Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio.

Credit: American Libraries / Flickr

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin On The Roosevelts, And Pres. Obama's Midterm Woes

November 6, 2014

Historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio. Kearns talked about her role in Ken Burns's new PBS series The RooseveltsKearns served as both a consultant as well as an on-air presence in the documentary series.

  • How crucial was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to FDR's presidency? "[Historians] didn't know how central Eleanor was. (...) Without Eleanor, FDR's presidency wouldn't have been as strong as it was. (...) She's worrying about getting women [jobs] in the factory, she's worried about civil rights."
  • On President Franklin D. Roosevelt's vacations. "For FDR those relationships he had when he went to Warm Springs were the most relaxed relationships that he ever had. (...) [Vacationers] could share that adversity that they'd been through. (...) They were people for whom fate had also dealt an unkind hand. (...) It changed him, both the polio and the Warm Springs experience."
  • Do you "live" with these people as you're writing, like the Roosevelts? "Weirdly, you do. (...) Every morning I'm waking up with them, every night I'm going to bed with them at night."
  • Pres. Obama has said he attempted to assemble a "team of rivals." Has it worked? "Everything's gotten so split apart. (...) The 'bully pulpit' that [Pres.] Teddy Roosevelt defined (...) itself is no longer as strong as it was. (...) [Obama was] a man who was so brilliant in the campaign. (...) Teddy Roosevelt would say, 'You gotta talk simply.' You gotta repeat. (...) [Pres. Obama's] inability to explain the healthcare bill in the summer of 2010, losing the midterm elections, (...) everything came from that."
  • Do kids still want to grow up to be president? I don't think people think about institutional patriotism anymore. (...) Is a young person going to wake up today and say, 'I can't wait to be [Sen.] Mitch McConnell! I can't wait to be [Sen.] Harry Reid!' I don't think they do."
  • What did you make of the 2014 Red Sox season? "We won [the World Series] at home and I was there. I promised myself, 'That's it, I'm okay if they don't win it next year.' It was hard to remember [this year]. (...) I couldn't even pick up the Globe because I knew the sports section would be in there."
  • Next book project? "I'm gonna bring all my guys together at the same time, and write about leadership."

>> To hear the entire interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin, click the audio above.


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