The other night I scored tickets to see Doris Kearns Goodwin speak at an event sponsored by Cleveland State University. It was nice to see that other folks turned out for this event – as the entire lower floor of the Ohio Theatre was full. I could not see who, if anyone, was on the upper level. Denton and I brought down the median age – by a LOT!
Doris did an hour lecture and 30 minutes of questions & answers. The subject was primarily about Abraham Lincoln – and incredibly interesting. The discussion was in tandem with her almost 1000 page book on Abe. She certainly made me want to read it, that’s for sure. But I like non-fiction and/or biographies a lot.
She was savvy enough to bring in some more modern day comparisons to Lincoln’s presidency and some baseball too. Goodwin is a huge and extremely knowledgeable baseball fan – enough so that I can overlook her being a Red Sox fan (which is still better than a Yankees one).
Oddly enough, the Q&A proved to be just as interesting. Goodwin was asked about Lincoln’s extra-marital activities. The question did not come out as ‘was he gay’, but she brought it into the conversation. It has been the rumour of the last few years. And while the letters he wrote to his male friends were questionable, it was more the style at the time (of writing) than love letters.
The big question was well answered: How will Bush’s presidency be seen by historians. Though she did not have a definitive answer – how could she, she did discuss how public opinion might never change for a president (not necessarily Shrub), historians might…and then ran down the list of commanders in chiefs who faired better as years went by. She said it would be 30-50 years before anyone will truly determine if Bush was a good president.
Part of my reaction was ruled by emotion. There is no way anyone will think he is a good president. Ever. But part of me reacted to the logic behind her statement and the comparisons she drew from the past.
And then of course, I hated myself for that reaction.