Pulitzer Prize Winning Historian To Speak On South Coast; Will Talk About Presidential Powers

Feb 18, 2019

A presidential historian, and Pulitzer Prize winning author says while many people see President Trump as pushing the limit of authority in the White House, it’s an issue we’ve seen in different forms throughout our history. Doris Kearns Goodwin has written more than a half dozen books, including her latest, “Leadership In Turbulent Times,” which she will talk about during a South Coast visit this week.

The book looks at four Presidents Goodwin feels played pivotal roles during times of crisis: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson.

Goodwin says past presidents had more of a direct pipeline to make their case to the people, and that it’s become more difficult. Newspaper once printed the texts of speeches, and FDR was famous for his “Fireside Speeches” during which families would set around the radio listening to the president.

The historian says between cable networks and social media, leaders can’t even finish a speech before the analysis starts. Goodwin says another thing that’s really changed is the attitude of leaders, who often put political party before country.

Goodwin had firsthand experience with one of the Presidents featured in “Leadership In Turbulent Times.” She was a graduate student at Harvard selected for a White House Fellowship program during LBJ’s tenure. Despite writing an anti-Vietnam war, and anti-LBJ magazine article, the President was impressed, and she was convinced to come work for the White House. She later wrote the acclaimed book “Lyndon Johnson And The American Dream.” She believes he is one of the most underappreciated Presidents who spearheaded major social change.

Goodwin says one good thing that’s come out of the recent turmoil is that it’s inspired people who haven’t been politically aware in the past to become involved in the process.

She'll speak this week at Santa Barbara’s Granada Theater. The UCSB Arts and Lectures Event begins at 7:30 Friday night.