Talking about the "things that matter most" on Feb. 21
4:00 – Presidents’ Day – The Faith of the Presidents
Religion has been a major part of the presidency since George Washington's first inaugural address to President Obama’s black liberation Christian background. Despite the mounting interest in the role of religion in American public life, we actually know remarkably little about the faith of our presidents. Was Thomas Jefferson an atheist, as his political opponents charged? What role did Lincoln's religious views play in his handling of slavery and the Civil War? How did born-again Southern Baptist Jimmy Carter lose the support of many evangelicals? Is George W. Bush, as his critics often claim, a captive of the religious right? On this Presidents’ Day, Gary Smith answers these questions and many more. He takes a sweeping look at the role religion has played in presidential politics and policies. Drawing on extensive archival research, Smith paints compelling portraits of the religious lives and presidencies of eleven chief executives for whom religion was particularly important. We will examine what each of its subjects believed and how those beliefs shaped their presidencies and, in turn, the course of our history.
5:00 – Presidents’ Day - The President, the Pope, And the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World
They were three "middle managers" no one imagined could reach the top, but the changed the course of history. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II. Not only did they rise to the top, but all three of them also survived assassination attempts, collaborated in the miraculous peaceful liberation of Eastern Europe from Soviet Communism, and reinvigorated their respective countries and the West. They were beacons of optimism cutting through the malaise and despair that afflicted 1970s America, strike-ridden and economically moribund post-imperial Britain, and a Catholic Church rocked by social and sexual revolutions. We talk with John O’Sullivan about these three who changed the world.
5:40 – Presidents’ Day - George Washington's Leadership Lessons
George Washington has long been a role model for Americans. Legends of his honesty and virtue are part of America's cultural heritage. But Washington's legacy is much greater than the apocryphal story of the cherry tree. George Washington's Leadership Lessons offers a unique perspective on America's first president—not as a caricature of model behavior, but as an effective, visionary, and inspiring leader of men. On this Presidents’ Day, we talk with James Rees, director of Mount Vernon and author of George Washington's Leadership Lessons: What the Father of Our Country Can Teach Us About Effective Leadership and Character.