Saturday, November 24, 2007

Presidential History Revealed

One of the other reasons I love DC and that there is C-SPAN radio. On the dial, it's right between the two major radio stations WAMU 88.5 and WETA 90.9. C-SPAN is 90.1. Sometimes going from one to the other, a political hearing or press conference will catch my attention. It's raw and unfiltered.

Then there's C-SPAN television. Last night I caught their Friday night series on Presidential Libraries. I saw a fascinating lengthy commercial for Ford, which aired on election eve 1976, with Pearl Bailey and Joe Garagiola. Then Ford himself spoke while on Air Force One. It seemed so unscripted.

I also saw George H.W. Bush tour the new Air Force One. It looked like the one depicted in the Harrison Ford movie. And Eisenhower give a speech at the United Nations on nuclear proliferation.

Finally, and most interesting, was an interview Brian Lamb did with the woman in charge of all the libraries at the National Archives. The most visited libraries are Kennedy, Johnson and Reagan (Reagan has the retired Air Force One at his library). Johnson's library is free; Reagan's charges twelve bucks. The budget for all the libraries is 58 millions, supplemented by about 10 million from various presidential foundations. Kennedy's is the most expensive because its in Boston. The foundations are playing a more active role because of budget cuts (thank you Republicans) and new archivists are only hired when there is a new library established.

She also address the controversy of the Clinton library. She explained the status and noted (as have news reports) that Bill Clinton put about 6 categories off limits until he or his agent had a chance to review the documents. One area is the correspondence between him and his wife (remember her brother's pardon. Did you remember her brothers at all?). Another, for example, is any correspondence he got from previous presidents. The Clintons need to get someone down there to review and release. The National Archivist portrayed herself as an advocate of access.

To check out the C-SPAN series and see what's coming up next (Friday November 30th is all about Clinton), click here. The link sometimes work and sometimes doesn't. Keep trying. If you like history and politics, there are some fascinating gems.

Also the National Archives has created a presidential time line of the 20th century. A fun resource, it can be found here.

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