I might be misreading the national mood, but it feels like more people are interested in the presidency — historically speaking — than in recent years. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that President’s Day isn’t about selling cars anymore.
So, here are three suggestions for the day.
1) Check out this video, which I found on Hulu. The historian notes that the presidency wasn’t originally supposed to be at the front of the legislative parade.
It makes you wonder why we never got around to having a “Congress Day.”
2) Gary Eichten’s interview this afternoon on Midday interview with Ronald White Jr. is not to be missed. So if you missed it, go here. The Lincoln biographer even tackles the subject of the Dakota uprising. White doesn’t exactly give Lincoln a free pass for the Mankato executions (which we talked about here last week), but he says people in Washington simply didn’t follow what was going on out here. It was a great interview which, like many great interviews about history, leads us to more questions.
3) NPR’s Talk of the Nation today featured Edna Medford, professor of history at Howard University in Washington, D.C., who analyzed C-Span’s Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership.
It was the phone calls from listeners that got my attention .
From someone who said Richard Nixon was her favorite president: “I still don’t know what the big deal was about Watergate.”
From someone who said Lyndon Johnson was his favorite: “He drove the white southern Democrats to the Republican Party.”
There are so many different ways to go in discussing either one of those choices. During the show, only two presidents who served during my lifetime weren’t mentioned by callers: John Kennedy and George H.W. Bush. But at least they’re not James Buchanan. Here’s the survey