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tv   Jean Becker The Man I Knew  CSPAN  November 23, 2021 1:37am-2:27am EST

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>> good evening from the flagship building of dc who sits on the ancestral lands of the people's. the archivist of the united states is my pleasure to welcome you to the virtual author lecture author of the man i knew. before we begin i would like to take about two upcoming presidents on our youtube channel will present a program in partnership with us association of former members of congress called can congress reform itself again? the moderator is the librarian of congress panelists include current and former members of
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congress. on tuesday june 15 at noon historian burling game will be here to talk about his new book american marriage based on 30 years of research to describe and analyze the marriage between abraham lincoln and mary tied. the presidential libraries preserves the records but then to hold the highest office of the nation so then a number of them turn to humanitarian causes and advisory roles you'll find those documented in the library as well. after leaving office in 1983 george bush remained in public service and continue to encourage others to make a difference in large and small ways and share decades of experience with his successors and worked faceless leaf are kinder and gentler america
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being with president bush all of his postpresidential years. in the new book them in a new she brings the reader into the room with george bush to give us a close-up look at his work after leaving the oval office. and then until bush's death in 2018. has she been the ringside seat of george herbert walker bush including being at his side when he died in facing the challenge and the great honor to be in charge of his state funeral. previously serving as a deputy press secretary to first lady barbara bush 1989 to 1992 and as a former journalist she is a member of the j william fulbright scholarship board and to see change cancer board
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as well as an ad hoc member from the george presidential library. but then the moderator for tonight's discussion has led on —- has learned as director of the presidential library and museum has more than 30 years of experience of national archives first for the office of the presidential libraries here in washington dc and then with the ronald reagan library in california and now the bush library and museum. he was detailed to the bush white house in 1982 to assist with the move of the bush presidential materials to texas and has been in college station ever since now let's hear from jean and warren. thank you for joining us today. >> hello. >> good evening. great to see you.
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>> that was a kind introduction. thank you also a shout out to our partners in crime at the george and barbara bush foundation. my colleagues found l.a. and then also to the dean of the bush school. and the staff at the library has been so helpful during covid and also to the staff of the foreign just former president's office it's a great organization we belong to and very lucky to be a part of it and part of the life of george and barbara bush for all these years. my first question, you came to the bush office in a curious way. can you talk about you work for "usa today" and you did a diary. can you talk about how that led to barbara bush hiring you
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to work on her staff? >> it is an interesting way to the white house. i was a newspaper reporter at "usa today" for the 1988 election and barbara bush and kitty dukakis both agreed to write a weekly column for "usa today" called campaign diary. man every monday morning and i was there editor. and i was given the assignment i was grumpy about it but it ended up to be a lot of fun. i got to know both amazing women really well. after the election i was very surprised when mrs. push chief of staff offered me a job in the first lady press office. it took a couple of weeks to think about it i love to be a reporter and then my dad said
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what is wrong with you? even offered by the incoming first lady of the united states and you are still thinking about it? he was right and i said yes and the rest is history then i followed them to houston when they lost the election in 92 to help mrs. bush with her memoirs i was her researcher and editor she did write about herself. should want me to say that. the book was done in president bush said to me. will you stay a couple more months. i need to hire a chief of staff. is retired. he said just stay until labor day that was march of 94 and i will hire someone. we never talked about it again. twenty-five years later i said to him sir, i'm still waiting for you to come to my office and tell me you hired a chief of staff and i am unemployed. [laughter]
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>> so 25 years plus working for president bush and you have written this way but. what i love is that it is a book of stories. so tell us why he wrote the book and why people should read it. >> first of all so many great stories it was such a wild roller coaster ride he was funny the whole story the odd couple and he went back to where he was shot down. he raised hundreds of millions of dollars for disaster relief. and then there's just funny stories like he called the
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prince and asked him if he was dead or alive. i knew i had to write about. the american people need to know the heart and soul of this amazing man. in the middle of writing the book it occurred to me there's something a lot more important at work pouring out of my heart onto my computer to talk about him. so this left us a blueprint on how to live life. and someone dies, often able say it is a life well lived. if you want that to be said about you then you need to read this book. president bush taught us how to live life. >> he did. jumping out of airplanes. mrs. bush said it was a great way to go one way or another. >> she was glad because on his h birthday he jumped in
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kennebunkport maine and she said if it doesn't go well we will just carry him inside for the funeral. [laughter] >> today is mrs. bush's birthday we put a bouquet of razor on —- roses at her gravesite just an amazing love story between the two of them and mrs. bush and her scrapbooks. hundreds of scrapbooks 125 or 150 someone at the library made a mistake of asking mrs. bush if she did them herself. remind us of what she said. >> of course she did. >> she started when they first got married. >> i hate to interrupt you have to explain that photo.
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they are part tending they are wranglers and photo they just knew how to have fun.
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sales were the pearl necklace today in honor of her birthday that whenever i word play with pearls she would say quit twirling your pearls so in her honor i did not wear pearls today. i would like to read a letter that president bush wrote that everything you need to know and how he felt about his wife in 73 years. january 6, 1984, with the 49th wedding anniversary, from gh wb will you marry me? that is a thought 49 years ago today i was very happy on that
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day but i'm even happier today. you have given me joy that few men now you have made our boys into men and then by loving them and then to be the sweetest greatest honor in the whole wide world i had climbed the highest mountain in the world. that even that cannot hold a candle to being barbara's husband and said george don't walk ahead but little did she know i was really trying to keep up in new york. i love you spirit that's a great letter. >> i will jump right in and i promise i will let you talk again. but right now people are we being across america with that letter so now i will make them
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laugh so i will wipe away the tears quickly mrs. bush was a good sport with a wonderful sense of humor i think she was the target of most of the practical jokes this is the worst thing he ever did to her. and mrs. bush often told people one of the main reasons she married george bushes he made her laugh. the master practical jokes one of his more famous success stories had to be the day he managed to convince her that she might be going to jail. there is a lot of surprises in the book. during the summer in 1998 it
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came to light that someone in a house is off of mrs. bush's computer. some unnamed teenage grandson was the immediate suspect and to quickly acknowledge the crime and then to lead to the downfall and then a few days with the unfortunate incident a letter from the office of the inspector general from the ftc and it read in part, in doing a routine check it appears you have recently been engaged in downgrading pornographic material we respectfully request you report to their regional office august 171990 at 8:30 a.m. and then is reading through her mail she blurted
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out that she might be going to jail and i was told that president bush managed to keep it together for a few minutes before dissolving into laughter yes he had written a letter with the help of some staff members. so that was part of the secret to their wonderful marriage they knew how to laugh and tease each other. >> tell the story when she comes to visit his room and his hair is all messy. [laughter] >> one week before she died they were both in the hospital but we get word and i'm at the hospital with him and we get word she's headed back in the hospital in an ambulance
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started to take a turn for the worse so they got her settled and they had adjoining rooms and methodist and figured out eventually the other one was there to i think it was by design but they get her settled they wanted to see her she was not in a, but she was somewhere else. she was out of it. she was in a very deep sleep and i hate to be critical of the president but he left off all his hair was standing straight up he was on oxygen in in a hospital gown. that's what we look like if we were in the hospital for five days. that may take him into the
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room and he is just sitting there holding her hand. then all of a sudden her eyes flew open. she looked at him and she said my god, george. you are devastatingly good-looking. [laughter] hate to say it but he was not at that moment but the love of her life and caught my eye and then shrugged as if to say it is what it is. [laughter] but anyway she died about one week later and the bushes lived in a townhouse and their bedroom was on the second floor and the power was out for three hours and he was downstairs when the time was
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near and the secret service carried him up the stairs because the elevator wasn't working and said i have to be there and she died with them holding hands i will love right now to give a huge shout out to their grand daughter ellie. a couple years ago it's called george and barbara bush the great american and love story it is a sweet and wonderful book and i thank you have a story to share with us? >> they came to the bush library and did a lot of research. they were amazing and for the
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tenth anniversary we we wanted to research because we had discovered that amazing with 12050 of them we have been through them all that but not all in great detail so there's one from 1945 and they are going to the scrapbook the open a page and there is an envelope sealed up and it has the names of people who attended the dinner and then inside is the wishbone from the first thanksgiving turkey of george and barbara bush had in 1945 so just lovely and everybody went all at once
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after you read the man i knew. >> i love that story. i would like to point out the library was closed entire time and the head archivist there and the deputy director and then to help me fact check and research this book and also the audiovisual director of the library that you are rock stars is take a moment to thank you that this would not have happened without you. and you help me despite the fact that you managed to dig
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out the fact checking i just that out there. >> so it is amazing the staff that they could do working from home. it is just amazing the great staff they did some great work. so let's talk about this relationship between president bush and president clinton. i heard president bush say one time that i did not like it when he ran against me. but i like him again after he left office and then adams and jefferson were good friends are not good friends and good friends again. but i think president bush and
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bill clinton had a special relationship and talk about a life well served, they did some amazing work. >> and they really didn't we talked about this a couple of days ago because of the national archives. we did want to talk about that relationship that happened with former presidents. there is a great book written by michael duffy. and they really do have a special relationship with each other.
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