Presidential

By Lillian Cunningham

From Jan 2016 to Nov 2016 • Updated weekly

Leading up to Election Day 2016, The Washington Post's Presidential podcast explores how each former American president reached office, made decisions, handled crises and redefined the role of commander-in-chief, starting with George Washington in week one and ending on week 44 with the president-elect. Hosted by Lillian Cunningham, the series features Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers like David McCullough and Washington Post journalists like Bob Woodward.

All Episodes

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 09 Nov 2016

In this final episode of the podcast, Library of Congress historians Michelle Krowl and Julie Miller return--along with Washington Post journalist Dan Balz--to reflect on the changing nature of the American presidency.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 30 Oct 2016

Political strategist David Axelrod and biographer David Maraniss discuss Barack Obama's search for identity -- and how that quest has paralleled America's own complex reckoning with race.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 23 Oct 2016

Peter Baker, author of "Days of Fire" and a journalist with the New York Times, joins historian Mark Updegrove to examine how George W. Bush's presidency marked the beginning of a new era in American history.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 16 Oct 2016

David Maraniss, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Bill Clinton, explores how his core character traits had both a bright and a dark side. And Washington Post reporter Jim Tankersley examines how his policy legacy has had a similar duality.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 09 Oct 2016

Historians Jon Meacham and Jeffrey Engel discuss President Bush's unique form of presidential leadership--a vintage combination of public service, conservatism and emotional restraint--and examine why his legacy has grown more positive over time.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 02 Oct 2016

Lou Cannon, biographer and senior White House correspondent for The Washington Post during President Reagan's administration, helps us separate the fact from fiction about who Ronald Reagan really was.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 25 Sep 2016

Longtime Carter political adviser Pat Caddell, theologian and biographer Randall Balmer, and Washington Post reporter Robert Costa examine how Jimmy Carter's faith has shaped his leadership in and out of the White House.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 18 Sep 2016

The president's son Steven Ford joins White House photographer David Hume Kennerly and Berkeley professor Daniel Sargent to talk about how Gerald Ford's experience working across the aisle in Congress affected his leadership style as president.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 11 Sep 2016

Bob Woodward, one of the Washington Post investigative reporters who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, examines what was at the heart of Richard Nixon's presidential downfall. The Washington Post's current executive editor, Marty Baron, joins as well.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 04 Sep 2016

The LBJ Presidential Library's director, Mark Updegrove, helps us examine how Johnson worked his will--at times darkly--to get some of the most transformative legislation of the 20th century through Congress.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 28 Aug 2016

Robert Dallek, Michael Beschloss and Fredrik Logevall--three major Kennedy historians and biographers--join us on this week's episode to talk about JFK and death. But not his assassination.... . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 21 Aug 2016

Stephen Kinzer, author of "The Brothers," and historian Will Hitchcock explore President Eisenhower's predilection for covert action--both in foreign affairs and in his own leadership style.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 14 Aug 2016

Biographer David McCullough looks at some of the most difficult decisions President Truman made during his time in the White House, and Washington Post polling manager Scott Clement examines the biggest polling failure in presidential history.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 07 Aug 2016

Allida Black, editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt papers, along with FDR Library Director Paul Sparrow and White Ho use speechwriter Sarada Peri, examine Franklin Roosevelt's leadership through the lens of the first lady's own contributions to his presidency.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 31 Jul 2016

Herbert Hoover entered the White House with an array of high-profile experiences leading disaster relief. So why was his handling of the Great Depression considered a failure? Biographer Charles Rappleye guest stars.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 24 Jul 2016

Former politician Michael Dukakis, biographer Amity Shlaes and political scientist Robert Gilbert join Washington Post economics reporter Steven Pearlstein to offer alternative reads on Calvin Coolidge's legacy.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 17 Jul 2016

Steamy love letters. Jazz. Scandal. Psychics. Newspapers. The Hope Diamond. Historian Nicole Hemmer helps guide us through the wild life and presidency of Warren G. Harding.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 10 Jul 2016

Racism, diplomacy, women's rights...historian John Milton Cooper and Woodrow Wilson House executive director Robert Enholm lead us through Wilson's complicated personal and presidential legacy.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 03 Jul 2016

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of 'The Bully Pulpit,' along with historian Michelle Krowl and Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes discuss why President Taft made a better chief justice than commander-in-chief.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 26 Jun 2016

Biographer David McCullough and historian Michelle Krowl take us inside the wild, unstoppable dynamism of Teddy Roosevelt, whose energy and activism redefined the role of American president.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 19 Jun 2016

Republican political strategist Karl Rove dissects what was so transformative about William McKinley's 1896 presidential campaign. And Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig discusses how his assassination modernized the Secret Service.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 12 Jun 2016

Benjamin Harrison was the first U.S. president to use his position to try to save a species, the fur seal. He also set aside more than 13 million acres of forest reserves. This episode looks at the roots of conservation as a presidential responsibility. Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress, Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post and Will Gartshore of the World Wildlife Fund guest star.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 05 Jun 2016

Known for his forthrightness, Cleveland came clean when news broke about him fathering an illegitimate child; yet he later covered up a cancer surgery at sea. Biographer Matthew Algeo, Library of Congress historian Michelle Krowl and 99 Percent Invisible podcaster Roman Mars explore candor and the presidency.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 29 May 2016

How does one of the greatest beneficiaries of the spoils system end up being the president who passes civil service reform? Post reporter David Fahrenthold and Stateline editor Scott Greenberger tell the amazing story of Arthur's personal transformation.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 22 May 2016

Only 100 days into office, President Garfield was shot down in a train station by a disturbed office seeker. 'Destiny of the Republic' author Candice Millard along with Michelle Krowl, of the Library of Congress, examine the life cut short. Particularly, they explore Garfield's impoverished beginnings, his fierce intellect, his gregarious nature--and the way his death changed American medicine.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 15 May 2016

How does a vicious, close and disputed election spill over into a presidency? We examine the razor-thin election results for Rutherford B. Hayes, and the equally fine line he then had to tread as president during the end of Reconstruction. Historian Ed Ayers, Washington Post journalist Dan Balz and Hayes Presidential Center executive director Christie Weininger guest star on this episode.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 08 May 2016

Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs are considered the best ever written by a president. In this episode, Washington Post nonfiction book critic Carlos Lozada and biographer David Maraniss discuss what they found funny, touching and illuminating about the work. Michelle Krowl, of the Library of Congress, also joins the episode. She tells the dramatic story of how Grant came to write his memoirs, and she shares a selection of the most beautiful love letters he sent to his wife.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 01 May 2016

What kind of president can repair America's deepest divisions? Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress walks us through Andrew Johnson's time in office right after the Civil War and sheds light on why he struggled to bring the country together.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 24 Apr 2016

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of 'Team of Rivals,' and Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress guide us through Lincoln's love for language--and how his gift for writing and oratory became one of his greatest presidential leadership tools.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 17 Apr 2016

America is on the eve of civil war, and James Buchanan is alone in the White House as our first and only bachelor president. Historians Jean Baker and Jim Loewen, and The Washington Post's Jim Tankersley, explore the lack of personal and political union.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 10 Apr 2016

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer James McPherson and historian Edna Greene Medford discuss Franklin Pierce's role in the country's progression toward civil war, as well as the personal tragedy that unfolded right before he took office.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 03 Apr 2016

Should we teach the presidency of Millard Fillmore? What do we lose if we don't? Historians Jean Baker and James McPherson, along with researcher Henry Roediger and Washington Post education reporter T. Rees Shapiro, tackle these questions in our 13th episode.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 27 Mar 2016

In the 12th episode of the Presidential podcast, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank joins historians Catherine Clinton and Joseph Uscinski to talk about military hero Zachary Taylor and the assassination theories that swirled around his death in the White House. We also explore the question: Does military leadership translate into effective presidential leadership?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 20 Mar 2016

Through hard work and strategic lying, the 11th president managed to accomplish everything on his agenda. But is being effective the same as being great? We discuss Polk's life and leadership style with historian Amy Greenberg. And musician John Linnell, of the band They Might Be Giants, makes a special appearance.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 13 Mar 2016

When Vice President Tyler takes over the White House following the death of William Henry Harrison, he sets a precedent that would forever shape presidential succession. This episode features grandson Harrison Tyler and his family, who talk about the ghost who haunts the Tyler home; as well as experts Barbara Bair from the Library of Congress and Joel Goldstein from Saint Louis University, who discuss the history of the vice presidency.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 06 Mar 2016

Longest inaugural address, shortest presidency. Washington Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri, along with Barbara Bair and Dr. Philip Mackowiak, deconstruct the origins of Harrison's famous campaign slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too" and debunk the myth of what killed him after only 32 days in office.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 28 Feb 2016

He may not have been a very memorable president, but Van Buren did much to create the party establishments we have today--the idea of national parties, nominating conventions and grassroots organizing. Experts Barbara Bair and Mark Cheathem, along with Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza, examine his mark on modern politics.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 21 Feb 2016

Barbara Bair of the Library of Congress, Steve Inskeep of NPR and biographer Jon Meacham examine the violent life and leadership of Andrew Jackson: the tragedy of his personal life, the brutality of his battles and his policies against Native Americans, and the conflict that makes up a dynamic democracy.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 14 Feb 2016

Scholars Charles Edel and Fred Kaplan, along with Washington Post journalist Katie Zezima, explore the main leadership characteristic that doomed the presidency of John Quincy Adams.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 07 Feb 2016

In the latest episode of Presidential, we look at our fifth president's knack for being present at famous moments in history--as well as the unexpected and twisted legacy of the Monroe Doctrine.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 31 Jan 2016

Though he's our first wartime president, James Madison is usually better remembered for his work on the constitution rather than his time as commander-in-chief while the White House went up in flames. But Madison scholar Jack Rakove says there's a key lesson we can learn from his time in the Oval Office.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 24 Jan 2016

The great contradiction of Thomas Jefferson -- that he wrote the famous words "all men are created equal" and yet held more than 600 slaves -- sits at the heart of his complex and controversial legacy today. Experts Annette Gordon-Reed, Paul Finkelman, Jon Meacham, Julie Miller, Peter Onuf and Joe Yonan help us explore the many facets of our third U.S. president in this week's episode of Presidential.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 17 Jan 2016

Biographer David McCullough, Julie Miller of the Library of Congress, Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post, and Kirk Savage of the University of Pittsburgh give us the backstory on why there's no monument to John Adams in the nation's capital.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 10 Jan 2016

In the first episode of Presidential, we take a look at George Washington's personality and leadership traits--from fearless action hero to charismatic dancer, to insecure and reluctant president. Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Joel Achenbach, along with Julie Miller from the Library of Congress, kick off our 44-week series exploring the American presidency.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 05 Jan 2016

Leading up to Election Day 2016, The Washington Post's Presidential podcast explores how each former American president reached office, made decisions, handled crises and redefined the role of commander-in-chief, starting with George Washington in week one and ending on week 44 with the president-elect. Hosted by Lillian Cunningham, the series features Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers like David McCullough and Washington Post journalists like Bob Woodward. New episodes are released on Sundays.. . .

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