Must See TV: Presidential Profiles

Some recent finds watching that great American institution C-SPAN, now also available through the miracle of their video library.

Washington Post editor David Maraniss was interviewed about his recent biography of Barack Obama, entitled, appropriately enough, Barack Obama: The Story. Maraniss certainly comes off as an admirer of the President, but even this mainstream media fixture allows some journalistic integrity to bleed through the cracks.

I especially like this part, isolated through the miracle of the C-SPAN editing tool (although they don’t allow you to embed these yet. Come on, C-SPAN, I expect more for my investment!). You may not be happy about the prospect of a Barack Obama second term. But at the very least, you get to still hear questions like this asked about the President of the United States for four more years. (Hint, remember to hit the play button.)

Another great American institution, besides marijuana, is author Robert Caro. If I had to trade lives with just one person, it might be Caro. What a life. On a daily basis, he enmeshes himself in history, research, and storytelling, to say nothing of that Brazilian underwear model he’s married to. Any time you see Robert Caro on TV, do yourself a favor and watch it. He never fails to provide spellbinding accounts of any topic on which he chooses to put his focus. This presentation was on his latest book on Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power. Among his tales is a story I’d never heard before, explaining what Johnson was doing during the Kennedy was assassination, which he viewed from the car immediately trailing the President’s.

Also check out this clip. An earnest questioner asks what Lyndon would do if he had to deal with a Congress as awful and intrasigent as the current one. I get the sense the questioner was fishing for some absolution of Obama for his inability to get anything done since 2010. But Caro gives a bracing answer. Johnson provided genius-level leadership, the ability to find a way when no way appeared obvious. Something to remember next time you hear the current President talk about how we are are being propelled helplessly toward the so-called fiscal cliff.