tv History Bookshelf Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard Treating People Well CSPAN January 21, 2021 8:08am-9:09am EST
certainly not all of the bad stuff. as you say there's so many wonderful days and moments at the white house, and to be there, to work there, to attend an event there is an extraordinary opportunity. >> well, i think that we just witnessed yesterday what happens more often than is usually reported, though it's not terribly common i don't want to say, but when you submit your information to come into the white house, the secret service check it. and if you have a warrant for your arrest, they're going to know it. now, how this idiot showed up at the white house after giving his information and didn't know he would be arrested is kind of shocking and goes to, you know, one of the dumbest, you know,
possible felons. but we would -- sometimes i would get a call, and they would say -- it would be the secret service, and they would say, look, someone on your list is a do not admit, and we don't want you to be embarrassed by their getting here. so i would call the person and often it was like -- i said, did you get a speeding ticket somewhere? well, i got a speeding ticket years ago in georgia i never paid. it doesn't go away. they attach it, and if you're pulled over and they're checking the base they'll see you have an unpaid parking ticket, and i don't want you to come to the white house and get arrested for having a speeding ticket, so it was always scary to get those calls from the secret -- the other thing that happens a lot is people would be stuck at the gate, and i would try to figure out what it was that went wrong, how did the information get mixed up, and then they would
usually say to the secret service or something, okay, i was actually born in 1963, but my husband thinks it's 1958. so they'd have to resubmit the information. [ laughter ] >> i had a particularly bad day when we had an official visit from the chinese president, and i will only tell you the very last part of the horror. it was just as a luncheon was about to begin, and i was approached by a state department employee who said, you know, the chinese always try to push the american translator out of the way, and president bush has to have his own translator, so make sure that doesn't happen. so i walk over to the president's table and people are just slowly starting to come into the luncheon, and i see a chinese woman sitting in the american translator's seat, and the american translator is kind of nervous and says she won't let me sit in my seat. i walk over and explain to her politely that she needs to move over one seat, and i could see
the presidents were starting to come down the hallway and the thing was about to happen so i said to the american translator, when i get the seat open, sit in it and do not leave until the luncheon is over. i pushed the woman's chair forward a little bit. she jumped up and whirled in anger. i could see the chinese- i shoved the american translator into the chair and i was literally saved by the marine band who struck up hail to the chief as they walked into the dining room, otherwise i honestly don't know what would have happened, but that was a pearl clutching moment. >> yes, it sounds like it. we're going to leave everybody with one of your best moments a the each of your white houses, if you can help us out with that. >> you know, at the end of a state dinner or the holiday receptions, it was -- and you would see how happy people were. i remember after the british state dinner, prime minister cameron and his wife turned to
me and said thank you for the most amazing special night of our lives, and you kind of were taken aback like, well, you know, thank you. but it -- moments like that where you see people that had never been there before leaving and they're so happy and excited was always a great, great moment, and i would get the holiday receptions, there were so many we couldn't wait for them to end. when they ended, i was sad because it was the end of a season and it just was so special. >> lea. >> you know, every presidential administration has times when they're up and times when they're down, and as joann can tell you, when you're feeling embattled within the white house, it's a daily struggle to just move on and do the best possible job you can do, and i was in the white house at the time when the iraq war was not going very well, it was before the surge, and the president decided to do a breaking of the
ramadan fast dinner and it's a very complicated did in -- dinner. we were very focused on it. the east room was emptied of furniture, the portrait was covered and prayer rugs put down, and at exactly the moment of the sunset an imam stood in the grand foyer and called all of the guests who were prominent muslim clerics, ambassadors and called them to prayer and invited them to pray in the east room. a number of them went in and closed the door and the prayers went on. i remember standing there feeling so impressed and proud that i was working in this white house where, yes, the war was going terribly and everyone was angry at us and couldn't do anything right, and yet, we were exhibiting this level of religious tolerance to the very people who had knocked down the towers, and we were able to make that intellectual distinction between terrorism and religion,
and i always think of that as my proudest moment at the white house. >> well, many of you know ronald reagan was a man that absolutely understood the extraordinary power of civility in work and in life. he always treated people well, even if he didn't agree with their political views. in fact, he always treated people the same. he did not care if you were the queen of england or the school bus driver. he always said hello to you and if there was time, he asked how you were doing, what was going on in your life, and he actually stuck around to hear the answer and didn't just blow you off. one of my favorite ronald reagan quotes, which was engraved on a plaque on the desk in his oval office says there is no limit what a man can do or where he can go as long as he doesn't mind who gets the credit. it reminds me so much of what is in this book, and i hope all of you have get your copy. it's a great gift for someone in
your life, a daughter, a son, a niece, a nephew, a granddaughter. i hope you all will take the time to do that, and in in honor of that plaque, i have one for each of you today. >> thank you. >> and i want to thank you for coming here and joining us. >> thank you. >> here you go. >> that's so lovely. >> thank you so much. we are going to take jeremy and lea up to the museum store in just a few minutes. we hope you will all join us with copies of your books. thank you all for coming. we hope to see you again next time. >> thank you. thanks so much. weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight historians discuss the role of ethnic and immigrant troops during the civil war. they talk about german, irish, and african-american soldiers as well as the newspapers that serve these communities.
this session kicks off a night of programs from an annual symposium on the 19th century press and the civil war hosted by the university of tennessee at chattanooga. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span3. next on history bookshelf, adrian miller talks about his book "the president's kitchen cabinet," the story of the african-americans who fed our first families from the washingtons to the obamas. he spoke at the 2017 roosevelt reading festival at the fdr presidential library in hyde park, new york.