tv Private Lives and Public Image of the First Ladies CSPAN December 25, 2015 12:00am-1:30am EST
you are not nuts. it says to people who are living in the bubble, hey here's who we are, you don't really know is, you don't know what drives of, what is important to us or why it's important to us so read the book. maybe we'll find out these good old boys are not saddam after all. >> cap next, from the national archives from --dash washington, dc. historians explore the lives of the first lady. it coincides with c-span's latest book, first ladies, presidential historians on first ladies, presidential historians on the lives of 45 iconic women. >> now, on tonight's program c-span's year-long history series, first ladies influence an image featured interviews with more than 50 historians and biographers. in the recently released, informative book, these experts
paint intimate portraits of all 451st ladies. their lives and visions, and unique partnerships with their presidential spouses. the series in the book provide an up close, historical look at these fascinating women who provide the scrutiny of the white house, sometimes at great personal cost while supporting the families and famous husband. sometimes, changing history. our program tonight will feature lively discussion with some of these contributing historians who will hear more about shortly. to moderate tonight's program, we are pleased to welcome susan slang, the moderator of c-span's first later influence an image. susan slane is president and co-ceo of c-span, should sharing responsibility for all operations of the public affairs
cable network. she oversees programming, marketing for c-span television channels and c-span radio. she helped launch the "washington journal", book tv, american history to be, she has also been involved in the creation of numerous c-span history series such as american president, the lincoln douglas debate and american writers. for over 30 years she has been one of c-span's principal, on camera on camera interviewers. most recently, on april 14, 1st ladies was released as a book by public affairs book featuring a collection of her interviews from the television series. it is the ninth book that susan has edited version c-span a public affairs. as you notice when you came in,
will have copies of the book available-for-sale after the program. she will be signing copies for you. now, let me turn the podium over to susan and to tonight's program [applause]. >> good evening and thank you for being here. i appreciate you braving the traffic in dc. for those of you watching at home, thank you for being with us. so many. so many of you were with us for the first ladies and will be reviewing this topics again. what i wanted to start with with a book from abigail adams. when she set john off to the cottonelle congress she sent him with -- john remembered the lady. tonight we are going to do that for the gal. she should be happy.
the lives of these first ladies are often forgotten and they should not be. they're very interesting. they. they have also made an enormous contribution to our history. we try to do was personalize their history and what we'll try to do is tell you some of those stories along with video and film from the national archive collection and some of the historic photographs. we hope to inform you and entertain you, along the way inspire you test questions because there's 30 minute set aside at the them for your involvement and things you are interested in. our goal tonight is to learn about the first lady contributions to the residency. since since we are embarking on a presidential campaign we are looking at the spouses of candidates, and i say spouses because instead of wives because with hillary clinton entering it could change what the spouse would be.
i want to show you film that is from the national archive collection from the truman library, 1945, national airport a place we know very well when beth truman, a new new first lady was asked to do an early vent to kristin and air ambulance. watch what happens. >> at the national airport, harriet s truman and her daughter will calm. she will break the glass on impact. [inaudible] now that they are unaware that their bottle is not prepared. [laughter]
happened as a result of that as she elected to do anymore public appearances. now, that is not a possibility for women today who hold this role because within the next presidency the eisenhower television burst onto the scene and began following for slaters everywhere. beth truman was the last to live a private life as much as she could within the white house. this was a great entrance into what were going to be talking about tonight about women who are sometimes thrust into these roles by history and have to learn to adopt to the glare of the spotlight. i have four fabulous panels to introduce. you heard their 56 people involved in our television series, from residents day 2013 until presents a 2014. when we put them together the book, the reason we did the book was because there's a lot of book offers ladies but never brought collection of various points of view under one set of covers. we
are delighted to have for the people were part of the process. first is carl, he is the destroying of the national first ladies library in canton, ohio. he has written over a dozen first lady books. he has also all my material about them. he's. he's joining us from los angeles. welcome. [applause]. edna is local, she is chair of the history department at howard university. much published herself, she is the lincoln expert, specializing in the civil war and reconstruction. she has had an incredibly busy year. she busy year. she was part of the national commission on the lincoln centennial celebration. she has spent the entire year with the commission attending all of the lincoln events.
so i set as we were to reach the anniversary of lincoln's expiration last week, she is probably breathing a sigh of relief that she can reclaim some of her time back. so welcome edna, of howard university [applause]. >> have managed to do something to moderate should do, i've to panelists by the same first name. so let me introduce you to carl cannon. carl is the washington bureau chief of real clear politics. he has covered every presidential campaign since 1984 and has covered the white house since then. he is an author, a biographer, he's also a historian. if you sign up for his daily real clear politics briefing, you get the daily politics but you also get a history lesson. he loves history. he comes by. he comes by this passion for newspaper in politics honestly. his father, luke cannon covered ronald reagan and was his
biographer. he grew up in that a vitamin. great friend of of c-span as of all or panelists. [applause]. >> our final panelist is someone i got to meet over the past two years, krista thompson. she is a reporter who is covering michelle obama. she she has written many details stories. she said she just finished a story on first gentleman which will be in tomorrow's newspaper. in addition to covering laura bush she has to look ahead at the new crop of candidates. so she brings the journalist modern-day perspective. welcome. [applause]. i know many of you bring your cell phones to these, we have a twitter account set up. as i mention the questions will be at the one hour point but if
you see interesting topics on the way anyone to send us a tweet i will get them right here. i promise not to be too distracted by that. i. i will mix in your twitter questions as well. that's where c-span audience at home, # first ladies i'll be getting them in using them throw the section. welcome everyone. will start each section, the first one is the duality of the public life in the private life. all of these women have been forced into by circumstance, some happy partners along the way. we ask a lot of them in this role. let's start with a clip from an interview we did at c-span with michelle obama when she was new into the role. talking about the balance between private life and public responsibility.
>> the first lady brings a unique perspective to this job, if you did it, i think to the expect that it feels natural to this because i try to bring a little bit of michelle obama into it. at the same time respecting and valuing the tradition that is america. >> this is not new concept. in the book what we did is include one quote from every first lady. i'd like to share with you the quote we chose for washington. the first in this role. i never go to the public place you wrote. indeed, i think i'm more like a state prisoner than anything else. there certain set for me that i must not depart form and i cannot do as i'd like i am obstinate and stay-at-home.
>> now more than hundred years later coolidge in the white house wrote this. >> thinking about her role she said this was i and yet not i. this was the wife of the president of the united states and she took precedence over me. my personal life and dislikes must be subordinated to the consideration of those things that be expected or required of her. so it was something that first ladies have been struggling with. how to maintain a sense of self with all of these responsibilities thrust upon them. >> you begin the discussion this way and were happy because it goes down to the very root of what has been a matter of fascination. battle for the american public but for the world. as you know and you hear so often from foreign journalists who are so interested in the
role of the first lady. i i think were going to see perhaps, at some point certainly the role of a first gent. it it really just as in about gender, about our accountable power. and they were thrust into it. early on when this sudden, you have to know in the 19th century a woman's name should not be in public. so the whole concept of first lady, there is real conflict for who they were as people to have this public interest in their life. but jackie kennedy said it best, she said, during the 1960 campaign campaign she said you pick three or four stories that are real about yourself, that illustrate a point, good point about yourself or your family and you give them out and that's it.
you retell those stories over and over again and you try to use that. that's how much of your real self you give to your persona. >> we didn't have media coverage anywhere near what we had today. even the early first ladies felt the glare. >> if you think of someone like martha washington who was the first and was setting the tone for everyone who followed it must've been incredibly difficult for her. she probably have the same kind of scrutiny, and the sense that her husband did. probably more so than he did. people knew her of course, she had always been around the winter camps with her husband so the soldier certainly knew her. people appreciated what what she had done before she became first lady, i think after she became first lady she was pretty popular. people did begin to criticize. it's new territory for her. she does not know quite how to behave. all she has is the example of european royalty.
so she is trying to establish some practices that would be in keeping with what they would have been doing in europe. americans resented that. they certainly did not want her to go in that direction. so she had a tremendous burden. if someone like martha who it's been all that time during the revolution with her husband, supporting her husband, all she wanted was to be able to go back home and be a private citizen. >> let me jump to krista and watching michelle obama's closest you have. that clip was from her early days, did she see a growing comfort with the role over the years, a maturation to it? >> absolutely, initially she described herself and her husband told stories about how he needs get her blessing and there is a process in to do that.
you see her now and there's talk about her being a bright spotlight. whatever she stands in front of the light shines there. so how to use that platform. i think for her being able to see the value in the celebrity that came with the role and she was also not very comfortable with all the press. first ladies also shared with us a few stories but kept a piece of themselves behind. michelle obama does that as well. but he see her enjoying the role, especially when she is with children and doing things she enjoys. i think that will continue and she and her husband are young, they're not going anywhere, there will be able to see how she continues to engage with the public.
>> and even makes it easier difficult. >> looking over the first later since 1984 election, have any of them really struggled with the private public duality. >> the clip that you showed of michelle obama, the two quotes, grace and martha washington, mrs. obama gave an interview yesterday with the kids and she hit on both of those. she said, what do you like about the kids, while you can't go out and she was abstract here. you can't just go out and the other thing is said to want to be a first later? she said no i wanted to be a nutritionist. as i was she wanted to be when she grew up. to me, michelle obama has embraced the role in and on
common way. more than any other i have covered. hillary clinton is an exception. she sought as a stepping so and she often talks about eleanor roosevelt. eleanor roosevelt could run for president now. they would've handed her the nomination. the party would have been hers if we have this environment. so hillary clinton had a personification of eleanor roosevelt 50 years later. in terms of embracing all of this role for what it is, michelle obama to me is him is a transformational figure. i don't cover the white house anymore, covered it for 50 years and i edit so i can sort of say what i think it would be. so you still have to be objective about michelle obama but i don't.
>> will the concept is interesting because eleanor roosevelt was seen as transformational but no one who followed her did as she did. >> can explain quickly. michelle obama is the first african-american first lady. we talked about that. people written about that. she is also even broader than that, she is the first, post title ix first lady. she walks with a confidence. the cv. the cv studies, if you bet on college campus lately, girls when their little there'd good athletes and then there get to an age when they slouched do this. shall obama does not do that. she walks, she has confidence, physical confidence, confidence confidence in her mental abilities. her self-confidence to me as a person is an inspiration. >> manchester briefly to. really it so easy and so fascinating when we all have
about public figures, the facts of their story. and how often we forget those. what michelle obama has perhaps the greatest degree of executive experience before coming to the white house since lady bird johnson. when i look at what you said about mrs. obama, i think one reason and these people are willing, look at the clintons, willing to give it up, their privacy and the intrusions, is that opportunity to make a permanent change in the way american people think, or perceive something. over talking about some profound things here. lady bird johnson really profoundly helped change the way american thinks about their
visual environment and the safety of it. and it has essentially been forgotten but she has been a part of that. she gave velocity to that movement as i think michelle obama just now about what we eat. in 50 years people 50 years people might forget what she was involved, but she's been part of it. i think the chance to do that is where people say i'll give up some of mine. >> while it is often a learning curve. i'm thinking about modern first ladies that we've all seen. nancy reagan for example thought it would be like sacramento and it was not quite the same when she got here. >> no, she, she did not really like sacramento that much. [laughter] nancy reagan got tough press coverage here. the first first lady to get tough press coverage. i'm willing to be correct about this. mary todd lincoln, because it was the secretary nature of that she has written about, she's a
southern sympathizer, were still at it, with barry todd lincoln, bipolar, and 2010 this ten this poor woman were still beating up on her. nancy reagan got that rest coverage when she first arrived. >> and how did she regroup. >> you know how she regrouped. [laughter] >> think in about an of hillary clinton joined the campaign early on, the two-for-one, i'm not good to standby by my man and stay home, how does that campaign recover question mark, she recover from the learning curve representing herself that way? or maybe she did. >> i'm good to quote a of mine, mark salter, some of you may know his books he was walking on
the street and he looks at me and says this guy take a punch or what? who's talking about clinton. amick kane that was as high a couple minutes there is. i would would say the same thing about hillary clinton. they will take everything you dish out and took quote harry truman, pat back with interest. >> i will say this, and 92 she was one of the first presidential candidates to participate in the cookie bake-off recipe contest. part of how she responded was she softened her image. she she was game for putting a quick your recipe after she said i don't sit around baking cookies. that's the kind of trade off that first ladies have to mike. >> let me stay with michelle
obama in her early lessons on the campaign. she did have some, think about how little political experience at the national level she had. i met the comment she made, one of them being the prada my country comment. what happened inside the campaign? was there major pullback or regrouping? how do they approach that? >> she didn't have much of a team that point. it still early on. she was being herself like she had always done when her husband campaign for senator state legislator. and audiences, when she was in small places, and iowa, new hampshire, they were responding to her but this time was caught on television. the press which had largely ignored her because they're still covering the primaries, tuned in at that second. the campaign's response was to start her with an advisor so she would have some guidance.
so you're not talking to your girlfriend you're not even talking to the people in that room you're talking to all of america. so as a matter making sure that she stayed in line with what the entire campaign was doing. i think we saw her flow into that. she has talked about herself as being a planner and perfectionist, and she worried a great deal that she would harm her husband's campaign. we see her almost -- it wasn't a complete 180 because she was a horrible campaigner then, but just in terms of not talking about or leaving him socks run so much or that he's dinky and snorri, which are things that were in her initial speech, those things start to come out. the ideas are still there but there in a much more palatable fashion. >> and she did become more
cautious. but she still retained part of herself. so she is still michelle obama. i think that's what so like about about her. she is not become political wife where everything has to be perfect, there are times when she decides that enough is enough and i'm going to be that person, on the southside of chicago. and i think that's think that's what we appreciate so much about her. it's true for many of the most popular first ladies who may have been very willing to support their husband but they did not give their all. they did not give up about themselves. >> it's nice segue into the two major categories that these women fall into. those who are themselves from the get-go, they have it in their bones and i find a partner and go along for the ride willingly in her helpmate's. later on will talk about they
kind of are dropped into the role and they have to learn to adapt. this is from the national archives lbj library and its a doozy. it's an audio clip because you may have known that lyndon johnson taped all of his telephone conversations in the house. he would record everybody and including lady bird did not know that they were being taped. was quite a wonderful one for scholars. this is a conversation where lady bird is critiquing lyndon johnson's performance at a public event.
any time is convenient. >> and therein lies the reason my we should talk about 1st ladies. what other advisor could be that candid to a president? >> stu spencer maybe. >> what are we hearing there? >> the family, the background as an advisor because 1st ladies in some ways off. she wasn't to be as successful. >> when you talk about this kind of various attributes as human beings of the brink the table. thanks in an organized way, very well structured in their mind.
famous rival have a schedule. and different ones bring different things. mrs. johnson with her love of words, degree in journalism from our love of writing, level cadence, her love of wisdom, but also the experience, and that is not necessarily political in terms of policy but it ends up having a political result >> we have an image from the polk administration. administratio n. we will go back in time. women were supposed to stay in their sphere. she did not stay in her sphere quite so well. >> no, she did not. women were really appendages to their husbands. they were not supposed to
have political ideas of their own. they certainly were not supposed to voice those ideas if they did happen. mrs. polk did have those ideas, and she reviewed his speeches, tried to influence people to see things his way , tried to influence him and did influence of as far as we know. so she is definitely stepping outside of that role of the average were typical woman what was expected of a woman. she and other 1st ladies of that era that not always follow that pattern of you are to be the hostess at the party commanded is okay to give these parties because they are political, not just entertainment. it is not just this emptiness.
she goes much further to give where you want to be. supporting the whole idea of manifest destiny. in terms of the support for him at home. >> we have members of congress at the time saying to the pres., i would rather talk politics with your wife and with you. >> i have another image. they werethey were talking about how we are still discussing her mental capacity. we have her in the political partner because she was indeed a political partner to abraham lincoln. >> i suspect if we had tape recorders back then he would have heard a lot of conversations like that. when lincoln finds out he
has won the presidency he says we one. i grant is inaugurated, slightly more edge to it. i hope you're satisfied. we think maybe she pushed him a little bit. to run and be involved in politics. ii think, look, you don't tape your spouse without telling them. but there are all kinds of conversations. >> once they got to the white house and the war started raging flood totally shut out. >> a seven or. both of those he is states, slaveholding union states, the border states. but she but she had relatives fighting on the side of the confederacy, so she could
never be trusted. ittrusted. it was alleged that she was a spy commode spends too much money, acted less than sane sometimes and embarrassed her husband in public which is something 1st ladies were not supposed to do. but you have to understand what's going on. this is a woman who has lost her son before she got to the white house, lost another someone in the white house, had a husband that was not always easy to get along with. we sometimes forget. and this is a woman who is very bright, understands politics and love politics but 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. so she is living vicariously through him. she wants him to be president, but she certainly
did not anticipate the kind of vilification she would get one she got to the white house. >> we will have to fast-forward through lots of history. eleanor roosevelt ends up in a lot of these categories tonight. how would you assess her in terms of her partnership with fdr? >> they were driven by the same principles. so petty and looking at people have been married for so many years, physical and emotional relationship, very close to her. her personal secretary during world war i, and it was dramatic, no question. but when she pulled away looked at it she realizes no one else i share values with like i do with him. they believed and were both progressive very much like
being all roosevelt which is what led them to work together, and it was also love because of his physical disability. she believed he was talented , and she believe more in his talent in their own at 1st. she really thought, you cannot lay fallow, you must lead. as 1st as governor of new york which is the try out in a sense for her role as 1st lady command then with the depression heading and everything almost smashing 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 says this is what i'm going to do always under the guise of i'm simply a devoted wife helping my husband, and in a way it was. but she did not really start developing her own agenda
until the 2nd when he was always more political and saying, well, this is what we can and can't do, she always brought him back to principle. while they continued as political partners to share the same values, he often abandoned them for the practicality and she always was sort of sticking with them in a more lofty way. >> let me move on. you will recognize. to modern 1st ladies, both full political partners, yet they approach a very differently.
>> somebody had their own agenda. did not always agree with me. [inaudible] >> a lot of people thought i should not be making recommendations about legislation or be involved in working on behalf of what my husband asked me for because they thought that that was somehow inappropriate. if i exercise influence i was to do a behind-the-scenes. i find that curious. i would like to know what goes on in front of the scenes because i'm very much
the kind of person that believes you should say what you mean and mean what you say. >> it's fascinating because there are so many ways to be political, especially for a spouse to be political, we know hillary clinton as 1st lady set up an office in the west wing. 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 roundtable and was a public figure and pushing this policy and sought to engage people and work on it in front of the scenes. you know, we can imagine she was frank about the way she was political but we can imagine the ways that every first lady or if you want to
collect pillow talk or what have got talked about the ways in which especially on issues like same-sex marriage, social policy and kind of describes her as pricking his conscience the matter if they choose to operate in the way that nancy reagan did. >> you want to say something >> got fired. >> a very powerful force.
>> i never have to present about it. the 1st lady is one of the few people in the world because that person by his given name. that has a power. commanding officer, but there are five or six people in the world that don't: mr. president. and it conveys the kind of intimacy. this is a person is nancy sedin this is true, that president knows the 1st lady. judgments. he has confidence that the heart is in the right place. >> we are going to look at some 1st ladies who found themselves in the job either by marrying someone for
a wonderful evening. and thanks to the young people. [applause] >> so, why did she end up in a reluctant role? >> the reality of what was becoming modern politics, media, money, the partisanship, questions of -- i think she got disgusted and i think she always felt she had been actually active and interested in politics before she married lincoln. she was a supporter of the
democrat as a young woman. roosevelt send -- >> they did the 1st congressional campaign together. >> together and used her inheritance. and it was a break-in, by the way. their headquarters, all the literature was taken. over time she just really got disgusted with the way things were, and this 1960 election really broker. theythey had come so close. don't run, don't run, don't run. she asked your permission to run for governor and she said yes. the famous story where she made them right down and put her wallet a promise, i will not run for politics again. of course he broke it. that ambition with all of these men, we were talking about a certain insanity to
wanting to be president. so she was there and knew the opportunity. the opportunity she had when she made recommendations like those tapes but she did not know about, johnson is recorded a lot of tapes, still technically held by him as private property. legally they should be destroyed. >> the nixon staff shut her out as well. >> she did not mind being shut out. she was tired of politics. she had been the vice president's wife. there are all kinds of personal reasons.
the better athlete than harry truman was. she could swing the bat that have the secret she was keeping. she will bring her mother to the white house has she really -- she decided she had a more important role in life, keeping her family together and we forget sometimes that these are people that have burdens on them. >> very, very important addition. after truman dropped the 1st atomic bomb and she came back from missouri she advised him the night before he dropped the 2nd on nagasaki, white house -- she
was in on the big decision. >> i would like to kind of vascular back at who would be the women that were in this unhappy our electing glass the people should know about. >> foremost should be james pierce. she did not want her husband involved in politics. did not want to have the role of 1st lady. it is not even about being in the white house. she did not want to be in politics at all and her husband and promised her that he would get out of politics and for a time he had. she fainted when she learned that he had won his party's nomination for presidency. and she is coming to the white house with the loss of a child again. some areas this woman in the
white house suffering from depression because she's mourning the loss of a child , having to deal with all of the duties of being a political wife, the 1st lady command a husband who is not quite understand why she is so reluctant. a very unhappy 1st lady, more than any of the others. >> this is the sun that she lost. she had previously lost her other two sons.sons. this was the 3rd just before she came to washington for the inauguration command he died in front of their eyes in a train accident. the president, his son was ejected from the train and he carried the child. how does a parent recover from that? being in a place where she did not want to be. >> and being 1st lady to a president, the country is in
turmoil. this is the crucial decade. her husband is experiencing all of these tensions between the north and south and she is a part of that, witness to that and does not want to be but has no choice. >> we have many other 1st ladies including luisi catherine adams, the great story of ida mckinley and others. running out of time. now the 1st ladies have taken advantage of the fabulous opportunity. expected to announce. >> quite a bit.
from a candidate to president. first ladies are also doing that. michelle obama talked about being back in the kitchen and planting a garden and really pushing back against childhood obesity, taking this on as a cause, and i command i think it is because the she has come to embody and personifies. she is in dc working out and taking cycling classes, children eating carrots and pulling out vegetables and also let's move which is what her campaign is called, there is a nonprofit attached to it, you know,
they have brokered deals with walmart to get healthier food in stores and the disney to pull some of the junkfood ads off of children's television. these are not inconsequential things. because she is 1st lady and this is the role played is wrapped up in doing push-ups with alan on daytime television and dancing at the easter egg roll. you can see the ways in which the 1st ladies take on these issues. push the issue in a way that is sustained and that makes a real difference but that does not feel like you are just writing a lot for that it is just hard policy. she did also push the changes to school lunches and that did go through congress early on. >> another piece of video
demonstrating that this formal adoption is relatively recent phenomenon. this is betty ford. talking about her breast cancer. >> in a few weeks i will complete my chemotherapy treatment. and that will be another milestone for me. since that 1st year i have not talked much about the difference, but at that time the discussion about it, i was pleased will because a large number of women when they got checkups and their community.
>> changed the conversation in the country about cancer. >> absolutely she did command it was personal. michelle obama said it was personal and jackie kennedy story is personal and lady bird johnson story is personal because of course we only see the happy side of it. there are a lot of obstacles along the way. let me just add one quick little *, florence harding way back, you do find that some of these women feel very passionately about issues. so she started to really bring that issue and even proposed the public schools adopt homeless animals as a way of teaching little humans, little children
through animals, treating other people with kindness. >> was it really nancy reagan and the campaign that formalized the need? >> it was interesting. it was ridiculed by the elites. drugdrug use in high school went down after this thing was launched. i think we formalized did, but this goes way back. i think it has always been there. the other issue is getting the troops. who dowho do that? martha washington did that before she was 1st lady. she was called lady washington by the troops out of respect. before ladybirds bill there was alan wilson's bill. urban renewal for the poor. and so i think that this has always been a thing. first ladies have an interest.
>> what are some of the early examples? >> they may not always be full-blown causes, but even after she becomes 1st lady receptions for veterans and soldiers she is so concerned about them. you have mrs. fillmore who is responsible for developing the white house library. dolly madison is involved in working with orphans and getting her friends involved >> adams is talking about women rights in the early 18 hundreds. her husband was the jimmy carter about century, he is in the congress leading the argument against slavery. his wife is leaving the argument for suffrage. and it was reported in the press, one of the earliest recognitions by the white house, behind the 1st health and safety regulation standards in the federal
>> said back in history, just two quick images i want to show. first ladies learned early on to harness the news media, this is ruth hoover. this is a photograph where she hired a very well-known photographer and francis benjamin johnson photographed a grandchild who became a global celebrity. she wanted to do it because she wanted to control the public image and interest in her family. >> rather than have them exploited. >> and did it work? >> not really. >> there happy to get the pictures and then they still exploded on. >> the baby was like a cartoon character he was used as a little mascot of the administration. a a little cartoon of this little boy with
a big hat like his grandfather. another person who tried this was edith roosevelt with the same photographer. there's a family photograph hiring the same -- she also wanted but the president loved coverage of the family. >> until the daughter was photographed picking up her winnings at the racetrack from her bookie. [laughter] then he called the new york carol angrily on the phone and insisted that he withdraw the story. >> who is the first first lady to higher secretary. >> in formal terms, jackie kennedy. but the others had kind of functioned. >> they knew they needed help. >> they knew they needed help
and some have for five secretaries. one was very good with the reporters. but she did not advertise. >> i have another clip for you. >> you know the white house correspondent dinners there's another one coming up this week and it has become hollywood on the ease. it's become quite the event. there been times when first ladies and their husbands have used that to help enhance their image. let's watch laura bush at one of these a few years ago. >> if you really wanna get ahead in the world you really have to stay up later. [laughter] [inaudible] >> i married the president of
the united states and he hears a typical evening. 9:00 p.m., mr. excitement here is sound asleep. [laughter] and i am watching desperate housewives. [laughter] [inaudible] ladies and gentlemen, i am a desperate housewife. [laughter] >> so there is a lot of criticism of the president's policies and especially those at the dinner, how did this technique of humor once again work to help the wishes image. >> you know it doesn't change the coverage about the big issues of the day. but when people can laugh at
themselves, next the reagan, george bush, bill clinton, any of them, it humanizes them a way that can only help them. bill clinton came in his first year as president, he gave a nasty speech, he criticized bob dole and john k sick. i the end he was hiring professional writers in the comics didn't how to follow him because he was making fun out of himself. the first ladies have started relatively recently. they don't make fun of themselves exactly like nancy did it. she made made fun of her husband's, that's considered okay. if hillary clinton is president and she gives one of the speeches, the whole town will want to know what she says about bill clinton. >> okay this is be the last question and it's about the tools that they have today,
social media, youtube and the like. it's also. it's also very difficult thing to manage because all day long people are commenting on their policies, one of those given take away things. but we've all seen this in this is a nice way to end this part of the discussion. to see how how a modern president uses the tool that we have of communication to help advance policy, to present the image of himself. >> hey everybody am so excited to talk to. [inaudible] now were going to celebrate the challenge, were going to celebrate. [inaudible] >> were celebrating the anniversary. [laughter] >> it is been five years that's
exactly what i would've said. >> level we started we asked people across the country, i kids, parents may be a few celebrities to give five ways to give healthy. for example they can eat five veggies do five jumping jacks. what are five ways to incorporate healthiness into your daily routine. so everybody, anybody, tweet it, instagram it, facebook it #, give me five. and by the way the time is right. >> let's go do push-ups. [laughter] >> so really before you answer, what do historians think about the state of the modern presidency and what we have them do. >> it's always been a stage,
whether sandra jackson with his big cape or harriet lane, then with her gremlins and making a real dramatic entrance, whatever the changing technology is, these people are experts, their leaders, they know they are leaders, they intend to leave, they own it. so i think just like. so i think just like the obama stick, the reagan's do, is of a kennedys do it, they all on it. it's a stage and they know they're on it. >> the world has evolved over time but the basics will only steer you right. whether the martha washington or michelle obama. there's certain things we expect of them in certain things the present expects of the first lady. but it changes according to the circumstances of the time. >> so far to journalists and if
you have questions find your way to a microphone. so krista and carl, i have to ask you, they're doing this as a way to get around you guys. >> that's exactly right. and the obama exist in a world where the social media and is the first administration to really utilize twitter, facebook, instagram, pinterest, the first lady had a temple or page when in japan and cambodia recently. so when she was there she traveled with a youtube celebrity who asked her questions from twitter, she did not sit down with traditional reporters there. so the way her staff would
explain it is she has a certain amount of time to do communication and she wants to meet people where they are. people are coming following her by the millions on twitter and able to see the photos that they put out on instagram then, the the power of being able to shape one's own image without the filter of the traditional media is there in a way that it wasn't before. i've interviewed michelle obama, she did more interviews with traditional media earlier on. she's a great interview. she is frank, if there is a question, question, all of the things that you would imagine. it's not a lack of capability. but there is a power and being able to exercise, the ability to get on magazine covers, to be on
late-night television, to have daytime tv conversations that shapes the conversation in a way that the white house is fully in control. >> we have to get to questions. >> there's nothing wrong with that. it's not partisan, it's not controversial, it's healthy. we don't like them going around us on healthcare policy and policy in syria but there's nothing wrong with that, not everybody can pull it off as well as they did. >> there were reports or rumors that at least 21st latest that i knew actually ran the country when their husbands were ill and those was mrs. wilson and nancy reagan. is is that true? or is that not true? >> i would just say at quick response to that.
when you say the presidency you have to look at the different components of the presidency. one of it is making the final decision on thing, sometimes it's approving things, sometimes is making the decision not to make a decision. sometimes sometimes his firing, hiring, so yes, partially mrs. wilson assume some of that during the days of real crisis. her real agenda was to protect her husband from getting worse and hopefully getting better. nancy reagan, no. i would say nancy reagan worked in a sense, to fulfill a function that might be similar to a west wing aid, maybe a senior advisor. but not assuming the role of a president. >> we realize that first lady that while the husband is in offices stuck with the role, what happens to first ladies
afterwards. how much how much privacy do they have, how much can i go off script, what's lifelike for them. >> with laura bush last year she was eager to talk about how much she was enjoying my post presidency. it was interesting to watch her because she was very much shaped by i went say reluctant necessarily but a quiet, behind the scenes and now we see her traveling more than the former president, she is working on launching a global program they'll bring first ladies around the world together. she has been in africa, washington with with michelle obama, she just talks about the freedom of still having the press which first ladies now do with the modern presidential library and foundations that they can use to still talk about causes that are important to them. but to do it in a way that she can choose to sit down for the
press in a few minutes. that subject for another whole exploration. >> they have this great career and he talked with jimmy carter be in the cliché, the great next president. and she's been right there with them. she goes to election and they build home for habitat for humanity, she's as much her partner as they were when they were in the white house. but he's a partner to her because she is really a fascinating woman who gets him is no press because she doesn't -- her work on mental health goes back to the 70s.
she's really had an impact in that. >> jimmy wrote a book and he said, he said he was having the best fcx of his life. that's tmi because [applause]. but does she think the same. [laughter] >> how do you follow that? >> hi i have a question about lady bird johnson, she was working on her husband's warm poverty i just just wondered if you had any stories or information about things that she did? >> it was sergeant schreiber who was president kennedy's
brother-in-law but he worked under the peace corps under president kennedy and they headed up vista which was the voluntary government, public-private partnership. and he came up with the idea of headstart. he went to her and she backed it 100 percent, she became the spokesperson, went spokesperson, went to bat for it and really helped it. >> will it was the lady bird bill that's what johnson did it when he went around twisting arms and kicking guys, it's lady bird's bill. however she may not of like that because when he signed lady bird's bill on october 20 second, second, 1965, he never mentioned his name. and that's how he got them back. >> here's a question from
twitter, which first ladies thought to be influential both the least successful at it. >> i think in some ways you can say hillary clinton. [laughter] just meaning in terms of fairness, shows me the case that really when it came to policy matters she had make a case where something against something like any other advisor sometimes the president said no. and i think there is some like the welfare reform we know there is contention between them. it's not 100% known on all of the matters that she did not win. but there were quite a few that she did not. >> what about ruth hoover.
she does not engage in the process she does not get her story out. she would not even agree to do interviews of people and there is a female reporter dressed up as a girl scout crash that meeting and she was mad and never talked to anyone again. >> there is a reason why she dressed up as a girl scout because she took on the girl scouts as her major effort. she went to encourage volunteerism. >> she was successful at that. >> and there's the photograph. she was trying to engage more people to get into their communities and help with a lot of the trouble going on. >> to have a question. >> there's an interesting undercurrent to this whole conversation about how the role of women in society has influenced the expectation that women face when they become first ladies.
i think there's a paradigm shift when were potentially talk about having a first husband. i'd love to hear what you have to say about if you are advising the clintons. how should they approach that potential role for americans. >> so could we get the laura bush about the future of first lady ready while our panels are answering this? >> i like to say two things. number one bill clinton has essentially in functioning last eight, 12 years, 16 years it will be as a first gentleman. when you look at the status he has, the role in the persona it's like the nonpartisan and
not too political. the second second thing is we have to look at the press during the 1984 presidential election when the democratic breasts presidential candidate, her husband john saqqara was thrust into public. there are questions raised about what kind of fluence, they talk about policy, business interest? so i've always maintained that while sexism is at the root, it's really more about the unaccountable power of a spouse. outside the realm of american history, you look at world government and see that issues have come up. when there has been a mail spouse to a female and one for a power. >> that on accountable what were talking a bout. >> in terms of on the state level, we have five women who are serving as governor now, they're all married so there are
first gentleman in new hampshire, and a couple of other states, it's interesting because while at the state level spouses, whether male or female can often continue in their careers the official role that they play their spouse administration looks very much like what first ladies do. they take on projects and they are responsible for restoration, they usually have some sort a cause whether big or small, the first gentleman of oklahoma actually pose for the front of a cookbook. the proceeds went to a nonprofit and then they have the on and he was grill and with wade christiansen. he has a platter of chicken and ribs. so it some macho cookbook, but
it is a cookbook. so the role of the spouse still remains that of a support. if the family has small children often, you are seeing that the spouse who is not the governor, miller go female is the spouse who is more responsible for caregiving. because the other spouse has more important job. >> we had it chance to interview laura bush and now wishing we pick the clip where he is just a little edge to her voice. where she says i wonder if they're going to critique the ties that we wear. at the clip we chose was when we ask a question she said was repair first ladies? is what she had to say.
>> but if they have to work at the job i think that's what they have to come to terms with. [inaudible] that's the question we should ask, that she had a career, in addition. >> and we are about to see of the next year and a half so all kinds of questions that come up as this new situation is pressed upon. one task all to wrap up which are some of the game changers. where who are the women throughout history in this role that really made a difference? that people up there need to find more about them. >> eleanor roosevelt.
i don't think you could find anybody who fits that title more than eleanor roosevelt. she had real serious concerns about where her country was, was married to the most powerful man in the country in the world, perhaps she had her own agenda, she is writing a news column, she was in newsreel she was defined the dar she was a member of the board of the naacp. she she was doing her own thing. so maybe that's there is never a first lady before or like her but i think she stands alone about what she was able to accomplish as her own self not
just as an extension of her husband. and her husband's interest is what she was able to accomplish on her own. >> i would say eleanor roosevelt for all of these reasons and a couple of other examples. roosevelt was courting southern democrats for reelection again and again. she is confronting him privately on this. their riots in the shipyard. fighting nazis and when she doesn't get satisfaction with him on this which is quite often, she goes outside to other people in the party. that means your racial liberal and she has rival power centers and she's not afraid to call people. the newspaper column she writes, this is a president so strong, beth truman did want to do, maybe eisenhower didn't want to do it. it was strong that it want to
run away. interview that michelle obama gave the other day you can hear things that are similar in it. she said well i the best part of it i got to meet the pope, got to meet george clooney, but then she talks about policy too. to me, eleanor is the prototype. >> her column was called my day. >> i would say first that i'm eager to see how history remembers michelle obama. and two, lady bird has an especial a heel for me. i love love the clip you showed earlier. we know what it took and how tough lbj was and how she changed him.
the conversation was quite brilliant. and also one look at beautification in the way that in retrospect it laid the groundwork for the environmental movement that we all know to not exist in the way that it did then. i'm being from texas and sand don't mess with texas signs everywhere and the appreciation and just what that means and to know that she and her role as first lady influenced all of that in a way that was quite subtle and not understood at the time. but that we now do understand. >> carl i will ask you, give us some names we have not heard. >> while dolly madison because she was one of the first, she had a real sense of duty to a constituency. meaning the country. it was unusual for woman back
then to perceive, as as part of her proper role a sense of duty and connection to the general public and to people she did not know. jacqueline kennedy very strong because of her sense of where the u.s. was in the cold war and how democracy could be presented in a way that it hadn't. in a sense america have been become of age and she was on the roads daejeon soda to betty ford. by taking very personal and really emotional issues and not using the power of that but using that to help others. i think like most eleanor roosevelt i would have to agree it is eleanor roosevelt but they realized time is ticking. anything can happen in a moment.
your husband could die be shot, resigned anything, you have this opportunity you make a change, people people are going to like you and hate you no matter what. because of the way you look, because of what you say because of everything. you have to say hack with it and use the time to get it done. those those are ben the game changer. >> i want to say thank you tart panelist has been a visible enough my colleague mark reasonably back there. his executive producer for first lady series and helped with all the clips and the video and pictures. so thank you very much [applause].
so far c-span audience, sorry but for those of us here get to have dessert and coffee, you will have to find your own. i'd like to invite on behalf of c-span anyone who is able to stay after will have a book signing and i have to say that i make they feel rather embarrassed to say by my book but if you want to buy it all the proceeds go to the c-span education foundation. we use it to do teacher scholarships, student documentary contest and things like that. so if you bite your helping a good cause. thank you you so much for being here today [applause]. [inaudible] >> book tv is on facebook. like us to get publishing