tv Private Lives and Public Image of the First Ladies CSPAN December 24, 2015 8:00pm-9:30pm EST
first ladies, life ambitions and unique partnerships with presidential spouse. this series and the book provide an up close historical book at the fascinating women who survived the scrutiny at the white house. sometimes at great personal cost while supporting family and husbands and sometimes changing history. our program tonight will feature lively discussion with historians which we will hear more about shortly. to moderate tonight's program we are please to welcome susan, moderateor first lady and sharing responsibilities with the cable networks. she oversees programming and
marketing for c-span television channels and c-span radio. washington journal, book tv and american history tv. she has also been involved in the creation of numerous c-span history theories such as american presidents, the lincoln douglas debate and american writer, for over 30 years, one of c-span's interviewees. it is the ninth book susan has educated for c-span and public affairs, as you noticed when you come in we will have copies available of the book for sale after the program and she will
be signing copies for you. so let me turn the podium over to susan swani. [applause] >> good, evening, everyone, thank you for being here. i see a lot of familiar faces and i appreciate you with traffic and those of you watching at home on c-span thank you for being with us. as jim told you, actually what i wanted to start with was a quote from abigael adams. when she sent john, john remembers the ladies and tonight we are going to do that for abi abigel and she should be happy. they've always made an enormous
contribution for our history. what we are going to try to do tonight is tell you some of those stories along with wonderful video and film from the national archive collection and historic perhaps and from our own series. we will hope to inform you and entertain you and along the way inspire you to ask questions because there are 30 minutes set aside for your involvement in things that you're interested in. our goals tonight is to learn about the first ladies' contribution. we are already looking at the spouses of the candidates and i say spouses instead of wives because if clinton enters the campaign, it changes the dynamic, so that will be something we will be thinking about that as well. so to lecture appetite, before we introduce our panelists, i want to show you a priceless piece of film from the national
not to do any public hearings. it's not the possibility for today's world. that was the last that was able to live a private life as much as she could while in the white house. this was a great entrance into what we are going to be talking about. they have to learn to adopt in the light of the spotlight. i have four panelists that i want to introduce tonight. you heard there were 56 experts involved in the television series from 2013, 2014 and when we put this together in the book t reason we did the book was because there are lots of books on first ladies but never such collection of various point of views. and we are delighted to have four of the people that were part of the process. first you are going to meet carl
sferrazza anthony and he's joining us here from los angeles. carl, let me welcome you. [applause] >> and edna medford is local. she is a lincoln expert, professionalizing in the civil war and has had an incredible busy year. part of the commission on the lincoln centenial celebration and has been attending events. she's probably breathing a little sigh of relief. let me introduce edna greene
medford of howard university. [applause] >> now, i managed something to do that no moderator has done, let me introduce you to carl cannon. he has covered every single presidential campaign since 1984 and was covered all the white houses since then. he is an author himself and he is also a historian. if any of you saw up for his daily politics morning briefings you get the daily politics but you always get history lessons because he loves history. he comes from passion. his father cannon, was ronald regan's biogragher. carl cannon.
[applause] >> and our final panelist is someone i had just gotten to meet over the past two years, krissah thompson. a reporter who is covering michelle obama and has written many detailed stories. she just told us that she finished the story on first gentlemen which is going to be in tomorrow's newspaper. in addition to covering laura bush she has covered laura busha as well as michelle obama so she joinstous bring the journalist modern day perspective, krissah thompson. [applause] >> now, that many of you bring the cell phones and we've got a twitter account set up tonight. as i mentioned the questions are going to be at the one-hour point but if you see interesting topics along the way and you want to send us a tweet, i'm
going to send them right here. i will mix in your twitter questions as well. that's for our c-span audience at home. i will be getting them and using them throughout the session. so welcome everybody. we are going to start with the first one which is reality of public life and the public life that all of these now women by the circumstances some of them happy partners along the way. but we are going to start with a clip from the interview that we did at c-span with michelle obama when she was knew into the role talking about private life and public responsibility. let's watch. >> in you didn't, you couldn't
live through it. to the extent that this feels natural to me at any level and i never would have thought that living in the white house feels natural is because i try to mick it -- to make it me. i try to bring michelle obama but at the same time respecting and valuing the tradition which is america. >> this is not a new concept. in the book what we did is include one quote from every first lady. i would like to share with you the quote that we chose from washington, i never go to the public place, she wrote, i think i'm more like state prisoner than anything else. there are certain bounds set for me as i must not depart and i can't do as i like i stay at home a great deal.
coolidge wrote this and thinking about her role. this was i and yet not i, this was the wife of the president of the united states and she took precedents over me. my personal like and dislikes must be subordinated of what's required of her. it's something that first layies have been struggling with, maintain sense of self-with all of the responsibility upon them. >> you begin the discussion this way because it really goes down to the very route of what has been a matter of fascination. not only for the american public but the world public as you all publicly know and hear more often from foreign journalist who is are interested in the role of first lady. we go and see perhaps at some point certainly the role of a
first that it really just about gender, it's really about accountable, and as you said, those to it. i think early on when this sort of awareness, you have to remember, in the 19th century there was a sense of a woman's name should not be in public. and so the whole concept of first lady was like, you know, there was a real conflict of who they were as people to have this public interest in their live, but you know, jackie kennedy said it best. she said in 1960, three of four stories that are real about yourself that illustrate a point about yourself and your family and you give them out and that's it. that's going to be stories over and over again and you try and use that and that's how much of your real self- you give to your persona. >> but we didn't have media
coverage anywhere where what we have today and even early first ladies -- >> and if you think of something like martha washington who was the first and actually setting the tone for everyone followed, it's must have been incredibly difficult for her. she probably had the same kind of scrutiny that her husband did, probably more so than he did, people knew her, of course, she had always been round the winter camps with her husband and so people appreciated what she had done before she became first lady and after she became first lady she was pretty popular. people began to criticize. she doesn't know quite how to behave. european loyalty, and so she's trying to establish some
practices that would be keeping with what they would have been doing in europe. and americans resented that, they certainly did not want her to go in that direction, so she had a tremendous burden and someone like martha who had spent all that time during the revolution with her husband supporting her husband, all she wanted was just to be able to go back home and be a private citizen. >> let me ask krissah as watching michelle obama as closely as you have, did you see a growing comfort with the roll over the years? >> absolutely, absolutely. i think initially, and she kind of described herself in the 2007 campaign and her husband told stories about, you know, he needed to get her blessing and it was a process in order to do that, but you see her now and she's fully bought into the role, she talks about it as being a bright spotlight and
whatever she stands in front of the light shines there and so how do you use that, how do you use that platform? i think for her being able to see the value in the celebrity that came with the role in the press attention which she also not interested in. i was interested to hear carl. and michelle obama does that as well. but you see her enjoying the role specially when she's with children, she's pushing issues that she enjoys. you know, and i think that growth is going to continue and she and her husband are young and so they are not going anywhere so we'll be able to see how she continues to engage with the public. >> everybody up here is carl. >> it either makes it easier or
difficult. looking over the first ladies since 1884 election, have any of them struggle with the private-public reality? >> the clip that you showed of michelle obama was -- excuse me of the two quotes, grace coolidge and martha washington. mrs. obama gave an interview yesterday. she said what don't you like, well, you can't go out. i'm stick here. you can't go out and the other thing was did you always want to be a first lady. i know she said i wanted to be a pediatrician. that's not what she wanted to be when she grew up. to me michelle obama has embrace it had role in an uncommon way
many in the others i've covered. hillary clinton an exception. she saw it as a obviously a steppingstone. she often talked about it and if elenor roosevelt could have run for president now. the party would have been hers. hillary clinton of elen roosevelt 50 years later. in terms of embracing the role of what it is, michelle obama to me is a transformation. i don't cover the white house anymore. i covered it for 15 years. i have to -- i can sort of say what i think a little more. [laughter] >> alexis is watching, you still have to be objective of michelle obama but i don't. >> elenor roosevelt seemed and no one who followed knew that
she did. >> michelle obama is first african american, we talked about that. people have written about that. >> right, absolutely. >> she's also, i think, something even broader than that, she's the first i want to say post title 9 first lady. she walks with a kind of confidence, you see the studies, if you've been in college campus lately and you spend girls when they are little they like the boys that are athletic and they get to an age where they slouch. michelle obama doesn't do that. she walks and she has a confidence, physical confidence, mental abilities, just herself confidence as a person is sort of an inspiration. >> may i add briefly onto that, it's so easy and so when we all have public figures the facts of their story and we know, you
know, and how often we forget those things. what michelle obama has perhaps the greatest degree of executive experience before coming to the white house since lady byrdonson, and when -- byrd johnson, one of the things people are willing, look at the clinton, willing to give up privacy is viewing the opportunity to really make a permanent change in, perhaps t way the american people think or perceive something and we really are talking about some profound things here. lady byrd johnson profoundly helped change the way americans think about their visual environment as well as the safety of it, and has essentially been forgotten but she was part of that. she gave velocity to that
movement as michelle obama of what we eat. in 50 years people might forget but she's part of it. a chance to do that is what a lot of them say i will give up some of my privacy. >> it's often a learning curve. we've always seen nancy reagan, for example, fought in sacramento when she got to washington and she was not quite the same. >> no, she didn't really like sacramento. [laughter] >> nancy regan got tough press coverage. the first lady to get tough coverage, because it's the nature of that or she's written about -- she's fair game, you know, southern sympathizer, had
a piece five years ago with lincoln was bipolar. this woman, we are still beating some of that. nancy reagan got some of that when she first arrived. >> how did she react? >> you know how she reacted. [laughter] >> an example with hillary clinton early on and i'm not going to standby by my man and stay home and bake cookies, how did that campaign recover, how did she recover from the learning curve of presenting herself that way or maybe she didn't -- >> you know, the clintons, i will say this about and i'm going to quote a friend of mine, some of you may know his books, he writes by john mccain. he's john mccain's alter ego.
walter was walking down the street and say can this guy take a punch or what. he was talking about clinton and in mccain world that's a high complement. both of these people will take everything and they'll -- to quote truman pay it back with interest. >> i'll add to that about hillary. in '92 she was one of the first presidential or candidate spouses to participate in the cookie bakeoff recipe conference i don't sit around baking cookies. that's the kind of trade-off that first ladies have to make. >> let me say about michelle obama and early lessons on the campaign trail, if you think about little political experience they really had but
remember that the comments that she made, one of them being proud of my country comment. what happened inside the campaign, was there a major pullback or regrouping, how did they approach that? >> she didn't have much of a team at that point. she was winging it and she was being herself which she had always done when her husband campaigned for senate or legislator and that type of thing. in audiences when she was in small places in iowa or new hampshire, they were respond to go her but this time it was caught on television and the press core which had largely ignored her because they were still covering the primaries tuned in at that second and campaign's response was start to send her advisers so she would have guidance to say, you know, you're not talk to go your girlfriend, you're not even talking to the people in that room, you're talking to all of
america. as a matter of making sure that she stayed in line with what the entire campaign was doing and hoping and changing like everyone else. i think we saw her low incident and she talked about being a sort of planner and perfectionist and worried a great deal that she would harm her husband's campaign and we see her, you know, almost -- it wasn't a complete 180 because she wasn't a horrible campaigner then, but just in terms of, you know, not talking about him leaving his stocks so much and he was sneaky and snorey, those things start to come out, the ideas are still there but they're in a much more palatable fashion. >> she did become more cautious which she remained as part of herself.
a political wife where everything has to be perfect, there are times when she decides that enough is enough and are going to be that person from the south side of chicago and i think that's what we appreciate. they didn't give -- they didn't give up anything about themselves. exactly what we are talking about. those who are themselves political from the getgo. they go along for the ride willingly and later on we are going to talk about the ones who made history into the rest of the world and had to learn to adapt. i will have a clip for you. this is from the the national
archives library. actually an audio clip because you might have known that lyndon johnson had conversations in the white house. clinton johnson knew that she was reporting with people on the phone including lady byrd did not know they were being taped. making a record for history and it's quite a wonderful one for scholars, this is a conversation with lady byrd is criticking johnson's performance in a public event. let's listen. [inaudible]
>> what other adviser to be that candid to a president? >> spencer, maybe. >> what do you hear? own television stations so she has the background, you know, and so as an adviser, first ladies in some ways are to their husbands whether it's in official capacity or not because she wants him to be as successful as he does. >> i think that shows you too when you talk about this first lady, the various attributes that as somebody as human beings that they bring to the cable, mrs. johnson like mrs. obama thinks in an organized way. they are very well structured in their mind. jackie kennedy was like i don't
have a schedule. mrs. johnson was a love with word, she had a degree of journalism, love of writing, her love of -- of rhythm but also like you said, the media experience brought that, you know, and that's not necessarily political in terms of policy but it ends up having a political result. >> and this is not a new fen -- phenomena. this was a time when women were supposed to stand their spear. can you tell us about her? >> no, she did not. this was a time of womanhood when really were append iiges to their husband. they were not supposed to voice
those ideas. she did voice them at least to her husband. she reviewed his speeches. she actually tried to influence people to influence him as well as, and she did influence them as far as we know. and she's definitely stepping outside of the role of the average or typical woman during that period of what was expected of a woman during that period. she and others of that era did not follow the pattern of you could be the he or hostess at te party, they are political, they're not just entertaining. there's a reason why they're doing this but she goes much further than that.
she's not terribly interested in the parties but she's interested in the politics. she does help her husband to get where she wants to be. in terms of support for him at home but also beyond that. >> we had one quote in the book, i remember, members of congress at the time saying to the president i would rather talk politics with your wife than with you. she was pretty good at what she did. i have another image, we are talking about how we are discussing her mental capacity. we have heard because she was, indeed, a political partner of abraham lincoln. let's start with you and talk about that. >> if we had tape recorders, you would have heard from the mid-19 centuries presidents a lot of conversations like that. when he finds he won the presidency, mary, mary, we won, we, he said, when grant is
inaugurated, he turns to his wife and says, well, my dear, i hope you're satisfied. we think maybe she pushed him a little bit to run. look, you don't take your spouse without telling them. truth, i bet all kinds of conversations like that. in the campaigns, not just in the white house. >> once they got to the white house and the word was raising, she was shutdown. first of all, she was still a southerner. the union states were still there, slave holding, union states, border states. she had relatives who were fighting on the confedaeracy.
she embarrassed her husband in public. which is something the first ladies are not supposed to do. this is a woman who lost her sons before she got to the white house. lost another son while in the white house. had a husband that was not always easy to get along with. i think you sometimes forget that lincoln had issues as well as. this is a woman who was bright and understands politics and loves politics but she was born a woman and so she does not have the ability to do what her husband can do by virtue of the fact that she was born the wrong gender and so she is living through him. she wants him to be president but she certainly did not anticipate what she would get
once she got to the white house. >> we are going to have fast-forward because our hour is going to go really fast. >> they were driven by the same principle, that, you know, people get so petty in looking at the people who have been married for so many years, yes, he had a, you know, a physical and emotional relationship with somebody who was very close to her, her personal secretary during world war i and offered him divorce and that was dramatic, no question. but when she was pulled away and looked at it she realized, there's nobody else i share values with like i do with him, that they believed and they were both progressives even though they were democrats very much like theodore roosevelt. that's what led them to work
together and it was also love because of his typical disability. she did not -- she believed he was talented and she believed more in his talent than her effort and she really thought you can't not follow, you must lead. that's really the role of first lady and then with the depression hitting and everything almost smash as far as what we know in terms of american life, she takes advantage of that vacuum where everything is up in the air and that's where she starts saying, this is what i'm going to do. i'm simply just a devoted wife helping my husband, you know, and in a way it was. but she did not really start to developing her own agenda until the second or third term, particularly on civil rights, and when he was always more
political in saying, well, this is what we can do and can't do, she always brought him back to principle. while they continued as political partners they shared the same values, he often, you know, abandoned them and she was sticking with him in more sort of way. >> let me move on, i'm going to ask you krissah thompson, you'll recognize because there are two modern first ladies, both political partners that but they approach it very differently. these are from c-span interviewers and first is nancy reagan and the second hillary clinton. [inaudible]
>> the recommendations about legislation and that i shouldn't be involved on behalf of what my husband asked me to work on which is a primary objective because they thought that that was somehow inpresenter, that if you exercised influence behind the scenes where nobody can see you, i find that curious. to me i would like to know what is going on in front of the scenes because i'm very -- very much a person who believes that you should say what you mean and
mean what you say. >> it's fascinating because there are so many ways to be political, right, specially for a spouse to be political, we know that hillary clinton as first lady set up office in west wing which was, oh, my goodness, a clear indication that she wanted to be political not behind the scenes but in public, when she was working on healthcare, she spoke to the business round table and she was a public figure in pushing this policy and sought to engage people and work on it in front of the scenes, you know, nancy reagan and we can imagine -- she was frank about the way she was behind the scenes and we can imagine the ways that every first lady over dinner conversations and if is able to express those views and michelle
obama talks about it but social policy, you know, he kind of describes her as in some ways pricking his conscious on those things. you know, you have to be first ladies as political figure in that way no matter if they choose to operate in the way that nancy regan did or in the way that hillary clinton did. >> carl, you want to say something? >> nancy is modest there. i know when people have -- it usually works out. regan got fired. it worked not always for them. [laughter] >> you know, it's a thing -- i've never asked a president about it. i always meant to but the first
lady is one of the few people in the world who call by given name. that has a power. commanding officer if he's at war, but, you know, there's five or six people in the world and still calling him mr. president, call him by his name. the first lady always calls him by their name. it conveys the intimacies there. the president knows the first lady has their interest and has their heart in the right place. >> so we are going to look at some first ladies other than beth truman who found themselves in the job either by marrying whose aspirations they weren't quite sure of or knew it but never really loved politicians
that much. those that got there and were set out by the staff around them. so we are going to start with one woman pat nixon who had an interesting relationship with the presidency and her husband's quest for the presidency. this was her very minor speaking engagement. >> i certainly can say it is the most wonderful love i have ever half. [cheers and applause] >> i listened to jimmy's introduction of me and i was appreciative and grateful for being here today and he certainly is right. i say -- [inaudible] >> so this is quite unusual for me. i do want to thank all of you for your loyal support and
dedicating this wonderful evening to me. thanks for the young people for this great welcome. [cheers and applause] >> so patricia nixon, why did she end up in our front role, reluctant or unhappy role? >> ink the reality of what was becoming modern politics, the media, the money, the partisanship, the attacks, the questions of valid, you know, dealings with folks and i think she got disgusted and always felt that she had been active and interested in politics before she married nixon. she was a supporter of al smith, a democrat as a young woman.
>> they did their first congressional campaign together. >> together. very little bit of -- all the literature was taken. over time she really got disgusted with the way things were and the 1960 election really broke her. they had come so close and then he had -- don't run, don't run, he asked for her perm -- perm -- permission a promise that i will not run in politics again and, of course, he broke it, the ambition for all these men. there's a certain insanity to wanting to be president and so she was there and she saw, she
knew the opportunity, she did make recommendations like very important ones that she didn't know about it. like johnson she's recorded on a lot. legally they should be destroyed. and, of course, he didn't listen. >> carl cannon, the nixon death -- >> yes, but she didn't mind being shut out. she was tired of politics. she had been the vice president's wife, she thought they were done with it. there's all kinds of personal reasons, some women don't want this and we show a hilarious clip of breaking the bottle. she was a better athlete than truman was. she was a very great
third-baseman so she could swing the bat but she had a secret that she was keeping, her father committed suicide, at the time it was a stigma. her mother never really recovered from that. she didn't want to be here when he was president. she department -- she decided she had a more important role in life than being wife of the president. >> very important, after truman got the bomb, the first atomic bomb, as she came back from missouri she advised before the drop the second according to memoir of alonzo.
>> i kind of ask you to go back in your history. >> jane pierce. she certainly didn't want to have the role of first lady. she even -- it's not even about being in the white house. she didn't want to be in politics at all and her husband had promised her that he would get out of politics and for time there he had. she fainted when she learned that he had won his party's nomination for the presidency. and she's coming to the white house with the loss of a child, again, so there's this woman in the white house who is suffering from depression, because she's mourning the loss of a child, she's having to deal with all of
the duties of being a political wife, of being the first lady and a husband who doesn't quite understand why she's so reluctant because she was a very unhappy first lady. i think more than any of the others, she certainly -- >> we chose the picture because it's the son that she lost. they had lost their own two sons. this is the third just before they came to washington and he died in front of their eyes in a train accident. the president actually says he was rejected from the train and the president carried the child. what a tragic story. how does a parent recover from that and being in a place where she didn't want to be. >> and being first lady to a president who is the country is in turmoil at this time. this is the crucial decade and so her husband is experiencing
all of these tensions between the north and the south. and she's a part of that and she doesn't want to be but she has no choice. >> we have many other interesting first ladies including adams, elizabeth monroe and others but i'm going to ask you that and say we have to read the book because i'm running out of time here. [laughter] >> i'm going to move on. first ladies have taken advantage of their position, the opportunity they have to make change by adopting causes. how recent a fen only know is that where we -- great anticipation when there's a new white house. what is the cause going to be that the first lady is going to adopt, expected that they will announce and how much politics, political consideration goes into that decision in this modern day? >> quite a bit. you know, as the president -- going from a candidate to
president and have transition and first ladies are doing that. michelle has talked about being in the kitchen in chicago and thinking about planting a garden at the white house and developing an idea of how she would approach the topic of healthy eating and really, you know, pushing back against childhood obesity and taking this on as a cause. and i think it's the cause that she has come to, you know, embody and personify. you know, she's in dc working out and taking cycling classes and she's with children eating carrots and pulling up vegetables and also let's move which is what her campaign is called. there's a nonprofit attached to it. deal with wal-mart to get
healthier food and pull off junk food from children's television. she's first lady and this is the role, it is wrapped up in also doing push-ups with ellen on television and you can really see the ways in which first ladies take on these issues and for a first lady like michelle obama really wants to push, you know, push the issue in a way that is sustained and that makes real difference but that doesn't feel like you're just writing a law or that it's just hard policy. so she did also push the changes and that did go through congress. >> i want to show another piece of video and this demonstrates that this formal adoption of a cause is a relatively phenomena,
this is betty ford and she's talking about breast cancer. watch. >> i will complete my chemotherapy treatment and that will be another milestone for me. since the first year, i had not talked much about the difference of my experience, the cancer, but at that time and the discussion about it i was very pleased to see it because it prompted a large number of women to go and get check-ups in their local communities. >> to change the conversation in this country about cancer, carl
anthony. >> absolutely she did and it was personal and i think michelle obama's story is personal and jackie kennedy's story is personal and lady byrd johnson's story is personal. there's a lot of on obstacles ag the way and let me add one quick little asterisk, harding way back, you do find that some of these women feel very passionately about issues and she was an animals advocate. and so she started for the brief time she was there to really bring that issue, animal cruelty and even proposed that public schools adopt homeless animals and it's a way of teaching little adults, humans, little children about through animals to threating other people with
kindness. >> carl, was it really nancy reagan in the just say no campaign that formalized the need? >> it was ridiculed by the elites. i don't -- i think we formalized it but i think this goes way back. i think it's always been there. michelle obama's other issues about getting employment for the troops. martha washington did that first. she was called lady washington by the troops out of respect. there was elen wilson's bill. urban for the poor. we think it's always been there. first ladies have interest and their interest -- people care what their interests are in.
>> they may not always be full-blown causes. martha johnson has reception for veterans and she's so concerned about them. you have mrs. philmore, dolly madison is involved in working with orphans and getting her friends. >> adams about women's rights, her husband is the jimmy carter of that century. he's not a great president, a pretty good ex-president and he's in congress arguing slavery and his wife is arguing and it was reported in the press and early recognitions by white house was behind the first health and safety regulations standards in the federal workplace. one more thing about let's move
thing, we've been sort of -- we don't mean -- we are not arguing with the premise, susan, it's more formal than it used to be, an example is michelle obama's initiative. now you have a first lady what presidents did before. that's a little bit true. it has become much more formal. >> i'm going to go a little bit and jump to one last session before we jump to the questions of the audience. i'm going to start with the modern one and that is answer the question about how nancy regan managed to turn around the negative image, but she had a very unhappy reception from the press core, so what she did was to go to the press core and disarm them, you heard of the grid iron in washington, d.c.,.
quick image that is i want to show. first ladies learn pretty on the harness the news media. a paragraph where she hired a very well-known photographer. she wanted to do it control family image. did it work? >> not really. [laughter] >> they were happy to get the pictures and then they still exploited them. like he was a cartoon character. he was used as a mascot for the administration so you see the little cartoon of the little boy with the big hat. >> and another person who tried this was edith roosevelt also
using the same photographer. here is the family photograph. she also wanted to control but at the same time the president loved the coverage. >> until her daughter was photographed picking up her winnings at the racetrack. [laughter] >> asked to withdraw the story, which they did. >> well, you know, in formal terms, jackie kennedy. others had function in that capacity. >> they knew they needed help. >> mrs. hover had four or five secretaries. she had one that was good at interfacing with the reporters.
that's how -- she didn't have a title. >> i have another clip for you. this is just too much fun. you know white house correspondent dinners and there's one this weekend, it's hollywood on the east, quite the event. there have been time where first ladies and their husbands have used that to help enhance their image, let's watch lawyeria bush one of these a few years ago. [inaudible] >> you're going to have to stay up later. [laughter] >> i am married to the president of the united states and here is our typical evening.
9:00 o'clock. sound asleep. [laughter] >> and i'm watching desperate house wives. [laughter] >> ladies and gentlemen, i am a desperate house wives. [laughter] >> there was a lot of criticism of the president's policies specially among the press core in the dinner, how did this technique of how how how humour. when people have laugh at themselves, bill clinton, any of
them, it humanizes them in a way that would help them. bill clinton came the first year and gave a nasty speech and criticized people like bob dole and john kasich. he was making fun of himself being home alone and had a whole skit and the first ladies started doing relatively recently. the whole town wants to know what she says about hillary clinton. the tools they have, social media, youtube and the like but it also is a very difficult thing to manage because all day long people are commenting on their policies in the white house, so it's one of those give
and take aways at the same time. let's watch. you've all seen this. this is a nice way to end this part of the discussion to see how a moderate president uses the tools that we have of communication to help policy and present their image of themselves. >> hey, everybody, i'm so excited to talk about the fifth anniversary of let's move. our goal is to celebrate the challenge. >> have you seen my blue tie? [laughter] >> we are celebrating a big anniversary. oh. >> it's been five years since we launched -- >> let's move. >> for starters i'm going to ask
those across the country to give me five. five ways to be healthy, they can eat veggies. >> even i have time for that. >> so everybody give me five, tweet, buy it, enta gram it, #give me five and pass on the challenge to someone else. >> wait, we are still filming? >> yeah, by the way your tie is on the ground. >> i can do a push-up. [laughter] >> it's always been a stake whether it's andrew jackson with
the big cape or harriet lynn coming in with her fan and making a real dramatic entrance, whatever the changing technology is, these people are experts, they are leaders, they know they are leaders and intend to lead and they own it. and so i think just like the obamas did, you saw the regans do and you saw the kennedys do it. >> the basics you're right, whether it is a martha washington, a michelle obama, there are certain things we are expecting and certain things a president is expecting of first lady, but it changes according to the circumstances that they find. >> i want to invite folks, if any of you have questions find your way out and get to the a
microphone and we will get the questions. the obamas exist in the world where there's social media. the first administration to really utilize twitter, facebook, instagram, the first lady is on pintrest. she had a page when she was in japan and cambodia recently and when she was there she traveled with a youtube celebrity who after questions from twitter, she did not sit down with traditional reporters there. and so they -- the way her staff would explain it is she has a certain amount of time to do communications and she wants to
meet people where they are and if people are coming, you know, to her following her by the millions on twitter and able to see the photos that they put out on instagram, then, you know, the power of being able to shape one's own image without filter of the traditional media is there in a way that it wasn't before. >> you know, i've interviewed michelle obama and did more interviews with traditional media later on and she's a great interviewer. answers your questions, smart with all the things that you would imagine, so it's not a lack of capability but there is a power in being able to exercise the ability to get on magazine covers. >> to be on late night television, to have daytime and
t conversations that shape the conversation in the way that the white house is in control. >> look, there's nothing wrong with that, that's a good cause, it's not bipartisan, it's healthy. we don't like them going around on healthcare policy, but there's nothing wrong with that. not everybody could pull it off as well as they did. >> first question over here. >> there were reports. >> rumors that at least the first ladies that i know ran the country when their husbands were ill and those were mrs. wilson and nancy reagan. is that true or is that not true? >> i would just say sort of a quick response to that that when you say the presidency, you have to look at the different components because one of it is
making the final decision on thicks and sometimes it's approving things and sometimes making the decision to not make a decision, sometimes is firing, sometimes is hiring, so yes, partially mrs. wilson assumed some of that in the days of real crisis, to real agenda was to protect her husband and hopefully getting better, nancy reagan, i would say nancy reagan worked in the sense, behaved to fulfill the function that might be similar to a west wing aid, maybe, senior adviser, you know, but not assuming the role of -- >> question over here. >> we realize that first lady while the husband is in office is kind of stuck with a role, what happens to the first ladies afterwards. what's life like for them. >> great question. >> with laura bush last year and
she was eager to talk about how much she's enjoying life postpresidency and it was interesting to watch her because she was very much shaped by an architect, sort of -- i wouldn't use the word reluctant necessarily, but a quiet, behind-the-scenes spouse. she's working on launching a global program that will bring first ladies around the world together and has done some of that in africa. she's been in washington with michelle obama and she just sort of talked about the freedom of still having the platform which, you know, first ladies now do with the modern presidential library and museums and foundations that they can use to talk about causes this -- that are important to them. but, yeah, not dogged by media and kind of lack of privacy that
comes along with living here. >> that's for another whole exploration. >> right. >> we talk about jimmy carter about ex-president. not everyone agrees with that. all he's saying and she's been right there with them. >> she's really a fascinating woman that almost gets no press, he work on mental health goes back to the 70's, you know, when the governor and she's really had an impact. >> jimmy wrote a book and he said, he's written many books,
he's having the best sex of his life. [laughter] >> that's tmi because he was in the his 70's and so was she. the post presidency has been fun for her. [laughter] >> the question is does she think the same. [laughter] >> how do you follow that with -- [laughter] >> hi, i have a question about lady byrd johnson, she was active in her husband's programs, i just wonder if you had any stories or information, sort of information son some things that she did. >> thank you so much. it was sergeant that were president's kennedys, worked under the peace corpse under
president kennedy and headed up this stuff which was the voluntary, government private -- government wing of this public-private partnership on voluntary stuff and he came up with the idea of head start and he went to her and she backed it 100%, became the spokesperson and helped establish it, yes. >> carl, highway bill was call it had lady byrd bill, that's what johnson called it when he went around twisting arms and kicking guys in the chin, where is lady byrd's bill, that clip of her critiquing speech, she may not have liked that. he never mentioned her name. so maybe that's how he got her back. critic. >> here is the question from twitter from fresh farmhouse, which firth lady thought to be
influential but was the least successful at it? >> i think you could say hillary clinton because she -- [laughter] >> just meaning in terms of fairness, i mean, she always made the case that she really when it came to policy matters she had to make a case for something or against something like any other advisor did and sometimes the president said, no, so i think that that, you know, there were some -- we know the welfare reform that was a contention between them and it's not a 100% known on all the matters that she didn't win but there were quite a few that did win. >> very talented person and so she doesn't really get her story out. >> we have the photo we can put
up while we talk about her. >> she wouldn't agree to do interviews with people who wanted to do pieces on her. the story of female reporter that dressed at a girl scout and wrote a story and she was mad and never talked to anybody again. >> hover took on the girl scouts as major effort. during the depression she was encouraging volunteerism and -- >> she was successful at that. >> there's the photograph, add radio broadcast and help a lot of the trouble going on in that age. you have a question over here? >> there's been sort of interesting undercurrent that this whole conversation about how idea and the role of women in society and it's -- i think it's partly that it seems like a
paradigm shift. there are first spouses around the world, women who are leaders around the world. i would love to see about if you were advising the clintons, how they should approach the role for americans, the american presidency? >> could we get the laura bush clip about the future of first ladyhood while our panelists are answering this. >> i've done research on this. two things, bill clinton has essentially been functioning these last eight years, 12 years, 16 years it will be as a first gentleman, when you look at the status he's had and the role he takes on and the persona, not to dissimilar from the kinds of roles that first ladies have played. he is usually nonpartisan and not too political. the second thing is we have to
look at the press in 1994 the candidate was suddenly thrust in public and there were all kinds of questions raised about what kind of influence does he have, do they talk about policy, what are his business interest. i sort of maintain pped while sexism is at the root, it's really more about, you know, unaccountable power of a spouse and outside the realm of american history, you look at the world governments and see that issues have come up when there's been a male spouse to a female in power. >> i've been taking a look at that. we have five women who are serving as governor now and they're all married so there are first gentlemen in new hampshire, in new mexico,
oklahoma and a couple of other states. and it's interesting because while they're at state level male or female can often continue in their careers. the sort of official role that they play in their spouse's administration look at what first ladies do. they take on projects with the executive mansion, they are in charge of restoration, they have some sort of cause whether it's big or small, the first gentleman of oklahoma posed for a cook book and the proceeds when to a nonprofit. he had an apron on. he had a platter of chicken, ribs. it's a macho cook book but still
a cook book. if the family has small children, often -- this is as marriage has changed generally that the spouse who is not the governor male or female is who becomes more responsible for care giving and take those things on because their spouses have more important jobs. >> we had an interesting to interview bush and she had an edge to her voice, i wonder if they're going to critic the kind of tie that is they wear. the clip we chose to for you is when we asked the question should we pay our first lady, here is what she had to say. >> the interesting question, really, is should they receive a salary but be able to work for a salary at their job.
and i think that's what's -- what will have to come to term with. should, you know, certainly a first gentleman continue to work . that's really the question we should ask is should she have a career during the years that her father is president in addition to -- >> we are about to see over the next year and a half or so all kinds of questions that have come up as this new situation. we have about five minutes left and i'm going to ask you all to wrap up because there was a section we didn't get to which was game changer, who are the women throughout history that really made a difference that people need more time to find more about it? >> elenor roosevelt. i don't think that you could find anybody who fits that --
that title more than elenor roosevelt. this was a woman who was well educated, had real serious concerns about where her country was, was married to the most powerful man in the world, perhaps, she had her agenda, she was doing a radio, she was defying the dar, resigning her membership. she was a member of the board of the naacp. she's doing her own thing and so she's -- it may be that there's never been a first lady before or since like her but i think that she sort of stands alone. what she was able to accomplish as her own self, not just as the expansion of her husband and her husband's interest of what she was actually able to establish.
>> carl cannon, what would you say? >> i would say elenor roosevelt for all the reasons and a couple of other examples. she -- roosevelt is courting democrats that can win election again and again and she's confronting them privately, there are riots in the shipyards. they were fighting racism and she's pushing them. she doesn't get satisfaction from him, she goes outside to him to other people in the party. she's a social liberal, that means you're a racial liberal. she's not afraid to call people. the newspaper column that she writes, truman didn't want to do it, maybe eisenhower didn't want to do it, now they all do it, interview that michelle obama gave the other day.
you could hear echos of elenor in it, personal stuff, policy stuff. the first question they ask her, what the the coolest part of the job, well, you know, i have -- i had to meet the pope, i had to meet george clooney and had to meet the queen but then she talks about policy stuff too. to me elenor -- >> her column was called my day. >> my day. >> do you have an answer? >> i do, i would say first that i'm eager to see how history remembers michelle obama and two that i'm a texan and so lady byrd has a special appeal for me i love the clip that you showed earlier because we know what a tough guy lbj was and how he spoke and the way that she just changed him in that conversation, it's quite brilliant and also carl anthony mentioned a little bit earlier
the work that she did in ways in which we can now see in retrospect. it did not exist in the way that it did in and seeing don't mess with texas signs everywhere and appreciation for the bluebonnets there and what that means and to know that she and her role as first lady influenced all of that in the way that is quite subjectle and not understood at the time but that we now do understand. >> now, carl anthony i'm going to ask you because you're a scholar of first ladies, give us some things that we haven't heard. >> dolly madison because she was one of the first that had a real sense of duty to a constituency, meaning the country. it was unusual for a woman back then to perceive a part of her proper role a sense of duty and connection to the general
public, to people she didn't know. jacqueline kennedy, very strongly because of her sense of where the u.s. was in the cold war, how democracy could be presented in a way that it hadn't and in a sense america had come of age and had as much dignity and had a right to maintain that dignity on the world stage and she did that, betty ford by taking very, very personal and really emotional and not -- not losing that power of that but using that to help others. i think it's those like michelle obama, very much like elenor haves elt, i have to agree it's elenor roosevelt but they realized time is ticking. your husband can die, be shot, resign, anything, you have this opportunity to make a change, people are going to like you and
hate you no matter what. they're going to like you and hate you because of the way you look, because of what they think about you, because of what you say, because of everything and you have to say the hell with it and use the time to get it done. >> as we close here i want to say thank you for the panelists, that is my colleague. he helped with the schedule and pulled all of those clips and all of the video and pictures. so thank you very much. [applause] so for our c-span audience, sorry, but those of us who are here can get desert and coffee. you will have to get your own. we are going to have a book signing and i have to tell you that always makes me feel rather embarrass to say, buy my book,