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tv   Presidential Legacies  CSPAN  August 29, 2018 11:19pm-12:03am EDT

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around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> a discussion of presidential legacies. over the next 40 minutes white house historical associate president stewart mclaurin speaks. good afternoon. good afternoon. my name is bob mcgee. i serve on the board of directors of the white house historical association. as you continue to enjoy your lunch i want to introduce our
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program for today. you may have heard that we were planning on having our wonderful friend of the white house historical association the renowned white house historian doctor william seale with us for this luncheon session. he is unable to join us. however we have a terrific plan b for you. that is a conversation with anita mcbride , mark updegrove and stewart mclaurin on presidential legacies and commemorations. i know if time allows anita, mark and stuart will take questions at the end. now to our panel. anita mcbride's career relating to the white house and the presidency spans more than 30 years as a white house advisor, chief of staff and diplomatic advisor. currently she is executive in residents at the center for congressional and
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presidential studies and the school of public affairs at american university in washington. she directs programming on the legacies of america's first ladies and their historical influence on politics, policy and global diplomacy. anita served as an assistant to president george w. bush as well as chief of staff to first lady laura bush. she directed the first ladies travels to 67 countries in four years. she supports foreign policy objectives, women's empowerment, global health, and education. she's a member of the u.s. afghan women's council, the international republican institute women's diplomacy network, the national italian american foundation and most importantly a board member of the white house historical association and chair of the committee that organized the
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presidential site summit. mark updegrove is in author, presidential start and president and ceo of the lbj foundation in austin, texas. until recently he served as the director of the lyndon johnson library and museum for 8 years. he has authored four books on presidential history including his newest book, the last republicans inside the extraordinary relationship between george hw bush and george w. bush. mark is a commentator for abc news, good morning america and this week. finally our third panelist is stewart mclaurin . he's president of the white house historical association.
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his 30 plus career in washington has been in senior roles at georgetown university, american red cross and motion picture association. he worked with ron reagan presidential foundation to conceptualize, plant and execute the ronald reagan centennial celebration in 2011. please join in -- me in welcoming -- welcoming today's panel anita mcbride, mark updegrove and stewart mclaurin. [ applause ] >> thank you. i want to recognize gail west and teresa barrett the wife of john.. a wonderful board member. anita is on our board. they give extraordinary leadership to the organization. started by mrs. kennedy as a nonprofit, not pot -- nonpartisan and we are honored
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to be the convener of this presidential site summit this week. today we will talk about presidential legacy and commemoration. let's start by diving into lbj. mark your leadership with the lbj foundation -- monday would've been the hundred 10th birthday of president johnson. there's a commemoration of sorts or a noting of that occasion. johnson was larger than life as president. larger than life post- presidency. what would he think of his legacy as we see him today? >> to you and anita congratulations on this conference. [ applause ] i know how much work they have put into this and it has clearly paid off. congratulations to both of you. thanks to all of you for what you do. i mentioned yesterday i'm not
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only a historian but also a patron. i appreciate not only what you do but the passion that you put into what you do. thank you for preserving and perpetuating the history of this great country. i told a story yesterday that i will repeat. lbj when he was a senator was campaigning for reelection and he convened his speech writers around a part of the speech that he wanted to take it up. he starts reading the draft and becomes across the passage from plato. he says, plato, plato, let me get this straight. i'm going home to texas to talk to plain folks and you have me quoting plato. he said keep the quote but started with my daddy always used to say. [ laughter ]. i
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mentioned it because my daddy said certain things about lyndon johnson and what he said when johnson was president is different from what we are seeing today. presidential legacies evolved. i think it takes us at least a generation and even more than two to get a clear perspective on how a president will be remembered. lyndon johnson took much longer because vietnam so divided this nation. it took at least a generation to receive -- receipt around vietnam. when they did and we got clear perspective and that dark cloud of vietnam dissipated, we saw what lyndon johnson did in the legislative arena and in particular what he did in civil
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rights. there is no president perhaps abraham lincoln who has done in the cause of civil rights which defines us as a nation as lyndon johnson. finally he's getting to credit for those accomplishments. he would be pleased. >> we can't talk about presidents without talk about first ladies. anita you've done a great job in your role focusing on the role of first ladies. you yourself were chief of staff to one of america's favorite laura bush. let's talk about mrs. johnson. mrs. johnson took over being first lady suddenly in the passing of president kennedy. mrs. kennedy had done so much in our space the historic preservation of the white house that mrs. johnson continue that in her own way. there were so many unique women in their presidencies and personalities as well as legacies. tell us about mrs. johnson and
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her role as first lady and that transition. what did she do in the white house and in our space? >> thank you for that question. i want to acknowledge some first first lady historians. katie and nasty. -- nancy. i happen to live in a neighborhood in washington, dc where just around the corner from where the johnson's lived as vice president and they lived for several weeks almost a month after he had become president, the tragedy of the
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assassination, i walk by that house and got the presence of the johnson's still looming in the spring valley neighborhood of washington, dc. i am struck by the quote from mrs. johnson herself about how she felt about becoming first lady after the assassination of john f. kennedy and how people look at the living and wish for the dead. you cannot imagine the personal pain that that exhibited and the whole country was feeling. now here is johnson front and center to take over leadership of the country at a traumatic time and feeling that responsibility and challenge to help comfort the nation in a certain way.
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the family was incredibly gracious. mrs. johnson having a front row seat working with laura bush for so many years she would say honestly that in addition to her mother-in-law lady bird johnson was her favorite first lady. she learned so much from her from watching her and being a texas woman herself. just the graciousness of mrs. kennedy and mrs. johnson how she presided over the white house. she loved the outdoors and loved flowers and plants and natural landscapes and the national parks. she's so
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appreciated the natural beauty. mrs. bush would say people would look at mrs. johnson and would say she loved flowers. she was our nations first convert -- conservationist first lady. her presence and when recollection i have of mrs. johnson which is seared in my memory, she had called me when i was chief of staff to mrs. bush and said, i'm bringing my mother to washington for what i know will be her last time. she wants to see her friends. she had had a stroke. she was not speaking and was in a wheelchair. she was still vibrant. she said, do you think we could come to the white house?
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i knew laura bush is reaction would be of course. i never answer for anything without talking to her first but i knew the answer would be yes. i will call you back with dates and times that could work. mrs. bush was so thrilled to have mrs. johnson come to the white house that she can take the former first lady through the white house. mrs. bush had made sure that any of the residents staff that were still working in the white house that had been there in the johnson time were there to greet mrs. johnson at the diplomatic reception room door when she stepped in. in addition one of the butlers who had worked for the johnson's was now a part-time elevator operator. he operated the presidents elevator a few
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days a week. mrs. bush major he was there and he was the one that greeted mrs. johnson when the door was opened. the way that mrs. johnson embraced mr. jerman and how he embraced her would make you cry but would also -- to last things -- mrs. johnson's last visit to the white house mrs. bush wheeled her into a room on the ground floor which had just been repainted under one other restoration projects that mrs. bush did. mrs. bush had had the walls of the room painted a perfect yellow complement to the dress that mrs. johnson wears in her official trip. she moved the portrait across
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the fire place. jackie kennedy is in front of you when you walk into the room. mrs. johnson over the fireplace and eleanor roosevelt. mrs. bush said to her, lady bird -- eisenhower is in there. thank you. i apologize. i'm talking about mrs. johnson. laura bush said to her lady bird i want you to know i have this room painted in a color that would match your beautiful dress. she took her upstairs in the elevator and brought her by her husband's portrait. mrs. johnson
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in her wheelchair looked up almost to embrace her husband. it's one of those things as a staffer in the white house you realize you work there but it's one of those incredible privileges and opportunities that you get to see firsthand. it reminds you what a blessing it is to have any opportunity to be there and witness history. >> the johnson's took office through tragedy. mrs. johnson described that period after president kennedy's assassination as america's looking at the living but wishing for the dead. that puts everything in perspective.
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>> we talk about death and grieving and these are important times in our nations history when a president passes. tomorrow most of our group will be going to washington national cathedral which has been the stage and setting for a number of presidential funerals. it's amazing to think 45 american presidents and 8 of them have died in office. there have been post-presidency funerals. we remember reagan, ford and recently mrs. reagan and mrs. bush. what is it about these moments of death and focus on a former president or living president. my earliest memory of a living president was four years old in front of a black and white television in the kennedy funeral and being scared.
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what is it about death and presidential funerals or first lady phenols that brings home to us? what do we remember them to be? >> we are naturally divided. we were divided from the beginning when our founding fathers came to philadelphia to forge the nation they were divided by sectional, cultural, ideological differences. they found common ground into which they planted the seed of democracy. that's the story of our country. we are naturally divided as a nation. there are moments in our nations life where we've all come together as americans. one of them is when we have a death of a president. we don't lose a republican president or a democratic president. we lose our president. it takes us back and we think about that time and become united as americans. there weren't that many
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opportunities for us to have these moments of unity which are so needed in our nation. that's why i was disappointed that not more was made of senator mccain. senator mccain is one of the few americans that we all cherish him as an example of what it is to be american. we can celebrate in his legacy the things that we hold dear as american -- americans. we talked about the passing of george -- george w. bush. he's a beacon of character at a time when we need humility and civility and the notion of service over self. it's what these people represent and we aspire to be as americans that we celebrate around the passing of these people. >> mrs. bush's funeral it was
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like america's mom had passed. we were reminiscing about who she was. you were both at that funeral. tell us your thoughts and impressions of a first lady's funeral how that and how that differs from a president? >> she was like a mother and grandmother to the nation. she left and imprint through her examples. she loved her husband and family and loved her country. she lived her life openly and with such great joy. to be those things, she was a great -- gracious second lady. in the shadows of mrs. reagan which must have not been easy.
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she presided over the white house with such joy. one of the things she said to her staff and people knew this about her when she became first lady. she gathered her stuff together and said, i want to do something that helps an american every day. that is a charge to give to the staff. that's what they said about doing. she had another four years. there life was a great example that continue to endear them to the country. there's something regardless of what you may feel of george w. bush, the fact that the family lived through each other's family -- presidency. the two first ladies have had
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opportunity to help each other. of learned a lot about being first lady for my mother law. no other first lady has had that. barbara left and imprint. she had such a great personality. she is the only person who kept incredible diaries. mrs. johnson also kept incredible diaries. she could slice and dice pretty
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good. people like that about her personality. >> we were in the great hall of the obj library with the presidential seal edged in marble. around the perimeter of the hall are portraits of all the president and first lady's. barbara bush was known as the enforcer. george w. bush looked at her portrait and said, if you look carefully you can see her eyes move. i was relieved at the funeral that it was so short. >> she planned it. >> she did. i'll never forget a few years
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before her death the bushes asked me to do a find razor in kennebunkport -- fundraiser in kennebunkport. i walked her to her car and as she was getting into the core she said george and i are coming tomorrow. tell me about the format. >> i said i would speak about 40 minutes and take 10 minutes of question. she said make it 30 minutes with no questions. we talked about presidents and their first ladies and roles. we've gone back to james monroe. let's talk about presidential families and what role they play in keeping, evolving or changing the president and the
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first lady. >> i will let mark answer this question. this is a huge factor to be able to -- i think we heard being able to engage the community where a presidential site is for people to have that feel to be connected. susan is always terrific about representing her parents. she brought her daughter with her because she wants her daughter to follow in her footsteps.
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the passing a legacy and a message of your ancestors who have had this incredible role in our history. it is very important. >> it's important not to direct history. i talked to george w bush and said were not trying to build a legacy. that's advisable for family members. i've had the great fortune with working with the johnson daughters on projects relating to the presidential library. they are not heavy-handed. they will trust the historians will get it right. and must've been painful for them to see their father so
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defined by vietnam for so long. by the way when president johnson -- both daughters were living with the parents. there husbands were in vietnam putting their lives on the line. they are hearing protesters outside the white house gates with a protest. they could see him striving for peace and how painful this was for him. i admire they're not being heavy-handed in terms of trying to direct the legacy but letting history sort things out and it has. >> how special was it last night at the kennedy center to have john tyler there. the grandson of john tyler.
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not the great-grandson but the grandson. there was over 200 years of history and three generations. it was like looking into a window of history. we like to do teaching and telling the stories of how history started. we have these institutions and presidential sites, libraries that develop education programs that tell the story. let's talk about the importance of the education process, connecting with the next jet -- generation which did not know these men and women as a living present.
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howdy put those programs together and how do you do your outreach to take legacy and education to students of all ages? >> one thing i want to add, our next panel is on civics education. that is so important. i think with -- we've been chipping away our education for too many years. middle school and high school kids are not getting the same lessons that we were getting on the blackboard. it is different. there are opportunities that the sites have -- even when we bought the three actors from
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the play hamilton to say -- how do you feel about the role that you have to bring history to life in a way that is so engaging. and relate the responsibility they have to educate our young people. i was pleased to say the partnership they have with the institute in new york. billy to explore the sacrifice and courage that it took to found the nation. i was encouraged by that. we have tried to tell that message throughout our summit this week. the library with the rich material they have, the archives , the artifacts, one of the
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panelists said it's one thing to be around the philanthropy. how do you tell them and keep telling them to stay engaged. every time you have a new class of students that come in, you realize this is for the next group that you have to teach. they were only two years old when 9/11 happened. what did they know about it what's your point of reference? also how the president had to deal with those decision and have the country changed forever. you feel this obligation when you're around young people constantly wanting to educate them. >> that's what you do and
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that's why it's so important. there is an education gap in this country. kids don't care about history. if you can get them engaged in the stories of your present they will be interested. hamilton is on a huge scale. so many stories. kids will get interested in civics and history. that can only make us a stronger country. >> we have a time for three questions. i would like to begin by inviting stephen from the kennedy foundation to the microphone. one of the great privileges of my professional career was to
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work with the ronald reagan centennial celebration in 2011. not because i thought it was a great president or because what he meant to me but it was an opportunity to take the life, leadership and legacy of the 40th president of the united states and share that with the next generation that did not know him as a living president and to have partnerships and collaborations with the college in illinois. also other high schools and sports seem to teach these stories. and 2017 was the kennedy centennial. they did an extraordinary job of reaching across the country. i would like for you to talk about that in terms of the legacy of a president and taking the commemoration like a centennial and sharing that president in fresh ways with the country. >> it is that time like you
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talk about the past of a president or first lady that we come together and think about it. today 80 percent of the people in the united states were born after the kennedy administration. it's those folks that we are trying to connect with them. the first thing i did was read the report you put out from reagan and learned the great ideas. it's thinking about partnerships. we had over 200 ownership arrangements. there are 896 places in the world named after john kennedy. we reached out to hundreds of them from the kennedy center to the airport. it's not just telling the history but why it's relevant today. we use this expression of visionaries never go out of style. we think about will peace, the peace corps is just as relevant today. next year we have a country that will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of landing on the moon. today we think about big ideas,
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we think about a big idea with us in your company or organization we call it a moonshine. it's a way to think about it in the weight it brings us together. looking at those key points this is a commemoration of a centennial or next year celebration of the landing of the moon. thank you for your leadership. >> anyone else have a question to raise with the group? i want to put these guys on the spot. other than the president you worked with or represent today, give me your two favorites -- favorite presidents and first ladies. >> i would say abraham lincoln. i would love that opportunity.
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i would love to talk to martha washington. what was it like to be the first person to do this job and bear the responsibility of setting the president -- presidents to be the first lady of that nation. i would love to meet the trumans. i'm so fascinated by this cross country trip they did in their car. i was living in the white house then i was going to every motel 6 that exists. it's really cool and they were decent people. >> steve represents the kennedy legacy so well.
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there have been so many grade minds here since forever. i would for go all the others just to have abraham lincoln allowed. i would want dolly madison to host it. there's this great story about harry truman who goes driving down for a meeting. treatment sitting in the front seat and he sees this woman whose pigs had gotten loose. they are running all around. truman stopped the car and he jumps out and helps the lady get the pigs back. the reporter gets wind of this
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and the reporter asks him i was true. he said remember i was a farmer before i was president. he was so down to earth. >> tying into your comments mark and i appreciate you guys. one of the things we did a year ago was to come up with the idea to take resident ford story standing up for diversity in his senior year at university of michigan where his traveling roommate because of the color of his skin cannot play on the football team. there's a historical group that put this thing together and students would fall asleep. we said let's turn it into a 40 minute play. half my board is ready to launch me. what am i doing?
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we did 10 productions of the play in february. we have waiting list of schools wanting us to do this play. it's a 40 minute plate talking about president ford in it a locker room with his roommate talk about why he cannot on the football team. i wanted to share with that. we need to make the stories relevant to our audience. that was discussed and that's the way to do it is to take a story that is iconic and make it in the format we want to do. >> one thing that brings to mind is the tool we have at the white house historical association and partner with amazon web services. it's out white house tool app. you can download it from the app store and google play. search white house experience.
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right now it takes you on a virtual tour of the estate rooms of the house as well as the nonpublic historic rooms. eventually we want to teach the stories of what the white house was like a different times. also teach other aspects of the white house history. we would love watching by c- span and those here to download the app and explore the white house with us. we are grateful for all of you. you are on the tip of the spear in american history and presidential history and white house history. it's been inspirational to us this week to have you here and look forward to working with you moving forward. we don't want this to be a -- every four year or two year experience but want to do it all the time.
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we want to teach the next generation. thank you all very much. [ applause ] will be leading it in the fau future. thank you all very much. have a great afternoon. [ applause ]
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