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tv   The Presidency Presidents in History Memory  CSPAN  December 27, 2018 8:00pm-9:51pm EST

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the white house historical association held an august meeting in washington for those who work at presidential sites around the country. and descendents of presidents from james monroe to gerald ford. in this discussion, panelists talked about the work of toli presidential stories over time. this is almost 2 hours. good morning, ladies and gentlemen i am happy to be here. and also serve as the vice chairman and treasurer of the white house historical association. i am also treasurer of the ronald reagan foundation. to kick things off this morning, i would like to frame our session by connecting to the overarching objective of the summit itself which is to share stories and memories and the narratives they create and discuss insight into the management and outreach of
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presidential libraries, homes and museums. this year's theme, back to the white house focuses on the executive mansion as the thread that connects all of these sites. and sets the national stage for communications and innovation among presidential sites and libraries in the future. and what binds us all together is our deep set passion for honoring the history of the presidency and individual presidents. as well as our recognition of the importance of preservation of history more broadly. in the spirit of gathering not only about honoring the narrative but continuing to shape the narrative over time. the preservation of presidential history is not nor has it ever been a foregone conclusion taking the shared efforts of passionate sponsors, skilled historians and activists and sizable financial
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resources to see it through. at the same time america must grapple with the competing interests and budgetary challenges of aging infrastructure and as a country that has become more culturally and demographically diverse, with ideas and ideologies, both pertaining to the future of our nation. but our collective mission like preservation of history itself must endure, efforts to preserve the past or intern helping to shape the future informed by the wisdom that only the recognition of appreciation of history can bring. when considered the medium through which antiquity is captured and expressed, it is our physical structures that makes the most indelible marks, only if we care for them in such a manner as to safeguard their presence and perpetuity. for all of us at the association the white house
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notes the unshakable and seamless continuity of our executive branch, a reminder that america is not governed by a disconnected series of presidents but by enduring presidency. further still, and consistent with our back to the white house theme, the nations still testing the ideal of a collective that could be impervious to treacherous divide , the executive mansion is a visible and tangible monument to the ultimate recognition of such an america. a country that had its way through the darkest of x essential threats to emerge unscathed and battered but nonetheless intact. permanency represented in the presidential sites and imbibed by all who work in them and all who visit them daily, is an essential feature of our future as it has been of our past. for as much as it is a story of
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success, america is even more so a story of struggle and against this and our need to remain anchored in our shared history, it is a various assemblage of great presidential sites that allows us to experience this story of present appearance, sacrifice and success in the modern era. and in this way we enable the american people to remain connected to our common past and assuming so, build a bridge to ensuing generations whose own stories will continue to strengthen the fabric that binds us together. on by one. perhaps even inspiring them to continually renew the promise that is the united states. if the past is prologue, however with victories and setbacks that characterize our journey or any jersey journey worth taking, the future of this great nation holds boundless promise to remain foundational he strong, rich in
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character, entirely unique, beautiful in its design and above all things, and during. with that in mind it is no hyperbole to suggest the collective stories of our presidential sites, each with its own colorful legacy at times controversial episodes and pension for boldness is perhaps in all reality the story of america, it's all. and to further enlighten us, in this regard, please join me in welcoming this extraordinary panel this morning that we have assembled and we are going to introduce each of them to you but this session is presidential history and memory and so these panelists whose experience and expertise have distinguish each of them to eliminating and helping us to better understand through a myriad of lenses, the presidency in that moment and overtime.
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so first let me introduce our moderator. it is a great pleasure for me to have susan swain join me, the co-ceo of c- span and will moderate the panel. and joining her on stage, is our panelist. first barbara perry, the director of presidential studies at the university of virginia, the miller center. jeffrey ingle, the director of the center for presidential history at southern methodist university. richard norton smith, presidential historian and author, jeffrey rosen, president and ceo of the national constitution center, cokie roberts, journalist at pbs, national public radio. mark updegrove, the ceo of the lyndon johnson foundation. join me in welcoming our guests today.
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>> good morning everyone. it's delightful to be with you and welcome to my panel of shrinking violet. we have been giving this house to talk about presidential mythmaking and disruptions to the factual history that all of us in this room and whatever capacity we are in strive to tell. we had a lively organizing conference call and then some wonderful back-and-forth emails and my job was to try to organize all of that for the next hour and a half. what i have done for this morning is to think about the tech age and how we hear about disruptions and disruptors. what i have done is organize the discussion and their thoughts into six disruptors of presidential history and we will spend the time on each one of those, they are popular
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culture, current events and societal trends, research, constituent groups, digital technology and funding. we will start off with popular culture. and on that call, you were talking about how you have so many wonderful academic programs at the national constitution center and bringing in so many scholars but yet the most successful traffic builder had nothing to do with it. >> s, it is called hamilton. at the national constitution center, the centerpiece of our experience is sinus hall and we have statues of the 42 signers of the constitution, 39 signed and three refused and at the front of the room are washington and madison. and i think we need to wrap musicals for james madison and it should go reason versus passion, the american way, but
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demagogue cleon but the athenians astray. it just doesn't work. right next to madison and washington as hamilton and the kids just rush to this proud, small creature who was in the room where it happened and set the constitutional world on fire and we discovered that by putting the name hamilton next to a picture of hamilton on the front of the constitution center, a great way to bring people into the moment. very simple approach but extremely effective. challenge of this is that it's harder to bring to life the significant but less dramatically compelling framework, we have the most important framer from the philosophical perspective, james wilson who came up with the idea that we the people of the united states as a whole or sovereign rather than we the people of the individual states. he had a sad story, he ended up as a supreme court justice and death and pursued by his creditors and in the movie
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1776, which all of us i feel are not in, we may have all gathered around this, wilson was maligned, presented as this foolish character because it's too difficult to tell his real story. whereas roger sherman gets a great song because of the rhyme. that works well. i did a quick look at the history of the movies and books about presidents and unsurprisingly the dramatic wants to better, a lot more thinking plays and movies in the 20th century than washington. lincoln is such an incredible compelling human character with conflict in washington is almost too good to be true as henry adams said. bradley, what we are doing at the constitution center is using live theater and digital experiences to try to tap the hamilton magic by telling
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stories, we have this great show freedom rising with a live actor telling the story of america which tells the story of the president but we have found often the stories of lesser-known funding figures are really compelling and help people connect so we have this great we the people caught cast i want you all to listen to, the top liberal and conservative scholars debate the constitutional issue of the week and it's elevating, thrilling, educational for all of us and we finished four weeks on figures of reconstruction, frederick douglass, john bingham who wrote the 14th amendment, kelly house, the african-american seamstress who advocated for labor rights and telling the stories, in this exhibit we are creating about the exit is crucial and if we can do that, i think we will be in great shape. >> you could definitely do the governor who wrote the we the people and has a very sexy
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story. >> amazing story and i guess we can tell it. he has a wooden leg and the story was that he jumped out of a window after a carriage accident and i think husband came home. he lost his leg and i think john adams said i wish he lost another appendage. >> he was searching for the original, more perfect union. >> we have the beginning of the morris musical right here. >> i heard he married nancy randall who was accused of murder. it was quite a character. you could do something with him. >> let's talk about the many modern depiction of lbj and movies. how does the library and foundation respond if at all,
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especially when they stray from research? >> there are three dramatic depictions in recent years, a film called lbj, with woody harrelson playing lbj with very poor prosthetics. bryan cranston took the play all the way to the small screen for hbo. and did a marvelous job. and ava do run a did a story of soma that included lbj. first two were pretty good. and they helped us to your point about hamilton shedding new light on the constitution, bringing new interest and those productions did that for lbj. to have what he and brian come to library to study the role, i
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was really impressed with how much they immersed themselves into trying to understand lbj and i marveled at how curious they were. they wanted to know every factor of this complicated personality. i will tell you, i have a problem personally with soma because it told the story but lbj's involvement in solar rights in the wrong way. it showed him as an obstructionist and politico defended this version. it is funny, the new cycle today, 24 hours on a good day. that story seemed to continue on and on and on as a run-up to the oscars. we had entertainment tonight calling this the library i said don't you have a kardashian to chase? it became a big story.
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and that launched a debate about how, the responsibility, the filmmaker has in capturing the reality of the subject, in telling an accurate story. but i think the dramatic production helps us enormously. i think about this. lbj is to my kids what calvin coolidge would've been to me. that is a long time to go back so if you have storytellers telling the story of your president or any president, in a modern way that makes them accessible, a way that makes them relatable, that helps us to do our job. >> no modern president has been treated more frequently and movies and john f. kennedy. so with the volume of material, does the library and foundation respond or does it have any extra traction for you when the
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subject of another film comes up? >> you are right, there is endless fascination with president kennedy. cnn is doing a series and we were talking ahead of time that we participated in one on the bush family. it is the case that you do your best you do your best as a historian, to take the topic i was assigned which was the information that you can find in the archives at the kennedy library. information that is in the oral histories, in this case of the kennedy library and the other thing the miller center does,
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in addition to doing more modern presidents in terms of oral history, is also to go back to the tapes, the recordings, johnson tapes, nixon tapes, kennedy tapes, those are a wealth of information that we can use when we are doing these documentaries and hope that they also come out and things like the movie done in the early 2000's, 13 days about the cuban missile crisis. i teach teachers a number have done justice for an entire teacher institute on presidents and war, i taught one for the second time on president kennedy, it at the end of the day well it's the cuban missile crisis it is a popular culture treatment of it and the way we use that for teachers is to say let's turn to the documentary information, let's turn to the oral histories, let's turn to the recordings that president
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kennedy was making an real-time of the cuban missile crisis discussions that were going on behind the scenes. and then we compare that to how hollywood treats the subject and i find it's a very rich way for teachers to learn about it and take it back to their classrooms across the country. >> we have all seen how a single book greatly changes the reputation of the president. >> talk to the folks at the adams historic site who will tell you the tidal wave of interest that washed over them, they literally, this was not a house built to accommodate the number of people who had the book and wanted to relive the experience. >> when this happens, you worked with so many different presidential sites, how can a site capitalize on that, even if it's not your president? is that possible?
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heightened interest in the president overall? >> you have to remember most of the president i was dealing with, we were more of a mode of apologizing. then advocating. i once got a letter, from my counterpart at the james buchanan foundation who took me to task as the director of the herbert hoover presidential library for saying something unflattering to his namesake. >> easy to do. i thought that an interesting to flip the question inside out. the one thing as with hoover there is such untapped, anyone who comes to the library, over and over and over again we redid it and we tell the story and people don't know the story. they know the clichi, they know
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the depression, they don't know this was a man who fed 1 billion people in 50 countries, who saved more people from starvation than hitler, stalin and mall together. he overseas, go to europe, belgium, the former soviet union, he is a totally different hoover. when you have this vast reserve and i don't mean as simple as advocacy, i joke about it, we are not apologists, we are not the herbert hoover chamber of commerce, to have any credibility and i hear my colleagues, whatever it is if it is a book or film, tour or redoing a museum exhibit, the point is to be as rigorous in your scholarship without
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surrendering popular appeal. the deadliest words in the english language are either or and this notion that you can be scholarly or you can be popular you can't be both. the fact is, people come to our sites, everyone walks through the door, you credit with having sufficient intellectual curiosity to want to know something. they made the effort to be there. secondly, it is like any good story telling exercise. it just so happens in the hoover sorry it's a roller coaster. there are higher highs and lower lows and it's extraordinary and poignancy and humor, so much in any event. all of those, it seems to me you have an obligation to the ultimate constituents and those are the people who don't have a
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phd next to their name, but who have something just as good. they have historical curiosity and they may be school kids, they may be scholars, docents or volunteers, but they are enthusiasts and curious and that is all you need as far as i'm concerned to be admitted. >> jeffrey, let me get you in on this. i was thinking about the work you have done with the bush family, we have a situation where the archives are not greatly opened for george w. bush and there have been lots of popular culture treatment, many critical of the president. how do historians, not let popular culture establish a view that may in fact end up being different from what those who have worked in the administration and those who will untapped the historical
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record be able to tell? >> i think that would be marvelous, every time we get the public perception of the president doing a, b, or c and we go in and get the records, eventually and find out that is entirely the way the story didn't happen. that can sell books. back and change the narrative and make great historical discussion. the problem of course is getting access to those records. our national archives system frankly is, not as expeditious as historians would like, how is that for plate? in getting documents available. you asked about george w. bush, we are just now feeling comfortable with the record system we have for the george hw bush system and that was only because we invested, i say we, texas a&m, invested a great deal of money and effort and essentially filling out the forms that were necessary to get the documents we had. as an example we now have every single phone conversation that president bush senior had with
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a foreign leader during his time in office. which is quite remarkable and by the way i encourage you to read them. they are quite remarkable. it's amazing to see a president who was able to speak with an african leader and asian leader and latin american leader with no aides giving him notes in between. it's quite astounding and something i encourage us to think about. when we have the popular perception, i think our job as historians is to try to move things along so that the new information can essentially help round out the public perception because one other thing, having just written a book on george hw bush, people are constantly asking what did you discover that snow, what's shocking? and there were some interesting things but i have to tell you the general story of what happened during those years was pretty darn right. which is to say there are thousands of journalists in the city working everyday to find
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out but the administration is doing and they do a good job. what we do as historians is go behind the curtain, tell you what the journalists couldn't but the narrative is quite good. >> let me move on to topic two, societal trends and current events and i'm going to start with you, i'm going to ask everyone to jump in. hyper partisanship is a fact of our modern age and with going through cycles, we are in one now. as a historical storyteller, how has the hyper partisanship of the current age affected your ability to connect with leaders, tell the stories, has it changed your narrative? >> it changes the narrative only in that you are constantly saying it didn't used to be this way. but the fact is, it does affect not so much how you tell the story but how the story is received. because people have gone off as
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we know into their camps. so they agree or disagree and decide only to listen to or watch the things they agree or disagree with. and it becomes very difficult to just have a straight story. journalists relate to and try to do that everyday and particularly now with being under attack as statements, that becomes a bigger problem because kids believe that. and do have a sense that they can't trust anything that they read or hear. so that becomes a bigger problem. i think the burden, which is a good one on us, is to really make sure you are getting it right. you don't want to give any ammunition to the people who think that you are making it up.
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and i think that's a good burden. we should have always been getting it right. there is more pressure to do that. i have to say, the miller center makes a huge difference. it really does. that is the place where you can go and i do a lot of history in my pieces, as well as the books. that is the place you can go to get the straight stuff. to really know what the presidents were up to and listening to the tapes was just plain fun. it's eavesdropping and it's fun enough to read dolly madison's mail but to listen to the tapes is really instructive and with the cuban missile crisis which you here on those tapes, is the evolution of john kennedy as president. and all of the people in the room with him who thought he
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was joe kennedy's kid and was in the senate for 15 minutes and didn't know anything, suddenly developed a respect for him and you can hear that, evolving over the 13 days. it's fascinating. so, i think the constant going back to the source, constantly making sure you are getting it right, understanding that there are going to be a bunch of people who don't believe it. >> it's a special opportunity in a polarized time to encourage people to rise above their political biases and c- span in the constitution center have this wonderful collaboration, we have a joint mission, private nonprofits for the congressional mandate to be nonpartisan and i think our experience on landmark supreme court cases carries bring together the top liberal and conservative scholars to debate not the political issues in the case but the constitutional issues is the most elevating project i have been involved in.
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and broadly, that is what the constitution center tries to do, i am a law professor, i begin the discussion by saying let's set aside our political views, we will disagree about politics but converge around what we agree and disagree about the constitution. the question is not his gun control a greater bad idea. it's does the constitution allow it or prohibited? then you invite people to open themselves up to the possibility that the constitutional conclusions might diverge from their political ones. they might think gun control is a great idea. the second amendment prohibits it or it's a terrible idea that the second amendment allows it and just by framing it that way i have my classmates in the classroom, that is what we were taught to do and the mission is to bring this method of constitutional analysis to all citizens and to think about the president and similar terms, so for people who are bashing the current president about his use of executive orders on the
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podcast we will say his predecessor used just as many executive orders, imperial presidency or presidential tweets, president obama was the first tweeting president. once you give the office of the presidency and constitutional rather than political terms it's a tremendous opportunity for historical and constitutional education and what gives me great confidence that in the end as historians and teachers, we can, this is all of our mission and obligation, we have to elevate the country above partisanship because we are not going to get out of it. you know the cause is geographic, self-serving and virtual, that a problem that makes the mission all the more urgent to lift people above their disagreements to converge on the history and ideals that unite them. >> but you know moments, not just movies or books or whatever, they are moments and we are living through one know
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with the death of john mccain. where we have had a lesson. over the last few days and will continue through saturday of what it is to rise above partisanship and to put country first and those words, how anyone could read them, i don't know. those are moments in history and when people are paying attention. and i think we have to take advantage of this moment which is exactly what john mccain would want us to do. >> it helps when you have the president exert moral authority to reinforce that moment. and i have to say walking past the white house yesterday and seeing the flagpole mass was a moment for me, a seven. if i may comment on the question about state, there is
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always friction between the press and the president. there should be, that is what democracies are about. we are about friction. lbj used to say if i walk across the potomac river, the headline in the next day says the president can't swim. but the difference is if you look at nixon, probably in my lifetime, the greatest friction between the president and the media was with richard nixon. he had his henchmen really take on the press. really remember what is the phrase he invoked? that's pretty late stuff in 2018. we have a president calling the media the enemy of the people. and i think crosses a line.
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but i will agree, i think the press has gotten better. because i say we, i do journalism, as well. i think we are thinking very seriously about what we are putting into print. knowing it's going to be scrutinized, knowing we are going to have people on the other side of what we are saying, criticizing everything that we do and i think my hats off to the journalism world because i think that reporting is sharper, better, more factually based and i marvel at the reservation, how reserved journalists have been in this climate, hostile climate. >> you are knee-deep. right now. >> i wouldn't put it like that.
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>> you are well into your research. >> about gerald ford. okay. >> my point is, picking up on what jeffrey was commenting about moment and turning them into teaching moments. if you have a period of time where there is antagonism with the press or use of executive orders, can you historically use them as teaching moments? >> it's interesting, one of the wonderful unacknowledged privileges of being a historian is the option if you don't like the president to live in the past. i am doing that right now and happily. it's funny, i look at things differently. that is the relationship between journalists and historians. in oklahoma, the musical, the song with the farmers and the cowboys, should be friends. i am not sure, ironically some of our best historians are journalists.
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maybe vice versa. there is a reason that it said that journalists write the first draft of history. the classic example is dwight eisenhower. who at the first pole, after presidential historian left office he finished below chester arthur, that doesn't happen anymore. what did we get wrong, they wanted us to get it wrong. along with george washington, one of maybe the only men in history for whom the presidency was a demotion. there was the wonderful story that involving milton, he was a president of the university of
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virginia, it was outdoors and the weather was threatening and they were making small talk and milton said to kill the time, do you think it will rain and he said milton, i haven't worried about the weather since june 6, 1914. puts things in perspective. we are all in the perspective. difference is historians have tools and materials that in some ways are denied to journalists. we are dependent on journalists for what we do what we have the advantage of time. it takes time, particularly with polarizing presidents. it takes time for passions to go, papers to become available and above all, for us to examine how many presidents have had to deal with middle east. you can't compare them.
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so instead of having, how many of us have gotten called by journalists what history will say about the incumbent. asked me in 20 years. that sort of thing. >> they tend to give us too much time. when i was researching the first history book i called the historical society that should go unnamed and i said you have the parents and papers of so and so, do you have his wife papers and they said we haven't come anywhere near finishing going through his papers. it's been 200 years! honestly as a journalist, that's an outrage. >> but that drives from a central point, it's for people to understand that it takes time and patience, it takes a
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lot of resources, energy and effort. at least for modern presidents, presidents still alive, it takes their enthusiastic embrace of the scrutiny of history, why did eisenhower go from being one of the least respected presidents, to one of us? there is a single answer. we got access to the records. once we saw what was going on, we realized with a master at everything he touched in the oval office and how everything in his government went through him. we didn't have that since before we were able to see the documents. i would even posit every president that we have gotten access to documents, over the course of the researching and investigation, but the public estimation of the president has gone up which is to say if i was running the campaign for an ex-president prestige, the first thing i would do is open up everything i could.
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the more people realize the complexity of the difficulty and then he wants but the president has to do with, the more impressed they become. so we can be in a sense that it is the gateway to the better sense of the president but only if we have the access and enthusiastic support of those who control the documents. >> he wanted to open every single document, immediately dealing with u.s. soviet relations. he had that wisdom, he understood instinctively that this is important and they were pretty good. >> lady bird was the hero on the johnson tapes. she had a lot of opposition of people not knowing, she didn't know what was on the states, anything could've been on the states. >> sometimes was. >> she just said open them up.
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>> we are coming to you next but as we are morphing into research, do you want to comment on the section? >> this could serve as a segue to that point, he asked me to think about the place of document versus oral history for example. and speaking of lady bird, she did a tremendous oral history with the johnson library with university press it has a long history of publishing oral histories and published that oral history. with some light touches of analysis along with it. because of the research we have done, starting with jimmy carter and starting with gerald ford that we did in the late 70s, as soon as he left office, ted kennedy came calling and said he would like the miller center to do his oral history. i have been finishing the touches of a manuscript for that.
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to jeff's point about how it takes time and resources for these papers to come out, we haven't mentioned security. all of these papers have to be run through security protocols to make sure there are so kennedy documents that are not out yet for national security reasons. it takes that time, the process time, to do. how we view oral history and working with usually the top hundred 250 members of an administration and we hope the president and first lady themselves, we view that as filling in a gap because we can usually get through those in about 10 years which seemed at the time to take a while but compared to 200 years of waiting for these papers to come out or in the case of others maybe 10-20 years, we do know there is sometimes we call them document that itches fetishes, who will believe in
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oral history, that is someone telling his or her version and shading the truth. again, i need this as a mosaic or puzzle. you are looking for as many pieces as possible to complete the picture so i see these oral histories falling into place as part of the pieces of the puzzle and you take the documents that come out at various times and you begin to put the piece of the puzzle together and come up with a full picture. >> i think that is right, it is the full picture and trying to get the mosaic, we have an oral history project that we learned from the miller center which is the gold standard. we do two things that are, a little bit different. which is we allow, mandate that all the oral history be videotaped. then, you can see what the person is saying, a better sense of the transcript if you can check it yourself. and people can't go back and edit what they said because we have the video. i will tell you, there are two
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exceptions, for example vice president cheney refused to let us videotape his interview that we did for our project and i tried to implore him on the necessity of the videos and i said mr. vice president you have to understand your facial expressions will help tell the story to future generations. they want to see the twinkle in your eye and he looked at me and said my eyes don't twinkle. at that point i had to concede his point. and i think what is critical as well, this is where i think the oral histories are wonderful, i think oral histories are by and large terrible. i run an oral history project, they are terrible if you're trying to get particular detail. if i asked people in this room what you have for lunch today, 40% will get it wrong and 30% can't remember if you had yesterday. but, at some point in the
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conversation, at some point in the oral histories every policymaker will say in all matters? that one line is worth the three hour interview. that gets us a real sense of what they think upon reflection is important weekend that is only available when we have the enthusiastic support of administrations. >> you have said you have seen a change, it has gotten better. the kennedy ones are really bad and as you see them, all of you progress in ways of interviewing people, they have just improved dramatically. >> moreover, the historian's perspective is get the details, what's the true story as we have been talking about trying to reach. as a political scientist and my colleague and i who cochair the oral history program, we are looking for institutional information, how
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does the presidency operate, how does the bureaucracy operate, how does the presidency operate with congress so we are looking for institutional issues, decision- making processes, how did these people go about making decisions in addition to trying to find the tick-tock as they say here. >> i think we should also say c- span is an oral history and progress, all day every day. providing a tremendous absolute. >> for the oral president, it takes different forms. i just finished a biography of william howard taft and his main oral history with his chief aide and served theodore roosevelt, they were invaluable in giving a sense of his thin- skinned tendency to lash out at those who were disloyal. but to really capture the essence of a man, i just read his papers, eight volumes, you
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read them and you have suddenly through his eyes this sense of our most judicial president to view every decision through constitutional terms and think the president can only do with what it allows. the combination was useful. i should say on documents, but the constitution center, text is sacred. it's incredibly wonderful as a teaching tool. we just started an exhibit with the five rarest drafts of the constitution. james wilson's handwritten draft , in addition to the documents we put the text online, go to american treasures.org and you can see the evolution of the office of the presidency from a six-year term, elected by the legislature to the four-year
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term to the possibility of renewal. the evolution of the preamble from we the people of the state of new hampshire, rhode island and providence plantation. and so forth to we the people of the united states signifying wilson, his belief that the whole people were sovereign. put in the text on this other cool thing you can find online at the interactive constitution, you can click on the first amendment and see the documentary sources and the revolutionary are state constitutions. medicine didn't make up the bill and writes he cut and pasted from the massachusetts constitution or the virginia and seeing the evolution of the text throughout the convention as just a great way of diffusing the partisan passion. you see the two states recognize the right to bear arms primarily as a rate of citizens not to be disarmed, two states sought as a rate of self- defense of people to defend
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themselves or for purposes of hunting game and the others taught as a militia right and you make up your own mind. text is sacred and not partisan. >> to bring it full circle, i have 170 interviews with the book i am writing on gerald ford. by rooney is, i bring a journalistic sensibility to those interviews, inevitably the best oral histories are with journalists. because they are storytellers. because they have an eye for detail but quite frankly might elude the political scientist, and because they give you a vivid sense of being there. >> the other thing is they don't put themselves in the story. the problem with and barbara knows this, because of all the oral histories, people inflate their own importance. and you have to keep that in check as you read these things. or if you do these interviews,
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you have to factor that in. >> the interview of jackie kennedy where he tries to get it it say what he thinks >> he did a marvelously good job. >> it has no interest in what she thinks. is only interested in the president. the part of the reason for that is as journalists we tend another story ahead of time. and have done the research on it. so that you know what to ask. because way too often these oral histories are tell me about your time with the president. and what you have to say is, october 13, 1962. what happened that day? and remind them. >> let me pick up on the comment about jackie kennedy because so much of your scholarship has been on women's role in american history and i'm wondering going back to current events, increased
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interest in women's history, with the me too moment, has there been more material available for you, it definitely has gotten better. and there is particularly the places, that are best about this frankly our mount vernon, montpelier, the adams homestead, cracked you up when you see the original one. abigail in there with four killed kids and soldiers and that sets the stage.
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in those remarkable letters, but they do care about the family they get more women's stories from those sites than you do from other sites. before i read this, i want to understand what the future looks like. first, in the preservation of history and in an age of historical tweets, social media and electronic communication in what they future historians will have access to. the second thing that crossed my mind about this is really the role of research librarians as artificial intelligence become smarter and smarter it's easier to search for things, what role will those folks have in the future of telling residential history. what are anyone's thoughts on the future preservation? >> well, i will say that we are working with the obama foundation as we have to have a
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piece of the oral history there. you might have seen a tweet that went out for president obama's birthday this summer that announced a really different kind of oral history. a grassroots, ground-up oral history that they are doing for the obama, which is understand, it's not going to be called a library it's going to be there obama presidential center. because to your point susan, they will not have hard copies of documents and archives. rather, they will all be digitized. so that's one difference right there, just taking advantage of the process of digitization. and they're not even attempting to have a hard copy documents. now as someone who regretted the believing of card catalogs in the library because i like to go to the cards, so don't come to me about that. but i appreciate the fact that this will be probably the end and a better approach. but during this ground-up
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approach, they spread the word to people that they want to focus on the 2008 historic election of barack obama. send us your memories. take out your iphone and record your memory and go to your neighbor and go to your friend and go to your family and record their memories. so they are going to start from the ground up, we hope you do what is called top-down, obviously. but, i think that's going to be one distinction right there in howell presidential library's look and feel and operate. >> and it's really the future. it's going to be difficult again because what is true is that when i was working on the war book and talking to the people at princeton, they were saying, you know all those reenactors, those people line everything about their character and if we can crowd source what they have and bring
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it together you would have a completely different civil war history. and it would be fascinating. so, i think that is very much where we are headed. but it's very dicey. >> i think if you combine the fact that crowdsourcing can be key with the fact that we all are now in political tries stripes, what we need to find some way to get the tribes organized so that crowds at least know what is true and what is not. this is really one of the keys to historic sites and historic libraries and for historians. especially if they are arbiters of what is and is not fact. you cannot say that john kennedy won the revolutionary war. somebody has to be able to stand up and say i'm sorry, know that simply is not right. and one of the things everyone knows that is right, it's amazingly he walked across the delaware. [ laughter ] so, one of the
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things that is really wonderful about these new resources, obviously is the way we have access for everyone. so your center, our center every one of the libraries here is trying to put more and more online so every citizen can go and see the raw material, not just the result, but the raw data, the raw oral data. what concerns me in the future is that even with the sense of having historians be arbiters, we are increasingly seeing segments of the population that refuses to be swayed by fact, obviously we are in the latest truth moment. and i am concerned, i'll give you a good example. i am concerned about what happens, they will give you a theoretical question that can possibly happen, just completely pull it out of thin air, but what just suppose there are impeachment hearings? just suppose, hypothetical. and we see a tremendous amount of evidence, for whatever the
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crime that a president might have committed, high crimes, that is similar to what occurred for richard nixon which is to say we see evidence that appears at irrefutable. the prosecutors tell us that it is irrefutable, we hear john kennedy, we hear nixon, we know those voices tell us something that is in the record. at this point in the 21st century i'm concerned about 40 percent of the population will civilly say that is doctored. that's not true. >> right.? and maybe enough to get prosecutors and experts to say actually we verified this as true. but having someone sway public opinion, especially on something that's going to enter the political realm, that's a more dicey question i think of the 21st entry. >> we won't solve the problem of fake news which is a serious one. but one thing we can do as conveners, we can bring together trusted organizations from both sides. so the most important thing the constitution center has done is bring together the federalist society which is the leading
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conservatism in the american constitution society the lady progressives decided to cosponsor online interactive constitution and now is the time when i got to put my plug and i put my iphone and ask you to download. after the show, we got an 18 minute hits in the last three years. and convenes the top liberal and conservative to write about every aspect of the constitution to write about what they agree about and what they disagree about. you can click on the first amendment or the second amendment or the export and port clause and find 1000 words by conservative and liberal experts about what they agree on and severed statements about their disagreements like the supreme court sentences are concurrent. it's one of the most interesting things i've experienced. there are any causes of the constitution and is the interactive constitution in the app store or online.
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in the college board i'm just doing my plug here, the college board has just agreed to work with us to create a two week course on the first amendment they are going to require all five-minute million ap students not just to bring it ap students but every citizen in america. but i think what it shows, it's incredibly exciting, but the federal society and the american constitution society love working with each other. the scholars, remarkable, this was another extraordinary thing, were able to agree on the statements. there were only a couple of cases where they had a bit of back-and-forth and that is because it turns out there's much more about the cost to send then we are aware. >> a quick,, this whole issue about the information and access. there is a fallacy in america being made here, and i'm a
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troglodyte i'm still trying to program my dvd. but the fact of the matter is the older of the prettiest initial libraries had it right. fdr was absolutely right. he understood that if you are the researcher or what museum call a grazer, a casual visitor, the fact of the matter is whether you set foot in the archives or just the museum, or just the estate, it was all an exhibit. it was all research, you can't understand franklin roosevelt without going to hyde park. and now i would imagine so many of your sites, you now have, you can provide access i supposed to more people than ever before. you can provide a certain amount of information, but to go back to what i said earlier there is no substitute for being there. and i'm wondering whether we are sacrificing that personal experience in the name of
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convenience. >> a great question. my fourth scepter, and i'm to come back to you in just a second. this being covered by c-span and my inclination, i reserved 15 minutes at the end for your questions. so i hope along the way you have been thinking about is you want to follow-up on and there are going to be microphones on the side of the room so please do interactive teddy is so much more interesting to all of us so get prepared ask us a couple of questions of the last part of this. okay constituencies. what i was thinking about was presidents themselves or presidential families, descendents, former cabinet members and their descendents, local and state historical associations, their constituencies, communities with economic interest, universities who have an interest in the institution being well served and being involved academically. that's a lot of people pulling you in a lot of different directions when you're running
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an institution. you have had so much experience at it. there i ran five presidential libraries in 17 years, which tells you right away i couldn't keep a job. [ laughter ] >> neither could the presidents. [ laughter ] >> there is something about those many influences that are pulling on you, and appropriately, you have a new library, it's totally different from an older library you have a living former president. whether he now or knows it or not you are in a play of the national archives would guess what? you work for the president print or the first lady. or subsequent generations of the family. invariably, my experience, the families in the presidential libraries have been absolutely essential to building on the initial enthusiasm. there was no such thing as a permanent exhibit.
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i think of all the libraries, i think the johnson library, are you on your fourth permanent exhibit 1931?? well, the ford is on their third permanent exhibit. and anyway, my last job as you understand why was in springfield illinois. and the constituency was a state, it was the lincoln fraternity, which is the least fraternal organization you ever want to run into. it was the people of springfield. it was lincoln lovers the world over. but ultimately it was the state of illinois. and the valuable lesson i learned was success in illinois government consist of getting out of town before the indictments. not just in springfield. the bipartisan sentiment. but individuals, we can never forget in the end, it's passionate, enthusiastic people who still, whether they are docents or donors, in the case of springfield, the woman that
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julie cellini who more than anyone it else, single-handedly imagined and abraham lincoln presidential library as an "will of the illinois state historical society. she had lots of help. and obviously the state became involved and the government system came in but had it not been for one person, the lincoln presidential library would not exist. now, the problem with that, and quite frankly, they are experiencing this right now, they did backwards. when you build a presidential library, the president, his friends, his supporters, they'll get together, and create a foundation, they raise the money, they build the building and they create an endowment so that you can program that institution long after they are gone. and the paradoxical, the ironical result of the
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grassroots enthusiasm in and around springfield that created the lincoln library was they built the library first, and only then created a foundation. and that is a model i don't think even they would recommend for the future. >> but you have that in places like mount vernon. you know, where well, before that ms. cunningham. [ laughter ] >> absolutely. >> and you know, you had this falling apart place meter. but they were able to bring it together and make it what it is today, because of a couple of people. >> so, the johnson daughters are very much involved in the foundation and storytelling to this day. someone on our call talks about the vehemence of belief when a family member and former cabinet members and like have a
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still active role. so how do you balance that passion that comes from being a family member with the storytelling and dealing with other constituencies? >> in the case of the johnson library, lbj said to tell them at the very beginning with the institution was inaugurated in 1971, he said it is all here, the story of our time with the bark off for friend and foe alike. and, he did not want to direct history to, i think, richard i think you mentioned, someone wanted to open the records, maybe it was jeffrey, they wanted to open the records as soon as possible on reagan. lbj wanted the records on vietnam open as soon as possible. because he was confident he was doing what was right, and he wanted the american people to be exposed to that story. so the good news about the
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johnsons, and i think what makes the lbj library a solid institution, is they've never been heavy-handed about the story that we are telling. >> like the kennedy library. >> will can be different for the different commissions. there's a great story, one of my favorite stories and it may be true and it may be impossible. but richard nixon attended the 1961 inaugural ceremony of john kennedy and the election in 1960. and as he was walking out he rented ted sorensen, one of kennedy speechwriters and nixon said to sorensen, i wish i had said some of those things. and sorensen said, you mean the part where he said ask not what you can do for your country? >> and nixon said no, the part where he said i do solemnly swear. [ laughter ] but the point about that story is every man who takes the office wants to
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put his stamp on the presidency. his unique stamp. and institutions that bear their names after they leave office also have their own, they are all unique institution and the families, too are unique in the staff that they want to make on it. i think it's best when we are not heavy-handed. when we let people tell the story as it was and generally speaking, that reflects well on the principal. >> any comments on constituencies? >> i'm going to speak as a constituency of one, an individual who grew up in louisville kentucky and was taken at age, probably 5 to hodgkins real to the birthplace of abraham lincoln. and as i said last night listening to that beautiful concert sitting in front of the lincoln memorial and there is the miniature version of the lincoln memorial in which they do have a log cabin.
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it was said last night one of the ideas for the lincoln memorial to build a giant log cabin but i remember as a child of 5, not being able to quite comprehend whether that was the actual cabin in which lincoln was born. but in terms of sites and places, i do remember seeing a tree there that they said the street, we know is so old that it was here when lincoln was born. and that was so meaningful to me. and it goes from there to my first trip to hyde park which was just eight years ago. and i love fdr, i love seeing the library in the museum, i love going to the home and going to see eleanor's home. but as we rounded the corner and came to the bedroom, the ranger said this is where fdr was born. i burst into tears. and i didn't even know why. but i realized as i look back it was because my parents and my grandparents and my aunt and uncle said to me as i grew up and got older, fdr saved us. fdr saved us with my bad family
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and integrate depression. and i think my friends were ready to call security [ laughter ] it just says to those of you who are in these sites, no matter whether we are a child coming through or a scholar as an adult, they are so meaningful and as you say, you cannot know, these precedents without going to the site and going to the library's. >> there was a comment made on our preplanning call about the town versus down relationship. and i'm going to ask both jeffrey and jeffrey rosen to talk about that, you got the city of philadelphia with interests in the constitution so you got a board with some high officials on. talk about these relationships in a way that might be meaningful for people who also have constituencies in their communities that they have to deal with? in the same question for you.
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>> present really do think i have the best job in the world, because i wanted an educational institution with no students and no faculties. [ laughter ] in every respect. next to that i need to deal with the name be accountable to an externally board of patriotic philanthropists on both sides of the aisle. and they have the individual needs are responsive and committed to this nonpartisan mission. it's really just an exercise in personal relationships and in keeping people up to date and in understanding what their special passions are, the most important challenge that nonprofit like the constitutional center has is fundraising. we have this inspiring congressional mandate no congressional money which is a challenge. and it is also inspiring, the
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challenge that you think everyone cares about the constitution. but in a tribal, polarized world if you're not going hard left or hard right where you are not plaintive extremes that are trying to bring together what is shared, there is a small but passionate group of people who are able to really support that. so, the most important part of constituency relationships is having a clear sense of mission and never deviating from it. of course it is challenging and in a polarized environment to talk directly and relatively about all constitutional issues in the news. to be able to talk about impeachment, treason, the foreign emoluments laws. but to do so in a way that all sides feel heard, bringing together both sides i'm only talking about the cost to tucson not about politics is crucial. it's also very important word choice. we are going through branding exercises, many people do and
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talking about freedom versus slavery appeals to one side versus the other. or initiating a civil rights exhibit. the different nuances and coming up with language that accurately conveys what everyone can agree on is crucial. we also finally the constitution sitter is at least three things at the museum on independence mall, is an education center online and it's a producer of public programs, america's town halls, happily many on c-span in in philadelphia around the country. so basically, teaching because ultimately that's what all these functions are, americans from 8-80 9-90, speaking about the constitution in many ways that everyone can understand. presenting the best argument so they can stretch and grow and
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learn and be inspired as lifelong learners, that's the special passion and as you can hear the wind talking about the way to do this not to micro target messages to individual constituencies to focus on a group or idea but to spread the light of learning and reason as authentically as you can and be confident that people will respond. >> you know, i think one of the most important things and obviously one of the most obvious when we are talking about town down and the presidential library, whether the board of trustees make it a historical site and private ownership, important thing which is the obvious thing is a sense of trust. which means the people that are running the foundation need to trust the people who are running the organization are trying to do their best job without a political agenda. and the people who are running the actual exhibit need to know that the people who are on the board are there for a reason, because if they share passionately about this issue. it's really quite fascinating to me that in our society a
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great sense of misunderstanding and in ways mistrust immediately based upon occupation, based upon region. i'll give you a good example i am a professor, you will know therefore i must be a communist. [ laughter ] and we laugh because that rhetoric and that mantra is out there in american society. first of all i would like to take a step back and say if you think, not new, the big you, as a professor spent all my time trying to indoctrinate my students. let me see her i try to spend all my time getting my students to hand in their papers. [ laughter ] i wish i had time for that, that would be wonderful. but you need to have a real sense i think that individuals are trying to get the story out and frankly if you don't trust the people you're working with, you should be working with them. >> and on that note there has been a change that was needing
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to go further. and that was for a lot of these institutions, particularly some of the smaller societies which have some very valuable documents, there has been a sense that we are the priesthood. and that these things are just here for the chosen few who are worthy of aiding them. and you dirty public people, don't come in here and touch our beautiful things. that is changing, but it needs to change more. >> one quick thing, i think you have some points about the dangers of micro-portrait of programming and targeting with specific agencies. for example you think of the african-american experience at a place like mountain vernon orme monday kilo. which has literally been transported and which is being transformed as we speak.
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i'm speaking of the sally hemmings quarters but i read about it and i'm eager to see it. it is remarkable that these institutions that are grounded in veneration can find it within themselves to renew themselves and to be contemporary in the best sense of the word. and i will tip my hat organizations like the mount vernon ladies association and the thomas jefferson foundation. they have models i think in a lot of ways. >> they have done it with the slave quarters, justice ginsburg has a beautiful freeze about the constitution being more inclusive. it gives voices to all underrepresented groups and is a great privilege. >> we've got two more defectors and about 22 more minutes. we have touched on it a bit with digital technology and just to pick up on the
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targeting by generations, because you teach and i was just overnight reading a study based on scientific research that says that the digital generations are having brain changes about absorption of information and processing because of living their lives on digital technology. they learn differently, their attention spans are different, and your serving constituencies that learn one way versus people that grew up with traditional books and other access to information. how do you serve both? >> let me say two contradictory things, because that's my job as a professor. [ laughter ] the first thing is i could not agree more with the point that the thing is, i think turning poorly. and in particular in the way that our students are engaging information.
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so, there are legions of studies that demonstrate that winston learning why? because every human being is programmed to go for stimuli. it's true. so consequently we instruct their students increasingly and it's almost become a campuswide policy that you cannot use a computer in class. you actually have to write things down because when you're writing about things you're actually thinking about them in a way that's different than having your computer open. now the difficulty there, i think is that we are also as presidential sites, in the entertainment business. we want people to come to the doors and people want to be entertained and like to be entertained and like flashy things. so the difficulty is trying to find things and ways to get people to come to the door but also to have them take time and stop. because when i think about presidential sites and the books that we write and the oral histories and cnn programs, what i really try to
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ponder is what is the one thing that someone is going to take away? as you put it, people have historical interest, they have gotten through the door. what are they going to tell their friends on monday morning at the office that they learn? or what i think i turned to the spouse that's preparing dinner into you know, i learned something really interesting today. you can focus on getting that one core idea through. and then i think if we can bring people in with the new technologies still remember that human beings are still primed to have memories that are selective, so let's help them select the right memories. >> well, your library does such a great job with the decision room. it's fascinating, you know where they bring them to you the were actually decisions that george w. bush had to make and then you decide that other people in the room can engage with strangers. and it's fascinating. >> was great, is to sit in the back of the decision points theater and watch different crowds of different people choose different things.
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because there is even among people who are staring at computers, somehow a sense of group since develops. and so we actually have people who will in one session say yes, invade iraq. 10 minutes later the next group, don't invade iraq. later the next group says invade iraq and that reinforces the idea that the more people think about the problems of the president the more they come to appreciate the problems. nothing comes to the president's desk enough other people haven't been unable to solve it. >> i think about the decisions with organizing principle got multi platform for communication with audiences all on the same team, i'm sure that is not accidental. >> let me complicate things a little further because we are going back to the town and gown issue. i want to be clear, i'm not taking any credit for decision points theater, i worked for the university that has
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partnered with the bush library on our campus. and the reason i make that distinction is rather important to my mind at least because it shows you have to have people who are promoting a message and then people who still have the scholarly distance, if you will, to evaluate the message. and they can work together and they can work together harmoniously but they also need to remember they have somewhat different jobs. now i will mention the most important thing about having this job is tenure. so i encourage all of you to go to your boards and ensure that you will not be fired. >> we've got about 15 minutes left, anyone think that they might have a question to get in line for and then we will get to them. >> the trick is to use technology to slow down liberation rather than speeded up. the whole system the constitutional system is designed to thought that in large face-to-face assemblies passion triumphs and socrates
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would have been a mob. so the constitution is designed not to allow monster majorities to quickly so that the slow voice of reason can prevail and that is why tweets are so on madisonian because tweets are based on passion and travel faster than the complicated arguments based on reason. on the other hand podcast are a madisonian dream. an hour of wonky complicated arguments that people can listen to in their car or while jogging really gets a tremendous response spreads the light. so technology is a thrill. what an astonishing world we live on were online you can have access to the original records of the convention to all of the c-span programs to the podcast to the interactive petition. but we have to inspire citizens to have habits and discipline so that they are actually watching c-span were listening to the podcast rather than washing videos or what all of
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them do. it's very much an opportunity as well as a challenge and i have confidence we can do it. >> mark u >> i just want to say that we have to remember we are talking about fake news. when our country began, all this media that were available were part of the newspapers. >> right. >> and we had to overcome that. >> in fact that they did first amendment given what the press was like is remarkable. >> so this whole notion of fake news which is ridiculous, by the way, you could say that we have had fake news throughout the course of our history. it's nothing but fake news if our environment is steeped in fake news. >> abigail adams calls the stability of the press, and i deftly think it's a word we have to bring back. they make it eustace travel more slowly. medicines more about maps and newspapers because he thinks that a new class of enlightened
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journalists he calls the literati will use the newspapers to publish the federalist papers and allows reasons to spread slowly over the land. remember the advantage of a extended campus can form quickly. but the slow growth can give reason to triumph. that's the reason a fast and media that travels quickly. >> thomas jefferson said the only truthful thing in the newspaper are the advertisements. >> far be it for me to step on advertisements. quick couple of questions which is funding in the future. announcement by the obama folks that they are abandoning what has now become traditional models of the presidential library is now an illustration of documents, minimum level of foundation work, they are going forward with their own documents will be managed, but for the c-span audience the
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obama library will actually be a visitor center telling the obama story and the records will be separately managed by the national archives, what does this mean for the future? is there a challenge to the entire structure that has been built up? how do you see this playing out, mark? >> that means the paradigm has changed and i think irrevocably. if you look at the presidential libraries they have evolved through time. richards directed five of them, one of which was the hoover library. if you look at the hoover library it is a very modest structure, particularly when you describe it to the george h.w. bush library. they've got far more ambitious. the reason this changes things so much is because the obama folks said the national archives books, you take the records we are going to control the story. we are going to take our institution and we are going to tell the story, we are going to
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tell how the story was without your partnership. and i think that is going to change. i think trump will change it, when he built his library perhaps on the boardwalk of atlantic city, i'm joking, >> maybe. >> maybe but it could be. but i think he is going to want to control his story and he is probably certainly willing to put money to do so i think we have seen irrevocable change. >> consider the dangers inherent in this. fdr invented the modern president, and he invented the presidential library. and it was his notion that there would be a symbiotic relationship between historical activity going on in this part of the building and in the museum. and the two interact. and as we have seen with presidents like harry truman,
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dwight eisenhower, you know that contributes to the evolution of humble scholars and the general public. if you take away the scholarly function, it's no longer presidential library. it may be something else, it may be very useful, and i suspect it will be great success but it's not a presidential library. >> it is unsustainable, too because they've gotten so big and because they've gotten so ambitious, can you ask the federal government to fund them? >> there is a back story here. the fact of the matter is, there are people in the national archives who have never particularly liked the presidential libraries. and over time, both of the libraries on capitol hill have increased steadily the amount of endowment. now, no longer does the family doing not only had to build the building, they have to provide an endowment sufficient to
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cover 60 percent of all operating costs. can you think of another cultural institution in america that operates under that formula? and it's as if they are punishing the institutions that are in the world over, people come to these countries all the time to look at the presidents libraries and see if this can in some way reproduce it in their own. i mean, it was a stroke of genius on fdr's part and unfortunately it is being undone. >> on the guitar questioners in the audience. >> hi i work for the national park service and we are working on a major renovation of the lincoln memorial. to create a visitor experience in the under cross to tell the story of lincoln, but of his legacy of why he was memorialized and how the evolution of that site significant has changed over time. we also have the eisenhower memorial which is being
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constructed here in dc. i am curious about your thoughts about the opportunities and maybe more importantly, the dangers inherent in memorializing presidents as it pertains to preserving the authenticity of the presidents story of their legacy and maybe most importantly, their humanity. >> i'm going to ask you to stick to the panelist so who would like to have respond to that? >> how about cokie? >> will, at 1st i want to say what great job they do it really is terrific. and what you have online historically is really valuable to those of us who write history. and, it's not all rosy glasses. it is truth. and, you keep doing that more, and the education of your
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rangers and other people is just phenomenal. so thank you. and the park service has been under tremendous financial pressure over the last several years. so, that is really, you're doing it under difficult circumstances. >> one of the panels have a comment? >> we are going to do it. so let's just do it right. >> okay. >> and that's also be open to recognizing the that interpretations change over time. hopefully not quickly and hopefully not profoundly but the other sensibility of 2018 is not for sensibility of 1865. >> except for james buchanan. [ laughter ] >> as in pennsylvania. >> you notice there hasn't been another president. >> my name is michael lynch i
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work for the abraham lincoln library museum in eastern tennessee, not the one in springfield. i guess this question is primarily directed toward doctor smith. presidential librarians and some museums and other sites have a very broad man died where we are basically sorry charts with the cradle-to-grave approach that requires interpreting a person within their historical context, the decisions they made, the way they affect institutions and on the other hand looking them as people. their private, domestic life, their hobbies, their relationships. how do we balance those subjects, and should rebalance them? do we should propose one over the other? >> while internally we balance them. there's a curious thing at work here, there's the passion for your subject with a detachment that is required in telling the story. at the hoover library for
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example, one thing that's going in is hoover was involved with a cause of the depression. we created an exhibit at the end of that gallery where you vote on how you think hoover did. and however you vote, you will see a 2-minute video showing you the other side. that's one concrete example of balance. but in a broader sense of the fact of the matters that people go to presidential libraries overwhelmingly, not to learn about the finer points of the caribbean mason initiative, but to have an encounter with ronald or nancy reagan. and don't condescend to that. the one thing is that if you tell the story properly, if you pull people in both emotionally and intellectually which is what any good exhibit or any good story does, then the fact is the ultimate test, the
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question that i would ask of any museum, you want to know what is the measure of success? this very simply when you walk out the door, you walk out wanting to know more. >> i hope we have done that today too. >> hello. first of all the session has been absolutely incredible. you mentioned earlier about your feelings when you were at hyde park. that is how i feel now. because i have always had such a love of history by both of you. cokie, you and thompson, barbara walters, all through the 60s, you know helped me develop the interest that i had to this day in government, in the news, in journalism, getting stories right, attention to detail. so, i thank you for that. >> thank you for citing my age [ laughter ]
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>> i'm not even sure if i said my name. my name is anne-marie bresnan and my husband and i are visiting here from valley forge. we are very near to the park, it's quite possible although not proven that george washington may have slept on our property. but my question is for cokie, earlier you alluded to the fact that when you are interviewing someone, you have the answer. you have done the research. you know you have an idea of what to expect. and all the interviews that you have done have you ever had an experience where you asked the question and the answer you received was quite different from what you expected? >> oh, sure. all the time. but you still need to know the topic, i mean it's kind of like saying to your old uncle, tell me the one about, and then you will get the best from somebody
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because you know that he tells a good story about the one about. and often, while you are on that train of questioning, you don't go in knowing everything, you wouldn't be interviewing except to get a face-to-face. but you learn a minuscule amount. and you are often surprised and sometimes unpleasantly so. >> hello my name is paul, director of the george w. bush childhood home in midland texas. our primary goal is to talk about the bush family during their 10 years or so in west texas. my question primarily for jeffrey engel because you brought it up in your discussion . as a small organization that is not owned, operated, funded by any branch of government, in other words we are trying to be self- sufficient, we have a need to reach out obviously social media, get more interest and
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get more visitors from around the world although we have seen them for pretty much every country in the world in the 13 years we have been open. >> right. >> at you mentioned tourist such as what we give, we want people to interact with this, our docents as we are taking them to the historic home, stay away from social media during that period of time. how do you recommend us joining the need for having that social media interaction and the need for keeping people away from social media during that interaction? >> first of all i recommend you do what i do which is to say you will fail the course if you, that is a really difficult question, let me give you one practical suggestion that leaps to mind. which is make your exhibit not have wi-fi. if you can seal them off in
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some way, i don't know if that's legal these days, jeff, but i think the real key is again to get people to try to focus and you mentioned the docents, and i think the docents are really the key there. because they are going to really have the opportunity to continue to remind people why they are there. they are not just so they can look at something before they look at their email. they are there because they made the decision to reinforce their enthusiasm for having come. this is white so important that you're here. i think that's a good line. >> we have two minutes i'm going to presume is going to be okay to run over just a little bit for last three questions. >> hello my name is michael, i'm visiting from long island and i have been a presidential history buff since i can remember, my entire life. and my question is, for the linden johnson foundation. because of the time when johnson was in politics, he was
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a hard-core democrat, probably if you can compare his presidency to most progressive presidents until barack obama and you know, when he retired his estate was pretty much solid a blue democratic state. but now it's pretty much republican as conservative as can be. so my question is how difficult is it to promote someone's legacy in a political climate that has changed profoundly since the time it existed previously. >> you know one of the reasons why taxes the coastal state and is because of sweeping civil rights legislation, there's a great story about lbj, one of
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my favorites, and he's talking to richard russell, and richard russell is in the news because they are talking about renaming the russell senate building the mccain senate building. richard russell was a mentor, and a friend to lbj and helped him to us and the ranks in the senate. and lb to new when he was endeavoring to pass the civil rights act of 1964 to get rid of jim crow laws and their false promise of sacred but equal facilities he knew that he was going to have to run over to ritual russell his old mentor. and out of respect he called into the office and said you know, take, i'm going have to run over on you this time this time we're going to take it all. we're going to pass civil rights legislation's, that means something to this country. but i warn you if we do, just be prepared. and russell said, mr. president you can do that, i believe you
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can do that. but if you do, you will lose the southern states and the republicans and you will risk losing the presidency in your own right in the election within this year. and hears about this and he says that if that is the price for this bill, i will gladly pay it. and that, i think shows why texas has changed to read as it did the deep southern states and they remain red to the state. but that story also illustrates why we are relevant today. that the inherent drama in that story, you get swept up in the story and in the times. if we continue to tell that's dori, if we continue to show the lasting legacy that was in johnson and that's easy to do, we will continue to be irrelevant engaging institution. >> but you know it's also bunch of yankees that changed it. i actually have a story in texas in 1980 when it changed.
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and it was a bunch of people from new jersey and ohio. and they had basically never heard of the texas democratic party. and they were for ronald reagan. last two questions. >> hi, my name is kate morgan i'm one of the 15th student scholars i am from american university here in dc. and i was wondering if we could kind of pivot back to the topic of technology, specifically in regards to twitter and tweet. so, just kind of delving more into the conversation like how should we preserve tweet. i know this can be directed at mark from the lbj foundation i know you mentioned the shift in paradigm. and something also concerning selective memory. if we choose to only save selective tweets that might serve the idea of selective
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memories. and whose voices are still heard centuries from now? so what are your ideas on how we should preserve those voices? >> thank you. >> may i deferred this to barbara? >>? i may have said something about the shift in paradigm. i would love to hear your thoughts on that. >> i've got, great question, i thought a lot about this for this president tweets. and i view it in several ways. so if we walk in to the miller center's library at uva, we have all of the presidential papers, we have volumes and volumes of presidential papers and these would include speeches but also proclamations and statements in the rose garden and that sort of thing. so, i view them in that way when i'm putting on my objective scholarly hat in
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terms of the presidents tweet, starting with president obama. my next thought is looking paradigm shifts, i think you are using about how technology affects how presidents relate to the public. in fdr, radio in particular and fireside chats. president kennedy and think televised press conference, and both of those presidents seized those moments and perfected that media to reach the american people. now, to get rosen's point about a constitution point about structure i'm living in the. we are living in now, a tweetocracy. when you lay her face bought and twitter aside russian meddling you have a very different quality from what madison envisioned even when he talked about the extent and proper structure of the
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government, because you have presidents directly relating to the people. and so the term social media in a way is a misnomer. medium indicates something in between the people and the government and that has been removed. so, to your point, i think you must be asking as well, what about all the other tweets? what about the people responding to this president? or the other night when i heard that john mccain had died, i tweeted out under my account a clip from a statement that i heard senator mccain make at the smithsonian april a year ago. he was at a john f. kennedy exhibit in which he talked about being on the uss enterprise and the midst of the cuban missile crisis, a brand newly minted fighter pilot thinking he might be going into combat for the first time. well, it turned out there was no comment but he remembered listening to kennedy and mccain was on that ship steaming toward cuba and not knowing what. and he said i remember hearing
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that voice and i remember thinking this was the man for the job. and i remember thinking that night, here is a republican speaking so highly of a democratic president and what those two men had in common, john kennedy and john mccain who almost lost their lives in the service of the country. so i hope that someone comes upon that tweet that i sent out. but to your point i don't know how we save all of them. we save all of them are we select the and if so in what way? >> i think the library of congress started and gave up on that project. >> we are intruding on your coffee hour and i apologize when one last question. spank i am from the hoover presidential library and i usually we are usually forgotten to thank you for talking to us. >> remembered in the wrong way. >> my question is for cokie.
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i actually worked on the first lady exhibit not too long ago and user books, children with adults which was really wonderful and was really discouraged when we start working on the first lady exhibit to hear that when it comes to first ladies there's two things that sell, fashion and food. and i'm wondering >> you're talking about the exhibit at the american history here? >> we did one there and we fell into the trap about how one first lady dress compared to another first lady. the question is how can we have as historians and journalists and people who are preserving the stories interweave the narrative of first lady so we can move away from judging them by what they wear or what they cook and to judge them by what they do? >> susan has also done a great deal of work on the subject. wonderful work. it's fine to sow the dresses which are interesting, i like to see the dresses. but the problem is when the dresses are the story.
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and, it's fascinating, especially shoes, they are really little. [ laughter ] i mean, i'm very disappointed with what they did with the american history museum here. they had a better exhibit at the old museum, you know the old structure. which was about their policies and for martha washington first on, first ladies have had power. and i think the thing to do is to make it very clear, what was her name? mrs. hoover, and she was phenomenal. everything she did you know from the girl scouts on, it was just remarkable. and so i think what you do is tell her story. her close can be there but her story and her influence are tremendous. and that is the the thing to do to make sure that everybody understands she wasn't just walking around in that dress.
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she was also doing something very significant. and that is true of all of them. >> cokie i just reviewed a brand-new book which has an entire series starting with mrs. mckinley on modern first ladies, all done from a scholarly perspective. so gives you more than the fashions in the food. i just reviewed a book by young scholar called jill abraham palmer and is called first ladies and american women and it traces for modern ladies starting with mrs. hoover, the relationship between the first ladies and american history and particularly feminist history. and i think that's the way to do it as well. >> hank you for your attention and for your great questions. please join me in thanking our panel. [ applause ]
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