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Riding the Tiger > Category: First Ladies

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

What if Jackie Kennedy Had Lived to Celebrate Her 85th Birthday?

Alternative histories are intriguing, but, until recently, I thought they were simply entertaining fictionalized accounts of historical events. Journalist Jeff Greenfield’s Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternative Histories of American Politics is among the best of this genre.  (See Greenfield’s Miller Center forum at http://bit.ly/UFHfmC.)

Academic historians, however, occasionally use counterfactuals to determine the relationships between cause and effect. For example, if Al Gore had won the 2000 presidential election, would the United States have invaded Iraq in 2003? (See Miller Center event with Frank P. Harvey, author of Explaining the Iraq War: Counterfactual Theory, Logic and Evidence at http://bit.ly/1lMQqc8.)

As First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s birthday (July 28, 1929) approached, I began to ponder what she would be like today had she not succumbed to lymphoma in 1994. She is frozen in many memories as the glamorous wife of President John F. Kennedy, only 31 years of age when she entered the White House, or as his stoic widow creating the Camelot legend after his assassination a thousand days later. But what if Jackie Kennedy had lived to celebrate her 85th birthday? 

Book Review: A Call to Action

In his new book, A Call to Action, President Jimmy Carter has brought women’s rights to the forefront.  It is an important issue as he himself writes: “I have become convinced that the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls…” (pp. 3)

Friday Feature: Betty Ford’s First Press Conference

Oh this day in history, August 9, 1974, Gerald Ford was sworn in as president after Nixon's resignation, declaring, "Our long national nightmare is over."

One month later, on September 4, Betty Ford held her first press conference as first lady of the United States. She faced 75 reporters. According to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum,

"…Betty Ford immediately revealed the openness and good-natured candor that became her trademark. …. Expressing herself with humor and forthrightness on controversial issues of the day, she answered questions about women in politics, abortion rights, and a proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer later that month, she broke with social conventions by fostering public discussion of her diagnosis and treatment. In doing this, she purposefully raised public awareness of screening and treatment options and reassured the many women already suffering from similar ordeals."