tv History Bookshelf Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard Treating People Well CSPAN January 21, 2021 5:52pm-6:55pm EST
former white house social secretaries lieberman and jeremy bernard talk about their book treating people well, the extraordinary power of civility at work and in life. they share stories from the white house and their thoughts on professional and public civility. ms. berman worked for the george w. bush administration
and mr. bernard for the obama administration. the ronald reagan presidential library and museum hosted this event in june 2018. >> it is a real treat for us to have not one but two former white house social secretary is with us today. and i'm sure they are very grateful that they did not have to execute this white house luncheon. one of our guests today is a democrat. one is a republican. they are not afraid to be friends. they support one another, and they even show up in public together. imagine that. originally from a small town in ohio, lieberman served as white house social secretary from 2004 to 2007 under president and mrs. george w. bush. prior to, that she was chief of staff to second lady lynne cheney, and before that social secretary to vice president cheney. when asked how she landed those jobs, i believe she will tell
you she was in the right place at the right time. having known of her for many years, i can tell you that she was most assuredly qualified for all of those roles. as she tells, it she has been an event planner her entire adult life, including as a wife, full-time mom to two now adult daughters, and a couple of dogs. she hosts a daily blog called america's table, which i now have secretly book marked on my own computer up at my desk. it offers up hints about travel, home life, cooking, and food, glorious food, and tips on entertaining and etiquette, which she says is not just about knowing which fork to use, but about treating each other with kindness, even and especially, in the anonymous abyss of the internet. our second guest today originally hails from san antonio, texas, but now is a fellow southern california. jeremy bernard served as the
white house social secretary under president and mrs. obama from 2011 to 2015. serve house, and while that was big news at the time, he managed to keep a very low profile in order to do his job, which as all white house staffers are advised, is to serb the president and the first lady of the united states of america, not yourself. he earned a reputation for being affable and extraordinarily efficient, managing literally hundreds of events with a very young staff, and there i say it, a lot of laughter. before serving in the obama white house, he earned his stripes as a campaign fund-raiser for presidential candidate barack obama, and then was rewarded with a job as the white house liaison to the national endowment for the humanities. from there, jeremy served as a senior adviser to the u.s. ambassador in france. after being in the right place at the right time, he landed
his role as the white house social secretary. it's a real pleasure to have them with us today, and i hope you will be ready to ask them some questions later. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming former white house social secretaries lea berman and jeremy bernard. [applause] [applause] >> thank you. >> we are going to get settled in, and before we get to the book, i am sure i am not the only one in the room who is very interested in your backgrounds. so can you tell us, how do you get to be the social secretary of the united states? >> it is very different for every person who has had the job. traditionally, they were daughters of governors or senators, or their families were in politics with some very formal aristocratic way, and it
has not been like that for sometime now. jeremy and i can serve as examples of that. i grew up on a small farm in ohio. i went to washington after college and i worked at the center for strategic and international studies, which was georgetown's think take. then i was a full-time mother. it was the best possible experience to be a social secretary. after that, a friend of mine said mrs. cheney was looking for a social secretary, you should talk with her. that's kind of how it happened. i found myself going from the car pool line one day to learning how to use the white house email system and learning how to clear people into the vice presidents home, working with the secret service. it was a big learning curve, but i also felt very fortunate that i got pushed back into the workforce. >> i had just moved to paris to start work for the u.s. ambassador, and i got a text
saying would you be willing to throw your hat in the ring for this job. and i thought sure, so i went to washington, d.c. and had meetings with all the senior staff in the west wing. and then as i was going to the east wing to meet mrs. obama, i realized these meetings are going really well. but what am i getting myself into if this was to happen? and after mrs. obama and i were talking a, bit i said i need to be honest with you. i am not good at arranging flowers, and i don't know china patterns. i'm not sure i'm the right guy for this job. she said don't worry about, it people will help with that. i need someone with good political judgment. and how do we get more people that have never been here into
the white house? so it was surreal, because it has never been a job i expected to have, but i loved, it and it was very exciting. >> i am interested. most white house staffers don't actually interview with the boss. they interview with the boss of the boss. however, you to actually interviewed with the boss. i'm interested. what are the standard interview questions? >> i was asked to come see mrs. bush in the family residence. i had only ever been in that part of the white house once before, and i was dazzled. there is a big fan window that you see on tv about the white house and the sun was shining in and everything was beautiful and the artwork was amazing and mrs. bush was so warm and welcoming unpleasant. she started talking about the job as if i already had it. she said i want to entertain a lot more, need you to work with the chef because he has got
some issues, and it was almost like a list of things that i should expect to do. and i went in thinking maybe i was talking to her about this and going to recommend someone else, and i was so dazzled that i honestly she said we need an upstairs made, could you take that over? afterwards, i came out when i said wow, i have a job. >> the interviews in the west wing -- with one adviser after another, they were relatively brief. 15 minutes. the president was very brief, very reassuring. mrs. obama, the interview lasted over an hour. i can honestly say when i left, i had no idea how that went. i did not think it was a disaster, but i felt when i was in the west ring, i knew it was out of the ballpark. i called my mom on the way back
to the hotel and i said, this is a day i will never forget, i had meetings at the white house. and i interviewed with the first lady and the president, this was an amazing thing, i will remember always. i kind of assumed, i would not get the job, i went back to paris, and i didn't hear anything, i did not see all the articles that were in washington. when i got a call a couple weekly tour, saying will you fill out this paper work, i know you have security clearance but just in case, would you fill this out? the answer to think, maybe there was a chance. but i was surprised when i got that call. her, she was a good interview or, she was not tough, she just has a good poker face. i had no idea. later she told me, i knew from the moment we started talking you are going to be the social secretary. >> they say you know in the first five minutes. >> i did not, no. >> okay, let's talk about this
new book that the two of you have coauthored. you titled it treating people, the extraordinary power of instability at work and in life. i want to tell us, how did you go for being the top social how dark at the white house, how did this book come about, and whether distinctly political views, how did you decide to read it together? >> well, we have been friends since we met. there was a wonderful network of former's white house social secretaries in washington, they get together regularly, and they provide themselves as a resource to whoever the current social secretary is. when jury me became a social secretary, we met, we just click. we stayed friends, it was very helpful to me at the time the are started as social secretary to be talking this embryo lake letitia ball george who worked for jackson county. and a half or tell horror stories of things that were about her when she was a social
secretary. for example, when she first began, mrs. kennedy told her that she wanted a french chef in the white house. touch had heard about this wonderful french chef that worked in the french embassy in london, she called and offered him the job. the chef reported this to his boss, the french ambassador, who reported it home to the palace, the french are very offended. she found herself early in her career being called into the oval office carpet by president kennedy, said under no circumstances which she approach any french chefs. on the other side of the coin, she had mrs. kennedy saying i want french chefs. a typical social secretary maneuvering, she found a mother french of, she worked with immigration and customs, and she had him made a u.s. citizen overnight. so mrs. kennedy got her french chef, but she did not violate president kennedy's role that i have to be an american citizen. >> the good old days, when you
would do something like that then overnight. it is a great resource, i would call on lee, gayle, who works for reagan. i would say, does this ever happen to you? they said oh yes, this is what's going to happen. it was not the magic answer all the time, but there was comfort in knowing that others have went to the same wormhole or miserable experience. i hate to tell this one, but i will make it as pleasant as possible. but i said did you ever have problems with holiday receptions with people getting sick? and the eggnog at the white house is very strong. >> really strong. >> it hits really quickly. you are drinking it and said this is nothing. then the third one and you are
-- what would happen is people would be drinking, drinking, and it suddenly hit them, and they would feel themselves getting sick, but they did not want to get sick on somebody else. the immediately went towards one of the christmas truce. they said, we have vomit trees, how many would get hit? it was always kind of a game to figure out how many trees would get decorated by visitors. a lot of it was not they have the answer, it was more like don't worry, this is happened before. >> politics did not matter, we had similar experiences. however, different administrations meant that we ve worked in, we changed by the job because we were focused on making sure that all of the events go smoothly, that they all reflect the style and the policies of the administration of the president and the first lady. that may as very conscious of getting everything right so that we do not do anything that would embarrass the president
and the first lady in the worst possible thing being in the news, for a negative press story. that's how we came around to writing the book, we realized, we learned so many of the same things about getting along with people who more effectively, so that we can make sure our events fluid well, and people felt happy and welcome. >> to give credit, i had dinner with a mutual friend of ours sam roberts a reporter at the washington post, she said over dinner, you are close to all the former social, but you are especially close to me. you guys should write a book together, nobody is not going to buy that because of bush, we're not going to buy it because of obama. u.s. have coverage. i thought, that was a great idea. it took us a while to figure out what's a right, we did not want a book about entertaining ways. there was a member.
it did take a little time to figure out what's to right, but what we really figured out was what booked we wish we had had before we had started this job or any job. a lot of it is common sense, but it helps when it is stalled out. >> that leads 9zyñúnráñ next question, i think you just co=!d it, it is a good book to have for your jobs, but i can honestly tell you it is not just for the jobs of the white house social secretary. it is filled with great stories, little hints. wonderful little tidbits that apply to all of us, every day, whether you are a stay at home mom, or you are the ceo of a company, or you are somewhere in between. i will say, the first time i looked at it i said, civility is not really a sexy topic. but i have had people say that this is not your grandmother's endecott, i had even read where people called it -- let's face it, we all a little
dish now and then. i'm hoping the two of you could each tell us the most fruitful behavior you witnessed in your white house case. feel free to leave out names if it helps you tell the story. we will start with you, jeremy. >> there is a lot of them. one is that gilbert in had worn me, at one point and all administrations, someone that is an entertainer, and was scheduled to perform will cancel at the last minute. you had no contract because they were doing it for free, and you are not paying for anything other than sometimes the transportation and the hotel room. so, it was just their word that they were going to show up. i thought, that is not going to happen, we have no problem get the entertainers. well, a week before one of mrs. obama's favorite events at kids
state dinner, which is really a lunch, but it is for kids. i got a call that the entertainment for this person to appear, they needed to have a private jet for all of the backup dancers as well. there were 60 people, 60 people we would have to throw some of the kids out. the east wing was not that big. they demanded -- the demands were outrageous. i said, we can never do this, if we could do this, it would be bad press for both of us. i said well, we will have to try to make it happen at the time. i said, let me make it real clear, we will never pay, the white house would never pay for entertainment. that was the worst, telling this obama because of course the feeling was, how did that happen? what did you not tell? i had texted mrs. obama, i got
a text back saying talk to barack. he will have some ideas. >> she said that very casually, kept obama. >> i passed susan rice, i went into can we talk about the kids state dinner? he said oh, maybe there is a plane a military plane is coming over us. i said he wanted 60 people. we look into it, but was the? show the lion king -- flanking. the lion king was at the kennedy center. so we have been camper for. even that, when i talk to the president about it he said that was a good i see idea. you will tell mrs. obama? it was awful. but it was really a shock that someone would commit to performing, especially someone
at a kids state dinner. i don't want to say the name because -- >> those other rules. >> it was terrell williams. >> i want people to believe we are not paying, taxpayers are not paying for entertainment. and the white house. >> i'm sure you have a good one. >> i have to say the most difficult guests were members of congress. a sense of entitlement there, whether it was an individual senator, or the entire congressional picnic, i have negative memories. i remember we think degree a senator who is coming to see president bush at the family residence. i saw him pull up to the north critical, he opened the door, and i saw him take the bottle and drink something and start motion around and his mouth and spit it out on the steps that the white house. and then he stumbled up, he was clearly very drunk. i took him up to the meeting, i thought that was fairly appalling. but then, you go to the congressional picnics which our annual, very painful thing.
it is all members, and their spouses, and their immediate family. they all defy the rules, they show up with not just their kids but with the tenant that they just hired that day, they were at the gate. they would be very angry that all of the guests cannot be cleared and immediately. we have rules we have to follow. name, date of birth, social security number, place of birth. all of that information must be fed to the secret service, then they have to come back to us and say yes, they can come in. there was no way we can control that. they will be very irate. they come into the picnic, which is almost 1200 people, and it was always very hot, and they would just smother the president and the first lady and surround them. it was quite and pleasant for them. they would be out there for hours, and hours. many of them would be over served as we would say. they would have trouble finding the porta-potties. finally, they would all sort of stumble home with the centerpiece is tech under their arms.
we are thinking, good riddance! i'm so there are wonderful members of congress, they are not the ones to stand out. >> it is funny because, talking with my predecessors, everybody had the same reaction and it was the most viewed event every year was the congressional picnic. it would happen in the summer, it is hot, there were so many people to your point, a liberals leaving the senate starting to go down, kind of pushing people along and it was time to leave, i remember one congressman kind of heading towards the food warmer. i think, what on earth? i think you think it is a porta-potty. there was a moment where bad jeremy said oh, just sit back
and watch this. but, i got a hold of him, said oh sir, the exit is over there, if you have to use arrest him you have to go inside. and he stumbled on out. are still go back and forth of whether i should have let that happen. >> with a double on your shoulder. >> i think a lot of people that the social secretary was meant to deal with the politics of an event. that is certainly one of the toughest jobs that is never discussed in an interview, and certainly not on the job description. but it seems to me that it is not so much about politics but about people as we have been talking about. so, this time i wonder if u.s. have a little story, and we do want names this time of one event or an occasion during your white house that give us hope that people can be good to one another.
lea berman? >> my favorite story, i will say generally i go back, for most people coming to the late white house is an important milestone in our life. they tell their family about, and they want pictures, they want to take on paper napkins with the presidential seal. they are proud of it. my favorite thing was watching people enter the white house for the first time. they look around at the portraits and the columns, and you can just see them thinking, i share a common heritage as an american with all of the people that lived in this house. and they often become very emotional. it is just a very lovely reinforcement thing to say, see this kind of pride in america and i am sure that every social secretary has seen that many times. >> most of the experiences, it's fun to talk about the negatives, but there were positives. i will never forget. we had the portrait unveiling
of the bush family, george w. and laura, at the white house. and we had a lunch for the family beforehand and in the ceremony. and then about a week later, i got a handwritten letter. or a bush's office had called my office to say laura wants to send something to jeremy, but if someone sends something to the white house, if you ever get, it it takes a while. also, anything that goes to the white house becomes a public record. she wanted this delivered to me. i got home one day and had this beautiful handwritten note from mrs. bush saying how welcomed they felt and how she noticed what's china i used, their personal china from upstairs. she noticed everything. she think the chefs for making enchiladas, which is one of president bush's favorites.
it just takes a moment to write the no, but it's thoughtful, and it really means a great deal. >> that is in the book, one of the topics in the book. going through, it being consistent, having self confidence, using humor and charm, you call those the great equalizer, being loyal and honest, listening first and talking later. those are a few of the 12 practices they are both illustrating in the book as the cornerstones of the art of treating people well. they all sound obvious, common sense. but not all of them come easy to most people. i'm going to ask each of you. if you had to choose just one place to start, which practice would fall at the top of the list, and why? jeremy? >> the top of the list, because of the times we live in now, we have a lot of benefits of technology, getting information so quick.
i feel like because of becoming accustomed to the immediate response, sometimes people don't step back and really listen. listen firsthand speaker last is one of the chapters in the book. it is hard at this day in time to get someone to listen to someone else. when i see someone in a store and they are on the headset talking to someone and they are at the cashier or something, i find it's so unbelievably rude, because they are not even acknowledging the person across the way, but it has become very normal these days. i think it's one of the more important things for these times. >> i agree. i also think humor is an incredibly powerful tool.
we often say i am not naturally funny or naturally funny, but all of those are learned behaviors. while there are people who are naturally funny like jeremy, there is those like me who need to find a way to learn that. our most favorite on beloved presidents, and it's perfectly fitting to be talking about ronald reagan todaymzçusç. i have a story that i tell, that is probably apocryphal. we can't prove it happened. it's a story reagan riding horses with queen elizabeth in windsor park on a visit to england. at one point, the queens horse had a prolonged bout of flatulence and she said it's okay. he said, that's okay, i thought it was the horse. that kind of humor relaxes everyone. makes them happy. to be an individual who can sit in an intense meeting and say the correct funny thing that
makes everyone relax and be able to work together, that is a very powerful thing. >> that's great. i cannot confirm the story. it sounds just like him, though. i am going to go with i think that's true. we will open it up to questions in a minute. i want to ask each of you, without getting yourselves in trouble politically, is there one person in washington, d.c. today you would like to have read your book? and if he or she only has time for one chapter, which one would you recommend? >> i would like to give it to virtually everyone in washington, d.c., especially congress and the press. there is a built-in animosity and i think that bad behavior is, unfortunately, very, very contagious. and when you see someone acting rudely or inconsiderate, it
seems that it's giving permission. one of the things we felt very early is that it takes a conscious effort to be nice, to be kind in this world, because there are so many things that go contrary to that. even though it's fairly obvious, and even when we were writing the book, i live in l.a. now. someone cuts in front of me and i say don't honk the horn. don't scream. unless they are putting your life or car in danger, what does it matter? it will take another 30 seconds. but it took a real conscious effort because my reaction was kind of what i had learned, and that is to scream, honk, and curse. >> which doesn't work. but it might make you feel better. we are going to open this up to questions. we have someone with a
microphone, so please wait for the microphone, because we are live streaming. >> i have a very shallow question. when people ever come to dinner at the white house, do they ever lift the silverware? >> it has been known to happen. >> you know when they do it? >> there was some beautiful old silver that's engraved saying the president's house. we stopped using it because we didn't have enough pieces to use it, because it had been taken. but now we use something you would see at any caterer, so that there is less desire to take it. >> president obama would actually say at holiday parties, take the napkins, take the towels downstairs in the restrooms, don't take the silverware. because it's rented. it's not from here. it's somewhat natural.
lea told me about this, for the name plates, it is an eagle, area tract of. and guests would take it, so i was told early on to pick up those before desert, because most people don't think about it until it gets towards the end. one of the problems was, when we would be short, there was no budget to buy that. it was like pulling teeth, and they were 50 dollars each. but if we were short, it wasn't like we would just get the slush fund to pay for it. we really didn't have an account to pay for that stuff, so it was not just that we wanted -- but we really couldn't part with it. >> i would go up to someone and say very politely, i think you actually just put your place card in the pocket and that
belongs to the white house, and a very sheepishly take it back out. >> the place cards, you allow them to take those? beautiful, hand-calligraphy? they were in our white house. those alone are so special. if you have a place card from the white house, you are a very rare person to have that. i can see anything that's not wired down, sadly, even people who attend white house events think that host gifts mean everything on the table. another question? >> i have two questions, one general, one specific. the general one is, if you were to hire the next social secretary, what would be the top qualities you would look for? >> that's a good question. i think there is something about -- when we started these jobs, we
both talked about what are we doing here? how did we get here? but you kind of play it off like you belong. we all have our insecurities, but one of the important things is to put on, to be confident enough in yourself. i think everyone at the white house feels like when will they find out the mistake they made and i will be thrown out of here. it's common, but you also in front of your staff don't want to appear to be uncertain. that and a sense of humor, it's hard to say. it's kind of a combination. a sense of humor is most important, most of all, because if someone says or does something, a guest at the white house, you have to let it go. sometimes they can be kathy or rude. you just have to let it go, and it's not always easy. >> for various reasons, which
we get into an hour book, as children, neither of us were particularly extroverted. when you go through a stage in your life where you feel like an outsider, i think that changes how you deal with people afterward. i think we were both better social secretaries for having a sense of how uncomfortable and intimidated many times people would be when they came to the white house. we would make the extra effort to make them feel welcome. i would say every social secretary really needs to be able to reach out and be comfortable and make people feel comfortable there, because that's actually the most important part of the job. >> to be the bridge between the guest and the president? >> for a lot of first-timers, yes. one time for the kennedy center honors, before the ceremony, you have the family members the honorees go out and sit in the east room, where the ceremony is going to take place. meryl streep was being honored that year.
she took her family out and she said come sit down with me. i am so nervous. she said i am so nervous. >> she just wanted comfort. it doesn't matter who it is. >> everyone has that, and it's important to kind of recognized and be sensitive to it. >> and to recognize that everyone is a person. we all have a motions. we had a question over here? >> did you ever have anyone tried to change their place cards at the dinner table? >> change place cards? >> unless it was at the presidents table, if it was last minute, no one changed
tables. that's a problem, because then someone else will go to the wrong table. but they would move, change places. it was annoying, understandably, but i usually, unless it was at the president and first lady's table, i wouldn't do anything. if someone moved someone to sit next to him, that's quite obvious. >> as social secretaries, we often started with a deficit of goodwill. so many people think they should be invited to the white house, and when they aren't, they tend to blame us. we took them off the guest list. for years afterwards, we would run into people who would comment. i know jeremy would hear from people saying i was never invited while you were there. at one point, there is a restaurant in washington called the palm and there are lots of characters of washington types on the walls. i went to dinner with my husband about a year into working as the social
secretary. i looked pá my caricature and someone had taken a fork and stuck it all over my face. i thought this has got to be someone who thought i took them off the guest list. it made us be extra careful and nice to people when we could, because in truth, social secretaries really don't take people off lists, other people around the white house to. >> we can't exactly say, valérie jarrett said no. so we were off in the bad guys. >> a question over here? i thought i saw a hand over here. it's a shy crowd. >> jeremy, i have a question regarding the couple that snuck into a party. how did that happen? how did they get checked? how did they get in when they weren't on áhe gust list? >> lea knows it even better than i do, --
let's make that very clear. [laughs] [laughs] it was june 7th, 2011, my first state dinner for jeremy, which was out in the rose garden. it was gorgeous, but i couldn't relax for any of it, because you know that anything that goes wrong is what makes the story. and that gate-crashers certainly did put the fear in "t u$e white house that lasted e entire administration of mistakes happening. and unfortunately, the people that really suffer our guests now, because it's such a process. you have to show your idea, multiple times. >> it's worse than the airplanes. >> it's really awful, so it is
a shame. they got in, it was a first day dinner. they were dressed as if they belonged, it was evident it was during that night. the secret service did not have them on the list. but they were convincing, and they got through. unfortunately, it cost the secret service -- secret service agents. a job or two. it was really the bat actions of them trying to get attention, or getting attention. really affected a lot of lives. >> allay,0n there was a production company trying to start the real housewives of washington d.c.. and a couple, the gate-crashers wanted to get on the show. they were trying to impress the producer by saying we got invited to a state dinner. the woman dressed in a sorry, it was in state dinner, the whole plan was to get inside, get some photos, and leave
before the dinner started because they would have been discovered them because they had no seats. and a washington post reporter was watching people come through, saw them, and that it at some of the staff, but they did not have time to focus on it. until the next morning when they posted these pictures on facebook. people realize what had happened. it was inconceivable that any white house could have any foreseen somebody trying to do this, they did not particularly care about coming to the white house, they could ever getting on a tv show. >> we have a question right here. >> i'm trying to figure out -- there is so much going on, and so many different levels, how did you coordinate with the other activities that were going on to figure out how things are going to happen, how you propose it? >> i drink a lot. [laughs]
i had advised my predecessor when he took the job, i wait to see her, i said you should have a big bulletin board that tells every event of every day. because, from 390 to 410 of events a year, there were some days whq)e there were three events, and sundays there were nothing. but there was never spaced out the way you'd wanted to be. so, keeping an eye and knowing it was very difficult, i would tell my staff we are so vivid busy coming from one q+ent to another, and making one events happen, do 'ot forget to enjoy the history of it. because, when there is a medal of honor, or medal of freedom is something that you are not going to see most likely in your post white house lives. but it is difficult because you
are going from one, to the are going from one, to the "t q), to the other. i lucked out, i changed some of there was turnover. having a great staff and people that are detail i'd, i hired people that were in terms for the social office because they worked the most and had the longest hours. if they can make it through that i think the staff will be easy. >> the social secretary is responsible for every event that happens and that white house grounds with the exception of the oval office and the press room. the coordination point really is in the oval office, we work with the butlers, the ushers, the various white house staff, and of course our bosses to make sure everything is organized and we are all know what we are doing. there is never a time where i would walk onto the ground floor and found that there was an event going on that i did not know about.
>> multitasker. the supreme multitaskers. another one over here? >> how did your office -- interface with the office protocol in the state department? >> we did regularly when there were for visitors or state visits or acquired more interaction with them. then, we also had a lot of interaction with the nfc staff, they were regular luncheons with the president and other people coming out of state, and delegations. we will get all of the names from the nsc, the order of precedence were either passed precedeno the calligrapher.ed then we could put them in place. it was almost always flawless, they were almost always right. the recent occasion i remember the amir of kuwait was coming from much of present with president bush, i got the list from the nsc, we did it just as they said, and when the kuwaiti
delegation arrived there was an extra person there. he looked around and there was a flurry of arabic and he left, he was escorted out. the next day the kuwaiti about ambassador's wife called me and said you cosby has been a big problem yesterday. i said how, he sai" that person was supposed to be at the lunch, he thinks my has been the ambassador kept him out of the lunch. now he has a political problem at home. so these tiny, seemingly and in significant things would have consequences. i went back to the nsc, they were apologetic. i'm sure they did with a needed to do to try to smooth things over. which is why being a social secretary can be nerve-racking. something that small can blow up in your face. >> the nsc is a national security council for those of you that do not know that term. >> they are the coordination point for foreign policy with the state department within the white house. >> i worked with the office a protocol. worked almost on a daily basis, but was a benefit for me was that the chief of protocol had
had my job in the clinton years. so, could pre-show marshall was great at in my first months, i great athere, sherst months, i said what would you do about this, or did you hear about this? >> the chief of protocol is innocent department. they handle international protocol. they are not on the white house staff. rñ in protocol it was great, they would tell us right away when we found out a leader was visiting whether it was for a meeting or a luncheon, or a full state visit. with their likes and dislikes were, what colors would be offensive if we had flowers that were white, that could be offensive to certain cultures. what food allergies they had. and the office of political had a great deal just to -- that was one thing we do not
have to worry about as much because we knew they have the information. >> during the reagan administration we did have one social office event, a state dinner overseas. it was during the visit of the presidq't -- when they hosted the state dinner at the ambassador home in moscow. did either of you hold a state dinner or an event estate event outside of the white house? it is a very rare situation. >> whenever we did one of the summits or aipac, orgy seven or eight depending on if russia was coming. those were usually out of town, one was at camp david, one was in hawaii. there was one in chicago. if there was a white house event we were ultra -- in charge of it. we always had to do the united nations reception, when the
president will go speak at the united nations. he would host all of the leaders. so, if we are the host country, we would have to be there. it made us realize and appreciate how much we enjoyed doing things at the white house. not that you had control over anything, you had a lot more control than -- in new york, we have to deal with my first un trip there at the new york library which was beautiful, unfortunately, secret service had to block off so much with -- president and mrs. obama they could just as will be in an or airport hangar. so, you learn let's do it at the hotel. you just kind of learn by mistake because it was not your footprint, it was not the usual which was being at the white house.
>> so, we have time for one more question out here. >> speaking of state dinners, it is my understanding that now you have state dinners you serve only american winds. and, since we are in california, i am interesting and knowing how those winds get chosen for state dinners. >> there was an actor who recently retired who was a somewhere, he had connections with all of the venues up and down the west coast. he was very clever about it. he would not just find the wine that's at the, food he would find wine that with interesting names. i remember there was a foreign visit with china which was always problematic for us because countries are always -- he chose a wine called conundrum. i thought was very clever. i'm sure they had other somewhat doing it, now. >> we use that a lot here. c@
>> he was there the entire time i was at the white house, it made easy because we would have wine tasting, he would pick out winds for state of visits, i would have a tasting with mrs. obama on her mom. especially mrs. robinson, i will be drinking the wine. mr. obama would have a case of it, i would go like this. it was the ability to choose a great selection to begin with, that was a great place for us. >> did you have a questionnaire here? >> i am anne-marie from pasadena, i was saddened to hear from so many bad behavior events with all of the alcohol. i was curious, why did they never reduce the number of alcoholic drinks or alcoholic in the eggnog? now you are talking about
protocol, we hear a lot about the protocol that took place with the british wedding recently, and the etiquette where you are supposed to wear a certain thing and speak assured wet. whether that kind of thing to visit at the white house? >> for the first question about alcohol, we started having non alcoholic eggnog. and the recipe was su(r a tradition that there was thij, you cannot mess with the recipe. we would have the person that was serving it warn people. hey, this is very potent. just be careful. people usage and a lot more years ago, now, for a lot of people it hit quicker. we did certainly offer other alternatives, we were very careful with what events we served alcohol.
>> hard liquor. like the st. patrick's day event, it was particularly a liquid event every year, but also very fine. after a nun knocked down one of the military social aides in her way to get to the president to shake his hand. we stop doing that as well, and we had a lovely irish themed event. but, we are probably making a sound worse than it is. you remember the bad behavior, kind of like in the media, you sure that that story is not the good stories about people being kind, on a, faithful and so forth. i think people like to hear more of these unusual stories. i understand there are many doses from the &fq regularly, i want to say thank you for your service. without the volunteers we had at the white house, both the military and the úy÷ufnon-mility volunteers, i don't think we can function at all. >> that is true, absolutely.
>> we have just a couple of minutes. i know in the book, you have something that you call permit clutching moments at the white house. i know there was a story about somebody getting arrested at one of your events, and a bit of basing this at your event as well. i was wondering if you could each share a pearl clutching moment, leave us at that. õcertainly not that bad, all of the bad stuff. as you say, there are 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. >> i think we witnessed yesterday what happens more c@ often than reported that it's not, or common i don't want to say, when you submit your information to come to the white house, the secret service checks it. if you have a warrant for your arrest, they are going to know
it. how this idiot showed up at the white house after giving his information and did not know he would be arrested, it was kind of shocking and one of the dumbest possible felonj. sometimes i would get a call and they would say it is the secret service. there was a look, someone on your list is a do not admit. we don't want you to be embarrassed by them getting here. i would call the person, and often it was like, did you get a speeding ticket somewhere? well i got a speeding ticket years ago in georgia, i never paid. it does not go away. they attach it, and if you are pulled over, and they are checking, they will still see that you have an unpaid parking ticket. i don't want you to come to the white house and get arrested for having an unpaid speeding ticket.
it was always scary to get those calláip($(lc@&h 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? they would usually say to the secret service, okay, i was actually born in 1963, but my husband thinks it's 1958, and they have to resubmit the information. >> [laughs] [laughs] i had a particularly bad day when we had a a visceral visit i will tell you the last part of the horror. it was just as the luncheon was about to begin, and i was "t p(proached by a state department employee who says the american translator out jt @ the, way bush has to have his own translato). i walk over to the presidents coming into the luncheon. i see a chinese woman sitting
in the american translators seat, and the american translators nerves and troubling and says she won't let me sit in my seat. i walked over and tried to explain very politely that she just needs to move over one seat, and this is the translator, she pretended she couldn't speak english. so i could see the presidents were starting to come down the hallway, and the thing was about to happen. i said to the american translator, when i get this seat opened, said in, it and don't leave until the luncheon is over. c@ i pushed the woman's chair forward a bit and she jumped up and world on me in anger like what are you doing. i could see the chinese chief of protocol coming at me looking furious, and i shove the american translator into the chair. i was literally saved by the marine ban who struck a pale to the chief as they walked into the dining room. otherwise, i don't know what would have happened. that was april clutching moment. >> sounds like it. we will leave everyone with one of your best moments at each of your white houses, if you can
help us out with that. >> you know, at the end of a state dinner, or a holiday reception, you could 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. you are taken back with thankyous, but moments like that, weird you see people that have never been there before getting so happy and excited, was always a great, great moment. the holiday receptions, there were so many that we couldn't wait for them to end, but when they did, i was sad because it was the end of the season and it was so special. >> every presidential administration has times when they are up in times when they are down. as joanne can tell you, when you are feeling embattled
within the white house, it's a daily struggle to just move on and do the best possible job you can do. i was at the white house at a time when iraq war was not going very well, before the surge. the president decided to do a breaking of the ramadan fast dinner. it's a dinner for all of the religious observance is. the east room was empty to furniture. portraits were covered and prayer rugs were put down. and exactly the moment of the sunset, and he mom stood in the grand foyer and called all of the guests who were prominent muslim clerics, ambassadors from countries which have muslim populations, called them to prayer and invited him to pray in the east room. a number of them went, and closed doors, and the prayers went, on and they came out of the data began. 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 thought we couldn't do everything right, 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. i always think of that as my proudest moment at the white house. >> many of you know, ronp&d reagan was a man that absolutely understood the extraordinary power of civility, and 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 are 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 would stick around to hear the answer. he 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 'o limit to 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. i hope all of you will get your copy, and it's a great gift for someone in your life, a daughter, a son, a niece, a nephew, a granddaughter. i hope you will all take the time to do that. in honor of that plaque, i have one for each of you today. and i want to thank you for coming here and joining us. >> thank you so much. >> we are going to take jeremy u( to the museum store in just a few minutes. we will take you up there with the copy of the book. we hope to see you again next time. >> thank you. thanks so much. [applause] [applause] [applause]
next on american history tv, a look at the history of the white house easter egg roll, from the first one in 1878 under president rutherford be hp-e, all the way to the eastern roles of the trump white house. >> jonathan, you have worked with the white house historical association to read a young readers book about the white house easter egg roll. before we get into history, tell us about it today. how large is it in 2018? >> it would be a lot larger than it actually is, except the popularity is so high that everyone wants to be a part of they kept the attendance at about 30 to