-average presidents. We take a look at how the rankings panned out….READ MORE

History Buzz February 20, 2012: Presidents’ Day: Take the presidential history quiz!


History Buzz


Presidents’ Day: The quiz

It’s Presidents’ Day Monday, but whom the holiday is meant to honor depends on whom you ask. Even the placement of the apostrophe is open to question!…

The most recent results of students’ performance on civics exams on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes called the nation’s report card, revealed a continuing lack of knowledge about the nation’s past: On the 2010 test, only 2 percent of fourth-graders, 1 percent of eighth-graders and 4 percent of 12th-graders performed at the advanced level, which represents superior performance.

See how well you can do on the Washington Post’s Presidents’ Day quiz. If you don’t do well, it’s time to hit the history books! Here are some Web sites that can help….TAKE THE QUIZ!

History Q&A February 20, 2012: What is Presidents’ Day Officially Called? Washington’s Birthday — A Brief History of (What You Think Is) Presidents’ Day


A Brief History of (What You Think Is) Presidents’ Day

The first thing to know: it’s not officially called Presidents’ Day

Source: Time, 2-20-12

Roger Viollet Collection / Getty Images

Roger Viollet Collection / Getty Images

To set the record straight, today isn’t actually Presidents’ Day. It is still known as Washington’s Birthday, according to the federal government and section 6103(a) of title 5 of the U.S. Code.

Give George Washington the credit he’s due, since this whole holiday thing started in 1796 when people began celebrating him during his final year as President. But even then, his Feb. 22 birthday wasn’t a clear-cut date. At that time, there was still a bit of confusion over the change in calendar systems, especially considering Washington’s birthday dated back to 1732. For those still using the old-school Julian-style calendar, which was in use in England until 1752, Washington’s birthday was Feb. 11. The Gregorian calendar, which took over for the Julian style, however, had his birthday as Feb. 22. That led to some confusion in the 1700s.

But our forefathers worked through their differences and landed on honoring Washington annually on Feb. 22, often with galas in Washington, D.C., and the tried and true U.S. pastime of drinking. The tradition of celebrating Washington continued for the next 90 or so years, and Congress made the holiday a law, giving Washington the first federal holiday to honor a person when they made it official in 1880….READ MORE

The use of Presidents’ Day as the name continued to grow in popularity, gaining widespread acceptance by the 1980s. Then, in 1999, due to Presidents’ Day having taken over as the accepted name, a pair of bills tried to force the official use of Washington’s Birthday for the holiday (Ronald Reagan’s birthday on Feb. 6 has added a fourth presidential birthday to the month of February). But there wasn’t much support for that, in essence offering Presidents’ Day a chance to celebrate not only Washington and Lincoln, but also all other presidents. Even Harrison.

History Buzz February 17, 2012: George Washington still tops as most favorable President in Presidents’ Day Public Policy Polling survey


History Buzz


Poll: George Washington still tops

This undated file photo of a 1796 Gilbert Stuart oil on canvas painting portrays George Washington, founding father and first president of the United States. | AP Photo

Eighty-nine percent of Americans say they see George Washington favorably. | AP Photo

Source: Politico, 2-17-12

George Washington still ranks as Americans’ number one president, according to a new poll out Friday.

A whopping 89 percent of Americans say they see the United States’ first president favorably, according to a Public Policy Polling survey. The nation’s most other popular presidents offer few surprises, with Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, John Quincy Adams and Franklin D. Roosevelt rounding out the top ten.

Lincoln, with 85 percent favorability, just missed taking the top stop from Washington. Only two other presidents have a favorability rating over 70 percent — Jefferson at 74 percent and Kennedy at 70 percent.

Richard Nixon is by far the least popular, with 59 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion of the scandal-ridden former commander in chief. Just 27 percent say they see Nixon positively. Ten other former presidents hit negative numbers in the poll: Lyndon B. Johnson, Warren Harding, Millard Fillmore, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Barack Obama, Chester Arthur, Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan and George W. Bush.

Obama comes in with 46 percent saying they see him favorably and 49 percent unfavorably. His predecessor, George W. Bush, gets similar support, with 45 percent positive and 46 percent negative ratings. Americans see other recent presidents in a more positive light — Ronald Reagan is the 14th most popular president, Gerald Ford the 16th and Bill Clinton ranks 17th….READ MORE

History Buzz February 6, 2012: Mimi Alford: Book details JFK affair with teen White House intern “Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath”


History Buzz


Book details JFK affair with teen White House intern

Source: AFP, 2-6-12

John F. Kennedy carried on an 18-month-long affair with a teenaged White House intern, according to a new book by the woman who claims to have been the late US president’s lover.

Excerpts of the shocking memoir, “Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath,” were released Monday by the New York Post, which said it purchased a copy of the book at a local bookstore, although it is not scheduled for publication until Wednesday.

In her tell-all memoir, author Mimi Alford, now a 69-year-old grandmother, recounts the president’s tears after the death of his newborn son, and recalls that he confided to her, while embroiled in the drama of the Cuban missile crisis that “I’d rather my children red, than dead.”

Alford provides intimate details of their relationship, which started in the summer of 1962, when she was just 19, less than half the age of the dashing president, who was killed the following year by an assassins’ bullet at the age of 46.

In an excerpt published by The Post, Alford wrote that she met Kennedy just four days into her internship, and that he invited her the following day on a personal tour of the White House residence that included first lady Jackie Kennedy’s bedroom.

Now 50 years later, Alford, a retired New York City church administrator, writes that it was there that she lost her virginity to Kennedy that day….READ MORE

History Buzz January 16, 2012: Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Past & Present at the White House


History Buzz


President Obama and Dr. King

Source: WH, 1-16-12

President Obama visits MLK memorial at night

President Barack Obama tours the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., Oct. 14, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

It’s been 29 years since President Reagan signed the law to create a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

This year for the first time, however, those who wish to honor Dr. King on the holiday will be able gather in celebration at his memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Seven years ago, then-Senator Obama spoke at the groundbreaking for the memorial.

And back in October, the President spoke at its dedication, where he described the way that Dr. King continues to inspire new generations to work to fulfill his legacy:

He would not give up, no matter how long it took, because in the smallest hamlets and the darkest slums, he had witnessed the highest reaches of the human spirit; because in those moments when the struggle seemed most hopeless, he had seen men and women and children conquer their fear; because he had seen hills and mountains made low and rough places made plain, and the crooked places made straight and God make a way out of no way.

And that is why we honor this man –- because he had faith in us. And that is why he belongs on this Mall -– because he saw what we might become. That is why Dr. King was so quintessentially American — because for all the hardships we’ve endured, for all our sometimes tragic history, ours is a story of optimism and achievement and constant striving that is unique upon this Earth. And that is why the rest of the world still looks to us to lead. This is a country where ordinary people find in their hearts the courage to do extraordinary things; the courage to stand up in the face of the fiercest resistance and despair and say this is wrong, and this is right; we will not settle for what the cynics tell us we have to accept and we will reach again and again, no matter the odds, for what we know is possible.

From the Archives: Dr. Martin Luther King at the White House

Source: WH, 1-16-12

Martin Luther King, Jr. leaves the West Wing after meeting with  President Johnson

Martin Luther King, Jr. leaves the West Wing after meeting with President Johnson. August 5, 1965. Abbie Rowe, NPS: National Archive and Records Administration. (by Abbie Rowe, NPS: National Archive and Records Administration)

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Civil Rights leaders in the  Oval Office

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney Young, and James Farmer in the Oval Office. January 18, 1964. . (by Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library)

To mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the White House Historical Association has searched their archives and created a slideshow of historic images that show the impact the civil rights leader has had on several administrations. Dr King’s interactions with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson leading up to the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the 1968 Civil Rights Act are well documented, but his first visit to the White House was actually in 1958, when he and other prominent civil rights leaders met with President Dwight Eisenhower. Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr’s Life and Legacy features images of Dr. King himself at the White House and also includes photos of President Reagan signing the King Holiday Bill in 1983 with Coretta Scott King at his side, and President Obama and his family at the national memorial that was dedicated just last year.

See the slideshow on Flickr

From the Archives: President Reagan Designates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a Federal Holiday

Source: WH, 1-13-12

Reagan signs MLK Day legislation

President Ronald Reagan signs legislation to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Rose Garden of the White House on November 2, 1983. (by National Archives)

Only three people have a national holiday observed in their honor: Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, celebrated on the third Monday of January each year, marks the birthday of the civil rights leader and nonviolent activist. The call for a national holiday to honor Dr. King’s legacy began soon after his assassination in 1968—U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced legislation to establish the holiday just four days after Dr. King was killed, but Congress took no action on the bill.

In the years that followed, millions of people signed petitions in support of the holiday. Coretta Scott King testified before Congress multiple times, calling for a federally recognized day to honor the life and work of her late husband. In 1980, Stevie Wonder released a song, “Happy Birthday,” which became both a hit and a rallying cry for supporters of the holiday, and civil rights marches in Washington in 1982 and 1983 only served to amplify their mission.

A bill to establish the holiday successfully passed through both houses of Congress in 1983, and President Reagan signed it into law on November 20 of that year. The first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was celebrated in 1986.

Many Americans now honor Dr. King’s legacy by participating in a community service event in their own neighborhood andhis vision of service and volunteering is more critical than ever during this economic recovery. President Obama has called on the nation to participate in a service event in their own community this Monday, January 16, 2012.

The First and Second Families, numerous members of the President’s cabinet, and thousands of other Americans across the country have committed to serve, and you can, too. Visit MLKDay.gov to find a service opportunity in your neighborhood and learn more about the Martin Luther King Day of Service.

History Buzz December 8, 2011: Terry Golway: NJ Professor Looks Back On FDR’s Handling Of Pearl Harbor Using Radio


History Buzz


Terry Golway: NJ Professor Looks Back On FDR’s Handling Of Pearl Harbor Using Radio


Source: New York WCBS 880, 12-8-11

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt after delivering a fireside chat (credit: Wikipedia)

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt after delivering a fireside chat (credit: Wikipedia)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first great communicator, the first president to seize the intimacy of radio to talk to Americans one to one.

His most famous address came seventy years ago today — one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor — and it went out on this very radio station.

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy. The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan,” Roosevelt told a joint session of Congress.

“The man was made for radio. He had this wonderful voice,” FDR historian and Kean University professor Terry Golway told WCBS 880′s Wayne Cabot. “He was able to communicate a warmth that no one had ever heard before.”

But for this address, it was a cold reality that FDR needed to convey.

“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory,” FDR continued.

“There were no spin doctors back then. There were no professional coaches. What you heard was what you got,” said Golway, author of “Together We Cannot Fail: FDR and the American Presidency in Years of Crisis.”…READ MORE

Full Text December 7, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the 70th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor




Statement by President Barack Obama on the 70th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Seventy years ago today, a bright Sunday morning was darkened by the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor.  Today, Michelle and I join the American people in honoring the memory of the more than 2,400 American patriots—military and civilian, men, women and children—who gave their lives in our first battle of the Second World War.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families for whom this day is deeply personal—the spouses, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters who have known seven decades without a loved one but who have kept their legacy alive for future generations.

We salute the veterans and survivors of Pearl Harbor who inspire us still.  Despite overwhelming odds, they fought back heroically, inspiring our nation and putting us on the path to victory.  They are members of that Greatest Generation who overcame the Depression, crossed oceans and stormed the beaches to defeat fascism, and turned adversaries into our closest allies.  When the guns fell silent, they came home, went to school on the G.I. Bill, and built the largest middle class in history and the strongest economy in the world.  They remind us that no challenge is too great when Americans stand as one.  All of us owe these men and women a profound debt of gratitude for the freedoms and standard of living we enjoy today.

On this National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we also reaffirm our commitment to carrying on their work—to keeping the country we love strong, free and prosperous.  And as today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come to an end and we welcome home our 9/11 Generation, we resolve to always take care of our troops, veterans and military families as well as they’ve taken care of us.  On this solemn anniversary, there can be no higher tribute to the Americans who served and sacrificed seventy years ago today.

On This Day in History… December 7, 1941: 70th Anniversary of Japan’s Bombing Attack on Pearl Harbor


Day in History

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.


Official United States Navy Photograph

On this day in history… December 7, 1941: At 7:55 am local time, Japanese warplanes attacked the United States Pacific fleet at their base, Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii. The Japanese hit nineteen ships, eight of which where battleships. The ships were either enturely sunk or severely damaged from the attack; this included 188 aircraft that were also wrecked. The attacks killed 2,280 and wounded 1,109 from the military, and also killed 68 civilians.

The next day on December 8, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed Congress, calling December 7 a date that will live in infamy, and declaring war against Japan; leading the United States into World War II.


GUAM BOMBED; ARMY SHIP IS SUNK; U.S. Fliers Head North From Manila — Battleship Oklahoma Set Afire by Torpedo Planes at Honolulu 104 SOLDIERS KILLED AT FIELD IN HAWAII President Fears ‘Very Heavy Losses’ on Oahu — Churchill Notifies Japan That a State of War Exists Japan Starts War on U.S.; Hawaii and Guam Bombed — New York Times, Dec 8, 1941. p. 1

Congress Declares War on Japan; 3,000 Casualties in Hawaii Air Raid; Senate votes 82 to 0, House 388 to 1 within 33 minutes after President’s address–Two U.S. warships sunk, others damaged– Washington reports destruction of Tokyo planes and subs. Losses In Pearl Harbor World War in Fact 3,000 Casualties in Air Raid on Hawaii Counterattack Starts Landon Pledges Support War Against the Axis Attack on Hawaii Congress Votes Declaration Of War Against Japan More Aid for President Connally’s Resolution — Christian Science, Dec 8, 1941. p. 1

TOKYO ACTS FIRST; Declaration Follows Air and Sea Attacks on U.S. and Britain TOGO CALLS ENVOYS After Fighting Is On, Grew Gets Japan’s Reply to Hull Note of Nov. 26 TOKYO ACTS FIRST AND DECLARES WAR By The Associated Press, New York Times, Dec 8, 1941. p. 1.

U.S. AND JAPS AT WAR; CONGRESS GETS F.D.R. MESSAGE IN CRISIS TODAY Report Fleet Acts to Contact Foe — Chicago Daily Tribune: Dec 8, 1941. p. 1

U. S. Warships Struck in Pearl Harbor Attack. — Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec 8, 1941, p. 8.

Attacks Precede War Declaration; Tokyo Notifies Envoys After Surprise Raid Upon Pearl Harbor Base — Los Angeles Times, Dec 8, 1941. p. 1

Japanese Bombs Burst on U.S. Islands — The Washington Post, Dec 8, 1941, p. 10

Tokyo Bombers Strike Hard At Our Main Bases on Oahu; JAPANESE HIT HARD AT BASES ON OAHU AMERICAN NAVAL BASE ATTACKED PROM AIR — The United Press, New York Times, Dec 8, 1941, p. 1.

JAPANESE INVADE MALAYA: F.D.R. WAR MESSAGE TODAY; Guam Is Attacked; Nippon’s Seizure Of Wake Reported Enemy Aircraft Carrier Said To Be Sunk After Surprise Raid on Pearl Harbor Base — The Associated Press, The Atlanta Constitution, Dec 8, 1941, p. 1.

Hawaii Attacked Without Warning With Heavy Loss; Philippines Are Bombed; Japan Declares War on U.S.; Hawaii Bombed, Losses Heavy — The Washington Post, Dec 8, 1941, p. 1.

JAPS OPEN WAR ON U.S. WITH BOMBING OF HAWAII; Fleet Speeds Out to Battle Invader Tokyo Claims Battleship Sunk and Another Set Afire With Hundreds Killed on Island; Singapore Attacked and Thailand Force Landed — Los Angeles Times, Dec 8, 1941, p. 1.


    • Pearl Harbor on the nation’s front pages: The attack on Pearl Harbor was front-page news the next day, and some newspapers even managed to put out special issues the same day of the attack…. – WaPo, 12-7-11
    • A date which will live in infamy: Dec. 7, 1941: The United States naval base at Pearl Harbor is attacked by Japanese planes launched from six aircraft carriers. Four US battleships are sunk, and four others damaged. Over 2400 Americans are killed, including 1177 on the battleship … – LAT, 12-6-11
    • Survivors, veterans mark somber Pearl Harbor remembrance: Some 120 aging survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor were among 5000 people who marked its 70th anniversary on Wednesday with a quiet, often emotional ceremony at water’s edge. With a light rain falling, … – Reuters, 12-7-11
    • Pearl Harbor remembrances: In ceremonies throughout the country, people gathered to remember a day that changed history on a December morning 70 years ago. In Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, a US Marine firing detail prepares for a service commemorating the 70th anniversary of the attack … – WaPo, 12-8-11
    • Nation pauses to remember Pearl Harbor: Survivors of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gathered Wednesday to remember the 2,400 people who lost their lives exactly 70 years ago.
      “Just as every day and unlike any other day, we stop and stand fast in memory of our heroes of Pearl Harbor and the Second World War,” Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander for Navy region Hawaii, told the gathering.
      U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus took note of the devastating legacy of the two-hour attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago.
      “The history of December 7, 1941, is indelibly imprinted on the memory of every American who was alive that day. But it bears repeating on every anniversary, so that every subsequent generation will know what happened here today and never forget,” Mabus said…. – CNN International, 12-7-11
    • Nation Marks 70th Anniversary Of Pearl Harbor: In wheelchairs and on walkers, the old veterans came Wednesday to remember the day 70 years ago when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. But FDR’s “date that will live in infamy” is becoming a more distant memory. … – AP, 12-7-11
    • Snafu mars Pearl Harbor 70th anniversary ceremony: A snafu marred the critical moment of silence Wednesday at the Pearl Harbor ceremony observing the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack.
      Each year, the tradition calls for a moment of silence to start with the sounding of a ship’s whistle. The quiet is then broken when military aircraft fly over the USS Arizona Memorial in missing-man formation.
      The timing is carefully choreographed so that the moment of silence begins exactly at 7:55 a.m. — the moment Japanese planes began bombing the harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. But on Wednesday, emcee Leslie Wilcox was still speaking at 7:55 a.m., even as the Hawaii Air National Guard’s F-22’s roared overhead on schedule 42 seconds later.
      The moment of silence was held a few minutes late, just before 8 a.m. It was obvious to those who had attended the commemoration before that something was off, but some in the audience for the first time didn’t notice…. – CBS News, 12-8-11
    • Pearl Harbor remembered 70 years later: Ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor have been held across the United States. It was the surprise attack on the US navel base in Hawaii which brought America into World War II. Survivors gathered on the island to remember the fallen.Nearly 2,500 American service members died on December 7 1941…. – euronews, 12-7-11
    • Pearl Harbor Day: Survivors remember attack, pay respects on 70th anniversary: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 remains deeply imbedded in the American psyche. On the 70th anniversary, Michael Ruane looked back at how the nation reacted to that fateful event: For a time on Dec. 7, 1941, millions of Americans were … – WaPo, 12-8-11
    • Survivors remember Pearl Harbor: About 120 survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor observed a moment of silence to commemorate the Japanese attack and the thousands who lost their lives that day 70 years ago…. – WaPo, 12-8-11
    • Pearl Harbor Day: Nation promises survivors it will never forget: A grateful nation delivered a heartfelt message Wednesday morning to the dwindling number of survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack: Rest easy. We’ll take it from here. Allow us to repay the debt by carrying your burden. On the face of it…. – LAT, 12-7-11
    • Pearl Harbor Day: Survivors remember attack, pay respects on 70th anniversary: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 remains deeply imbedded in the American psyche. On the 70th anniversary, Michael Ruane looked back at how the nation reacted to that fateful event: For a time on Dec. 7, 1941, millions of Americans were … – WaPo, 12-7-11

“If December 7 is going to teach us anything, it should be that we must remain vigilant at all times, not just to avoid war, but vigilant among ourselves so that we would not use this as a justification to set aside our most honored document, the constitution.” — Sen. Daniel Inouye

  • Senator Inouye Recalls Pearl Harbor Attack’s ‘Black Puffs of Explosion’: Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, a witness to the Pearl Harbor attacks, spoke today on the Senate floor about the 70th anniversary of the day he thought the world was ending.
    The bombing, he said, “began a period of my life where I became an adult and I hope a good American.” He added, “It is something that I will never forget that changed my life forever.”
    Only 17, Inouye was getting ready for church on Sunday morning Dec. 7, 1941, in Hawaii. He was listening to music when the radio announcer interrupted the programming with screaming. Inouye and his father ran outside…. – ABC News, 12-7-11
  • Pearl Harbor Day: Celebrities Who Served In World War II (PHOTOS): When the bombs rained down on Pearl Harbor, Americans immediately went to work. In addition to a homefront that saw citizens plant victory gardens, buy war bonds and fill the factories, the military flooded with brave young heroes, ready to defend…. – Huff Post, 12-8-11
  • Pearl Harbor Still a Day for the Ages, but a Memory Almost Gone: For more than half a century, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association gathered here every Dec. 7 to commemorate the attack by the Japanese that drew the United States into World War II. Others stayed closer to home for more intimate regional chapter ceremonies, sharing memories of a day they still remember in searing detail.
    But no more. The 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack will be the last one marked by the survivors’ association. With a concession to the reality of time — of age, of deteriorating health and death — the association will disband on Dec. 31…. – NYT, 12-6-11
  • Remembering Pearl Harbor, 70 years later: Seventy years ago Dec. 7, the nation was shocked by the news from Pearl Harbor, a place many Americans had never heard of before. The battleship USS West Virginia is engulfed in flames after the surprise Japanese attack …Yet without declaring war, Japan had launched a massive air attack on the ill-prepared U.S. naval forces in Hawaii. The damage — 2,402 Americans killed, four battleships sunk, 188 aircraft destroyed — wouldn’t be known publicly for weeks.
    The 70th anniversary is being marked by hundreds of Remember Pearl Harbor events, new books, and Wednesday’s two-hour History Channel special, Pearl Harbor: 24 Hours After (8 p.m. ET)…. – USA Today, 12-6-11
  • ‘Pearl Harbor: 24 Hours After’: History’s splendid Pearl Harbor documentary shows FDR quickly set national tone: Network / Air Date: Wednesday at 8 p.m., History
    The 24 hours after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, were “the turning point of the 20th century,” declares the narrator of this History special.
    Even by standards of TV shows, that’s a bold claim. But “Pearl Harbor” spends the next two hours systemetically and effectively arguing that it’s true…. – NY Daily News, 12-6-11
  • Declassified Memo Hinted of 1941 Hawaii Attack: Three days before the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt was warned in a memo from naval intelligence that Tokyo’s military and spy network was focused on Hawaii, a new and eerie reminder of FDR’s failure to act on a basket load of tips that war was near…. – U.S. News & World Report, 11-29-11
  • Remembering Pearl Harbor: The phrase lives on, and 70 years have not dimmed the meaning and memory of that day…. – NYT, 12-6-11
  • Nation pauses to remember Pearl Harbor: Survivors of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor will remember the 2400 people who lost their lives 70 years ago Wednesday. The annual commemoration in Hawaii begins at 7:40 am (12:40 pm ET ) at the Pearl Harbor … – CNN International, 12-6-11
  • Preserving veterans’ stories on 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Globe & Mail, 12-7-11
  • Pearl Harbor attacked: A witness remembers, 70 years later: Around 8 am on Dec. 7, 1941, Army Private Francis Stueve sat down to breakfast with the rest of the 89th Field Artillery battalion, stationed at Pearl Harbor. “As quiet a day as you’ve ever seen,” Stueve remembers now. “Beautiful sunshine, nothing … – WaPo, 12-6-11
  • Pearl Harbor survivors are fading away: Ten years ago, as America prepared to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, The News-Sun met with three Navy men from Waukegan who were there on the date which will live in infamy: Ambrose Ferri, John Haffey and Jay Kough….
    Those men have joined the ranks of Pearl Harbor survivors who lived to see postwar America, and now have started to fade away. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, there are only 3,000 Pearl Harbor veterans still among us nationwide…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 12-6-11
  • 70 years after attack on Pearl Harbor, Doolittle’s raid on Japan still garners interest: Almost 70 years after the United States struck Japan in a bold bombing raid that did little damage but lifted the spirits of a Pearl Harbor-weary nation, Thomas Griffin relishes the role he played that day as a navigator in one of Jimmy … – WaPo, 12-5-11
  • Pearl Harbour attacked 70 years ago – A soldier remembers: It was on this day (December 7th, 2011) in 1941 that Japan launched a surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. At 07:55 local time the first wave of between 50 and 150 planes struck the naval base for 35 minutes dropping … – ABC Online (blog), 12-7-11
  • 70 Years Later: Using Historic Times Articles and Social Media to Remember Pearl Harbor: Overview | What happened on Dec. 7, 1941? Why is the attack on Pearl Harbor such an historically important event? In this lesson, students learn about the 1941 attack by reading an archival Times article from the day after, and then either create a series of Twitter posts that document the attack and resulting declaration of war, or write a “Historic Headlines”-style summary and analysis of the event and its repercussions — and their connection to today…. – NYT, 12-6-11


Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Address to Congress Requesting a Declaration of War with Japan December 8, 1941

Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1941

Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American Island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

But always will our whole Nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces — with the unbounding determination of our people — we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

Statement by President Barack Obama on the 70th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Seventy years ago today, a bright Sunday morning was darkened by the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor. Today, Michelle and I join the American people in honoring the memory of the more than 2,400 American patriots—military and civilian, men, women and children—who gave their lives in our first battle of the Second World War. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families for whom this day is deeply personal—the spouses, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters who have known seven decades without a loved one but who have kept their legacy alive for future generations.

We salute the veterans and survivors of Pearl Harbor who inspire us still. Despite overwhelming odds, they fought back heroically, inspiring our nation and putting us on the path to victory. They are members of that Greatest Generation who overcame the Depression, crossed oceans and stormed the beaches to defeat fascism, and turned adversaries into our closest allies. When the guns fell silent, they came home, went to school on the G.I. Bill, and built the largest middle class in history and the strongest economy in the world. They remind us that no challenge is too great when Americans stand as one. All of us owe these men and women a profound debt of gratitude for the freedoms and standard of living we enjoy today.

On this National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we also reaffirm our commitment to carrying on their work—to keeping the country we love strong, free and prosperous. And as today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come to an end and we welcome home our 9/11 Generation, we resolve to always take care of our troops, veterans and military families as well as they’ve taken care of us. On this solemn anniversary, there can be no higher tribute to the Americans who served and sacrificed seventy years ago today.


  • Craig Shirley: Five myths about Pearl Harbor: President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Dec. 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.” And that day, when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, has lived in infamy for 70 years. Yet even as the memory of the attack has lasted, so have the misperceptions surrounding it. On this anniversary, here are a few myths worth dispelling.

    1. The U.S. government had no knowledge of a potential Japanese attack before Dec. 7.
    Beyond the obvious signs of Japan’s increasing aggression — including its sinking of an American naval vessel in the Yangtze Riverand its signing of the Tripartite Pact with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany — various specific war warnings had been sent by Washington to military commanders in the Pacific for some days before Dec. 7.

    2. On Dec. 7, Japan attacked only Pearl Harbor.
    Though the attack on Pearl Harbor was the most crippling and caused the most American losses, Japanese forces also struck the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand and Midway that day.

    3. The U.S. military responded quickly and decisively.
    For months after Pearl Harbor, the United States suffered defeat after defeat in the Pacific theater.

    4. Japanese Americans were the only U.S. citizens rounded up after Pearl Harbor.
    Within 48 hours of the attack, more than 1,000people of Japanese, German and Italian descent, all considered “enemy aliens,” were detained by the FBI.

    5. The attack on Pearl Harbor convinced the public that the United States should enter World War II.
    The attack persuaded Americans to support entering part of the war, not all of it. Before Pearl Harbor, the United States was largely isolationist, and there was almost no call to get involved in another European war.

    WaPo, 12-2-11

  • Nigel Hamilton: Pearl Harbor — and Our Moral Identity as a Nation: As U.S. intelligence reported on the number of Japanese troop transports and warships gathering off the coast of Thailand and Malaya in the first days of December 1941, it became obvious to all but Republican ostriches that the Philippines would soon be targeted, and that the United States, unless it wished to become a vassal state, would be drawn into the war, whether it wished or not.
    On the night of December 6, 1941, discussing the latest intelligence reports with the President in his Oval study on the second floor of the White House, Harry Hopkins remarked sadly that it was a pity the U.S. could not pre-empt the Japanese attack on the Malay Barrier while the menacing Japanese invasion fleet was still off shore.
    “No, we can’t do that. We are a democracy and a peaceful people,” President Roosevelt said. “But we have a good record.”… – Huff Post, 12-5-11
  • Pearl Harbor anniversary: It still lives in infamy: Gilbert Sandler describes how, after Pearl Harbor, Baltimoreans worked and played, worried and sacrificed under the shadow of war
    Today, marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan and the official entry of the United States into World War II. These stories are excerpted from the book, “Home Front Baltimore” (Johns Hopkins University Press)…. – Baltmore Sun, 12-7-11


Publications in honor of the 70th anniversary include the following:

  • Stephen Gillon, Pearl Harbor: FDR Leads the Nation Into War (Basic, 2011).
  • Craig Shirley, December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World (Thomas Nelson, 2011).
  • Stanley Weintraub, Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941 (DaCapo, 2011).

Political Buzz December 6, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Populist Speech on the Middle Class & the Economy at Osawatomie High School, Kansas Channels President Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.


Barack Obama and Teddy Roosevelt are pictured. | AP Photos

President Obama is conjuring the legacy of a president who took on Wall Street. | AP Photos


“It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America. It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all society’s problems. It’s a view that says in America, we are greater together — when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share.” — President Barack Obama

“I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. Those aren’t Democratic or Republican values; 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They’re American values, and we have to reclaim them.” — President Barack Obama

Obama sees ‘make or break’ time for middle class: President Barack Obama delivered a sweeping indictment of economic inequality in the US on Tuesday as he summoned the memory of President Theodore Roosevelt and pledged to fight for fairness at a “make or break moment for the middle class…. – WaPo, 12-6-11


  • Obama pledges to fight for middle class: President Barack Obama took aim at Republicans and delivered a sweeping indictment of economic inequality in the US on Tuesday as he pledged to fight for fairness for the middle class. Only a month before Republican voters … – AP, 12-6-11
  • Obama compares current economy to Great Depression: President Barack Obama said Tuesday that economic inequality in America is at “a level we haven’t seen since the Great Depression” and “hurts us all.” “When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that … – CNN, 12-6-11
  • Obama hits Republicans in starkly populist speech: President Barack Obama turned up the heat on his Republican foes on Tuesday as he portrayed himself as a champion of the middle class and laid out in the starkest terms yet the populist themes of his 2012 … – Reuters, 12-6-11
  • Barack Obama channels Teddy Roosevelt: Barack Obama spent the first three years of his presidency invoking Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
    Just over a hundred years after the Bull Moose delivered his “New Nationalism” speech in Osawatomie, Kan., Obama touted his own square deal there on Tuesday. The president described a “make or break moment for the middle class,” calling for broader consumer protections and for the Senate to confirm his nominee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…. – Politico, 12-6-11
  • Obama channels Roosevelt’s ‘New Nationalism’:
    • President Obama calls for shared national investment in growth and opportunity
    • Obama goes to the same place where Roosevelt made a famous 1910 speech
    • The major theme is making the good of the country the top priority
    • Democrats and Republicans are divided over how to pay for the payroll tax measure

    More than a century after Teddy Roosevelt’s famous “New Nationalism” speech, President Barack Obama sounded similar themes Tuesday in the same town in the Republican heartland of Kansas, delivering a populist speech that called for extending the payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of the year.
    Obama described stark differences between a Republican ideology he described as leaving people to fend for themselves and his vision of government helping provide equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of where they begin in life…. – CNN, 12-6-11

  • In Kansas, Obama says middle class faces ‘make or break moment’: With a nod to Theodore Roosevelt, President Obama positioned himself as the champion of the middle class while blasting the “you’re-on-your-own economics” of the modern Republican Party, a message likely to form … – LAT, 12-6-11
  • Obama: This is ‘make or break moment’ for middle class: Calling it “the defining issue of our time,” President Obama said today that the United States faces “a make or break moment for the middle class,” and for all Americans who are fighting to get there. … – USA Today, 12-6-11
  • Obama tells banks, businesses to help middle class: President Barack Obama on Tuesday laid out his economic philosophy, saying that banks, businesses and government must help the middle class get back on its feet. “This is the defining issue of our … MarketWatch, 12-6-11
  • Obama’s day: Channeling Teddy Roosevelt in Kansas: Good morning from The Oval. This day in 1923 saw the first radio broadcast of a presidential speech as Calvin Coolidge addressed a joint session of Congress. Today, President Obama seeks to emulate predecessor Theodore Roosevelt…. – USA Today, 12-6-11
  • Obama channels Teddy Roosevelt in populist re-election speech: US President Barack Obama speaks about the economy and a payroll tax cut compromise during a visit to Osawatomie High School in Kansas December 6, 2011. More than a 100 years ago, President Teddy Roosevelt delivered a speech in Osawatomie in which he … – National Post, 12-6-11
  • President Obama channels Teddy Roosevelt in calling for a ‘fair chance’ for Americans: President Obama carried his GOP-bashing populist message to the heartland Tuesday, embracing Theodore Roosevelt as a Republican who rose above partisan orthodoxy to create a “fair chance” for all Americans, … – NY Daily News, 12-6-11
  • President Obama makes economic speech at the site of famous Theodore Roosevelt Address: President Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech at 1:55 pm ET Tuesday in Osawatomie, Kan. where his advisers say he will attempt to frame a conversation about the “economic future in this country.” Osawatomie is the town where … – WaPo, 12-6-11
  • Gov. Brownback will not attend Obama speech in Osawatomie: Instead, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and his family will attend the event, which is expected to draw as many as 20000 visitors to the Kansas town of 4447 residents. “It is always an honor to have the president in Kansas,” Brownback said in a statement. … – Kansas City Business Journal, 12-6-11

Full Text December 6, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Populist Speech on the Middle Class & the Economy at Osawatomie High School, Kansas Channels President Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism — Transcript



From a Kansas town called Osawatomie, President Obama makes an argument about laying a new foundation for broad-based prosperity in America.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks in Osawatomie, Kansas
President Barack Obama delivers remarks in Osawatomie, Kansas, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 12/6/11


President Obama: “In America, We Are Greater Together”

Source: WH, 12-6-11

More than a century after Teddy Roosevelt outlined a vision for a “New Nationalism” in a Kansas town called Osawatomie, President Obama visited the same community to talk about what he called a make-or-break moment of the middle class.

He described how the world has undergone an economic transformation unlike any other in our collective history — and how that change has upended our expectations of social mobility in this country. Where professionals ranging from factory workers to travel agents to accountants once enjoyed the promise of a good job and steady income in exchange for their hard work, today they and a range of people like them must compete with new technology and individuals from around the world.

The President told the 1,200 people gathered in Osawatomie that there are two ways to respond to these challenges.

Some in Washington, he said, argue that we should let the markets take care of everything — rolling back regulation and slashing taxes:

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker.  But here’s the problem:  It doesn’t work. It has never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression.  It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade.

Thankfully, President Obama said, we can choose a different path:

[T]here’s another view about how we build a strong middle class in this country — a view that’s truer to our history, a vision that’s been embraced in the past by people of both parties for more than 200 years.

It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America. It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all of society’s problems. It is a view that says in America we are greater together — when everyone engages in fair play and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share.

Read the entire speech here.



Remarks by the President on the Economy in Osawatomie, Kansas

Osawatomie High School
Osawatomie, Kansas

12:59 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Please, please have a seat. Thank you so much. Thank you. Good afternoon, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Good afternoon.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to start by thanking a few folks who’ve joined us today. We’ve got the mayor of Osawatomie, Phil Dudley is here. (Applause.) We have your superintendent Gary French in the house. (Applause.) And we have the principal of Osawatomie High, Doug Chisam. (Applause.) And I have brought your former governor, who is doing now an outstanding job as Secretary of Health and Human Services — Kathleen Sebelius is in the house. (Applause.) We love Kathleen.

Well, it is great to be back in the state of Tex — (laughter) — state of Kansas. I was giving Bill Self a hard time, he was here a while back. As many of you know, I have roots here. (Applause.) I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Obamas of Osawatomie. (Laughter.) Actually, I like to say that I got my name from my father, but I got my accent — and my values — from my mother. (Applause.) She was born in Wichita. (Applause.) Her mother grew up in Augusta. Her father was from El Dorado. So my Kansas roots run deep.

My grandparents served during World War II. He was a soldier in Patton’s Army; she was a worker on a bomber assembly line. And together, they shared the optimism of a nation that triumphed over the Great Depression and over fascism. They believed in an America where hard work paid off, and responsibility was rewarded, and anyone could make it if they tried — no matter who you were, no matter where you came from, no matter how you started out. (Applause.)

And these values gave rise to the largest middle class and the strongest economy that the world has ever known. It was here in America that the most productive workers, the most innovative companies turned out the best products on Earth. And you know what? Every American shared in that pride and in that success — from those in the executive suites to those in middle management to those on the factory floor. (Applause.) So you could have some confidence that if you gave it your all, you’d take enough home to raise your family and send your kids to school and have your health care covered, put a little away for retirement.

Today, we’re still home to the world’s most productive workers. We’re still home to the world’s most innovative companies. But for most Americans, the basic bargain that made this country great has eroded. Long before the recession hit, hard work stopped paying off for too many people. Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefited from that success. Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and their investments — wealthier than ever before. But everybody else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren’t — and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt just to keep up.

Now, for many years, credit cards and home equity loans papered over this harsh reality. But in 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We all know the story by now: Mortgages sold to people who couldn’t afford them, or even sometimes understand them. Banks and investors allowed to keep packaging the risk and selling it off. Huge bets — and huge bonuses — made with other people’s money on the line. Regulators who were supposed to warn us about the dangers of all this, but looked the other way or didn’t have the authority to look at all.

It was wrong. It combined the breathtaking greed of a few with irresponsibility all across the system. And it plunged our economy and the world into a crisis from which we’re still fighting to recover. It claimed the jobs and the homes and the basic security of millions of people — innocent, hardworking Americans who had met their responsibilities but were still left holding the bag.

And ever since, there’s been a raging debate over the best way to restore growth and prosperity, restore balance, restore fairness. Throughout the country, it’s sparked protests and political movements — from the tea party to the people who’ve been occupying the streets of New York and other cities. It’s left Washington in a near-constant state of gridlock. It’s been the topic of heated and sometimes colorful discussion among the men and women running for president. (Laughter.)

But, Osawatomie, this is not just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.

Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years. And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.

I am here to say they are wrong. (Applause.) I’m here in Kansas to reaffirm my deep conviction that we’re greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. (Applause.) These aren’t Democratic values or Republican values. These aren’t 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They’re American values. And we have to reclaim them. (Applause.)

You see, this isn’t the first time America has faced this choice. At the turn of the last century, when a nation of farmers was transitioning to become the world’s industrial giant, we had to decide: Would we settle for a country where most of the new railroads and factories were being controlled by a few giant monopolies that kept prices high and wages low? Would we allow our citizens and even our children to work ungodly hours in conditions that were unsafe and unsanitary? Would we restrict education to the privileged few? Because there were people who thought massive inequality and exploitation of people was just the price you pay for progress.

Theodore Roosevelt disagreed. He was the Republican son of a wealthy family. He praised what the titans of industry had done to create jobs and grow the economy. He believed then what we know is true today, that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history. It’s led to a prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world.

But Roosevelt also knew that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can. (Applause.) He understood the free market only works when there are rules of the road that ensure competition is fair and open and honest. And so he busted up monopolies, forcing those companies to compete for consumers with better services and better prices. And today, they still must. He fought to make sure businesses couldn’t profit by exploiting children or selling food or medicine that wasn’t safe. And today, they still can’t.

And in 1910, Teddy Roosevelt came here to Osawatomie and he laid out his vision for what he called a New Nationalism. “Our country,” he said, “…means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy…of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him.” (Applause.)

Now, for this, Roosevelt was called a radical. He was called a socialist — (laughter) — even a communist. But today, we are a richer nation and a stronger democracy because of what he fought for in his last campaign: an eight-hour work day and a minimum wage for women — (applause) — insurance for the unemployed and for the elderly, and those with disabilities; political reform and a progressive income tax. (Applause.)

Today, over 100 years later, our economy has gone through another transformation. Over the last few decades, huge advances in technology have allowed businesses to do more with less, and it’s made it easier for them to set up shop and hire workers anywhere they want in the world. And many of you know firsthand the painful disruptions this has caused for a lot of Americans.

Factories where people thought they would retire suddenly picked up and went overseas, where workers were cheaper. Steel mills that needed 100 — or 1,000 employees are now able to do the same work with 100 employees, so layoffs too often became permanent, not just a temporary part of the business cycle. And these changes didn’t just affect blue-collar workers. If you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by ATMs and the Internet.

Today, even higher-skilled jobs, like accountants and middle management can be outsourced to countries like China or India. And if you’re somebody whose job can be done cheaper by a computer or someone in another country, you don’t have a lot of leverage with your employer when it comes to asking for better wages or better benefits, especially since fewer Americans today are part of a union.

Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes — especially for the wealthy — our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.

Remember in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history. And what did it get us? The slowest job growth in half a century. Massive deficits that have made it much harder to pay for the investments that built this country and provided the basic security that helped millions of Americans reach and stay in the middle class — things like education and infrastructure, science and technology, Medicare and Social Security.

Remember that in those same years, thanks to some of the same folks who are now running Congress, we had weak regulation, we had little oversight, and what did it get us? Insurance companies that jacked up people’s premiums with impunity and denied care to patients who were sick, mortgage lenders that tricked families into buying homes they couldn’t afford, a financial sector where irresponsibility and lack of basic oversight nearly destroyed our entire economy.

We simply cannot return to this brand of “you’re on your own” economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country. (Applause.) We know that it doesn’t result in a strong economy. It results in an economy that invests too little in its people and in its future. We know it doesn’t result in a prosperity that trickles down. It results in a prosperity that’s enjoyed by fewer and fewer of our citizens.

Look at the statistics. In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1 percent has gone up by more than 250 percent to $1.2 million per year. I’m not talking about millionaires, people who have a million dollars. I’m saying people who make a million dollars every single year. For the top one hundredth of 1 percent, the average income is now $27 million per year. The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker now earns 110 times more. And yet, over the last decade the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6 percent.

Now, this kind of inequality — a level that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression — hurts us all. When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom. America was built on the idea of broad-based prosperity, of strong consumers all across the country. That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so that they could buy the cars he made. It’s also why a recent study showed that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.

Inequality also distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and it runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. (Applause.) It leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them, that our elected representatives aren’t looking out for the interests of most Americans.

But there’s an even more fundamental issue at stake. This kind of gaping inequality gives lie to the promise that’s at the very heart of America: that this is a place where you can make it if you try. We tell people — we tell our kids — that in this country, even if you’re born with nothing, work hard and you can get into the middle class. We tell them that your children will have a chance to do even better than you do. That’s why immigrants from around the world historically have flocked to our shores.

And yet, over the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. You know, a few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance had fallen to around 40 percent. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a one-in-three chance of making it to the middle class — 33 percent.

It’s heartbreaking enough that there are millions of working families in this country who are now forced to take their children to food banks for a decent meal. But the idea that those children might not have a chance to climb out of that situation and back into the middle class, no matter how hard they work? That’s inexcusable. It is wrong. (Applause.) It flies in the face of everything that we stand for. (Applause.)

Now, fortunately, that’s not a future that we have to accept, because there’s another view about how we build a strong middle class in this country — a view that’s truer to our history, a vision that’s been embraced in the past by people of both parties for more than 200 years.

It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America. It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all of society’s problems. It is a view that says in America we are greater together — when everyone engages in fair play and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share. (Applause.)

So what does that mean for restoring middle-class security in today’s economy? Well, it starts by making sure that everyone in America gets a fair shot at success. The truth is we’ll never be able to compete with other countries when it comes to who’s best at letting their businesses pay the lowest wages, who’s best at busting unions, who’s best at letting companies pollute as much as they want. That’s a race to the bottom that we can’t win, and we shouldn’t want to win that race. (Applause.) Those countries don’t have a strong middle class. They don’t have our standard of living.

The race we want to win, the race we can win is a race to the top — the race for good jobs that pay well and offer middle-class security. Businesses will create those jobs in countries with the highest-skilled, highest-educated workers, the most advanced transportation and communication, the strongest commitment to research and technology.

The world is shifting to an innovation economy and nobody does innovation better than America. Nobody does it better. (Applause.) No one has better colleges. Nobody has better universities. Nobody has a greater diversity of talent and ingenuity. No one’s workers or entrepreneurs are more driven or more daring. The things that have always been our strengths match up perfectly with the demands of the moment.

But we need to meet the moment. We’ve got to up our game. We need to remember that we can only do that together. It starts by making education a national mission — a national mission. (Applause.) Government and businesses, parents and citizens. In this economy, a higher education is the surest route to the middle class. The unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average. And their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma. Which means we shouldn’t be laying off good teachers right now — we should be hiring them. (Applause.) We shouldn’t be expecting less of our schools –- we should be demanding more. (Applause.) We shouldn’t be making it harder to afford college — we should be a country where everyone has a chance to go and doesn’t rack up $100,000 of debt just because they went. (Applause.)

In today’s innovation economy, we also need a world-class commitment to science and research, the next generation of high-tech manufacturing. Our factories and our workers shouldn’t be idle. We should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries. And by the way, if we don’t have an economy that’s built on bubbles and financial speculation, our best and brightest won’t all gravitate towards careers in banking and finance. (Applause.) Because if we want an economy that’s built to last, we need more of those young people in science and engineering. (Applause.) This country should not be known for bad debt and phony profits. We should be known for creating and selling products all around the world that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America. (Applause.)

Today, manufacturers and other companies are setting up shop in the places with the best infrastructure to ship their products, move their workers, communicate with the rest of the world. And that’s why the over 1 million construction workers who lost their jobs when the housing market collapsed, they shouldn’t be sitting at home with nothing to do. They should be rebuilding our roads and our bridges, laying down faster railroads and broadband, modernizing our schools — (applause) — all the things other countries are already doing to attract good jobs and businesses to their shores.

Yes, business, and not government, will always be the primary generator of good jobs with incomes that lift people into the middle class and keep them there. But as a nation, we’ve always come together, through our government, to help create the conditions where both workers and businesses can succeed. (Applause.) And historically, that hasn’t been a partisan idea. Franklin Roosevelt worked with Democrats and Republicans to give veterans of World War II — including my grandfather, Stanley Dunham — the chance to go to college on the G.I. Bill. It was a Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, a proud son of Kansas — (applause) — who started the Interstate Highway System, and doubled down on science and research to stay ahead of the Soviets.

Of course, those productive investments cost money. They’re not free. And so we’ve also paid for these investments by asking everybody to do their fair share. Look, if we had unlimited resources, no one would ever have to pay any taxes and we would never have to cut any spending. But we don’t have unlimited resources. And so we have to set priorities. If we want a strong middle class, then our tax code must reflect our values. We have to make choices.

Today that choice is very clear. To reduce our deficit, I’ve already signed nearly $1 trillion of spending cuts into law and I’ve proposed trillions more, including reforms that would lower the cost of Medicare and Medicaid. (Applause.)

But in order to structurally close the deficit, get our fiscal house in order, we have to decide what our priorities are. Now, most immediately, short term, we need to extend a payroll tax cut that’s set to expire at the end of this month. (Applause.) If we don’t do that, 160 million Americans, including most of the people here, will see their taxes go up by an average of $1,000 starting in January and it would badly weaken our recovery. That’s the short term.

In the long term, we have to rethink our tax system more fundamentally. We have to ask ourselves: Do we want to make the investments we need in things like education and research and high-tech manufacturing — all those things that helped make us an economic superpower? Or do we want to keep in place the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans in our country? Because we can’t afford to do both. That is not politics. That’s just math. (Laughter and applause.)

Now, so far, most of my Republican friends in Washington have refused under any circumstance to ask the wealthiest Americans to go to the same tax rate they were paying when Bill Clinton was president. So let’s just do a trip down memory lane here.

Keep in mind, when President Clinton first proposed these tax increases, folks in Congress predicted they would kill jobs and lead to another recession. Instead, our economy created nearly 23 million jobs and we eliminated the deficit. (Applause.) Today, the wealthiest Americans are paying the lowest taxes in over half a century. This isn’t like in the early ‘50s, when the top tax rate was over 90 percent. This isn’t even like the early ‘80s, when the top tax rate was about 70 percent. Under President Clinton, the top rate was only about 39 percent. Today, thanks to loopholes and shelters, a quarter of all millionaires now pay lower tax rates than millions of you, millions of middle-class families. Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent. One percent.

That is the height of unfairness. It is wrong. (Applause.) It’s wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker, maybe earns $50,000 a year, should pay a higher tax rate than somebody raking in $50 million. (Applause.) It’s wrong for Warren Buffett’s secretary to pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. (Applause.) And by the way, Warren Buffett agrees with me. (Laughter.) So do most Americans — Democrats, independents and Republicans. And I know that many of our wealthiest citizens would agree to contribute a little more if it meant reducing the deficit and strengthening the economy that made their success possible.

This isn’t about class warfare. This is about the nation’s welfare. It’s about making choices that benefit not just the people who’ve done fantastically well over the last few decades, but that benefits the middle class, and those fighting to get into the middle class, and the economy as a whole.

Finally, a strong middle class can only exist in an economy where everyone plays by the same rules, from Wall Street to Main Street. (Applause.) As infuriating as it was for all of us, we rescued our major banks from collapse, not only because a full-blown financial meltdown would have sent us into a second Depression, but because we need a strong, healthy financial sector in this country.

But part of the deal was that we wouldn’t go back to business as usual. And that’s why last year we put in place new rules of the road that refocus the financial sector on what should be their core purpose: getting capital to the entrepreneurs with the best ideas, and financing millions of families who want to buy a home or send their kids to college.

Now, we’re not all the way there yet, and the banks are fighting us every inch of the way. But already, some of these reforms are being implemented.

If you’re a big bank or risky financial institution, you now have to write out a “living will” that details exactly how you’ll pay the bills if you fail, so that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. (Applause.) There are also limits on the size of banks and new abilities for regulators to dismantle a firm that is going under. The new law bans banks from making risky bets with their customers’ deposits, and it takes away big bonuses and paydays from failed CEOs, while giving shareholders a say on executive salaries.

This is the law that we passed. We are in the process of implementing it now. All of this is being put in place as we speak. Now, unless you’re a financial institution whose business model is built on breaking the law, cheating consumers and making risky bets that could damage the entire economy, you should have nothing to fear from these new rules.

Some of you may know, my grandmother worked as a banker for most of her life — worked her way up, started as a secretary, ended up being a vice president of a bank. And I know from her, and I know from all the people that I’ve come in contact with, that the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals, they want to do right by their customers. They want to have rules in place that don’t put them at a disadvantage for doing the right thing. And yet, Republicans in Congress are fighting as hard as they can to make sure that these rules aren’t enforced.

I’ll give you a specific example. For the first time in history, the reforms that we passed put in place a consumer watchdog who is charged with protecting everyday Americans from being taken advantage of by mortgage lenders or payday lenders or debt collectors. And the man we nominated for the post, Richard Cordray, is a former attorney general of Ohio who has the support of most attorney generals, both Democrat and Republican, throughout the country. Nobody claims he’s not qualified.

But the Republicans in the Senate refuse to confirm him for the job; they refuse to let him do his job. Why? Does anybody here think that the problem that led to our financial crisis was too much oversight of mortgage lenders or debt collectors?


THE PRESIDENT: Of course not. Every day we go without a consumer watchdog is another day when a student, or a senior citizen, or a member of our Armed Forces — because they are very vulnerable to some of this stuff — could be tricked into a loan that they can’t afford — something that happens all the time. And the fact is that financial institutions have plenty of lobbyists looking out for their interests. Consumers deserve to have someone whose job it is to look out for them. (Applause.) And I intend to make sure they do. (Applause.) And I want you to hear me, Kansas: I will veto any effort to delay or defund or dismantle the new rules that we put in place. (Applause.)

We shouldn’t be weakening oversight and accountability. We should be strengthening oversight and accountability. I’ll give you another example. Too often, we’ve seen Wall Street firms violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there’s no price for being a repeat offender. No more. I’ll be calling for legislation that makes those penalties count so that firms don’t see punishment for breaking the law as just the price of doing business. (Applause.)

The fact is this crisis has left a huge deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. And major banks that were rescued by the taxpayers have an obligation to go the extra mile in helping to close that deficit of trust. At minimum, they should be remedying past mortgage abuses that led to the financial crisis. They should be working to keep responsible homeowners in their home. We’re going to keep pushing them to provide more time for unemployed homeowners to look for work without having to worry about immediately losing their house.

The big banks should increase access to refinancing opportunities to borrowers who haven’t yet benefited from historically low interest rates. And the big banks should recognize that precisely because these steps are in the interest of middle-class families and the broader economy, it will also be in the banks’ own long-term financial interest. What will be good for consumers over the long term will be good for the banks. (Applause.)

Investing in things like education that give everybody a chance to succeed. A tax code that makes sure everybody pays their fair share. And laws that make sure everybody follows the rules. That’s what will transform our economy. That’s what will grow our middle class again. In the end, rebuilding this economy based on fair play, a fair shot, and a fair share will require all of us to see that we have a stake in each other’s success. And it will require all of us to take some responsibility.

It will require parents to get more involved in their children’s education. It will require students to study harder. (Applause.) It will require some workers to start studying all over again. It will require greater responsibility from homeowners not to take out mortgages they can’t afford. They need to remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

It will require those of us in public service to make government more efficient and more effective, more consumer-friendly, more responsive to people’s needs. That’s why we’re cutting programs that we don’t need to pay for those we do. (Applause.) That’s why we’ve made hundreds of regulatory reforms that will save businesses billions of dollars. That’s why we’re not just throwing money at education, we’re challenging schools to come up with the most innovative reforms and the best results.

And it will require American business leaders to understand that their obligations don’t just end with their shareholders. Andy Grove, the legendary former CEO of Intel, put it best. He said, “There is another obligation I feel personally, given that everything I’ve achieved in my career, and a lot of what Intel has achieved…were made possible by a climate of democracy, an economic climate and investment climate provided by the United States.”

This broader obligation can take many forms. At a time when the cost of hiring workers in China is rising rapidly, it should mean more CEOs deciding that it’s time to bring jobs back to the United States — (applause) — not just because it’s good for business, but because it’s good for the country that made their business and their personal success possible. (Applause.)

I think about the Big Three auto companies who, during recent negotiations, agreed to create more jobs and cars here in America, and then decided to give bonuses not just to their executives, but to all their employees, so that everyone was invested in the company’s success. (Applause.)

I think about a company based in Warroad, Minnesota. It’s called Marvin Windows and Doors. During the recession, Marvin’s competitors closed dozens of plants, let hundreds of workers go. But Marvin’s did not lay off a single one of their 4,000 or so employees — not one. In fact, they’ve only laid off workers once in over a hundred years. Mr. Marvin’s grandfather even kept his eight employees during the Great Depression.

Now, at Marvin’s when times get tough, the workers agree to give up some perks and some pay, and so do the owners. As one owner said, “You can’t grow if you’re cutting your lifeblood — and that’s the skills and experience your workforce delivers.” (Applause.) For the CEO of Marvin’s, it’s about the community. He said, “These are people we went to school with. We go to church with them. We see them in the same restaurants. Indeed, a lot of us have married local girls and boys. We could be anywhere, but we are in Warroad.”

That’s how America was built. That’s why we’re the greatest nation on Earth. That’s what our greatest companies understand. Our success has never just been about survival of the fittest. It’s about building a nation where we’re all better off. We pull together. We pitch in. We do our part. We believe that hard work will pay off, that responsibility will be rewarded, and that our children will inherit a nation where those values live on. (Applause.)

And it is that belief that rallied thousands of Americans to Osawatomie — (applause) — maybe even some of your ancestors — on a rain-soaked day more than a century ago. By train, by wagon, on buggy, bicycle, on foot, they came to hear the vision of a man who loved this country and was determined to perfect it.

“We are all Americans,” Teddy Roosevelt told them that day. “Our common interests are as broad as the continent.” In the final years of his life, Roosevelt took that same message all across this country, from tiny Osawatomie to the heart of New York City, believing that no matter where he went, no matter who he was talking to, everybody would benefit from a country in which everyone gets a fair chance. (Applause.)

And well into our third century as a nation, we have grown and we’ve changed in many ways since Roosevelt’s time. The world is faster and the playing field is larger and the challenges are more complex. But what hasn’t changed — what can never change — are the values that got us this far. We still have a stake in each other’s success. We still believe that this should be a place where you can make it if you try. And we still believe, in the words of the man who called for a New Nationalism all those years ago, “The fundamental rule of our national life,” he said, “the rule which underlies all others — is that, on the whole, and in the long run, we shall go up or down together.” And I believe America is on the way up. (Applause.)

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)


History Buzz November 30, 2011: First Look Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg Film


History Buzz



Daniel Day-Lewis As Abraham Lincoln (PHOTO)

From the moment Steven Spielberg chose Daniel Day-Lewis to play Abraham Lincoln in his upcoming biopic about the president, movie fans have been excited to see just how closely the Oscar-winner would be made to resemble the bearded leader.

Twitter user @UVAMichael posted a photo of Day-Lewis with his Lincoln goatee and hair style, and it’s amazing just how much he looks like Lincoln. And that’s without the top hat.

The film, which will also star Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens and John Hawkes as Robert Latham, amongst other stars.


Glenn C. Altschuler Reviews Steven Gillon’s ‘Pearl Harbor’ : A look at FDR, Pearl Harbor and a transformed presidency

Glenn C. Altschuler Reviews Steven Gillon’s ‘Pearl Harbor’ : A look at FDR, Pearl Harbor and a transformed presidency
Source: The OregonianThe Oregonia, 11-26-11

Steven M. Gillon
Basic Books
$25.99, 248 pages

For millions of Americans, Dec. 7, 1941, is a date that lives in infamy. They remember Japan’s surprise attack against the Pacific Fleet based in Hawaii as a pivotal moment that swept the United States into World War II and sealed the fate of the Axis powers.

In “Pearl Harbor: FDR Leads the Nation Into War,” Steven M. Gillon, resident historian for The History Channel and history professor at the University of Oklahoma, provides a concise and informative account of Franklin Roosevelt’s initial response to the crisis. Against a backdrop of “chaos and confusion,” with no polls to guide him and little time for reflection, Gillon argues, the president exhibited extraordinary qualities of leadership, orchestrating a response that would reassure and inspire an anxious nation.

“Pearl Harbor” does not break new ground or depart from conventional wisdom. Along with virtually every professional historian, Gillon sees no evidence that Roosevelt knew the attack was coming and used it to push the United States into war. The president and his staff, he writes, may have “gravely misjudged Japan’s intentions and capability, but they were not guilty of deliberate deception.”

Gillon agrees, however, that Roosevelt did restrict the flow of information to the press. Concerned that detailed damage assessments might embolden the Japanese and demoralize Americans, he ordered that briefings come only from the White House, and did not update casualty figures. These practices, Gillon claims, perhaps naively, would not be acceptable today.

There is no doubt, however, that, for good and ill, the attack on Pearl Harbor transformed — and enlarged — the presidency. In one of many executive orders, Gillon reminds us, Roosevelt authorized the forced evacuation of more than 100,000 Japanese residents on the West Coast, many of them American citizens.

History Buzz November 10, 2011: Nixon’s long-secret Watergate grand jury testimony released


History Buzz



Nixon’s long-secret grand jury testimony released

Source: LAT, 11-10-11

President Nixon's grand jury testimony

The National Archives has released President Nixon’s grand jury testimony from the summer of 1975. (Los Angeles Times / November 10, 2011

The Archives on Thursday released 26 files from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force’s collection of documents, including transcripts and “associated materials” from the June 1975 grand jury testimony.

Earlier this year, a U.S. district judge ordered the unusual release of the grand jury testimony over the objection of the Obama administration, which argued against the release to protect people’s privacy.

The grand jury testimony was the one time that Nixon was required by law to speak honestly about the Watergate scandal….READ MORE

On This Day in History… September 17, 1787: Constitution Day — 12 of the 13 States Signed and Adopted the Constitution at the Phildelphia Convention


Day in History

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.



“It’s a republic, if you can keep it.” — Ben Franklin sighed after the Consitution was signed by George Washington and the founding fathers at the Philadelphia Convention

On this day in history… September 17, 1787… The United States Constitution is adopted by the Philadelphia convention….
Representatives of 12 of the 13 original states signed the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. The Constitution, with its 27 amendments, defines the federal system of government and embodies the principles on which this country was founded.”

The Federal Convention convened in the State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia on May 14, 1787, to revise the Articles of Confederation. Because the delegations from only two states were at first present, the members adjourned from day to day until a quorum of seven states was obtained on May 25. Through discussion and debate it became clear by mid-June that, rather than amend the existing Articles, the Convention would draft an entirely new frame of government. All through the summer, in closed sessions, the delegates debated, and redrafted the articles of the new Constitution. Among the chief points at issue were how much power to allow the central government, how many representatives in Congress to allow each state, and how these representatives should be elected–directly by the people or by the state legislators. The work of many minds, the Constitution stands as a model of cooperative statesmanship and the art of compromise. — The Constitution of the United States, Archives.gov


National Constitution Center Resources: The National Constitution Center offers educators of all grade levels free, online resources to help teach the Constitution on September 17th and throughout the school year. — National Constitution Center

Constitution Day Resources from the Library of Congress: On September 17, 1787, the final draft of the Constitution was signed by 39 delegates. The document was then sent to the states for ratification, and went into effect on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution.
In celebration of Constitution Day, the Library of Congress has compiled a variety of materials from across its collections. Explore these rich resources and features to learn more about one of America’s most important documents…. – LOC

Constitution Hall Pass: Get your Constitution Hall pass for a tour of Signers’ Hall.Consititutional Center

Constitution Day: Celebrate the Ratfication of the ConstitutionConstitution Day 2011

US Constitution Day Activities and Lesson Plans | Constitution FactsConstitution Facts

Resources for Teaching the ConstitutionNYT Learning

Constitution Day Activities and Lessons for Gifted EducationSuite 101


Happy Constitution Day! As Ronald Reagan said about this day in 1981: “While a constitution may set forth rights and liberties, only the citizens can maintain and guarantee those freedoms. Active and informed citizenship is not just a right; it is a duty.”

Presidential Proclamation — Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, Constitution Week, 2011: CONSTITUTION DAY AND CITIZENSHIP DAY, CONSTITUTION WEEK, 2011 — BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
In the summer of 1787, delegates from the States gathered in Philadelphia to build a new framework for our young republic. Our Constitution’s Framers represented diverse backgrounds, and on key issues, they were divided. Yet despite their differences, they courageously joined together in common purpose to create “a more perfect Union.” After 4 months of fierce debate and hard-fought compromise, the delegates signed the Constitution of the United States.
For more than two centuries, the Constitution has presided as the supreme law of the land, keeping our leaders true to America’s highest ideals and guaranteeing the fundamental rights that make our country a beacon of hope to all peoples seeking freedom and justice. Together with the Bill of Rights, our Constitution is the backbone of our government and the basis of our liberties. Even while retaining its structure, our founding document has grown with our Nation’s conscience, amended over the years to extend America’s promise to citizens of every race, gender, and creed.
Americans are defined not by bloodlines or allegiance to any one leader or faith, but by our shared ideals of liberty, equality, and justice under the law. We are a Nation of immigrants, built and sustained by people who have brought their talents, drive, and entrepreneurial spirit to our shores. Generations of newcomers have journeyed to this land because they believed in what our country stands for.
Every year, thousands of candidates for citizenship commemorate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by becoming American citizens. These men and women have respected our laws and learned our history, and some have served in our military. Today, we invite them to join us in writing the next great chapter of the American story.
In signing the Constitution, the Framers provided a model of American leadership for generations to come. Through controversy and division, they built a lasting structure of government that began with the words, “We the People.” This week, as we celebrate our Founders’ timeless vision, we resolve to stay true to their spirit of patriotism and unity.
In remembrance of the signing of the Constitution and in recognition of the Americans who strive to uphold the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, the Congress, by joint resolution of February 29, 1952 (36 U.S.C. 106), designated September 17 as “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” and by joint resolution of August 2, 1956 (36 U.S.C. 108), requested that the President proclaim the week beginning September 17 and ending September 23 of each year as “Constitution Week.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 17, 2011, as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and September 17 through September 23, 2011, as Constitution Week. I encourage Federal, State, and local officials, as well as leaders of civic, social, and educational organizations, to conduct ceremonies and programs that bring together community members to reflect on the importance of active citizenship, recognize the enduring strength of our Constitution, and reaffirm our commitment to the rights and obligations of citizenship in this great Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth. —
BARACK OBAMA — Source: whitehouse.gov

CONGRESSMAN SCHILLING ISSUES STATEMENT ON CONSTITUTION DAY: “Our Founding Fathers envisioned a nation where every individual had the opportunity to succeed through determination and self motivation. Our country still provides its citizens with the Blessings of Liberty 224 years after the Constitution was written.
Constitution Day is a day for all Americans to unite around a document signed more than two centuries ago that still defines our nation. I was truly humbled to share this day with some of our youngest Americans and will continue to work for the people of Illinois to make sure our Constitution is upheld.” — Congressman Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17)


  • A Circuitous Route to a Celebration: Constitution Day was apparently first observed in Iowa in 1911, at the urging of the Sons of the American Revolution, who later reported that “appropriate exercises” were held in every school in the state. It was to be celebrated on Sept. 17, to mark the day in 1787 that the Constitutional Convention signed the document.
    Six years later, the Sons proposed that the day be celebrated with ceremonies in every state. Calvin Coolidge, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Cabot Lodge and Gen. John J. Pershing were among the members of a committee to promote the celebrations. By 1929, the Sons reported, 38 states had passed laws requiring that the Constitution be taught in schools.
    A decade later, a San Diego chapter of the group suggested that the holiday be renamed National Citizenship Day, to honor those who had become naturalized citizens in the previous year. Congress did so in 1952, and “oddly,” the Sons reported in a later history, eliminated Constitution Day as a result. In 1955, the Daughters of the American Revolution proposed celebrating the two holidays together, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a resolution for Constitution Week to begin on Sept 17.
    But it was Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, a Democrat, who championed the law, passed in 2004, requiring schools that receive federal funds to teach the Constitution on Constitution Day (or the week adjacent).
    Mr. Byrd, who died in 2010, was the longest-serving member of Congress, and well-known for his love of the Constitution; he carried a copy in his pocket and brandished it in his speeches from the Senate floor, and invoked its provisions about checks and balances to protect the prerogative of the legislative branch.
    Tea Party supporters and constitutional originalists might agree with his concern about the abuse of executive power. But Mr. Byrd was also known for bringing the largess of the federal government to his state, which made him, in Tea Party terms, a tax-and-spend, big government liberal…. – NYT, 9-17-11
  • On Day Devoted to Constitution, a Fight Over It: In the 100 years since Constitution Day was first established, most Americans have lumped it with holidays like Grandparents’ Day and Administrative Assistants’ day — a noble cause, lightly observed.
    But this year, with the Tea Party making the Constitution sexy again, the holiday (which, for those rusty on their civics, falls on Saturday) has become occasion for battle.
    Tea Party groups, armed with lesson plans and coloring books, are pushing schools to use the day to teach a conservative interpretation of the Constitution, where the federal government is a creeping and unwelcome presence in the lives of freedom-loving Americans.
    Progressive groups, accusing the Tea Party of selectively reading the founding document, have responded with a campaign to “take back the Constitution.” They are urging Americans and lawmakers to sign a pledge to honor the whole Constitution, even the parts many Tea Party supporters would prefer to ignore — say, the amendments allowing an income tax, and granting birthright citizenship. And they are trying to get people to see the Constitution not as a limit on federal power but as the spirit behind progressive laws.
    The struggle over the holiday is yet another proxy in the fight over the proper role of government. On one side are those who embrace an “originalist” view of the Constitution, where New Deal judicial activism started the country down the path to ruin. On the other are those who say that its language — allowing Congress to levy taxes to provide “for the general welfare,” to regulate commerce, and to do what is “necessary and proper” to carry out its role — affirms the broad role of the federal government that has developed over the last 100 years…. – NYT, 9-17-11
  • Constitution Day cometh: celebrate the law Saturday: The day got its start in 2005, when the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) amended an appropriations bill to mandate that federally-funded schools teach about the Constitution every Sept. 17.
    The Constitution has enjoyed a surge in interest over the past few years with the Tea Party’s focus on the founding fathers. Last week in South Carolina, Republican candidates pledged to uphold the Constitution, saying the U.S. government has strayed far from its origins…. – WaPo, 9-17-11
  • On Constitution Day, tea party and foes duel over our founding document: It’s Constitution Day in the US, which this year features a healthy debate about the limits on government power. The growth of the tea party movement has heightened that continuing argument.
    Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor holds a copy of the Constitution before a recitation of the preamble at the National Constitution Center, Friday, Sept. 16, in Philadelphia. Saturday marks the 224th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution…. – CS Monitor, 9-17-11
  • On Constitution Day, the document lives on in political debates: In many ways, views about the Constitution are reflected in the debate over how President Obama is handling the issues of the day…. – CS Monitor, 9-17-09
  • Constitution Day – the United States’ real birthday: Alas, the 13 colonies may have declared their Independence in 1776, but it wasn’t until the signing of the US Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787 that the United States was born. This Saturday marks the 224th anniversary of Constitution Day…. – San Diego Entertainer Magazine, 9-16-11
  • Honoring the US Constitution: On Sept. 17, 224 years ago in Philadelphia, the founding fathers signed the Constitution and sent it on to the Continental Congress in what was to be the first step toward its ratification in June of 1788…. – Chicago Tribune, 9-16-11
  • Americans, remember the Constitution: On Sept. 17, 1787, 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed a divinely-inspired document — our US Constitution. Since 2004, “Constitution Day” is a federal observance in which we are encouraged to count our “Blessings of Liberty…. – Vineland Daily Journal, 9-17-11
  • How Will You Celebrate Constitution Day? Friday marks the day America celebrates the Constitution: Friday the country observes Constitution Day, which marks the anniversary of the document’s signing (it was actually signed on September 17, 1787, but is observed on September 16 this year because the 17th is a Saturday). Along with passing the holiday, Congress mandated that public schools educate their students about the constitution on this day. In the past, schools have celebrated Constitution Day with trivia contests, Constitution readings, and t-shirt giveaways. There are a number of website devoted to activities for teachers, parents, and Constitution enthusiasts to do on the holiday. The National Archives in Washington, D.C. and the Constitution Center in Philadelphia have special events planned for the day as well…. – US News, 9-16-11
  • Constitution Day: Classrooms, Communities Celebrate With Re-Enactments, ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ and More: Happy Constitution Day!
    Although the actual holiday is Saturday, public schools across the country celebrated the document today that has seen a resurgence in popularity, thanks partly to Tea Party conservatives. Classrooms hosted a range of educational programs on the nation’s founding tract and, for those more interested in recreation, there were celebrations from coast to coast with fireworks, revolutionary war re-enactments, hay rides and more.
    The Constitution Day tradition has its roots in a mandate introduced by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V., in 2005. Byrd was known to carry a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution close to his heart…. – ABC News, 9-16-11
  • A digital boost for free speech: Each year on Constitution Day, students and teachers celebrate the most fundamental laws of our republic. On this Constitution Day, they should also celebrate Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and other social media.
    Why? Because it turns out that social media are good for the Constitution. Specifically, they’re good for the First Amendment.
    “The Future of the First Amendment,” a new study being released today by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, reaches that conclusion. As researcher Ken Dautrich puts it, “There is a clear, positive relationship between student usage of social media to get news and information and greater support for free expression rights.”… – Philadelphia Inquirer, 9-17-11
  • The battle for the Constitution continues: Even though it’s now the oldest operating governing document in the world, the Constitution is as controversial as it ever was. The 2012 presidential, congressional and state elections will likely hinge on interpretations of just what it means…. – The News Journal, 9-17-11
  • Biden visits Univ. of Delaware to donate Senate papers, says school encouraged public service: Vice president Joe Biden joins UD President Patrick T. Harker and Susan Brynteson, Vice Provost and May Morris Director at the University of Delaware Library in the ceremonial signing as he donates his Senate papers to the University of Delaware library, Friday, Sept. 16, 2011 at Mitchell Hall on the University of Delaware in Newark, Del.
    “This university has been part of my life, and so it’s only fitting that the work of my life be back here at the university,” said the 68-year-old Biden, who also delivered the inaugural speech in a lecture series honoring a political science professor who died last year.
    Biden thanked the professors who taught him as an undergraduate, including one who Biden said encouraged him to shape up and take his coursework seriously, prompting Biden to take a heavy course load in his final semesters to bring up his grades.
    He recalled an emphasis on public service during his college years. “Each of you instilled in me that being engaged in public life was honorable, a noble undertaking, and that we had something to contribute to the public debate,” said Biden, who received his law degree from Syracuse Law School…. – AP, 9-17-11
  • Vice President donates senate papers at University of Delaware ceremony: Vice President Joe Biden donates his senate papers to the University of Delaware in a Constitution Day ceremony at the school.
    The papers will now be a part of the UD Library’s Special Collections Unit. That collection holds over 200 years worth of political papers.
    While at UD, the Vice President will mark Constitution Day by delivering the James R. Soles Lecture on the Constitution and Citizenship. The annual lecture series is named in honor of late Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus Jim Soles…. – Newsworks, 9-16-11
  • Hamilton’s Manhattan home at last restored to its colonial glory: On this date 224 years ago, Sept. 17, 1787, the Founding Fathers signed the United States Constitution. Only one man represented New York: Alexander Hamilton.
    Today, Constitution Day, Sept. 17, 2011, the National Park Service will reopen to the public the house that was Hamilton’s uptown country home. The ceremony will mark the end of a century of shameful neglect.
    Blessed with brilliance, Hamilton arrived in New York as an orphaned immigrant from the West Indies. He was a Revolutionary War colonel and aide-de-camp to George Washington. He was the founder of the Bank of New York.
    He helped draft the Constitution and was co-author of the Federalist Papers arguing logically and passionately for its ratification. Under the new government, he served as the first U.S. treasury secretary.
    As a getaway 90 minutes by carriage from lower Manhattan, he built Hamilton Grange on 33 acres that provided views of both the Hudson and Harlem Rivers. The grounds included a grove of 13 sweet gum trees. Planted as saplings taken from Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, the trees represented the original 13 states.
    He fell in a duel with Aaron Burr and down through the decades and then centuries, the place went to seed. Its front and back stoops were lopped off and it was moved from its hilltop to Convent Ave. at W. 141st St. and crammed in sideways next to a church. Plans for a restoration in 1908 went nowhere.
    In 1962, the U.S. declared the Grange, now hemmed in by the city, a national memorial. Again there were plans to do right by it. Only now have they come to fruition. In 2008, the park service moved the building to a hilltop in St. Nicholas Park, which had been part of Hamilton’s land, righted and properly restored the building. Pay a visit and look for those 13 newly planted sweet gums…. – NY Daily News, 9-17-11
  • Ron Paul kicks off another ‘money bomb’: As someone who calls himself the “champion of the Constitution,” GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul is celebrating Constitution Day with another one of his “money bomb” fundraisers…. – CNN, 9-17-11


“This idea of historic things that happen overshadows the fact that this document just plugs on and on and that we just expect it to work. We have grown to expect that, and that’s remarkable, and I think it would have been remarkable to the founders.” — Sally Rider, director the Rehnquist Center in Tucson, Ariz.

  • Matthew L. Hipps, assistant professor of political science at Dalton State College: ‘Civility and tolerance’ to be Constitution Day topic tonight at Dalton State:
    “The full title of the program is ‘When Freedom of Speech Becomes the Freedom to Hate.’ This year’s program will focus on civility and tolerance with a specific focus on what we say to one another.
    The First Amendment right to free speech is one of our most precious and closely guarded rights, but it can also be the most easily abused. I think an open and honest conversation about what free speech actually means is a very good thing.
    As I teach political science — and wrote a dissertation on our perceptions of each other — I have always been interested in the Bill of Rights and how those things that protect us can become the very things that tear us apart. Constitution Day provides a unique opportunity to discuss these topics with the Dalton State and Dalton communities.” – Dalton Daily Citizen, 9-16-11
  • Beth Minchen: The Baptist College of Florida celebrates Constitution Day: “Some people are intimidated by the constitution, but it was crafted so the common people could understand it,” said Beth Minchen, an adjunct professor teaching history at the college.
    “It’s important not to forget where we come from. It gives us an idea of where we’re going and more importantly how we can stray from that original path.” — Jackson County Floridian, 9-18-11
  • Paul McGreal, Bob Taft: Dialogue to honor Constitution: Paul McGreal, dean of the University of Dayton School of Law, will host a Constitution Day presentation and dialogue at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, in the Keller Hall courtroom.
    “It’s like a happy birthday for the Constitution,” he said.
    “It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the Supreme Court’s work is the way I’m describing it,” McGreal said. “Basically what this does is shed light on one of the branches of the federal government that is usually shrouded in secrecy.””I really commend having a discussion about it on Constitution Day because it’s commenting that all students should be aware of and appreciate it [the Constitution] for the fact that it has provided such stability and continuity for a government for over two centuries,” said Bob Taft, distinguished research associate and professor for the School of Education and Allied Professions.”…. – Flyer News, 9-15-11
  • Brian K. Pinaire: ‘Democracy’ is missing from the Constitution: Two hundred and twenty-four years ago, on Sept. 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the final time to sign the document they had crafted over the course of the summer in Philadelphia.
    The date commemorating this event has been a federal observance and has been known as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day since 2004. And since 2005, universities receiving federal funds have been required to mark the event by offering some sort of programming on the history of the Constitution.
    Concentrate on the text and the context; notice the distinctly pragmatic orientation and structure of the project; realize that the document was crafted in deliberately broad language, with an eye to future revisions and impending amendments, colored by the need to appease various factions present at the convention, and intended to provide only a concise blueprint to be passed on to subsequent generations. Even including its 27 amendments, the Constitution is still only 8,000 words and is deafeningly silent on some of the most controversial political issues of our day.
    For example, you will look in vain for any mention of “privacy” in the Constitution. The same goes for “democracy.” Nor will you find any specification on how (or even why) we vote in this country. You will find no anticipation of the Department of Homeland Security, or any explicit directive for regulating the Internet, or any guidance for how much we should pay federal officials. You will not find a specific assertion of the government’s power to compel the purchase of health insurance, but nor will you find any specific preclusion of this authority.
    And, since we are entering the presidential primary season, you will notice that this method of candidate selection is mentioned nowhere in the text, since of course the size, scope and complexity of the electoral process have changed radically since 1787. For that matter, you won’t even find any mention in the Constitution of a day meant to celebrate the Constitution!
    Does this mean Constitution Day is somehow “unconstitutional”? I would say no, but this is only to underscore a point often lost in contemporary political discourse: Verily we must focus on what the Constitution says, but this is only the first step in determining what it means. To be sure, such an endeavor is daunting, but no one said maintaining a constitutional democracy was easy. Just take a look around the world. – The Morning Call, 9-16-11

History Buzz September 15, 2011: Michael Beschloss: Jacqueline Kennedy Recordings Offer Rare Glimpse of Life With President John F. Kennedy Transcript Excerpts


History Buzz



Jacqueline Kennedy

HISTORY INTERVIEWS: Recordings of Jacqueline Kennedy Offer Rare Glimpse of Life With JFK — Transcript & Excerpts

Source: PBS Newshour, 9-15-11


The new book, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy,” includes never before heard audio recordings of interviews conducted with the former first lady in 1964. Ray Suarez discusses the rare and intimate glimpse with presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who edited and annotated the book.

RAY SUAREZ: And to a rare and intimate glimpse into history.

The new book “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy,” includes never-before-heard audio recordings of interviews conducted with the former first lady in 1964, shortly after her husband’s assassination.

The tapes were released by daughter Caroline Kennedy in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy administration.

Presidential historian and regular NewsHour guest Michael Beschloss edited and annotated the book, and he joins us now.

And, Michael, it was a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at life with JFK, life in the White House, and the life and times of the Kennedy administration.

What do you know now? What’s the most important thing you know now that you didn’t know before?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, presidential historian: Well, the biggest thing, if we had talked a year ago, before I read this thing, I would have said Jacqueline Kennedy was a major figure obviously in JFK’s life and Kennedy’s Washington, did a lot for historic preservation, restored the White House, substituted the taste, perhaps, of Dwight Eisenhower, who had people like Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians play in the White House, for people like Pablo Casals.

But I wouldn’t have said that she was a major political figure in Kennedy administration. Now I would. One example of this is the number of times in this book where she runs down, say, someone like Dean Rusk, the secretary of state, says, “Jack, you should fire him.” And he says, “Well, maybe you’re right, but I can’t do it until 1964.”

She goes to Pakistan and there’s an ambassador of the United States she meets there, comes back, writes a letter at her husband’s behest that he sends on to the secretary of state. She had a lot more to do particularly with the personnel of this administration than think I would have thought.

RAY SUAREZ: We are taken into the back, private areas of the White House during some of the most tense times in the 1960s, for instance, the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Jacqueline Kennedy tells historian and Kennedy insider Arthur Schlesinger about what those tense days were like for her and the family.

Let’s listen.


JACQUELINE KENNEDY, former first lady: But I said: “Please, don’t send me away to Camp David, you know, me and the children. Please don’t send me anywhere. If anything happens, we’re all going to say right here with you.”

And, you know — and I said, “Even if there’s not room in the bomb shelter in the White House,” which I had seen, I said, “Please, then I just want to be on the lawn when it happens, you know, but I just want to be with you and I want to die with you. And the children do, too, than live without you.”

RAY SUAREZ: It’s a reminder that this wasn’t kidding around. The world felt like it was right on the precipice. When the first lady says to the president, “I and the children want to die with you,” it was striking.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: And be out on the lawn, not in a bomb shelter.

And the other thing is, it tells something about their marriage. In my experience studying presidents, the president doesn’t have a great marriage with the first lady and there’s a big political crisis, the president usually doesn’t want to spend very much time with his wife, would rather be around cronies or something.

John Kennedy’s first instinct when he knows about the Cuban Missile Crisis — it is in the book — he calls up Jackie, who is in Virginia. There’s something funny in his voice, she says. He says, “Please bring the children right now back to the White House,” even though they were taking naps.

And the next 13 days, they spent very much together, went strolling out on the lawn together. He had a very — she had a very large part in his life, obviously, but particularly at this moment he looked to her for security.

RAY SUAREZ: Two things shone out again and again, how much she admired Kennedy’s personality, his intellect, the way he related to people on the campaign trail and at times how unsure of her own value to him she really was. Take a listen to this.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY: I was always a liability to him until we got to the White House. And he never asked me to change or said anything about it. Everyone thought I was a snob from Newport who had bouffant hair and had French clothes and hated politics.

And then because I was off and having these babies, I wasn’t able to campaign, be around him as much as I could have. And he’d get so upset for me when something like that came out. And, sometimes, I would say, “Oh, Jack, I wish — I’m so sorry for you that I’m just such a dud.”

RAY SUAREZ: Sure, she was a little unsure campaigning at the beginning, but she was anything but a liability, right?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: As it turned out.

But the Kennedy operatives in 1960 thought that she would be, that people would be put off, that she would seem too effete. Some of them wished that she would be more like Pat Nixon. One once said, we will run Mrs. Kennedy through subliminally, worried about her politically.

The biggest surprise to both of them is, she becomes first lady and she’s the most enormous celebrity in the country. Everyone wants to wear their hair like Jackie, the women do, and do their houses and imitate her in other ways. And the poignant thing is that, when they went to Texas at the end of the Kennedy presidency, he had pleaded with her to go with him because she was such a political asset.

RAY SUAREZ: The interesting thing about the times is that right behind her is Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: The model political wife of the time.

RAY SUAREZ: Waiting out just a little ways down the road are Lady Bird Johnson in her way, but also Betty Ford and Rosalynn Carter. She seems on the edge of those two worlds, a helpmeet, a supporter, but also someone who is educated, quite sophisticated in her own right, and worried very much about how the burdens of the presidency were affecting her husband when she couldn’t help him.

Listen to this.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY: And he cared so much. He didn’t care about his 100 days, but all those poor men who you would send off with all their hopes high and promises that we would back them. And there they were, shot down like dogs or going to die in jail.

And Bobby came over to see me and said, “Please stay very close to Jack. I mean, just be around all afternoon.” If I was going to take children out — in other words, don’t leave anywhere, just to sort of comfort him.

RAY SUAREZ: The Bay of Pigs had been a disaster for the very young Kennedy administration, and she was watching it weigh on her husband.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Yes, just three months in.

And he came in with very grandiose expectations, and, suddenly, three months later, he’s accused of being an incompetent, can’t get this done, the invasion of Cuba. He weeps with her in a bedroom in the weekend house they had in Virginia.

And, also, you look at Kennedy’s medical records. His doctors felt that he had gone into a depression. So she felt very much part of her job throughout this presidency was buoying him up when he needed it, and he often did.

RAY SUAREZ: Also, she was incredibly young, raising young children, and pregnant several times during that both campaign and early White House phase, but, at the same time, a woman energized by the life that she was living emerges from the texts of the Schlesinger interviews.

By 1964, when this interview was done, she seems to be pretty much at peace with her role in White House. Take a listen:

JACQUELINE KENNEDY: I always thought there was one thing merciful about the White House, which made up for the goldfish bowl and the Secret Service and all that, was that it was kind of — you were hermetically sealed or there was something protective against the outside world, I mean, as far as your private life went.

And I decided that was the best thing to do. Everyone should be trying to help Jack in whatever way they could. And that was the way I could do it the best, by making it always a climate of affection and comfort and detente when he came home.

RAY SUAREZ: Interesting that she was able to create privacy, when so many other first ladies more keenly feel that intrusion.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Yes, that’s right.

And she didn’t want to go to the White House. She got very morose when he won, oddly enough, because she thought that life would wreck her family. And she was a woman of hugely strong will. And she basically said: I’m not going to be Mamie Eisenhower, campaigning and going to all these political and other kinds of banquets. My job is to support my husband, to raise my children well.

And she also took on for herself this huge project of restoring the White House, which she rightly felt when she encountered it looked like sort of a bad convention hotel which was full of B. Altman reproductions. She had to raise the money for it, huge project, so, all of that done at the same time. This was a woman who was very young, 31 when she became first lady, but of enormous accomplishment and talent.

RAY SUAREZ: A lot of the coverage over the last week has gone to her sharp and sometimes even a little snarky observations on the…


RAY SUAREZ: Yes, the great and the good of her age. But that just shows that she was paying attention, doesn’t it?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: She was paying very close attention.

And if you looked at the oral history, if there was one, of a first lady that was more traditional, perhaps a Mamie Eisenhower, I doubt if she would have had independent opinions about a secretary of state or an ambassador, and fulfilled that role for her husband.

RAY SUAREZ: So what do we see in Jackie, a sort of hybrid?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: I think a hybrid, and I think you’re right in saying that she was a transitional figure.

She knew that she had to function in a period where people didn’t want to see her attending Cabinet meetings, which she had no interest in doing and didn’t. But, at the same time, she knew that that generation of woman could not any longer be content to be a Mamie Eisenhower or one of the earlier first ladies, who basically poured tea.

RAY SUAREZ: Michael Beschloss, thanks for joining us.


History Buzz Michael Beschloss & Caroline Kennedy: Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy & ABC’s In Her Own Words


History Buzz



Jacqueline Kennedy


Caroline Kennedy, Michael Beschloss. Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy. Hyperion; Har/Com edition, September 14, 2011

Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words: Online Video ABC

Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words: Jacqueline Kennedy’s style, elegance and courage helped to define an era, but she never spoke publicly about her White House years. Four months after her husband’s death, she recorded a series of interviews for history, specifying the tapes not be released until the appropriate time. Now, nearly 50 years later, Kennedy’s tapes have been released to the public in a new book and audio set…. ABC News

In 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy recorded seven historic interviews about her life with John F. Kennedy. Now, for the first time, they can be heard and read in this deluxe, illustrated book and 8-CD set.
Shortly after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, with a nation deep in mourning and the world looking on in stunned disbelief, Jacqueline Kennedy found the strength to set aside her own personal grief for the sake of posterity and begin the task of documenting and preserving her husband’s legacy. In January of 1964, she and Robert F. Kennedy approved a planned oral-history project that would capture their first-hand accounts of the late President as well as the recollections of those closest to him throughout his extraordinary political career. For the rest of her life, the famously private Jacqueline Kennedy steadfastly refused to discuss her memories of those years, but beginning that March, she fulfilled her obligation to future generations of Americans by sitting down with historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and recording an astonishingly detailed and unvarnished account of her experiences and impressions as the wife and confidante of John F. Kennedy. The tapes of those sessions were then sealed and later deposited in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum upon its completion, in accordance with Mrs. Kennedy’s wishes.
The resulting eight and a half hours of material comprises a unique and compelling record of a tumultuous era, providing fresh insights on the many significant people and events that shaped JFK’s presidency but also shedding new light on the man behind the momentous decisions. Here are JFK’s unscripted opinions on a host of revealing subjects, including his thoughts and feelings about his brothers Robert and Ted, and his take on world leaders past and present, giving us perhaps the most informed, genuine, and immediate portrait of John Fitzgerald Kennedy we shall ever have. Mrs. Kennedy’s urbane perspective, her candor, and her flashes of wit also give us our clearest glimpse into the active mind of a remarkable First Lady.
In conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s Inauguration, Caroline Kennedy and the Kennedy family are now releasing these beautifully restored recordings on CDs with accompanying transcripts. Introduced and annotated by renowned presidential historian Michael Beschloss, these interviews will add an exciting new dimension to our understanding and appreciation of President Kennedy and his time and make the past come alive through the words and voice of an eloquent eyewitness to history.

“My mother willingly recalled the span of her married life and shared her insights into my father’s private and public political personality.” — Caroline Kennedy wrote


“Suddenly, everything that’d been a liability before — your hair, that you spoke French, that you didn’t just adore to campaign, and you didn’t bake bread with flour up to your arms — you know, everybody thought I was a snob and hated politics. I was so happy for Jack, especially now that it was only three years together that he could be proud of me then. Because it made him so happy — it made me so happy. So those were our happiest years.”

“Renewals of love after brief separations”… “He loved having those children tumbling around him”… He never asked me to change”

Martin Luther King, Jr.: “tricky” and a “phony”; “I said, ‘Oh, but Jack, that’s so terrible. I mean that man is a, you know, such a phony.’… He would never judge anyone in any sort of way. He never said anything against Martin Luther King, Jr.”
“He made fun of Cardinal Cushing and said that he was drunk at it. And things about they almost dropped the coffin. I just can’t see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man’s terrible.”

France’s Charles de Gaulle: “egomaniac” and a “spiteful man” “He was so full of spite … I loathe the French, they’re really not very nice, they’re all for themselves.”

Indira Gandhi, the future prime minister of India: “prune — bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman.”

Sukarno, the former Indonesian president: a lecher, he left “a bad taste in your mouth.”

André Malraux, the French novelist: “The most fascinating man I’ve ever talked to.”

Colombian president, Alberto Lleras Camargo: “Nordic in his sadness.”

Mr. Kennedy on Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Charlatan is an unfair word,” but “he did an awful lot for effect.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Really, he kept us [as a nation] standing still.”

First Lady Mamie Eisenhower: “There was venom or something there.”

Pat Nixon: Kennedy said she worried that the public wanted her to get a “frizzy perm and be like Pat Nixon.”

Lady Bird Johnson: “trained hunting dog.”

On Lyndon Johnson as President: “Jack said it to me sometimes. He said, ‘Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon were president?’ And Bobby told me that he’d had some discussions with him … do something to name someone else in 1968”

On Lyndon B. Johnson, as a Vice President: “[He had] an enormous ego … [He] just didn’t do anything.”

On Johnson, after he took office as President: “People will think I’m bitter, but I just want it to be put in context the kind of president Jack was and Lyndon is.”

On her husband becoming President in 1961: “Once he was in control … all the best things would happen.”

On the Bay of Pigs invasion: “He started to cry … just with me. Just put his head in his hands and sort of wept. And, it was so sad. He cared so much … all those poor men.”

On the Cuban Missile Crisis in Octpber 1962 to JFK: “From then on, it seemed there was no waking or sleeping…. If anything happens, we’re all going to stay right here with you. “[I told John] please don’t send me away to Camp David … Even if there’s not room in the bomb shelter in the White House, which I’d seen…. I just want to be with you, and I want to die with you, and the children do, too — than live without you….
That was the time I was closest to him, I never left the house or saw the children. I stayed by his side.”

Eunice Kennedy Shriver: “She wanted to be a cabinet wife.”

On Joseph Jr. as President: “He would have been so unimaginative, compared to Jack.”

On Democratic governor of Texas, John Connally: “Jack was so sweet. He sort of rubbed my back … and said, ‘You mustn’t say that, you mustn’t say that.’ If you start to say or think that you hate someone, then the next day you’ll act as if you hated him.”

White House speechwriter Theodore Sorensen had a “big inferiority complex” and was “the last person you would invite at night.”…
“You know, Jack forgave so quickly, but I never forgave Ted Sorensen.” (On Sorenson encouraging the perception that he had ghostwritten her husband’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Profiles in Courage.’)

On being asked if Mr. Kennedy was religious: “Oh, yes. Well, I mean, he never missed church one Sunday that we were married or all that, but you could see partly — I often used to think whether it was superstition or not — I mean, he wasn’t quite sure, but if it was that way, he wanted to have that on his side.
It was just like a little childish mannerism, I suppose like brushing your teeth or something. But I thought that was so sweet. It used to amuse me so, standing there.”

“I think he probably did it … rather thinking it might be such a brilliant thing to do because Vietnam was rather hopeless anyway, and put a Republican there.” — Jackie said JFK, a Democrat, had named Henry Cabot Lodge, a Republican he had defeated for a Massachusetts Senate seat in 1952, as U.S. ambassador to Vietnam because JFK was so doubtful of military success there.

“All these twisted poor little women whose lives hadn’t worked out … [They had] this queer thing for power…. resented getting their power through men
I get all my opinions from my husband, which is true. How could I have any political opinions? His were going to be the best…. Women should never be in politics, we’re just not suited for it.”

Schlesinger asks young John if he knows what happened to his father.
“He’s gone to heaven,” the boy replies.
Schlesinger asks what he remembers.
“I don’t remember ANY-thing,” John says playfully.

Jacqueline Kennedy recalled a 1962 White House conversation between Kennedy and historian David Donald about Abraham Lincoln’s presidency:
“‘Do you think’ – it’s the one thing that was on his mind — ‘would Lincoln have been as great a President if he’d lived?’ And Donald, really by going round and round, had agreed with him that Lincoln, you know, it was better — was better for Lincoln that he died when he did.”


“I think people really need to understand the purpose of an oral history. And it really – the value of it is it is immediate, it is honest. I think that was very brave of her to do that and to be honest. But it’s got limitations. It’s just – it’s a primary source document. It’s like a diary or something like that, it’s really a snapshot.

This was something where she felt the obligation to be honest and she had always told us that she was going to put it away for 50 years.

There are flashes throughout where I hear her and there are parts to me where it sounds like it was a very long time ago, just the way she speaks and the things she said.

It was funny because my daughters listened to it too and they were just absolutely horrified… ‘Did she really think that?’ And of course time has moved on and it shows you both there are many timeless things in here but it really is a snapshot of a world that we barely recognize.” — Caroline Kennedy on ABC’s Good Morning America

  • Caroline Kennedy on Jacqueline Kennedy’s ‘Brave’ Tapes: My Daughters Were ‘Absolutely Horrified’ at Some OpinionsABC News, 9-14-11
  • In Tapes, Candid Talk by Young Kennedy Widow: The seven-part interview conducted in early 1964 — one of only three that Mrs. Kennedy gave after Mr. Kennedy’s assassination — is being published as a book and an audio recording. In it, the young widow speaks with Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the historian and Kennedy aide, about her husband’s presidency, their marriage and her role in his political life. They do not discuss his death. The eight and a half hours of interviews had been kept private at the request of Mrs. Kennedy, who never spoke publicly about those years again before she died in 1994. The transcript and recording, obtained by The New York Times, offer an extraordinary immersion in the thoughts and feelings of one of the most enigmatic figures of the second half of the 20th century — the woman who, as much as anyone, helped shape a heroic narrative of the Kennedy years. Though the interviews seem unlikely to redraw the contours of Mr. Kennedy or his presidency, they are packed with intimate observations and insights of the sort that historians treasure…. – NYT, 9-12-11
  • Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words, Historic Conversations on Life with JFK: Hundreds of books have been written about the presidency of John F. Kennedy. Countless documentaries have been made, thousands of testimonials and oral histories given.
    But for almost 50 years, one voice was silent: Jacqueline Kennedy’s.
    Now, in an ABC News exclusive, Diane Sawyer will anchor a two-hour 20/20 special in September in which America will hear Jacqueline Kennedy’s conversations for the first time, put in context by historians and by the woman who knew her best: her own daughter…. – ABC News, 5-25-11
  • ABC News Kennedy Special Most Watched Program at 10pm: ABC News Special “Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words” averaged 8.4 million Total Viewers and a 2.1 rating/5 share among Adults 25-54 and 1.5 rating/4 share among Adults 18-49 for its two-hour broadcast, according to Nielsen Media Research. … – ABC News, 9-14-11
  • Did NBC spoil ratings for ABC’s Jackie Kennedy special?: Seventeen years after her death, Jacqueline Kennedy remains a big draw, especially with newly released recordings that find her dishing dirt on everyone from President Lyndon Johnson to Indian leader Indira Ghandi. But a rival network may have spoiled the big party ABC planned for the event.
    ABC’s two-hour special “Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words” delivered 8.4 million total viewers Tuesday night, according to Nielsen. Host Diane Sawyer picked her way through hours of tapes the former first lady made with historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in early 1964, just months after President Kennedy was assassinated. In the recordings, Jacqueline Kennedy glowingly recounts life with her husband but bashes leaders such as LBJ, Martin Luther King Jr. and Charles de Gaulle…. – LAT, 9-14-11
  • Jackie Kennedy Book Shoots to No. 1 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble: Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, debuted at #1 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller lists today, its first official release day. Early leaks of the book, which contains the transcript and CDs of the audio recordings of 8.5 hours of interviews Jackie Kennedy did with noted historian Arthur Schlesinger in March 1964, less than four months after the assassination of President John Kennedy, had been the subject of intense media jockeying over the last week. The book also contains introductory essays from Caroline Kennedy and presidential writer Michael Beschloss.
    The book was under a strict sales embargo to protect the exclusive for ABC News’ Diane Sawyer-hosted special, Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words, that aired last night. Some bookstores broke the embargo and The New York Times, the AP, and NBC News acquired early copies last week. Much to the dismay of executives at Disney and ABC, NBC aired audio excerpts on Friday night’s NBC Nightly News with Brian Williamsand followed with additional reports on MSNBC over the next few days. The publicity surrounding the ABC-NBC squabble and the early leaks certainly helped book sales. Eleven days ago, the book was not on Amazon’s Top 100 sellers list but as the publicity grew it steadily rose through the rankings to land at No. 1 today…. – Hollywood Reporter, 9-14-11
  • Audio tapes reveal Jackie Kennedy’s catty side: It wasn’t for her iconic stature as former first lady and wife to a Greek a shipping magnate. And it wasn’t for her doe-eyed beauty and fabulous haute couture wardrobe.
    As in the French salons she tried to bring to the White House, it was because of the conversation – the gossip, mainly, and the way she could skewer an acquaintance with just a few words.
    In the just-released book and audiotapes, made from interviews she gave almost 50 years ago, we get these examples…. – CBS News, 9-14-11
  • Audio tapes reveal Jackie Kennedy’s catty side: Now we know why Jackie Kennedy was such a sought-after dinner guest. It wasn’t for her iconic stature as former first lady and wife to a Greek a shipping magnate. And it wasn’t for her doe-eyed beauty and fabulous haute couture wardrobe.
    As in the French salons she tried to bring to the White House, it was because of the conversation – the gossip, mainly, and the way she could skewer an acquaintance with just a few words…. – CBS News, 9-14-11
  • In Her Own Words: Audio Tapes Reveal New Details of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Life: Jaqueline Kennedy is forever enduring in the national memory for her poise, grace, and impeccable style. But little is known about how she really felt about her years in the White House and of her relationship with President John F. Kennedy. Now, the world is privy to rare details of the presidency and private life thanks to an oral history of the president, conducted with the widowed First Lady in early 1964, just months after his assassination.
    The 8.5-hour-long series of audio interviews, as well as transcripts, are being released this week as a book entitled “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.” The interviews were conducted by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., a historian and Kennedy aide who was close to the family. Previously locked up in the Kennedy Library, the tapes are being released 47 years after they were first conducted. They’re chock-full of juicy gossip and surprising details of the iconic couple’s life…. – Time, 9-12-11
  • New book and audiotapes show new and more personal side to Jackie Kennedy: It’s a side of Jacqueline Kennedy only friends and family knew. Funny and inquisitive, canny and cutting.
    In “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy,” the former first lady was not yet the jet-setting celebrity of the late 1960s or the literary editor of the 1970s and 1980s. But she was also nothing like the soft-spoken fashion icon of the three previous years. She was in her mid-30s, recently widowed, but dry-eyed and determined to set down her thoughts for history.
    Kennedy met with historian and former White House aide Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in her 18th-century Washington house in the spring and early summer of 1964. At home and at ease, as if receiving a guest for afternoon tea, she chatted about her husband and their time in the White House. The young Kennedy children, Caroline and John Jr., occasionally popped in. On the accompanying audio discs, you can hear the shake of ice inside a drinking glass. The tapes were to be sealed for decades and were among the last documents of her private thoughts. She never wrote a memoir and became a legend in part because of what we didn’t know.
    The book comes out Wednesday as part of an ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s first year in office. Jacqueline Kennedy died in 1994, and Schlesinger in 2007…. – AP, 9-13-11
  • Remembering Jacqueline Kennedy: Tomorrow Hyperion will release a set of Jacqueline Kennedy oral histories in book and audio format. The Times yesterday published excerpts from the tapes and tonight ABC will air a two-hour special on them. Mrs. Kennedy’s candid remarks about members of her husband’s Administration and other public figures, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., have already generated much controversy and discussion…. – New Yorker, 9-13-11
  • Jacqueline Kennedy’s candid look at life with JFK: In the conversations, Kennedy, then 34 years old, also recalls her time in the White House with her husband, John F. Kennedy, as “our happiest years.” The tapes, which have been kept under seal at the Kennedy Library, were released by Caroline Kennedy, 53, who was editor of the book Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, being published this week by Hyperion. Conducted by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the historian and Kennedy friend and aide, the interviews capture both the intimacy and Cold War tensions at the Kennedy White House…. – USA Today, 9-14-11
  • Will the Jackie Kennedy Tapes Change the Way You Think of Camelot? Audio tapes and book reveal a seven-part interview with Jackie Kennedy conducted in 1964: A 1964 seven-part interview between Jackie Kennedy and Kennedy historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. was published as a book and audio tapes Wednesday. The interview was conducted soon after John F. Kennedy’s assassination as part of an oral history of the Kennedy presidency. The tapes were kept under wraps at the first lady’s request, but were finally released by her daughter Caroline to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy administration.
    The tapes provide an intimate look of the marriage between Jackie and the president, as well as her perspective on the people and events that made up the “Camelot” era. In excerpts released in advance, she warmly recalls the 45 minute naps President Kennedy would take—in his pajamas—in the middle of each day. She also recounts the anxiety of the Cuban Missile Crisis, during which she says she told her husband, “If anything happens, we’re all going to stay right here with you. I just want to be with you, and I want to die with you, and the children do, too—than live without you.”
    Some of her remarks in the interview are much more controversial. She calls French President Charles de Gaulle an “egomaniac,” civil rights leader Martin Luther King a “phony,” and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi “a real prune—bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman.” She also remembers the president saying of his vice president Lyndon B. Johnson, “Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon were president?”
    Some who have already heard the tapes describe them as “explosive.”… – US News, 9-12-11
  • ‘Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words’: Did Diane Sawyer’s special change your opinions about Jackie O?: On the eve of the release of historian Michael Beschloss’ new book, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, Diane Sawyer hosted a two-hour long special chronicling the previously unheard eight-and-a-half hours worth of audio of the former First Lady.
    The ABC special — watch it here — featured the revealing interviews that historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. conducted with Mrs. Kennedy just four months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, as well Sawyer’s interview with Caroline Kennedy, who revealed why she opted to release the tapes to the public now…. – EW, 9-14-11
  • Listening to the other voice in the Jackie Kennedy interviews: The voice of Jackie Kennedy’s interviewer belongs to the late historian and former JFK aide Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., whose writings are again timely in this tea-party era. He noted that the Founding Fathers embraced government as a vital help, not an obstacle, to progress…. — CS Monitor, 9-15-11
  • Jackie: JFK mused on own assassination: John F. Kennedy joked about his own possible assassination in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, according to recently released tapes of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
    The tapes, which were the product of conversations with historian and former White House aide Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in the spring and early summer of 1964, have been released in book form as part of an ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s first year in office…. – CBS News, 9-14-11


    “It’s certainly not the Jackie that we knew later on. By then, she’s a different woman.” — Doris Kearns Goodwin, the historian and wife of Richard Goodwin, a Kennedy aide, said in an interview

    The Jackie Kennedy tapes: Catty, but won’t change history: “If people are looking for revelations about her, they will not find them. What I think they reveal is an unerring, all-observing eye…. She did not want to be implored and lobbied by people who wanted her to influence policy, so she assumed a public persona of the ‘anti-Eleanor Roosevelt.’ She was very tactical — almost like a spy.” — Carl Anthony, one of the country’s leading experts on first ladies — WaPo, 9-12-11

    “This book shows Jackie Kennedy unplugged. A lot of the rawness of her feelings, I think, as a young woman — she’s is only in her 30s when she is doing these tapes in 1964 — is very different from the more poised and discreet Jackie Kennedy we got to know in the 1980s and 1990s….
    I “was close to Arthur Schlesinger, the professor. He died a few years ago. Ted Sorensen, one of the other keepers of the flame, died, and I think Caroline Kennedy thought, it’s the 50th anniversary right now of the Kennedy presidency, and this is sitting there, and it was time to let her mother have her say, and decided to come public with this.” — Historian and CBS News analyst Douglas Brinkley on the “Early Show”

    Michael Beschloss: I was surprised that she seemed to have so much influence on JFK’s attitudes toward the people who worked for him. For instance, she she says she disliked Secretary of State Dean Rusk and wished JFK would fire him. He told her he intended to do so in 1964. Others she admired, like Robert McNamara, the Defense Secretary, did extremely well in the Kennedy government. She may not have been the only reason, but what she privately told JFK didn’t hurt. There are many other instances of this in the book.

    Her voice has been virtually missing from the thousands of books written about the Kennedys in the past half-century. After all that’s been written about her, it’s illuminating to listen to her speak for herself without that kind of filter.

    She occasionally would stop the recorder and ask Schlesinger if she should discuss such-and-such. As he later recalled, he almost always told her, “Say everything — you control the tape.” — EW, 9-14-11

    Catherine Allgor: Historian Offers Insight on Jacqueline Kennedy: Catherine Allgor, UC Riverside expert on American first ladies, calls Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis a “woman of her time and place.”
    Jackie Kennedy, Allgor says, “was a woman of her time and place.” “Her articulateness, her insight, her apparent education juxtaposes uneasily with her little-girl wistfulness and her aching insecurity. The Jacqueline we see in photographs and waving at crowds gives an impression of confident command, but the woman so happy that she has made her husband proud has more in common with her infamous relative, ‘Little Edie’ of Grey Gardens (the rundown mansion where Jackie Kennedy’s aunt and first cousin, Edith ‘Big Edie’ Bouvier Beale and Edith ‘Little Edie’ Bouvier Beale lived). Both were women of refinement and intelligence trapped in privileged worlds ruled by men. Both tug at the heart strings.”
    Popular consensus is that the Jacqueline Kennedy tapes won’t add much to our understanding of that period of U.S. history, Allgor says. She disagrees: “That depends on whose history. Her remarks about her marriage and how she felt about herself, about men and women, show Americans how much feminism changed our lives, and how far we have to go.” — UCR Newsroom, 9-14-11

%d bloggers like this: