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Harry all we get is lies


A reader sent me this piece that appeared in the WAPO a couple of weeks ago:

It’s hard to believe that Jackie Kennedy was only 32 when she took audiences on a televised one-hour White House tour highlighting the rooms and furniture restored under her leadership. With poise that belied her years, the first lady guided viewers through the rooms and their histories without a script, accompanied by CBS News correspondent Charles Collingwood. CBS and NBC broadcast “A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy”on Feb. 14, 1962, with ABC following four days later. Including the global audience reached through syndication, 80 million people saw the program.

A special exhibit to mark the tour’s 60th anniversary opens May 7 at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. . . .

Ah for the days when you could get every TV network to broadcast an hour-long quasi-campaign ad with a couple of well-placed phone calls. (Damned liberal media). Also too, I hadn’t realized Jackie was 31 when she became first lady.

But anyway:

The exhibit aims to evoke the time when the White House, during those brief Kennedy years, was made a museum and was transformed by the first lady into a house whose contents reflected the presidencies from 1789 forward. Jackie Kennedy led the Fine Arts Committee for the White House’s effort to seek out pieces that had once been in the White House or were contemporaneous with furnishings that had been there. Many pieces had been sold off, particularly during the 19th century. One of the first lady’s early achievements was persuading Congress to pass a law forbidding future presidents from selling or removing pieces from the White House. 

Now wait just a minute. Jackie Kennedy actually went to Congress to get a law passed to keep presidents from stealing stuff out of the White House? What in the world could have inspired . . .

President Harry S. Truman, back home in Missouri, rejected several entreaties to return the State Dining Room mantel that big-game hunter President Theodore Roosevelt had installed in 1902, with carved bison heads on each end. (Jackie Kennedy had a copy made.)


I guess we should be grateful that Truman’s remarkably sticky-fingered habits led Jackie to get mad enough to get Congress to put it in black and white that you couldn’t just walk off with Martha Washington’s china, or today half the place would be down in Mar-a-Lago (they should probably still check to see how much stuff got shipped out the back door in the first three weeks of January last year).

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