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tv   National Archives Foundation Honors Laura Bush  CSPAN  November 20, 2018 8:58am-9:36am EST

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>> the national archives foundation present former first lady laura bush with its records of achievement award. the event includes a conversation between mrs. bush and journalists cokie roberts. >> we give this award each year, it's a special can we try to make the award something special significant to the honoree we understand that laura ingalls wilder is one of our arteries favorite authors. in 2017 laura bush wrote in the
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hot arid lands of west texas, try to imagine being surrounded by tall pine trees and heavy snow and, of course, identified with the main character, a blonde haired girl named laura. the 2018 records of achievement award features a handwritten insert by laura ingalls wilder through through a tight script draft of her fifth littleil house novel y the shores of silverlake. this insert was added to an early draft attempt to explain howy mary, laura's older sister come have become blind in the intervening time frame. these are books by the way i have not read. [laughing] but a lot of people have. this insert is part of the collection of the papers at the herbert hoover presidential library and museum.
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and so, what you've been waiting for now, our journalist, best-selling author, the story in her own right and our vice chair cokie roberts will have conversation laura bush about her contributions to our society. we thank you again for being with us. >> thank you, governor. thank you very much. [applause] .. -- cokie: i did love the laura ingalls wilder books, so this is a really wonderful gift. thank you very much, i'm thrilled with it. thanks a lot. cokie: two more introductions before we start. many of your former staff members are here. would you all please stand? we won't see you, but-- >> who was in the video. oh, here they are. [applause]. >> thank you. >> of course, you know how important they are to the work you've done. and the man you convinced to
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start the national book festival, jim billington, the long time librarian of congress. >> he was my partner. thank you so much, dr. billington. [applause] >> he knew i'd started the texas book festival and he called me right after we moved to the white house and said let's have a national book festival. thank you, dr. billington, very much. appreciate it. >> so, we all want to know, how was is the wedding? >> how was the wedding. >> and also i have to tell you, as a reporter, keeping it secret, not good. how did you imagine that? >> i think that barbara just kept it a secret. so few were invited, just our family and craig's family and it didn't include jeb or neil or any of the other uncles. so, it was just a really, just our family. she wanted to get married there because that's where her grandfather is, and she wanted
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to be with him. and so, we had a wedding outside looking at the ocean, and then we went in and had dinner at the dining room table, there were 20 of us at the dining room table and so it was just perfect. so it was barbara and craig, her new husband, who we like a lot, and his family and our family. and the little flower girls were mila, jenna's little girl. emma, craig's niece and the ring bearer was pappy, who was proud to be the ring bearer. and the ring was empty she couldn't really have the ring. so, craig had it in his pocket. >> poppy is the baby, the three-year-old. and during the entire ceremony she walked around with the ring box and it was sweet. >>. >> actually my nephew did lose my ring and it was found my
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president johnson's doctor with a light, so-- >> so it was a lot of fun. we had a wonderful time and it was this weekend and george and i flew from maine this morning to washington. >> well, congratulations to everyone and we were all very pleased to see it, but, as i say, secrets! . [laughter] >> and i was just with you and your daughters and their cousins in dallas honoring barbara bush's literacy heritage and we had a panel of the grandchildren, which was hysterical, but one of the things they revealed when you talk about going in for lunch is that you used to have in kennebunkport taco sundays with barbara bush, and then she died and the kids-- >> as soon as we died we started having hamburger and
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hot dog sundays. and president bush said he never liked those tacos. >> so he put up with them. the last time i was with you on the stage you were here with michelle obama which you've done several times and i want to come back to that in a little bit, but first, i want to talk about first ladies in general because you know, we kind of danced around it a little bit in the video, but it is such an interesting role and an important role, and one that the american people are always kind of nervous about, you know? you've got a lot of power. you can't be fired. [laughter] >> they don't know what you're up to, you know? unless -- except what you choose to tell them, right? and therefore, we create our own kind of stories about a first lady and you said, and i'm quoting you here, our first ladies are much more complicated than they ever get treated in the media.
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i think what happens the story goes up about them, a myth, that people stick to for all coverage of them forever after. and you felt that-- >> of course, i was the quiet reader and librarian and i was that. i mean, there's no doubt about it, but all of our first ladies have been a lot more complicated, and have been very constructive for our country, from the very beginning. >> from the very beginning. >> one of the great myths, they were sitting around pouring tea until eleanor roosevelt or something, makes me crazy. so you've just had at the bush center, which is the library part of it is part of the national archives, first lady special exhibit. please tell me it wasn't about dresses. >> there were a few gowns there, but, no, it was not about dresses and we didn't want it to be with dresses. people love to come see the dresses and we had had a dress show earlier, when the library
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first opened, with some of nancy reagan's clothes, but we wanted this to be substantive because we knew besides wearing lovely gowns that our first ladies had made so many contributions to our country. one gown that was there, i think was interesting, was a mockup of a gown that dolly madison made out of the red velvet drapes that she saved from the white house when the british burned the white house. >> where had they had been saved. >> this was a cope, it was a copy of it, so i think the dress was not saved. but we talked about the contributions that each person had made. it was to show that we did ourselves at the bush library curators came up with and this does gave me a chance to thank the national archives. because the national archives administers the president's papers. the president's papers are seen as belonging to the united states and the archives administer those papers.
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so the national archives is a very important part of the bush library. the museum part, and then of course, the storage of the papers that were there in the bush library and i want to thank the national archives and the archivists, and the archivists are employees of the government. >> you talk about the roles the first ladies played. and you said-- you have a very interesting kind of session with those of us who are historians, et cetera, as you were leaving the white house so i've written down every word. [laughter] >> and you said every time i spoke out about something, even heart disease, i would be surprised again at how many people heard me. and i often used lady bird johnson's quote about the first lady as a podium. and while she was here, she
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said, i have decided to use it and you quoted her often and you did take that to heart, deciding to use it. >> that's right. and of course, we knew lady bird. she was a texas first lady and when she opened the wildflower center outside of boston, george was governor and we hosted on the lawn of the governor's luncheon, the opening of the picnic for the wi wildflower center and we went to the opening gala. and i admired lady bird she thought the way we were in the landscape around our country was enough and it was beautiful as it was naturally. and i like that. >> she didn't like the billboards. >> no, no billboards and that was very difficult to get rid of. in fact, only i think only two states managed it, to not have billboards anymore.
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i was with the governor of vermont, lone republican in vermont, when george ran for president the first time and he said that they had stayed in suit until recently to be able to outlaw billboards. >> but then you started using that podium. at first, for things that you had done before, the book festival, the literacy, you did a big conference on cognitive development in early childhood and on your way to the capitol to testify before the senate education committee, why people thought you were not out there, i don't know, you heard that the first plane crashed into the world trade center. >> that's right, so everything i'd done up to that, the national book festival had been that weekend before september 11th. we'd hosted our first state dinner for mexico, which is where we were obviously neighbors of mexico in texas.
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we expected our, you know, all of our interests in other countries to be centered around our hemisphere, and mexico, and all of those things had happened and i was on capitol hill in senator ted kennedy's office about to brief his senate committee on early childhood education when we got the word that the planes had flown into the world trade center and we thought, of course, when we heard the first one that it was some odd accidents and then we we heard the second one, we knew it was not an accident. so, then, of course, everything changed for me. and the things i'd expected to work on, i still did work on, but then i added other things, like supporting afghan women, and our military, things that i've never expected really to work on. i'd made a sixth grade report on afghanistan, and i never expected to actually go to afghanistan. but i-- >> that surprises me because your name was welch.
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i had to do afghanistan because my name was boggs. >> i did afghanistan myself, we got to pick the country. >> and then you took it off-- well, first of all, i should say, by the way, that mrs. bush and senator kennedy were together, pretty much all day as were you trying to figure out what was going on, and senator kennedy later said, you get to know somebody in a situation like that, and he said, she was steady, assured, and elegant. >> that was me. >> he kept up a steady stream of small talk and he showed me everything in on his office walls. he read me a letter his brother jack had written to their mother who said teddy is getting fat. [laughter] >> and he laughed at it. and i never knew if that was the way he had to deal with the trauma because he'd had so many in his life or if he thought
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i'd fall apart so he felt like he had to keep up this, you know, small talk and then senator judd gregg the minority chairman of education committee joined us from new hampshire and one of our best friends, still one of our best friends. we see him a lot. going to see him and have dinner with him next weekend when they'll be in dallas. his son has moved to fort worth. and judd and i would sort of look at each other while senator kennedy talked, and told stories, and told us things about his office and so, i don't know if he did it because that was just the way he reacted or if he thought he needed to for me. >> right. >> but anyway, then we went out to talk to the press, and tell them that obviously, the briefing had been canceled. postponed, we were already, you know, you're not going to stop us, we're going to do it later. and he changed his whole personality became very serious
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and perfect for the press, really, under the circumstances. and then i did brief the senate committee a couple of months later. >> but you said, i grew in both my realization that i had a podium, but also in my expertise about some international issues that i didn't come to the white house with. and that really did change a lot of your focus. and you went to afghanistan, i think, three times when you were in the white house? and you took on more and more. i think you went to 76 countries? >> that's right, 76 countries. >> while you were first lady. africa, asia, the middle east. p petfar, savings millions of lives in africa. and talking about breast cancer in the middle east where it wasn't talked about so it couldn't be treated. heart disease, all of it.
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>> gosh, i did a lot. [laughter] >> you did a lot. and actually, that was a great dress exhibit, the first lady's red dress exhibit on heart disease. but you did also-- and this was one that always just gobsmacked me, i have to say, take on the military government of burma. big time. >> i did. i was a secret friend of suchy and send her things and get her things like seaweed, she liked to eat it or drink it. and i always sent her a book that i liked that i thought she would like. so during all of those years, i had this friendship with her and took her various items and paid attention to her. when we left. she was under house arrest for
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all those years. by the time we left she had been able to be the leader of burma. now, as we're watching, we don't know what to think. i don't know if the military, who always really were the ones that were in power during the whole time, even though she'd been elected president, i don't know if it's the military thing or if-- and she's compromised by the military, i'm not sure because i'm not in contact with her anymore. >> but you went to the press room, the briefing room, you were on your way to jenna's wedding as i recall. had a few things to do on the home front, but went into the press room. now, no first lady has ever done that before or since. you grabbed the microphone and basically you said to denounce the military rule in burma because they were not responding to a cyclone they had not accepted american aid and yet, you were described as
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prim. [laughter] >> so how do you account for that? >> i mean, in a lot of ways, i think it is how we treat first ladies, in isn't the little first lady nice. >> did she makie cookies. >> and i think we think of lady bird johnson, one of the founders of the environmental movement and people said isn't it nice that she liked flowers? >> she hated the word beautification, in fact. but you kept at it after you left office of keeping these causes going, particularly afghan women, but also in africa, and i want to come back to you and michelle obama together, because you have -- you had convened first ladies of africa summit, which in itself was just wildly
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interesting, but then you discovered that the obamas just happened to be on the continent at the same time as you and you invited mrs. obama to come. >> that's one of the things we've done through the bush library and that is this first ladies initiatives. working with first ladies who, in many cases, in many parts of the world, don't have the sort of platform that american first ladies have, and we've worked with first ladies to give them the chance to build that kind of platform because they can work on issues that their husbands aren't working on. and the very first thing we did was an african first ladies conference when we were in africa and we worked with the first ladies themselves, but also, our staff worked with their staffs to try to figure out ways to try to set up their offices so the first ladies can be more effective because when you have both leaders, the husband and the wife, working, you can do twice as much. so the first african first ladies conference, we hosted in
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africa, and michelle obama was there, so she could come to it. >> well, but it was better than that. [laughter] >> because i had the great honor of being the person to interview the two of them together. i got a call from the bush center saying can you be in tanzania next week and i said no. and then my husband said, why not? [laughter] >> so off i went, and there were the two of them and it was pretty small. it was such an important symbol for the first ladies of africa, to see this-- >> well, that is a symbol because in many cases they would never-- and they said this, never speak to the leader that was before them, because they were corrupt or there was some other reason. they wouldn't have that continuity that we have with our former president and former first ladies and it's kind of like a club, you know, just like the national governor's association gives you the chance to be with other governors and their spouses, and you know, gives you a
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chance to know what's going on. it's really very helpful, i think, for first ladies to be together. and for-- and i think it's a great example, both for americans to see, and for other people in other countries to see. >> but i remember when i asked at that point because you had basically said to mrs. obama, come and do whatever you want to do, right? you can make a speech, you can-- and she could have hijacked it, frankly, right? >> she wouldn't have. >> i know, and you knew that. and she wanted to be in a conversation with you. and i said, as i was having the conversation, mrs. obama, you wanted to be in this conversation with mrs. bush. why? and she reached out her hand to you and said i love this woman. and it was such a moment of just, you know, making you feel good about the country. and then you did it again here
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the following year. and brought the african first ladies here. >> during the unga in new york when their spouses were in new york for the general assembly, we thought, we hosted it then. >> and then you and mrs. obama did an event here, i think just this year, or was it last year? two years, oh, my goodness, time flies. [laughter] >> this is what happens when you get old, you think it was-- she was first lady. >> but it was on military spouses and so do you continue that work together? >> no, not really. not since they left. it wouldn't mean that we wouldn't at some times continue to do something together, but not really. we've mainly seen them, as you know, at funerals, which where there was, you know, press about the fact that president bush-- >> gave her an altoid.
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>> host: that was considered, i don't know what. >> i don't know why that was so fascinating. >> but you do say there is this bond among first ladies for sure. >> yeah, i mean, everyone knows-- the first ladies know what it's like and they are a friendly with each other. maybe they wouldn't be friendly if they'd run against each other. >> although the presidents end up being friends, too. >> the presidents do, too. i rather actually interviewing president bush 41 soon after he left office and he said i can't imagine that i'll ever be friends with clinton the way that ford and carter are. and then he became a fifth son. >> well, of course, that speaks to now president bush is, which is so great and he's so courtly and he's so, you know, that's just how he is, that he would be friends with anyone. he would never have a feud with somebody that beat him, you know, in some way.
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>> i might have. >> or bar would. >> not really, she wouldn't either. >> well, i wanted to talk a little more about bar, your mother-in-law. >> okay, let's do that. i wanted to tell you all some things about her. one thing at her funeral, which was perfect, i don't know if you all watched it, i think it was televised, but she had planned it all and it was really great and she got to do what no one else gets to do, she had put out the word she was not going to have anymore treatment and everybody started writing her obituaries before she died and she got to read them and they were laudatory and she asked jon meacham if he'd speak and he said, i've got it ready, do you want to hear it? >> she was in so much pain and she didn't care and ready to go
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on. but when we had the funeral in houston at their church, st. martin, then we drove to college station where their grave site is at the bush presidential library texas a & m university. so, we drove there and we had a police escort and they just would stop the cars at the access roads before they got on, they didn't really hold up a lot of traffic, but we'd look down at the access roads and those texans would be out of their cars and those texas men would have their cowboy hats over their hearts. it was really, really sweet. and then when we got to texas a & m, we walked with the casket by 700 saluting texas a & m cadets. it was really lovely and it was perfect for bar. >> it was perfect in every way. i mean, i was covering it on television and you know, weeping my way through, but happy tears because it was-- she was ready to go and--
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>> told your husband-- >> george called her. she had fallen and we had been in however, the crown prince of saudi arabia had come to the u.s. so he wanted to meet with george and his dad so we went to houston and had lunch with him, he has ended up being slightly-- we're kind of worried about him now, but anyway, while bar was in the hospital because she'd fallen so george and i went by to see her. so when we got the word that she was not going to have any more treatment we didn't try to go down to houston to see her, i think the other kids did, but we had just seen her so george culled called her and said, you were a wonderful mother and i'm so glad you were my mother and thank you for everything and said i love you. >> she said i love you, too, george and she said, you're my favorite son, on the phone. [laughte [laughter]
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>> she stayed funny and quick till the end. >> and told the nurse or doctor, whatever, he turned out this way because-- >> and when we had gone to see her after we saw the crown prince, we didn't really-- we didn't realize she was about to die, even when she said she wasn't going to have any more treatment we were planning on going to maine and where she would be because-- which bedroom she would be in and we didn't know it was really that soon, but when she was in the hospital when george went to see her she said you know what? to the doctor, you know why george turned out the way he did? and the doctor said, no, why? >> because i drank and smoked when i was pregnant with him. [laughte [laughter] >> she was always bad. >> so i guess we should end on a somewhat serious note. [laughter] >> about civic education because it's something you care
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deeply about and you know that our children don't learn it and the numbers are just horrible of what people don't know. and you know, the-- it is wonderful when we have niece naturalization ceremonies here in front of the constitution and the bill of rights and the declaration of independence, those people have actually all had to learn. >> know it, exactly. we need to teach it more. i think we went through sort of a stage where we were embarrassed about ourselves. like we were trying to act like we're better, or something. but the fact is, we're so, so lucky, to have inherited the institutions that we inherited, and all the ones that support our democracy and it's really important for people to know about and to be proud of it. why not? >> right. >> be proud of it. one of the things we're working on with women from tunisia and egypt and we started with-- at the bush institute with those women from those two countries because they were the
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two arab spring countries. but they don't have the institutions to support a democracy. and it's been very hard in both countries to sort of slid back, and we inherited those institutions. we didn't have to do anything for them. we were just lucky to get them. and it's really important, i think, for people know to that and to know about them. the reason we can have a democracy a because we had those institutions. the free press, the independent judiciary, i mean, all the things that we have. so, i think it's important that we teach that. and we need to go back and not be embarrassed about teaching it. >> and on the test. >> they need to get it on the test and if it's on the test, they'll teach it. >> host: right. >> exactly. >> well, thank you for all of your teaching the many years and the wonderful work that you continue to do. >> thank you very much. >> and congratulations. >> and thanks to everybody. thank you for your support for the national archives. i encourage you to give more to the foundation. [laughter] >> thank you all very, very
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much. [applaus [applause] >> laura, laura and cokie, thank you for allowing us to enjoy your conversation and laura bush, thank you for your service to our country and for helping build a better world. thank you. [applause] now i will -- we are going to do some photos, invite all of you as we finish the program to join us upstairs in the rotunda galleries for our gala dinner. our annual gala dinner. thank you again, all of you, for coming. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> book tv programming continues for the next two nights followed by a four-day thanksgiving holiday weekend. tonight books on the financial world and the economy start with capitalism in america, by alan greenspan. and "noncompliant" and "chaos", book tv on c-span2. >> coming up thanksgiving weekend on the c-span networks.
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on c-span thursday 8 p.m. eastern, sneak justice elena kagan followed by chief justice roberts, and chris christie discussing the opioid addiction. and favorite photographs on the campaign trail. sunday 6:30, gun laws and self-defense. en book tv c-span2. retired general stanley mcchrystal talks about 13 great leaders. and after words, political writer derrick hunter. saturday 8 p.m. eastern, pulitzer prize winning war photographer talks about photos she's taken in the middle east. sunday 9 p.m. after words, pulitzer prize winner and to
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antonio vargas and celebrating the first thanksgiving in 1619 at jamestown. friday on the presidency, reflections on former first lady barbara bush. on lectures in history how the pilgrims became part of the founding story. >> and phillip bobbet and ar mar talks about impeachable offenses for the president. thanksgiving weekend on c-span networks. networks. >> we're live at the brookings institution this morning for a discussion with mexico's ambassador to the u.s. and a former u.s. ambassador to mexico, and assistant secretary of state. we're expected to focus on the border situation and the state of u.s.-mexico relations, looking how it will impact trade between the two countries. live coverage here on c-span2.
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