About The Program


"If men were angels," wrote James Madison, "no government would be necessary." Of course, men are not angels, government is necessary and the United States Constitution is its living blueprint. In all of American history, only forty-three men have taken the oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. And of those who've held the office of the Presidency, only four are alive to tell the tale. As Americans prepare to vote in November, what can be learned from these former Presidents about this unique and powerful position?


This series of three in-depth conversations reaches beyond politics, beyond the campaigns, and into the very genome of Democracy. The genius of the Constitution has proven to be its clarity - and its adaptability - as Presidents make history by wielding their extraordinary powers. These powers are explored in three conversations conducted by Cokie Roberts with Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush.


These legacy conversations have been produced by WHYY, in association with the National Constitution Center, as three, one-hour programs for public television audiences. The series helps us understand the context and overarching issues from the last three decades of the 20th century. In addition to in-depth accounts of key events in each Presidential administration, this series enables the exploration of several common themes, including The Cold War, Secrecy, Separation of Powers, Veto Power, Pardons, and War Powers. Presidential Conversations on the Constitution speaks to the legacy of the office and its dynamic relationship with the Nation's most important document.


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Cokie Roberts, award-winning journalist and senior news analyst for National Public Radio, serves as interviewer for the series. Ms. Roberts has worked for more than 25 years in broadcasting, winning numerous awards including the highest honor in public radio, The Edward R. Murrow Award. She is also the first broadcast journalist to win the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for coverage of Congress. In 1991, she was awarded an Emmy for her contribution to the ABC News Special, Who is Ross Perot? Ms. Roberts is also the former President of the Radio and Television Correspondent´┐Żs Association. Her commentaries on NPR can be heard every Monday on Morning Edition.



Funding provided by Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and JP Morgan Chase