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tv   Presidential Health  CSPAN  September 18, 2016 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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john roberts, congressman john lewis. >>, librarian richard levinson confronts three myths about president and their health. isalso hear about how dr. contributed to the deaths of without theand public knowing. the parkway central library, part of the free library of philadelphia, hosted this hour-long event. introduce pleased to tonight's speaker, librarian richard levinson. he is a librarian here in the central senior services department of the library, and he was one of the motivators
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behind the entire series of speakers on presidential history. the series really would not have come about without his effort. throughout his time at the library, where he has worked promoted9, richard has a variety of intellectually challenging programs for mature adults here at parkway central library.he is an occasional contributor, and spent a director of -- history buff in general, but is particularly focused on issues of presidential health. he will shed light on desperately ill and dying presidents, who deceived the public to stay in power. i asked him earlier if he was going to talk about our current candidates and their health conditions, but he promised this is entirely historically
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focused. [laughter] i hope you will enjoy his talk. [applause] i want to thank jeff for that gracious introduction. i also want to tell you that our program on robert kennedy has proved to be so popular, we have actually moved it from room 108 to the auditorium. please join us there next week. so often in life, the people who are laboring behind the scenes, doing the real work never get any recognition at all,.i want to take a quick minute womennk three remarkable at the free library of philadelphia. ,utumn mcclintock, sarah moran and siobhan riordan. i'm here to tell you without them, tonight's program and our entire american presidency
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series would never have seen the light of day. now, the first key theme i want to focus on this evening is the idea that american presidents have always gotten the very best health care available, in whatever era they lived. i want to tell you that this is a charming myth, and problems began almost immediately with george washington. from theiring presidency, washington's real job was administering the family plantation, mount vernon. typically, he would spend hours every day on his plantation, keeping a very close eye on what , and intervening whenever necessary. he was a tough bus. in december 1799 ode out about 10:00
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in the morning. it was snowing. the snow-- ceiling, had changed to a cold, unrelenting rain. washington was not properly dressed. in minutes, both his head and neck were soaked. he did not return back indoors until 3 p.m. not do did that, he did the commonsense thing that you and i would have done immediately. he did not change out of his wet clothes and put on dry ones. he answered some letters, became involved in various projects around the house, enjoyed a leisurely dinner, did not really change out of his clothes until it was time for bed. it's not very surprising that within two days, he is feeling really, really sick. the locus of the problem was washington's throat.
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what the problem was depends on --ch his story 2 believe which historian you want to believe. some say he had a terrible case of tonsillitis.others , a bad strep throat. -- some historians have referred to the soft tissue at the front of his voice box, speculating that tissue grew so large and inflamed that it began to choke off washington's windpipe. it became agony for the former president to swallow and breathing was pretty hard,, too. and this was all complicated by the fact that in washington's time, american medicine was mired in the middle ages. the prevailing medical model suggested that human beings were made up of various fluids called humors, and the key to good health was keeping them in the
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proper balance, the right alignment, as if human beings were automobiles. any toolsly weren't you could lose -- use to balance the humors. there was bloodletting and purging. bloodletting is a very tricky business, and you can do a lot of damage if you don't know what you are doing. i would be willing to bet there andfans of "robin hood" audience. i bet you remember in those legends, robin would meet his and as a result of being bled to death by a treacherous relative who betrayed him. washington was a great believer in bleeding. doctors,ere were any he had members of the household him repeatedly. when the three doctors who were ultimately caring for washington
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arrived, what do you think happened? they bled him again. not just once, but repeatedly. on a practical level, what they did was destroy whatever strength or resilience the former president had left, and that he would so desperately need to recover from this infection and get well. as a result of this bleeding, he ed state.very weaken of the three doctors, the dick, argues. strongly on behalf of a new experimental treatment, a tracheotomy. he wanted to make an incision in washington's throat, believing it would make it easier for the president to breathe. i can tell you that the two older doctors had a fit, because they were obsessed with the idea that if an experimental
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treatment was tried in washington died,, they would go down in history as the doctors who killed george washington. given that he was very weak, we don't know whether he would have survived if the tracheotomy had been performed, but the sad truth is, that by refusing to allow dr. dick to do the tracheotomy, they guaranteed the one outcome they were trying most to avoid. now, we are going to take a big jump ahead in history. the year is now 1881. the president is an ohio republican james a garfield,. you to think for just a minute about the fact that we are now 16 years from the assassination of abraham lincoln , and apparently, people in the white house still have not gotten the message, have not read the memo, have not learned what we need to do to protect america's presidents and keep
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them secure. because like some of the people in this room, james garfield had a summer house at the jersey and one very hot summer, he simply wanted to be reunited with his family. he wanted to take the train from washington dc to the jersey shore. and people in the white house allowed him to drive to the train station with his secretary but with james blaine, no security whatsoever. when they arrived at the train station, they were met by another member of garfield's administration, robert todd lincoln, the son of our most revered president. but no security whatsoever. that is how garfield's assassin was able to sneak up on the president from behind, pull out
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a pistol, and shoot him point blank in the back. garfield explained -- exclaimed, god, what is this?" and collapsed. this man was a low level federal employee, a clerk in a federal agency. ,e was a pathetic little man and it is also true to say that he was insane. this is a man who sadly, failed at everything he tried to do in life, with the single exception of killing president garfield. but he suffered from delusions of grandeur. he believed he had been put on earth to fulfill certain missions, given him by the almighty.
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one of those missions was to make it possible for chester alan arthur, who is actually garfield's vice president, to become president. the republican party was divided into two factions at this time. he was a great believer in the fashion headed by chester alan arthur. thislieved by carrying out , he was the filling god's will. toterms of what happened garfield, i want to talk about the state of medicine. once again, american medicine was lagging behind. i think many of you have heard something about joseph lister, the pioneering british surgeon and humanitarian. as early as 1867, he had
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demonstrated by using carbolic acid, it was possible to spare a sterilize medical instruments before surgery. it was possible to clean out a so that he ords, she would not die of infection, like millions and millions of people before. he believed this so strongly that when america celebrated its great centennial in 1876, and here in philadelphia, there was listerfic world fair, actually came here because it was an opportunity to talk to some of the most important members of the american medical community, who were based on the east coast. ster actually gives a talk is part of the centennial exhibition. the room is packed. almost important doctors, from
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the eastern part of the u.s. -- we including the man who would ultimately be responsible forre there, garfield's care. this is before the era of scientific medicine. germs could not be seen. those doctors wrote lister off kook.ell-meaning this was a time when doctors did not wash their hands before operating, they did not sterilize instruments before operating and took particular pride in wearing, filthy, blood coats, we gotte the week, month after month, year after year. it was a point of pride for many of them. in terms of garfield's situation , i'm sorry to say, what happens
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is, as a result of the doctors constantly poking and probing in his wounds with their unwashed fingers and unsterilized metal probes, the people who wanted to help garfield actually killed him. the bitter irony is, if ever a man was meant to survive, james garfield was that man. he lingered from more than 60 days after being shot. if he had only received less attention from doctors, he almost certainly would have survived. [laughter] i would like to quickly call your attention to accomplish points. i think it is very interesting that america survived without any real president for 80 days, and we were absolutely fine. there were no ill effects whatsoever. i think it tells you something how much america's
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position in the world has changed, from 1881 until now. secondly, i want to say something about the tragic case of robert todd lincoln. present for all three presidential assassinations that occurred during his lifetime. i wonder what the statistical odds are of something like that being possible. a man whosemention name, unfortunately, is often forgotten today. charles purvis. he was the chief surgeon of what was then known as the freed .an's hospital in washington dc he is the first black doctor to care for an american president.
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we should all know his name. i think it is a shame we do not. to jump ahead in history once again. we are now at the year 1901. we are in the first year of the 20th century. the president is another ohio republican, william mckinley. they arety of buffalo, having a great international exposition, a world's fair. the organizers said, we have to embrace -- invite the president. mckinley wanted to come and give a speech. yearsgain, we are now 36 from the time that abraham lincoln was assassinated, and we are still doing things the same way. in the white house allowed william mckinley to become a sitting duck. they arranged for him to participate in an open receiving line, where any interested party
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could join the line, greet the president, shake his hand, and that's exactly what his assassin did. this gentleman was an anarchist. he believed the best thing for mankind was for people to rise up and kill as many presidents, prime ministers, and kings as possible. this man was immaculately dressed. he certainly seemed to fit right in. interestingly, people noticed that his hand was covered by a towel.ea what they assumed is he was hiding some kind of injury or wound. when he got very close to mckinley, he with the ipped awayowel -- wh
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the towel, and hidden in his pistol. a small caliber he proceeds to shoot mckinley several times, point blank in the stomach. even today, that is a very serious injury. i'm afraid from that point on, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. first of all, in a community the size of buffalo, there was at least one gentleman with a national and international reputation as a surgeon. wouldn't you know, the day that mckinley is shot he is hours away from the city,, consulting on another case. a stomach wound is serious business. the president needed urgent medical attention. the only doctor that they could get on such short notice was an ob/gyn. [laughter] really not qualified for the mission he was given.can you imagine the terrible pressure this man was under?
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it must have been awful. it is really not very surprising, that he didn't clean the president's wounds properly, did not close them up properly afterwards. those two mistakes guaranteed that william mckinley would die. once mckinley was dead, the first thing that his number one patron and friend, mark hanna -- an ohio businessman and important political boss at this time. when he learned mckinley was dead, he said the following. cowboy is damn president of the united states." he was referring to theodore roosevelt, who was in fact, our vice president. t.r. happened to become vice president is a really intriguing story. roosevelt might have been a devout republican, but he was a liberal. by cap -- temperament and
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inclination, he was a reformer. that was enough to make them public enemy number one in the mind of tom platt, the republican boss in the state of new york, and the man who ran one of the most powerful and effective political machines in all of america. platt had had a belly full of roosevelt and his conscience, and his complaints, and his objections. he resolved to use his political power to force roosevelt onto the political ticket of william mckinley. he figured that if he could do it, he would never have to be bothered with roosevelt again. [laughter] i guess that was not a very good call. theme i want to focus on tonight is the idea that presidents have always been truthful and honest with congress and the american people
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about the state of their health,. well, sadly, that is another myth. that is true, partly because people are almost never giving up power voluntarily. the other thing, i would say, if there is one take away from tonight's talk, you are about to hear it. ae other thing is that president's short-term political longer-termtrump health concerns. always, always, always. the first president i want to talk about in relation to this is actually a democrat, finally. grover cleveland, who was a democrat in the state of new york, the only american president to serve two nonconsecutive terms. he had the misfortune to serve his second term during what was the worst economic crisis in the until the great
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crash of 1929. a brilliants not man, not an intellectual, but he had a lot of common sense. and he was a democrat who embraced the gold standard, which meant he was popular on wall street, that he had good and so cleveland working with people in the business and financial communities i think was slowly but effectively working his way , when ones mess morning he awakes to discover a lump on the roof of his mouth that had not been there two or three days before. subsequently, a biopsy reveals that it was cancerous, and now cleveland is truly panicked. for two reasons. he had made a commitment to address a joint session of congress, and to lay out his
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strategy for getting america out of this financial crisis. can you imagine if a president of the united states makes a commitment like that, and then doesn't show? that sends a pretty powerful message that something is terribly wrong. the other thing that cleveland was worried about was his vice president, because as a result of a political deal, he had accepted as his vice president a man named adlai stevenson. stevenson we remember from 1952 and 1956. his grandfather. this stevenson was a very popular politician and amiable man. ,somebody very difficult to dislike, except that he was an inflation is. he was -- inflationist. he was a believer in soft money. to people on wall street, that made him worse than satan
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himself. one of the things concerning cleveland was the idea that if he died, and adlai stevenson became president, the financial institutions of the country would collapse.that is why go to retrieve -- grover cleveland had to undergo a secret operation on a yacht. in, strapped the president and began to operate. in fairness, given some of the other comments i made earlier about doctors and american medicine, these doctors did a wonderful job they not only removed the growth. , but they got all the cancer. we know this is true, because cleveland lived on in very good health until the year, 1908. there was still a serious asblem, because cleveland, you recall, had made this
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commitment to address a joint session of congress. you don't have, to take very much tissue out of somebody's mouth before they can no longer communicate in a way so that other people can understand. interestingly, medical progress never moves along a unified front at the same time. it is always moving ahead here, falling back there. fortunately, at the time that cleveland had the surgery, one thing that we did know how to do vulcanizend eyes -- rubber. what the doctors did was to craft a prosthesis, so that when cleveland wore it in his mouth, he could speak normally. he was able to keep the congressional appointment. the crisis past. everything was fine, but you now know what a close call it really was. like to say
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something about a president you know a lot about, woodrow wilson. a man who was previously president of princeton university and governor of new jersey. what was little known and understood in wilson's own time, and still a little understood today, is that woodrow wilson was a very fragile man. we now believe he began suffering mini strokes as early as 1896. if he had had the misfortune to be born later in history, in a there were very aggressive capable newspapers, or even later when there was a 24-hour news cycle or internet, the man we never would have been , letnor of new jersey alone president of the united states. in that respect, he was lucky. wilson's first term was a huge success. the volume of important progressive legislation that
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washed through congress and onto the president's desk, was incredible.this only worked because wilson had a white house doctor who understood him, who knew what a fragile man he was. as a result, and his prewar period, wilson took a long nap every day. every week, he was able to play golf, and participate in carriage rides. everything works, because -- worked because he was not pushed, too hard. with world war i, everything changes. there are no easy or brief hours when your nation is at war. cope with only had to that, but subsequently, he had to face the peace conference in paris, facing some of the toughest politicians that europe has ever produced.
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france, thens so of man who said war was too important to be left to generals. david lloyd george of britain, arguably the craft is prime minister britain has ever had. we are not even saying anything about mr. orlando, the prime minister of italy. d, wilson beganio having serious problems. sometimes, when a person has a life-changing medical event, a heart attack or a stroke, his or her personality changes. wilson had always been a proud man, somewhat on the stubborn side. but as time went on, he became more and more rigid and unwilling to compromise. t inn tell you that excep the republic of north korea, compromise is really still where
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it's at, in the realm of democratic but disappeared tory politics. participatory politics. wanted the senate to approve the league of nations treaty as it had been written, word for word. that was never going to happen. i think if wilson had been a healthier man, he would have attempted to negotiate with the republicans in the senate, and they probably would have been able to achieve something. but instead, wilson was inflexible, and he decided he was going to take this fight to the american people. ill-consideredn wilson stop -- whistle stop tour across the country, giving five or six speeches across a day. speeches back then were much longer than they are now. this is in a period when there
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was no air-conditioning. frequently, he was speaking, spending a great deal of time in the broiling day , when they reached colorado, his body had had enough, and he suffered a massive, debilitating stroke. they turned the train right around, and returned to washington dc. thatt to mention to you woodrow wilson virtually disappears for the last 18 months of his presidency. there was one cabinet meeting s and handlerse thought they could attempt to see how well he could do. it turned out to be a grave mistake. members of wilson's cabinet who had not seen him since the stroke were shocked, at what an equipmentn piece of he appeared to be. it was very clear wilson could no longer concentrate on
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anything for more than 10 minutes at a time. that experiment was never repeated. interestingly, robert lancey, wilson's, trying to have him removed from office on the basis was incapacitated and was incapable of carrying out the responsibilities of a president. nobody would support him, so he was unable to accomplish anything. yourself,be asking well, wilson had a vice president, where was he? what was he doing? this was a very different era. this was a time when vice president's were regarded a like regarded ats were lot like children. fine for them to be seen, not to be heard. wilson's vice president, thomas marshall, frequently told the following story. two american brothers, one ran sea, the other
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became vice president, and neither one was ever hurt again. [laughter] -- neither one was ever heard from again. [laughter] you really do get a sense of what it was like. there are a lot of people excited about the path that hillary clinton becoming the first female president. i have to tell you, been there, done that. we can check off that box already. wifewilson returned, his essentially became acting president of the united states. we know this because pieces of legislation, executive orders, other things would go up to the residence for wilson's signature, and they would come back signed, but white house insiders knew it was not woodrow wilson's signature. it was mrs. wilson who had signed. the more you look into this, the better the case you can make that mrs. wilson was actually our first female president.
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now, i would like to jump ahead in time to franklin delano .oosevelt i want to begin with a story involving, of all people, mrs. wilson. in the 1940's, she came to a social event at the white house. this was possible, because mrs. wilson was much, much younger than her late husband, president wilson.she comes into the white house for a social occasion. shesees the president, and thoughtlessly repeats to many other people, in and around the white house, that the president looks awful. he looks like he's dying. secretaryint, fdr's of labor frances perkins takes the aside and says, " president has a great and terrible job to do, and he's got to do it, even if it kills him. don't ever say that again." when we look at
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the health history of fdr, aside from the polio that you are when he enters the white house in 1933, the most serious medical complaint he has is a chronic sinus condition. doctor, assigned him a ross mcintyre, an ear, nose, and throat problem. it was fine for a time. over the years, the unrelenting pressure of dealing with the depression, then the world war that is coming, whether americans want it to or not, coupled with the crazy hours he was keeping, and the unknown the itunhealthy diet he enjoyed, was just a matter of time until fdr was suffering from serious hypertension and, high blood pressure. interestingly, mcintyre, apparently oblivious to all of it. i was not until the president's the navyanna insisted
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provide a second medical opinion, that a navy cardiologist was brought in to examine the president. and he was horrified. after he had examined roosevelt, he wanted to put him on a bedrest, fortal months, possibly for years. in the midst of a national crisis, it just couldn't have been. but what did happen is that fdr, in essence, now has two doctors. good old ross mcintyre who was good with the public and good in the media for public occasions, and howard rubin, who was really caring for fdr. howard did what he could. he improved the president's diet, they built in more time for the president to rest and the goal was to keep
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him alive as long as they possibly could, knowing they were not going to be able to do it forever. i would now like to mention that in 1944, hollywood decides this is the right time for a woodrow wilson biopic. fdr is very interested in this, really wants to see this movie. after all, he had been woodrow wilson's assistant secretary of the navy he did have a personal connection to. wilson. as fdr is watching this movie, which gets to be very grim at the end, we know that fdr grimaced, looked at the screen and proclaimed,, "that's not going to happen to me."
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it didn't, but something else did. i want to leave the fdr portion of this talk by bringing you back to the day that his vice president, harry truman, realized he would soon be president. this relationship is very said, because truman idolized roosevelt, all through his political career and his time in congress. he was one of the president's staunchest supporters. roosevelt, however, never found time to spend with truman. in all the days harry truman was vice president, roosevelt was the two of them, on two occasions. one was a long ride in an automobile when it was pouring rain, and the second was a private lunch at the white house for the two of them. at this lunch, roosevelt attempted to pour himself a cup of coffee. badly,ds were shaking so he couldn't do it. and truman had to do it for. -- for him.
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harry truman, perhaps not the best formally educated person in the nation, was a very smart man. kenya that he would soon be the knewdent himself -- he that he would be the president himself. the next thing i want to explore is the idea that television is going to change things. that once television gains a critical foothold in american life, that you will not see the sort of chicanery we were talking about, because it is impossible. i'm sad to say that that too is just a myth. have a great case study for you, dwight d. 1955, as you know, eisenhower has a massive heart attack. the people around eisenhower bring in the most eminent american cardiologist of the day, a bostonian.
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white examines eisenhower, tells people in the white house, we would be lucky if he lives long enough for a first term. there was no question that in his mind, that if eisenhower lived enough to survive, he would have to live a quiet life. the problem was, eisenhower liked being president. [laughter] mrs. eisenhower liked being first lady. there were a whole bunch of eisenhower friends, cronies, associates who had pretty good jobs as a result of the eisenhower administration. they wanted to keep him. is both ally happened fascinating story and a scandal. the political people around eisenhower beat up on paul dudley white so badly, he winds up signing a public letter
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stating the polar opposite of what he actually believes. he signs a public letter saying that eisenhower is a good candidate for a second term in the white house. problem, which is that all those tv reporters were pretty aggressive, and they wanted to know a lot about eisenhower's health. they were sticking their noses in all sorts of places the administration did not want them to be. fortunately, dwight eisenhower as a great press secretary, guy named jim haggerty, who goes on to become one of the first president of abc news. if you can'tizes, stonewall them, you can bury them in minutia. [laughter] and that is what he proceeded to do. he orchestrated a schedule of multiple press briefings, every
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single day. poor president couldn't have a bowel movement without the american people needing to know. what did the president have for lunch? who visited? what did they talk about? by god, haggerty pulled it off. focused on, and reporting what he wanted them to focus on, that they weren't asking the sort of tough questions that presumably would be asked today. well, i want to wrap up by giving you a homework assignment. i'm old enough to believe that there is no valuable educational experience without a homework component. so, the next time you are at your neighborhood branch of the free library, i want you to tell a librarian that you would like to see a copy of the u.s. constitution.
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if there are too many of you for each person to have their own copy, you can use a library computer and see it online. what i want you to look at is the 25th amendment to the u.s. constitution. that is the amendment which was ratified in 1960 seven that attempts to truly address all the issues we have been talking about this evening. there is a section of this amendment that allows the president to name a new vice president, when that office is vacant, as long as the person is confirmed by the congress. there is a critically important 25th amendment that allows a president who is temporarily incapacitated to transfer power to his vice president, and then reclaim it later when he is able to do so.
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not an a historian, i'm expert on iran-contra, but one of the issues and elements running through here is the idea that reagan had some sort of surgical procedure involving anesthesia, that was close enough to some of the critical -making around a rent contract, to raise questions whether reagan was really able to make truly appropriate decisions. the last section of this amendment, the fourth section, is the potential ticking time .omb going back to the woodrow wilson situation, where the president is incapacitated, but alive and
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determined to hang on, the last section provides a roadmap for presidents in that situation to be removed, if members of their cabinet and the american congress agree. this amendment is so critically important, and i think it is really just a matter of time, no one knows when, when we are going to get a dry run on the section four and we will find out whether or not it truly does work. i want to thank you for being such a great audience tonight. [applause] and now, i'm going to take my toe in my hands, and attempt answer some questions. >> please stand here at the mike -- microphone and wraparound this way. we have about 10 minutes. >> hello.
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thank you. that was a really wonderful talk. richard: thank you very much. >> in this last sunday's inquirer, there was an article on george w. bush, and his --othyroidism hyperthyroidism, which turned out to be hypothyroidism. one thing that struck me about the article, is that he was running, and all of his security people had to go running within. -- with him. that made me wonder, who do you was a very healthy president? truman iwell, harry think was a remarkably had -- healthy president. look at both john adams and thomas jefferson.
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andrew jackson is an amazing who, because there is a guy functioned as president for eight years, with bullets in his body that could never be removed , failing eyesight. in theory should never have been able to do the job, but he was.and people speculated that accounts for his terrible countenance. he could have been in pain every single day of his presidency. but that is a pretty short list. >> do you think barack obama is healthy? my impression, i'm just a librarian and not a historian, but my impression is in 2008, john mccain, a much older man,
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and much more fragile at least on paper, more forthcoming about the state of his health and the muchstory, than younger and presumably much healthier barack obama. i think that is interesting. utah --5th amendment you had talked about, it sounded like what it says is if the president is unhealthy, it is like impeaching him. is that what it comes down to? richard: impeaching is the wrong word, because being ill has nothing to do with committing crimes, or breaking the law. it is just something that happens. so this amendment does create a pathway to remove the president, which could also be done through impeachment, but i don't like the impeachment connotation, because we are talking about a medical issue. >> not the president doing something illegal.
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ok. truman's vice president used to tell the story about the two brothers, and get the usual laughs. james haggerty created the image of the summer white house. whenever eisenhower was in texas, he would make sure an important announcement came from texas. the question i would like to ask, how about william henry harrison? you didn't mention him, his illness and whatever, happened to him in his 30 days. richard: i'm trying to think about this quickly. we all know that william henry harrison, first american president to die in office. wasnot sure now whether he
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-- unfortunately, i'm conflating william henry harrison and that retailer. i have to be honest with you -- andhe fact that zachary taylor. i have to be honest with you about the fact that -- [inaudible] the doctors did, with him for 30 days before he died. tyler had to fight for the fact that he was now president. they would say, you are just acting president. that was one of the compromises. richard: right. we are going to have you give the next talk. [laughter] that is in the limb point. thank you. -- that is an excellent point. thank you. >> can you top little bit about president who might have had mental illness like depression? veryrd: you are asking a
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important question. i don't think we have enough time to do it justice. my mind goes immediately to abraham lincoln. every woman does man ever loved died. you can't tell me that he didn't have issues with depression. depression among american presidents is probably tend toe common than we think or acknowledge. temperament -- i'm glad you brought this up. byre is a wonderful book, the late james david barber, called "presidential character." presidentialout temperament, and how it up it's you to do well in the presidency. calvin coolidge, who lost a son was -- while he was in the white
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house, that was the reason he declined to run for a second term. he had terrible problems with depression, and did not last very long after leaving the white house and retiring. i think if we took a few minutes and thought about it, depression and the presidency is a very serious issue, it is just beyond the scope of this particular talk. truman's presidency, we amended the constitution to limit the presidential terms. there were, i think people who said, this is republicans who don't want another roosevelt. i wonder if you have insight into whether roosevelt's failing health, which was an open secret in washington, may have had something to do with the idea that we have to limit the number of times someone can be in office. we may have a situation again where someone is so ill and dies in office. element i'm sure that
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was percolating through that conversation. i just have to say though, that no sooner had the republicans managed to push that amendment through, when they come up with . president who is so popular like david eisenhower probably could have been elected to four terms himself. eisenhoweravid probably could have been elected to four terms himself. he careful what you wish for, because you could get it. >> there have been 43 presidents, forward shot and two were shot. do you think it is the most dangerous job in america? richard: these very difficult, very sad days, it is becoming increasingly difficult to say what the most dangerous job in america is. unfortunate that anybody
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who wants to be president really has to consider the possibility that something untoward might have been -- happen. one of the things we have seen recently, is that if people are very determined, and if people are comfortable , itificing their own lives is possible to do a lot. i don't think there is anybody who is absolutely safe, or totally protected. eisenhower's heart attack was that serious, how was it that he not only survived for a second term, but i think he died nine or 10 years after leaving office? did he change his diet? richard: there are a number of things that come into play here. i think luck is certainly a factor. i think it is very likely that
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the president not only changed his diet, but one of the things eisenhower was known for his somebody who ate all his meals amazingly quickly. maybe that is connected to his military training, in some way. he was a guy who had worked through a multicourse and are in -- dinner in no time at all. i think that not only contributed to his heart condition, but he had colitis, a lot of problems. i think it was partly luck doma -- he did make some prudent it was partly luck, but he made some prudent changes. >> if wilson's wife was the first female president, how about nancy reagan? i think reagan had dementia and she was definitely running the show. [laughter] richard: there are a lot of opinions about that. andomised our president
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director that this talk would be strictly historical. [laughter] >> just something to think about. notard: but perhaps historical enough. >> anything you would like to say about kennedy? richard: thank you for asking. there is a quick couple of things i would like to say about john f. kennedy. first of all, have any of you seen pictures of the newly minted congressman kennedy from 1947? he is so thin and scrawny, so unhealthy looking, he looks like alfred newman from mad magazine. as all of you know, in the capital, there are elevators for the public and separate ones for the members. john f. kennedy was actually ejected from a members elevator, because the elevator operator took one look at this scrawny
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young guy, who looked like a teenager, and ordered him off. kennedy had to get out. where aa situation changeddrug, cortisone, everything. when kennedy began to take that, he filled out in terms of both his body and his face. if you see pictures of john kennedy from 1961, and 1962, his face has a decidedly puffy look. but that cortisone was critically important in kennedy's career. this is al remember, guy who based so much of his appeal on strength, on figure -- after and the fact that eight years of eisenhower, we needed a young, healthy man as president. i'm here to tell you that without cortisone, he would never have looked the part.
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thank you for bringing that up. thanks again for being such a great audience. [applause] you will be joining us next week for the program on robert kennedy. >> that was really good. richard: thank you very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> this was sunny and national museum of african american history and culture opens its doors to the public for the first time on saturday, september 24. american history tv will be live on the national mall starting at 8 a.m. eastern leading to the dedication ceremony. speakers include president obama, the founding director, first lady michelle obama, george w. busht
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and mrs. laura bush, supreme court justice john roberts, congressman john lewis, and smithsonian secretary. 24 at 8 a.m.tember eastern on american history tv, on c-span3. >> it is that time of year to announce our 2017 student cam video documentary competition. help us spread the word to middle school and high school students and their teachers. this year's theme, your message to washington dc. tell us, what is the most urgent issue for the new president and congress to address in 2017? our competition is open to all middle school or high school students, with $100,000 awarded in cash prizes. students can work alone or in a group of up to three, to produce a 5-7 minute documentary on the issues selected. include c-span programming, and also some opposing opinions. will be awarded
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9:00 pm is a public service of your cable or satellite >> david valdes first worked as a personal photographer to vice president george h w bush in 1983. when bush later became president, david bell does was named to head the white house -- z was named to head the white house photo department. this is part of an annual conference on the presidency and the press. it is hosted at franklin pierce university in new hampshire. it is about 50 minutes. >> we're going to look at the presidency through the lens of david valdez, who is one of only nine presidential photographers in u.s. history. when he was not much older than


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