Cokie Roberts Talks Partisan Rigidity and Her New Book

Chuck Conconi and Cokie Roberts
Chuck Conconi and Cokie Roberts deep in discussion on Focus Washington.

Cokie Roberts FW

Cokie Roberts says that in the Washington in which she grew up there was a friendliness and camaraderie among the congressional political families because they lived in Washington and got to know each other.

The ABC and NPR news analyst, writer and author, Roberts said in a Focus Washington interview with Chuck Conconi that contemporary congressional families don’t move to Washington, “and as a result they don’t get to know each other.” She conceded that it is complicated when both work and the reality makes it very expensive to maintain two households. This situation then leads to the partisan rigidity so much a part of the current legislative debates.

She cited as an example the last interview she had with former President Gerald Ford who was the House Minority Leader when her father, Hale Boggs, was House Majority Leader. “They were good friends,” she added. The former president told her of a time when he and her father were riding together in a cab to a debate at the National Press Club and asked, ‘What are we going to argue about?’

“They had legitimate differences,” she said and that after it was over “they would get back in the cab and still be friends.”

An advocate for the role of women in history, Roberts said that her new book for children, “Founding Mothers” emphasized the overlook, but significant role 18th century colonial women played in American independence. She pointed out that Abigail Adams was constantly writing to her husband, who would one day be president, “For God’s sake, declare independence. What are you men doing?” And, she continued, “she told him that ‘when you write the new laws, remember the ladies.’”

Roberts said that Lord Cornwallis, who was the enemy and who surrendered to George Washington, once said: “We may destroy all the men in America, and we should still have all we can do to defeat the women.”

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