tv Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard Treating People Well CSPAN June 17, 2018 6:01pm-7:02pm EDT
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>> thank you. the white house luncheon, it is a real treat for us to have not one but two former white house secretaries with us today and i am sure they are grateful they did not have to plan and execute this white house luncheon. one of our guests today is a democrat, one a republican. they are not afraid to be friends. they support one another and show up in public together. imagine that. originally from a small town in ohio, he served as white
house-200042,007 under pres. and mrs. george w. bush. prior to that he was chief of staff to second lady lynn cheney and bessel secretary to vp cheney. when asked how they landed both jobs, she was in the right place at the right time and and qualified for all those roles and an event planner, and a full-time mom to two adult waters and a couple dogs. she hosted daily blog from america's table which i have secretly bookmarked, involving travel and home life and cooking and food, glorious food and tips and entertaining and adequate which she says quoted not just about knowing which fork to use but about treating
each other with kindness, even and especially in the anonymous abyss of the internet. our guest hails from san antonio, texas and a fellow californian. jeremy bernard served as social secretary under pres. and mrs. obama from 2011-2015. jeremy is the first man ever to serve in this role of the white house was that was big news at the time but he kept a low profile to do his job which as are white house staffers are advised, serving as the president of the united states of america and microsoft, earned a reputation as being affable and extraordinarily efficient in managing hundreds of events with a young staff and, dare i say it, a lot of laughter. before serving in the obama white house, campaign fundraiser, the president of candidate barack obama was
rewarded with a job, white house liaison for the national endowment for the humanities. from their jeremy served as senior advisor to the us ambassador and after being in the right place at the right time he landed his role as white house social sec.. it is a pleasure to have them with us today, and ask them some questions later. please join me in welcoming secretary lee berman and jeremy bernard. [applause] >> thank you. >> we are going to get settled in and before we get to the book, i'm not the only one in the room whose very interested in your background. can you tell us how do you get
to be the secretary of the united states? >> very different for every person who has the job. traditionally they were daughters of governors or senators or their families were in politics in some form and aristocratic way. it has not been that way for some time. jeremy and i serve as examples of that. i grew up in a small farm on ohio, went to washington after college, worked at the center for strategic and international studies at georgetown university's think tank and went to graduate school and was a full-time mother for ten years which was the best possible experience as social secretary and a friend of mine, you should talk with her. and going to the car pool line, the white house email system into the vice president's home
working with the secret service, they are pushed back into the workforce that way. >> the us ambassador,n emai that said would you be willing to throw your hat in the ring? not in 1 million years but i thought sure. i went to washington dc and had meetings with senior staff in the west wing and as i was going to the east wing to meet with obama i realized the meetings are going really well, but what am i getting myself into if this were to happen? obama, we were talking a little bit. i got to be honest with you. i'm not good at arranging flowers and i don't know china patterns. i'm not certain i am the right
guy for this job. don't worry about it, you have people who will help you with that. how do we get more people who have never been here into whhouse? when i got it i was kind of like this is the real, but it is not a job i thought i would have. >> most white house staffers don't interview with the boss, the interview with the boss of the boss, you two interview the boss and what their standard interview, >> in the family residence. i was dazzled, a big window you see on television shows about the white house and the sun was
shining in and the artwork is amazing and mrs. bush was so warm and welcoming and pleasant and started talking about the job as if i already had it and i wao enteain a lot more and work with the chef, we have been trying to work with him but you should try, and i was talking to her about this, wasn't so dazzled that i honestly, she said we need an upstairs made to take that over. i thought i have a job. >> the interviews in the west wing, one advisor after another, they were relatively brief, 15 minutes. the president was very brief and reassuring, mrs. obama, that interview lasted an hour and i can honestly say i have
no idea how it went. in the west wing, this knocked it out of the ballpark and i called my mom on the way back to the hotel and said this is a day i will never forget. i had meetings at the white house and meeting with the first lady in the president, i kind of assumed i wouldn't get the job and i didn't hear anything or see all the articles in the washington press. when i got a call a couple weeks later saying would you fill out this paperwork, just in case it is you, will you fill this out? maybe there is a chance and got a surprise when i got the call. she is a good interviewer.
she has a good poker face. i knew from the moment we were talking, i was just like you know. >> in the first 5 minutes, you know. now let's talk about the new book the two of you have co-authored and you entitled it treating people well, the extraordinary power of civility at work and in life. i want you to tell us, how did you turn from being the top social dodds of the white house, how did this book come about it with your different political views, how did you decide to write it together? >> we have been friends since we met, we have this network of some social secretaries in washington who get together regularly and provide themselves a resource for whoever the current social secretary is, we met and
clicked and stayed friends and it was very helpful to me at the time i started as social secretary to stop -- to talk to someone who worked for jacqueline kennedy and have heard tell order stories of things that happened to her when she was a social secretary. when she first began working as a social secretary mrs. kennedy told her she wanted friendship in the white house. she heard about this wonderful french chef working in the french embassy in london so she called and offered the job. the chef reported this to his boss who reported it home to the police a palace, the french were offended that she found herself early in her career being called on the oval office carpets by pres. kennedy who told her under no circumstances was she to coach any french chef. on the other side of the coin mrs. kennedy saying i want a french chef. and typical social secretary maneuvering she found another
french chef, worked with immigration and customs and had he made a us citizen overnight. mrs. kennedy got her french chef but did not violate pres. kennedy's rule that it had to be an american citizen. >> when you get something like that done overnight. it is a great resource. i would call on lee, gail, a great deal who worked for reagan, this is what is going to happen. there was comfort that others went through the same miserable experience. i hate to tell the set lunch so i will make it as nonpartisan as possible but did you ever
have problems with holiday receptions with people getting sick? the eggnog at the white house is really strong. you are drinking it and this is nothing and then the third one, what would happen is people would be drinking and drinking and suddenly hits them and they feel themselves getting sick and didn't want to get sick on someone else so they immediately went for christmas trees. how many would get hit? i gave the figure how many trees would be decorated? it was not that they didn't have the answer but don't worry. >> misery loves company. >> politics didn't matter because we had some other experiences however different with the administrations that we worked in and we were
changed by the job because we are focused on making sure all the eventss go smoothly to reflect the silent policies of the administration and the president and the first lady and that made us conscious of getting everything right so that we didn't do anything that would embarrass the president and first lady in the worst possible way in the news. .. effectively so that we could make sure that our events flowed well and people felt happy and welcomed. >> and giving credit is i had dinner with a mutual friend of ours, reporter at the washington post and she said over dinner, you know, you are close to all of the former socials but you're especially close the lea, you guys should write a ju guys should write a book together because no one is going to buy if it's bush or because someone -- obama. you have it covered.
and i thought, that's a great idea. it took us a while to figure out what to write because we didn't want a book but entertaining -- so it took a little time to figure out what could write but we thought what book do we wish we had before he start it this job or any job. it's common sense but helps when it's spelled out. >> my next question, you just said, it's a great book to have for your job but i can honestlytle you it's not just for the jobs at the white house social secretary. it's filled with great stories, little hints, wonderful little tidbits that apply to all of us. every day. whether you're a stay-at-home mom or the ceo of a company or you're somewhere in between, and i will say the first time i look it's. i said, civility is not accepted
topic but i have had people say that this is not your grandmother's etiquette book and i even read where some people called it dishy. so let's face it. we off love a ltle dish now and then so i'm hoping the two of you can each tell us the most frightful behavior you witnessed during white house days and feel free to leave out names if that helps. jeremy? >> well, there's a lot of them. one is that gale bird me warned me at one point in all administrations, someone that is an entertainer and is scheduled to perform will cancel at the last minute. you have no contract because they were doing it for free, and you weren't paying for anything other than sometimes the transportation and hotel room, so it was just their word that they would show up, and i
thought, well, that's not going to happen. we have no problem getting entertainment. well, a week before one of mrs. obama'savite events, the kids state dinner, which is really a lunch but it's for kids, we -- i got a call that the entertainment for this person to appear, they needed to have a private jet for all of the backup dancers as well, and there were 60 people. 60 people we would have to throw some of the kids out. the east room isn't that big. and -- they demanded that detheir demand were outrageous, and i said, well, we could never do -- if we could do it it would be bad press for both. the said we'll have to try to make it another time. said make it clear we will never pay -- the white house will never pay for entertainment and that was the alcohol -- telling
mrs. obama because the feeling was, how does that happen? what did you not tell them? and i texted mrs. obama and got a text back saying, you know, talk to barack. he'll have some ideas. and so i -- >> just said that very casually. >> whatever else and i passed susan rice and i go in there to the oval office and we talked but the kids state dinner and we was like, maybe there's a plane, minimum tear plane coming up. i said he wants 60 people. and so we looked into it and we can -- the -- what was the show -- "the lion king" was -- thank you, my memory -- thely ongoing king was at the kennedy center and we had them come perform, but even that -- when i talked to at the president he said that's a good idea. you're going to tell mrs. obama?
it was awful. but i -- it was really a shock that someone would commit to performing especially at something like the kid's state dinner and i don't want to say the name because not -- >> those are the rules. >> farrell williams. >> i think we are relieved to know we're not paying -- taxpayers are not paying for entertainment at the white house. >> i'm sure you have a good one. >> i have to say the most difficult guests were always members of congress. there's a sense of entitlement there and whether it was an individual senator or the buyer congressional picnic. i remember waiting to greet a for was coming to see president bush in the family's, and i saw him pull up to in the north poet co and he opened the door and i saw him take a bottle and drink something and mush it around in his mouth and spit it out on the steps of the white house and then he stumbled up because he
was clearly very dunk, and i took him up to his meeting and i thought that was fairly appalling and then you good to these congressional tick nicks -- picnics which annual, very painful, up a members and theirs spouses and eat family and they all defy the rules and they'll show up with not just their kids but the tenant they just hired that day and be at the gate and very angry that all the guests cannot be cleared in immediately but we have rules. they name, date of birth, social security number, place of birth, all of that information has to be fed to the secret service and i have to come back and say,ey, they can come in. so there's no way we can control and that they would be very irate andcome into the pick nick, which was 1200 people and ways very, very hot, and they would just smother the president and first lady and surround them, it and was quite unpleasant for them and they'd be out there for hours and hours, and then many of them would be overserved, as we would
say, and have trouble finding he the port-a-potties and finally they would all sort of stumble home with the centerpieces tucked anywhere their arms and we'd be thinking good, rid dance. so, i'm sure there are wonderful members of congress but those aren't the ones who stand out. >> it is funny because in talking with my predecessors, everyone had the same reaction and that is, the most feared event every year is the congressional picnic because it did -- it would happen in the summer, it was hot, it would go -- so many people, and to your point, i was -- as everyone was leaving, the nice thing is when the sun starts to go down, kind of push people along and it's time tove, and i noticed one congressman, kind of -- he was heading toward a food warmer and i was like, what on earth -- i realized i think
he thinks it's a port-a-potty, so there was a moment where bad jeremy said, oh, just, just sit back and watch this. but i said,, the exit is over if there you need to use the restroom and he stumbled out. i still go back and forth whether i should just have let that happen. >> a little devil in your soul. >> exactly. >> you know i think a lot of people think that the white house social secretary is really meant to deal with the politics of an event. i'm not certainly -- that's certainly one of the toughest jobs that probably is never discussed in an interview, and it's certainly not on the job description. but it seems to me that it's not so much about the politics but about the people, as you just talked about. so, this time i wonder if you each have a little story and we
do want names this time -- of one event or occasion during your white house that give us hope that people can be good to one another. >> you know, my favorite story about -- well-let me say more generally to go back. for most people coming to the white house is a really important milestone in their life, and they tell their family about it, want the pictures, want to take home little paper napkins with the presidential seal, very proud of it. my favorite thing was watching people enter the white house for the first time and they look around at the portraits and the columns and you can just see themhinking, you know, i share a common heritage as an american with all the people who lived in this house, and they often become very emotion, and it's just a very lovely reinforcing thing to see this kind of pride in america, and i am sure that every social secretary has seen that many times. >> most of the experiences were -- it's funner to talk but
the negative but they were positive. i'll never forget we had the portrait unveiling of the bushes, george w. and laura at the white house and we had a lunch for the families before hand and then the ceremony, and then a week later, i got a letter, hand written letter, laura bush called my assistant and said, laura wants to send something to jeremy but knows -- someone in the white house if you ever get it, it takes six months, and also anything -- because the white house becomes public record and she wanted this to go to me. so, i got home one day and this beautiful handwritten note from mrs. bush saying how welcomed they felt and how -- she noticed what china i used there, personal china from upstairs,
and the table -- she noticed everything. and thanked the chefs for making enchiladas, which is one of president bush's favorites. getting something like that and it's just a moment, it takes for somebody -- it's thoughtful and really mines a great deal. >> being loyal and honest, listeninrst and talking later. as the cornerstone of the art of treating people well. common sense. but not all of. the come easy to most people. so i'm going to ask each of you, if you had to choose one place to start, which practice would be at the top of the list and why? >> the top of the list, because of the times we live in now, we
have a lot of benefits of technology and getting information so quick. but i feel like of the because of the concept of meet response, people don't step back and really listen. one of our chapters is, listen first and speak last. it's really hard in this day and time to get people to really listen to someone else. it's hard -- when i see someone in a store and they're on the head sets or something, talking to one in the midst of a conversation and they're at a cashier or something, find it so unbelievably rude because you're not even acknowledging the person that is right across the way but it's become very normal these days, and i think it's one of the more important things for
these times. >> i agree. i also think humor is an incredibly powerful tool. we often say, i'm not naturally funny or i'm not naturally charming, but all of those behaviors learned behaviors and while there are people who are naturally funny, like jeremy, there are people like me who have to try to find a way to learn that. and our most favorite and beloved presidents -- this perfectly fitting to talk but ronald reagan here today and we're so honored to be here, by the way -- to tell my favorite story i tell at every event we do, and it is probably -- we have over never been able to pre this actually happened but a story about president reagan out riding horses with queen elizabeth in windsor park on a visit to england andt one point the queen had a prolonged bout of france plant and she said, i'm sorry, she said it's quite all right, your magistery.
i thought it was the horse. that kind of natural humor relaxes everybody and makes them happy and to be the individual in the tense meeting and say the one correct funny thing that maverye rel andble to work together again articulates very powerful thing. >> that's great. i cannot confirm the story, up though i know the presidency well but sound just like him. think that's true. we'll open it up to question inside just a minute i. want to ask each of you, without getting yourselves in trouble politically, there is one person in washington, dc today that you'd like to have read your book? and if he or she only hat time r one chapter, which one would you recommend? >> i would like to give it to everyone in washington, special he the press. there's a built-in animosity.
and bad behavior is very contagious, and when you see someone acting rudely or being inconsiderate, it seems to grow because it's giving permission, and so one of the things we felt very early is it takes a conscious effort to be nice, to be kind, in this world. because there's so many things contrary to that. i -- even though it's fairly obvious, you have to think but it and even once we stared writing this book, i'm living in l.a. now and l.a. traffic, and someone would cut in front of me and i'd -- don't honk the horn, don't scream, unless they're putting your life or your car in danger, what does it matter? going to take another 30 seconds. but it took a real conscious effort because my reaction was kind of what i learned and that
is, scream, honk, and curse. >> which doesn't work. >> doesn't work. >> might make you feel better. okay. we're going to open this up to questions. we have somebody with a microphone so please wait until you have the microphone because we're live streaming. >> hi. i have a very shallow question. when people come to din at the white house do they ever lift the silverware? >> it's been known to happen. >> can y tell? >> there's some beautiful old silver that is engraved the president's house and we stopped using because we didn't have enough pieces to use it because it had been taken but now we use something that you would see at any caterer so there's less desire to take it. >> president obama would actually say at holiday parties, take the napkins, take the talls downstairs in the restroom, don't take the silverware
because it is rented. it's not from here. because people -- you know, it's somewhat natural. also, we -- lea told me about this, for the name plates, they -- they're an eagle that's very attractive, and guests would take it. so i was told early on to pick up those before dessert because most people don't think about it until it gets toward the end, and what -- one problem is when we would be short there would does-was no budget to buy that. they were $50 each but if we were short it wasn't like, just get the slush fund to pay for it. we really didn't have an account to pay for that stuff. so it wasn't just that we wanted to be greedy with it but we really couldn't part with it.
>> go to someone and very politely say, excuse me, sir, but i think you just put the place card holder in your pocket and that actually stays here with he white house and the fish it out sheepishly and pit back. >> the post card cards -- the hand caligoography. they were in our white house, and those alone are just so special and if you have a place card from the white house, you are a very rare person to have that. so seems they would be happy with that but i can see, anything that is not wired down, sadly, even people who attend white house events, think that hostess gifts mean everything that's on the table. >> right. >> another question right here. >> i have two quick questions. one general and one specific. the first general one is, if you were to hire the next social secretary what would be the top quality that you would look for? >> that's a good question.
i think that there is something about -- we both, when we started these jobs, we talked about it, we were like, what are we doing here? how did be get sneer but you play it off as you belong. we all have our insecurities but one of the important things is to put on the -- be confident enough of yourself that i think everyone at the white house feels like, when are they going to find out the mistake they made and i'm going to be thrown out of sneer so it's common -- out of here? it's common but you don't want to in front of your staff appear to be uncertain. that and a sense of humor and -- it's hard to say one. detail is important so it's a combination, and sense of humor is really important most of all because when someone says or does something, it could be a guest or someone else at the white house, you have to let it
go. and sometimes they can be catty or rude, and you just have to let got and that's not always easy. >> for various reasons which we get into in our book, at children neither of us were particularly extrovertedded and when you feel like an outsider it changes how you deal with people. we were both associating secretaries will having a sense how uncomfortable and intimidate people would be so we would make the extra effort to make them feel welcome. i say every social secretary needs to be able to reach out and be comfortable and make people feel comfortable there because that is actually the most important part of the job. >> really the bridge between the guests. >> it's not always who you think. a lot of first-timer but for one time for kennedy center honors, we had -- before the ceremony you have the family members of
the honorees go out and sit in the east room where the ceremonies will take place, and so meryl streep was being honored that year and her -- someone who took her family out and said, i'm sorry, we had to -- she said no, i'm glad you got rid of them but come sit down with me, i'm so nervous. i was like, you're nervous? she said i'm so nervous, i said i think the president is more nervous but him meeting you -- she goes, no, i'm so nervous and just wanted comfort and so it doesn't matter who it is, everyone has that and it's important to kind of recognize it and be sensitive today. >> want to recognize that everybody is a person. all have emotions. a quen over here. >> did you ever have anybody trying to change their place cards at the dinner table and how did you handle it if they've did? >> change place cards. >> oh. >> oh, god.
unless it was at the president's table, if it was last minute -- the only thing that -- no one changed tables because that is a problem because then someone else is going to get goh to the wrong table but they would change places and it was annoying, understand by but i usually -- unless it was at the president and first lady's table i didn't do anything. if someone moved themself so they could sit next to him, it's obvious. >> you know, as social secretary wed often started from a deficit of good will because so many people think they should be invited to the white house and when they aren't, they tend to blame us, and we took them off the guest list and so for years afterward would we run into people who would comment. i know jeremy would larry from people who would say i was never invited while you were there. and at one point there's a
restaurant in washington called the palm and there are lot of caricatures of washington types on the walls and i went to dinner with my husband, year into working an the social secretary, and i looked over at may care could tour and someone has taken a fork and stuck it all over my face and i thought, this has to be someone who i took off the guest list. so made us but extra carefully nice to people when we could because in throughout, social secretaries don't take people off lists oomph people in the white house do. >> we can't exactly say, oh, well, valerie jarrett said no, so we were often the bad guys. >> absolutely. question e question over here. >> i thought i saw hand over here. i. >> very shro. >> it swd. >> jeremy, i have a question regarding the couple that snuck into a party. how did that happen, how did
they get checked? how did they get in and they weren't on the guest list? >> lanose it better than debuts i was -- lea knows it better than i. do let's make that real clear. -- [inaudible] >> but it was -- in fact, on june 7th of 2011 was my first state dinner without in the rose goads garden it and was gorgeous because i couldn't relax because you know anything that goes wrong is what makes the story, and that gate crasher certainly did put the fear in the white house that lasted the entire administration of mistakes happening, and it was -- unfortunately the people that really suffer are guests now
because it's such a process. you have to show your i.d., multiple times and -- >> worse than the airane. iseally awful, and so it's a shame. they got in -- the first state dinner. it was -- they were addressed as if they belongs it and was evidence it had been storming that night, and the secret service didn't have them on the list but they were convincing, and they got through, and unfortunately cost secret service agents a job or two and i it was the bad actions of them trying to get attention or getting attention really affected lot of lives. >> the real housewives of l.a. and miami there was a production company trying to start a real housewives of washington, dc at the time and the couple who were the gate crashers wanted to get on the show so they were trying
to impress the producer by saying, we got invited to a state dinner, and the woman dressed in a sari because it was in an indian stayed dinner and the plan was to get inside, get some photos and leave before the dinner start because they would have been discovered then because they had no seats and a washington post reporter who was watching the people come through saw them and thought it was really odd, and asked the staff but they dn't really have time to focus on it until the next morning win they posted pictures on facebook, and people realize what happened. so, it was inconceivable nat any white house could have ever foreseen somebody trying to do this. they didn't particularly care but coming to the white house. they cared about getting on the tv show. >> we had such -- right here. >> i just trying to figure out the logistics of the job. when something is going on, on so many different levels --
[inaudible] -- >> i drank a lot. it was the first -- i actually had advised my predecessor, which he took the job, and i went into the office -- i said, you should have a big bull continue board that tells every event of every day because we have 390 to 410 evens a year so some days three events and some days there would be nothing but it was never spaced out the way you would you want it to be, and so it really -- it was keeping an eye and knowing -- it was very difficult, so i would tell my staff, we're so busy going from one event to the other, and making one event happen, don't forget to enjoy the history of it because when there's a medal of honor or a medal of freedom,
this an historic moment, something you're not going to see most likely in your post white house lives. and -- but it is difficult because you're going from one to the other to the other, and i lucked out dish actually changed some of the staff once i got there there was turnover, and having a great staff and people that are detailed -- i mainly hired people that h been int for the social office because they worked the most and had the longest hours, and if they could make it through that, i felt like, well, they'll be -- stat will be easy. >> responsible for every event on the white house grounds with the exception of the oval office and at the press room so the coordination is in the social office and we work with the ushers and butlers and the white house staff and our bosses to make sure that everything is
organized and we all know what we're doing, and so there was never a time when i walked on to the grand floor and found there was an event going on i didn't know about. >> supreme multitasksers. over here. >> how is your office interface with the office of protocol in the state department? >> we did regularly whenever there were foreign visitors and certainly state visits required more interaction with them, and then we also had a lot of interaction with the nsc staff because there were regular luncheons withty president and whatever visiting foreign head of state and his delegation so we would get the names from nsc this order of precedence so i could pass them long to the kalil grapher and then put them in place and almost always flawless and almost always right. only one occasion i remember
when the ameer of kuwait was coming to lunch with issue a got the list and we did it just as they said, and then when the kuwaiti delegation arrived there was one extra person there and he kind of looked around and there was a fleury of arabic and he left and was escorted out. this next day the ambassador's wife called me and said you caused my husband a really big problem. i said how? she said that person was supposed to be at the lunch and he thinks my husband, the ambassador, kept hem out of the lunch and now he has political problem at home. so tiny, seemingly insignificant things would have confidence and i went back to nsc and they were apologyityic and i'm sure they did whatever they needs to do to smooth things over which is why being a social secretary can be nerve-racking because something that small can blow up in your face. >> the nsc, the national security council. >> they're the coordination point for foreign policy with
the state department, within the white house. >> i worked with the office of protocol, we both -- on an almost daily. what was a benefit for me was the chief of protocol had had my job under the -- during the clinton years, so patricia marshall was great at in my first month, and i was asking her,ed into there and i said what did you do but this or ever -- >> the chief of protocol is assigned to the accept department. they hand our international protocol and not on the white house staff. >> but it really -- and protocol was great because they would tell us, right away when we found out a leader was visiting, whether it was for a meeting or a luncheon or a full state visit, what their likes and dislikes were, what colors would be offensive if we had flowers that were white, was that -- that could be offensive to certain cultures, what food
allergies. so we relied on state department and the office of protocol a great dealust to -- that was one thing we didn't have to worry about as much because we knew they had that information. >> during the reagan administration we did have one social office event, a state dinner, overseas and it was during the visit of president and mrs. reagan to moscow when they hosted a state din at the ambassador's home in moscow. either of you hold a state dinner or an event -- a state event outside of the white house? >> very rare -- >> whenever we did one of the summits or apec or the g7 or 8-depending on if russia was coming, it was -- those were usually out of town. could have been -- juan was at camp david, one was in hawaii,
and there was one in chicago. if it was a white house event we were in charge of it. we also always had to do the united nations receptions when the president would good speak at the united nations. he would host all the leaders, and so if we're the host country, then we would have to be there, it and was -- they realize and appreciate how much we enjoyed doing things at the white house where you have -- not that you really have control over anything but you have a lot more control than in new york we had to deal with -- my first un trip there we did at the new york library, which was beautiful, but unfortunately because secret service had to block off so much with drapes that the president and mrs. obama couldn't -- they could just well be in an airport hangar so you'd learn, let's just do it at the hotel, and you
just kind of learned by mistake because it wasn't your footprint. wasn't the usual which is being at the white house. >> so, we have time for one more question out here. >> speak of state dinner, it's my understanding that now when you have state dinners, you serve only american wine? and since we're in california, really interested in knowing how those wines get chosen for state dinners. >> there was an usher who just recently retired who was a -- he had connections with all of the vineyards up and down the west coast, and he was very clever about it. he would not just find the wines that fit the food but would find wines with really interesting name. there was a foreign visit with china which was always problematic for us us because
the countries are at log heheads and chose a wine called conundrum. so i'm sure they have someone else doing it now -- >> he was there the entire time i was at the white house it and made it easy because we would have wine tasting -- he would pick out wines for state visits i would have a tasting with mrs. obama and her mom, and we would -- especially mrs. -- we would be drinking the wine and mrs. obama would have a little taste, and -- but it was the ability to choose a great selection to begin with so that was a big plus. >> a question right here. >> i'm an marie from pasadena i was had to sad to hear of so
many bad behavior with alcohol. why didn't they ever reduce in the number of alcoholic drink's their alcohol level in egg nog and on that vein, talk budget protocol, you hear about the protocol that took place with the british wedding recently and the etiquette that you're supposed to wear a certain thing and speak a certain way. there was that kind of thing to visit the white house? >> well, for the first part of your -- the first question about -- w did -- we started having -- i think it was previous administration started having nonalcoholic egg nog, and there was the recipe is such a tradition that there was this -- you can't mess with the recipe, but we would have the person that was serving it warn people, hey, this is really potent, and you have to be careful because people used to drink a lot more years ago and now i think for a lot of people it hit quicker,
and -- but we did certainly off ear alternatives and tried to -- we were very careful on what events we served alcohol. >> hard liquor, like st. patrick's event was liquid and also really fun, and then after a nun knocked down one of the military social aides in her zeal to get to the president to shake his hand, we stopped doing that as well and just had a lovely sort of irish themed event. but we probably are making it sound worse than it is. you remember the bad behavior kind of like a media you hear the bad stories, don't hear the good stories about people being kind and honest and faithful but people like to hear some of these more unusual stories, and i understand there are many dose sents here from the reagan library and i want to si thank you for your service because
without the volunteers we had the white house, both the military the nonmilitary volunteers, i don't think we could function at all. >> that's true. absolutely. >> we have just a couple of minutes. know in the book you have something that you called pearl clutching moments at the white house. i know there was a story about somebody getting arrested at one of your events and a little bit of diceyness. can you each share one pearl clutching moment, leave us with that. certainly not the bad -- all of the bad stuff because you say, there's so many wonderful days and moments at the white house, and to be there to work there, to attend an event there is an extraordinary opportunity. >> well, i think we just witnessed yesterday what happens more often than is usually report, though it's not fairly common, i don't want to say, but
when you submit your information to come into the white house, at the secret service checks and if you have a warrant for your arrest, they're going to know it. how this idiot showed up at the white house after giving his information -- and didn't know heou be arrested, it is kind of shocking and goes to one of the dumbest possible felons, but we would -- sometime wise get a call and say it-did would be the secret service and they would say someone on your lister is a do not admit and we don't want thank you be embarrassed by you're getting here and -- so i would call the person and off -- often it was like -- i said did you get a speeding ticket somewhere? i got a speeding ticket years ago in georgia i never paid but it doesn't good away. they attach it and if you're pulled over, and their checking
the seatbelt and you have an unpaid parking ticket and i don't what want you to come to the white house and get arrived for having an unpaid speeding tick. so always scary to get the call from the secret service. ethe thing hat happened is be stuck at the gate and i would try to figure out what it was that went wrong, how did the information get mixed up, and then they would usually say that the secret service said -- okay i was actually born number 1963 but my hundreds things it's 1958 so they have to resubmit the information. >> i had a particularly bad day when we had an official from the chinese president, and i will only tell you the very last part of the horror. just as a luncheon was about to begin and i was preached by state department of employee who said that chinese always try to push the american translator out of the way and pressure
pressure had -- president bush has to have his own translate you so i walk over the president's table and people can coming and i see a chinese woman in the american translator's seat and the american translator is nervous and says she won't let me sit in my seat so wal over and tried to explain to her very politely she needs to move on one seat and she pretrendded that the didn't speak english. so, i could see that the president's were startingo come down the hallway and the thing was beaut to happen so i said to the american translator when i get see seat open, sit it in and do not leave until the lunch who is over so i pushed the woman's chair forward a bit and she jumped and whirled on in the anger, and i could see the chinese chief of protocol coming at me looking furious and i shoved the american translator into the chair, and i was literally saved by the marine band who struck up, hail to the chief, as they walked into the dining room. otherwise i honestly don't know
what would have pull but a that pearl clutching moment. >> we want to leave everyone with one of your best moments at the white house. >> you know, at the end of 0 state dinner or the holiday reception it was- you see how happy people were. i remember after the british state dinner, prime minister cameron and his wife turd to me and said, thank you for the most amazing special night of our lives. and you kind of were taken aback, like, well, you know, thank you -- but it -- moments like that you see people that had never been there before, leaving and they're so happy, and excited, with a always a great moment, and i would get -- the holiday receptions so many we couldn't wait for them to enbut when they ended i was sad because it was the end of the season and just was so special.
>> every presidential administration has times when they're up and times when they're down, and as joann can tell you, when you're feeling embattd within the house it's a daily struggle to just move on and do the best possible job you can do, and i was in the white house at the time when the iraq war was not going very well, before the surge, and the preside decided to do a break offering the ramadan fast dinner and it's a very complicated din sore that all of the religious observances were done properly by the white house and we were very focus. eeast room wasly empty odd furnished and prayer rugs put down and exactly the moment of the sun set an imam stood in the grand foyer and called the guests who were prominent muslim clerics and ambassadors from countried which had muslim populations, called them to prayer, and invited them to pray in the east room and kno tomorrow went in and closed to
door and than okay couple and you the dinner began i remember standing there, feeling so impressed and proud that i was working in this white house where, yes, the war was going terribly and everyone was angry at us and thought we couldn't do anything right and yet we wering and it a level are religious tolerance to the very beam who knocked down the towers and we were able to make that intellectual distinction between terrorism and religion. and i always think of that as my proudest moment at the white house. >> well, many of you know, ronald reagan was a man that absolutely understood the extraordinary power of civility in work and in life. always treated people well, even if hi didn't agree with their political views. he always treated people the same. didn't care if you were the queen of england or the school bus driver, always said hello to you, and if there was time he asked how you were doing, what was going on in your life, and
he actually stuck around to hear the answer. didn't just blow you off. one of my favorite ronald reagan quotes, which was engraved on a plaque in -- onheesin his oval offers, says there's no limit to what a man can do or where he can go as long ase doesn't mind who gets the credit. reminds me so much of what is in this book and that i hope you'll get your copy and it's a great gift for someone in your life. a daughter, son, niece, granddaughter. hope you will take the chance to dot and ahave a plaque for each of you and thank you f come using here ask joining us. >> thank you. >> lovely. >> thank you so much. >> we are going to take jeremy and lea up to the museum store. we hope you will join us with your copy of the book. they'll be happy to answer questions as you move through the line. thank you for coming, see you next time. >> plow.