Renowned White House press corps reporter Helen Thomas and political analyst Craig Crawford will spoke at Valencia’s West Campus Feb. 17 and 18 on a swing through Central Florida to promote their new book, “Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do.”
Since John F. Kennedy’s presidency, Helen Thomas has directly covered more presidents than any journalist working today. An iconic figure in White House coverage, she is known for her famous press conference closing line, “Thank you, Mr. President.” From her long and illustrious vantage point, she has seen presidents succeed and fail.
Together with Craig Crawford, they impart lessons to future presidents, and those who vote for them in a book that is part history, part practical advice manual. “Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do” (Scribner) is a witty lesson plan of what it takes to be a good president.
Craig Crawford is a columnist for Congressional Quarterly’s “CQ Politics,” a contributing analyst for NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC, and a regular guest on “Imus in the Morning.” He is the author of “Attack the Messenger” and “The Politics of Life.” He also has roots in Central Florida, having graduated from Stetson University, Stetson University Law School and was a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel.
These two veteran reporters presented a lively exchange as they interviewed each other, shared insights from their careers, and answered questions from the audience.
Some advice offered by the authors in the book includes:
Go for a walk. Reagan escaped to his mountaintop ranch, Bush (41) fished from a speedboat, Lincoln chopped wood, and Roosevelt collected stamps.
Watch your image. Avoid entanglements with crazed rabbits (Carter), vomiting on the Japanese prime minister (Bush 43), or weighing 300 pounds (Taft). The latter once sent a telegram saying, “Went on a horse ride today; feeling good.” The reply: “How’s the horse?” Don’t smoke (Obama). But if you must, admit it.
Get a laugh whenever you can. “Honey, I forgot to duck,” quipped Reagan (quoting Jack Dempsey) after he was shot in an assassination attempt. As the doctors prepared him for surgery, he said, “I hope you’re all republicans.”
Be above us, yet among us. This is perhaps your toughest challenge. Roosevelt was raised in wealth, yet he had a knack for speaking the citizens’ language. Don’t take the common touch too far: it is unlikely that the average American would make a good president.
Read the Constitution. Even though “a dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier” (George W. Bush). Don’t overreach like Lincoln when he suspended habeas corpus, or Nixon, when he locked the press up in a room.