tv Eileen Mc Namara Eunice CSPAN August 8, 2018 10:49pm-11:52pm EDT
being identified and fired, but the source ultimately agreed to allow me to publish the audio >> ginger thompson talks about covering mexico and the government's immigration policy. writes about the political career of kennedy shriver sister jean, robert and ted kennedy. they also talk about the book the politics and prose bookstore in washington. this is one hour. >> good afternoon, everybody. thank you for coming out to politics and prose on this beautiful day. my name is jenny and on behalf
of the staff and owners here, welcome to the store. we are really excited to welcome eileen mcnamara to talk about her new book, "eunice." a couple of housekeeping notes. first if we can take a second to silence our phones, that would be great and also when we get to the question and answer portion if you wouldn't mind using this microphone here in the aisle soe can pick up your voice, that would be appreciated. now for the buck. eileen mcnamara spent about 30 years with the "boston globe" and she was one of the first to write about the abuses in the catholic church. two awards from her list of accolades are the pulitzer prize for commentary and in her latest book she argues that eunice kennedy left the greatest after her impaired sister rosemary,
eunice used her strength and education for people with cognitive differences in the family. they say that she is discerning and mcnamara has written a book they wisely trusted her and opened up the papers allowing mcnamara to deliver a sensitive and a nuanced portrait. [applause] thank you for having me. this opened up the doors when the "boston globe" assigned me to cover politics. it was in a smaller setting as i recall but what i remember if it
was a great refuge to figure out exactly what was in the tax reform package that i was supposed to be covering. i don't think i ever did actually figure that out. but this is a wonderful sort of place to hide as a reporter. in 1984 it was also the year that ronald reagan presented the presidential medal of freedom. i don't actually remember that and that is sort of surprising because if a kennedy sneezed in 1984 it was big news, so it must've beemusthave been my cole white house to cover it at that ceremony would i have thought about eunice kennedy shriver in 1984? i'm guessing i would have thought she is president kennedy's sister. sargent shriver's wife. maria shriver's mother.
i wrote this biography in part to restore eunice kennedy shriver which is remarkable for so many things beyond the founding of the special olympics. so who is eunice? calling it this was a stretch for me. the publishers that you cannot call it misses the shriver. but everyone in her life, who knew her for decades called her mrs. shriver. her daughterher daughters-in-lar mrs. shriver and i was sure if we called it the eunice there would be a thunderbolt that would hit me. but eunice it is and she was. she was the often overlooked middle child of joe and rose. she wasn't old enough to be part of the golden trio.
they were the glamorous ones. rosemary was tucked in the middle had forgotten in her own way so she wound up at the kids table most of the time, supervising her younger siblings patricia, bobby, teddy. she found it an advantage to be overlooked in that way so she was aggressive in trying to get her father's attention. she became the best sailor, tennis player, the most aggressive of the touch football players simply to get the eye is on her and off of the boys. she wrote a letter to her father saying i know you are so busy
spending all your time worrying about the boy's careers. what about me. she knew the answer to the question. power was the reserve command. it was not in the cards for her to get his attention in that way that she hoped to sow what joe kennedy would instead, she took. she hijacked the families charitable foundation and for all of its existence, they named for her older brother killed in world war ii, the president would use robert francis kennedy or edward m. kennedy. from the beginning to the end, the foundation was her baby. she decided with millions of dollars where the money went to
support research into the condition we call mental retardation. what was the advice to the mothers and fathers growing up, what was the advice through the 50s? institutionalize your child for the sake of your marriage. they kept rosemary at home as long as they could. when mental illness intrude upon the intellectual disability that she suffered joe was grasping at straws whether he was misguided or ill intentioned was for others to decide. i think that he grabbed onto the possibility that this new experimental neurological surgery would cure his daughter
but instead of the frontal lobotomy left her immobilized. she couldn't walk or talk and then came the real guilt that she spent her life trying to be sold not just for herself but for her whole family. he shut his daughter away in a psychiatric institution in upstate new york. they were not equipped to deal with her or have rehabilitative services. it wasn't until 1949 she was sent to to school in wisconsin where rehabilitation began and she got her speech back. she was able to walk again but until the end of her life she could only say a few words and one of those words was eunice. we don't know exactly when
eunice learned that her sister had been lobotomized. i think she learned in 1949 because i found a letter in the papers at the library in which when they write t may write to e 70s they say your daughter's personal physician has passed away and we need your recommendation. she said i preferred the letter to mrs. shriver because my daughter was involved in the original selection of a doctor for rosemary. so i think when it came time to transfer her to wisconsin, joe turned to the one daughter with him closest all her life. she spent hours on the tennis court to help develop her coordination so it was only natural he would bring her of all of the children into this
decision. it fueled something that propelled her through her life relentlessly, powerfully. i might have thought when i heard about the presidential medal how nice, but a nice woman she is doing all that work. she was a mother thing. nice wasn't one of them. [laughter] she was not about charity. she wasn't giving her money and gifts to the less fortunate. she in fact did see her constituent as less fortunate, she saw them as equals and said the time has come to bring people out of the shadows and that is her gift to us. special olympics isn't the accomplishment. the accomplishment is she got us
to forget a whole different population. in so many ways, she is the anti-joe kennedy. only first-place finishes count. coming in second wasn't good enough. let me win buwith the win but ie up with me graves in the. on the other hand, she learned from her father's great gift was public relations. we are watching a series on cnn that the kennedy family. why are we so fascinated by because he took this family and molded them and we bought them. in this series with hours of information we all know, there is exactly one sentence devoted and it is an enormous injustice.
the first title of the book and my contention is a little bold. they said today in the post none of us would be here if jack kennedy had resolved the cuban missile crisis, so maybe that is a bit of a stretch. you think about what she did she made us see this whole population in a new way. she said every child is entitled to a calm and entitled to play, to compete. they don't fall apart if they lose .
and murder working alongside catholic school girls in the backyard. [laughter] and eunice just thought all of it was grand. just because they thought they had a chance so did the inmates. if you make mistakes in your life she is somebody who believes in second chances. you cannot get away now with what she did. everything went along swimmingly. and then they would salute to the flag or the pledge of allegiance. and then not that much older.
so they were banging their heads on trees and children in wheelchairs playing catch and they were swimming with children because she believed anybody could do anything. they were black and brown and white and all hues of the rainbow. but not conventional but what we learned in researching the book how tee2 got there first. before her brothers are every issue we associate them with at the state department in 1945 with a lackluster congressman and she was the roommate in georgetown and
also for the justice department. with that task force juvenile delinquency that wasn't until 1961 when he was the attorney general creating a task force tee2 went to jack and they went to bobby to say look at the juvenile delinquency issue and with the biography tee2 is portrayed as a pain in the asked. [laughter] they did get that part right but the notion because she was such an annoyance he wanted to get her off the phone.
but on the issues that mattered to her and kennedy shriver she knew what worked and did not work she wanted him to focus on stuff that mattered and she did he has no record of caring about this issue at all with lackluster career in the house so with that very first piece of federal legislation to train teachers in special education. and he walked out of the hearing before the testimony began. but this issue had touched the kennedy family as well. so they would have an advocate in the kennedy emily much more
committed -- committed ban any politician would be before they took the oath and created a presidential commission and to draft legislation to close the kennedy institutions to put money into special education to make sure they have the right to a seat in the public classroom which by the way they did not have until 1975. they would not have had that without the change of public perception that tee2 brought through those special olympics. the commission lasted for two years and spent the first year figuring out what the problem was and those solutions to fix them one of the problems there
was nothing in the national institute of health and we don't understand where these problems come from to study prenatal conditions and infancy we need an institute for child health and human development the national institute of health was not interested. or general medicine whether a child or an adult and that was not true at all but they believed with no medical training that was not true and that was very distinct for those scientists to study them. so in nantucket sound were all major decisions are made so
she says to jack something that you have to think of in a personal way you have had two enormous losses losing a child to a miscarriage she had a stillbirth. and patrick had not yet been born. that we don't know enough why women miscarry. we don't know enough about stillbirth and said we thought you were just preoccupied with mental retardation and now we have what is called the eunice kennedy shriver institute for human health and development and that was created through the kennedy administration because she saw what so many people could not see
ironically when patrick was born he died shortly after birth from brain disease that is a disease that nobody dies of today because at the institute of child health and human development, research into the long in the world have progressed in such a way it is a nonstarter now. we all that to tee2. we think of her but it is much larger than that her advocacy touched all of our lives without knowing that any of us to carried a child they were massive contradictions my idea she was a lovely lady -- lady.
and was passionate and empathetic largely an absent mother and while writing paces -- pieces for the ladies home journal and that the women's liberation tenderness were devaluing motherhood she was writing that in the car so those who had active and busy lives the contradiction and could not see that in herself but she fought all of her life for troubled kids and was on the front line looking at the kennedy legacy we see 47 years in the united states senate but what we don't see is how many of those pieces of legislation have their roots
at the dinner table with eunice kennedy shriver including the 1975 law that requires school districts to give a seat in the classroom to a disabled child including the american with disabilities act. that law which fundamentally changed the relationship of people with intellectual and physical disabilities to the world around them is owed a lot to eunice kennedy shriver is no violation of their civil rights to deny them a place in the workplace a home or an apartment building and now we have curves that allow wheelchairs to go across the street. i would like to say that 1984
ceremony that she was honored that people would think was retirement age was the end of two career but that was not the end of her career she went on for two more decades to fight the fight and in the fall of 2086 months before her death she's your last big gala at her mansion in maryland as a corollary to the special olympics with av -- able-bodied people and those for social activities and friendships it is an idea that her youngest child conceived of in the dorm room at georgetown and she made it come to life through the kennedy foundation. the last big gala to celebrate
that raised $3.5 million for that effort she was old and tired into thousand eight so she slipped away from the party. she went upstairs in the elevator she had installed for rosemary so after joe kennedy suffered a debilitating stroke that silenced is very powerful voice that brought rosemary back to the center of that family she came to visit in maryland and she was at dinner at teds. she brought her back and she stayed there until she died in 2005 with everybody at her side. so she has pencils coming out
of her hair and a scattering of legal pad the former governor and senator from connecticut and has a child with intellectual disabilities. and then thinking this will be a friendly chat. and now has been diagnosed with a brain tumor that would take his life the following summer and said i walk into the room and there she is as fierce as she has ever been what are we going to do about the amendments to the american with disabilities act when harkin retires what are we going to do with all of our
cash? [laughter] he said i was tempted to sit on the edge of her bed but she was so loud left so they asked out politics to the very end of her life she was fighting the fight one thing that tee2 learned was that passing legislation is never the end. it is the beginning you have to fight for every appropriation and you have to be on the frontlines all the time the battle is never over. people forget. see you can never forget and she didn't. i was find these events you are much smarter with those questions. so over to you.
>> i think that you hit on what is true about tee2. she was a character with men's trousers and men's she weighed about 109 pounds and was 5-foot 10 inches brother would say i saw you on television i need to teach you how to where pearls or a blouse. she was superficial it did not matter to her. she asked her mother to please park down the street mother would be looking while with her hair she never called and brothers and dogs in the car
but she did not care. the neck i always enjoyed your stuff with the 72 vice presidential nomination. >> one of the other great things that i touch on she was an incredible political strategist she saw a lot of fights that she did not win but she knew when to walk away. she realized before sergeant shriver realized 72 word and badly and they told me that wherever they went, things were getting pretty dicey she said let's go visit with the local institutions let's go to
the local special olympics. throughout the fall of 1972 to hookup with special olympians to think is there a campaign going on. >> i found a telegram in her papers i had access to 33 boxes of her private papers even she had read and said i'm not sure why you want to get into those because they are just vhs tapes of maria on television (there was not a single one. but there was a telegram that sergeant sent begging him not to drop out.
and it said this is an opportunity let's talk about it this would be a great gift to the country. she was brave band defied convention. >> building off the scope of the last question, how would you say that eunice kennedy shriver and each other got along? >> by the greatest political partnerships ever. she was very tough on him. >> why can't you be more like my father? be like the common man you're always quoting theologians which he did do quite a bit actually. but they pushed each other and
he was the maternal part of the family warm and tender every night at dinner he would raise his class of fine french wine to say joseph raise your milk we will toast the most wonderful woman in the world and invariably would say and your mother would say and they would dissolve into laughter. and she respected him enormously with the same catholic faith tradition of social justice and they were in it together truth be told she never would have married sergeant shriver if her father
hadn't engineered it so the president of notre dame and a great leader of our time and with the story of how joe kennedy called in the 1952 and asked to have a little chat with tee2 she was working in the home for girls she had in her mind joined the convent the one place she thought how women got to run the show. that had enormous appeal to teach you. tee2 she was at a boarding school when kennedy was ambassador. and now is a nine and i have to tell you when we were in school together everybody
thought tee2 had a vocation and now she is a sister of the sacred heart. because joe kennedy's plan to be the first president of the united states. and you will not elect the first catholic president of the united states on the arm of a woman and a full leg black veil and white whipple. not working for him. it is a vision indeed that will not happen. so sarge worked for him and was immediately smitten because she was very bright the only one of the kennedy sisters to have more than a catholic education to be a
before the father died after three priest told me the story they will tell you the story what really happened i called them and asked the question well you know i leave they are all dead. [laughter] so i can't get anybody to tell the truth. didn't that feels creepy? he said i would have except i knew what a wonderful man he was and how passionate she was and i just thought it would work and it did. it worked beautifully. she was tough on him and his friends when i interviewed for
this book and resurrecting anybody for the dead for one final dinner would be sergeant shriver. i would do that in a heartbeat. she was tough. >> thank you for writing this book i have a 36 rural goddaughter goddaughter who four years ago with tom to connecticut because she wanted her parents to have assistance with her sister who has down syndrome so she takes rebecca to her some practice for special olympics and the whole family goes to the meat on --
the swim meet so it is great to have a resource that i can read about who made all of this possible. it also makes me realize that my goddaughter makes me a better person. >> there is something to be said for that the very first special olympics was 50 years ago this summer. and that first year at soldier field in chicago about only 100 parents turned up to see those 1000 children that participated. now it attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the competitions all over the globe in china, russia, in the middle east where these children were locked away. she did that. she encouraged parents to be
proud of their children. so that's great. >> thank you for giving this talk and now you will be right next to that great book about sarge. >> this is a little shorter. >> i would like to ask you another way that sarge and tee2 defined those conventions but in 1992 at the democratic national convention they had a full-page ad in the new york times from the democratic governors from new york and pennsylvania that says the
story of america became of a never more inclusive society the u.s. welcomed immigrants and protected workers and to ensure the civil rights of citizens to make public space accessible to the handicapped with the ideals of justice and the u.s. a prima court drastically reversed the seven unelected justices they deprived every human being for the first nine months of their life on the fundamental human right and the right to life. there are a lot of the progressive elizabeth warren democrats that agree that legal abortion. and so did you find letters or
other evidence of the antiabortion views? >> eunice shriver was nothing if not consistent she opposed abortion just as she opposed capital punishment. she was grounded in the catholic church all of life you just cannot lead part of that away. she was a pragmatist she tried valiantly and unsuccessfully with those supporters to get kennedy to stay on board. so after 73 he and the democratic party change places
looking at eunice kennedy shriver she lives the most modern times but the opposition to abortion was a liberal and progressive position and they denounced abortion because of genocide and it was a way to keep down that population it came from her deep catholicism she never stopped convinced him but it would be a big fight whether she was a stronger democrat or catholic she accepted an award as a feminist for life and was not shy about it.
because it was her conviction that it would not be overturned. so ideally a lot with her abortion position i don't happen to share that but i respect enormously where it came from. she was sympathetic to people in those positions and there were very difficult conversations about abortion but eunice was in physical pain every day of her life she had a lot of metabolic issues like her brother jack but she also suffered for the women who found themselves in a position seeking an abortion.
so she was able to hold her own belief and be public about them. >> when did the spark first go off you needed to write this book and how long ago was that? >> it has been a long ride. my first inspiration she died two weeks before her brother ted. and and i looked at those obituaries and i recount this in the introduction but hers was on the front page to give her credit for the special olympics but didn't explore
the legacy that he left some in the many photographs of the family of the obituary all the women were misidentified or not mom -- or left them out entirely in the correction man the following day said everything to me about her and her struggle to be seen it's what we still experience now. she got one sentence on the cnn six part series. and i thought invisible or interchangeable that was your lot. i guess that's why wrote it.
>> thank you thank you thank you for this incredible luck and as you were talking said there are so many things i want to say. so i took a bunch of little notes i remember one of the last times i saw eunice was that her catholicism and her devotion one of her most favorite theologians that the vatican would not allow his papers to be published she champion for him forever. i remember when sergeant shriver said what will we do with maria i was running and experiment where maria was -- were they worked in the 30s and said come on down so i literally said we can call the
peace corps director and ask if you will have maria for the summer in senegal. i said that's a great idea but the funny thing is but eunice was sleeping on the sofa i did not even notice her. she had a coat on she jumped up and said great idea. [laughter] even though she's only 18 this is fabulous. so they just sent maria to senegal. she did that then she came back. i am one of nine children in the irish catholic family but that she identified for me i brought my sister to the last special olympics when it was re-created in her backyard
where she was in her 80s and said let's do it again so i said this is a time i can bring my sister from connecticut. and there is eunice she is 85 years old playing touch football and talking to everyone and here she created it again until the year that she died and then my mother who was so impressed with eunice she got her masters in st. joseph college and one of the reasons was that eunice
was the speaker at her graduation and was so incredibly impressed for the rest of her life she was at the special olympics right now i am working with volunteers to work on the 50th anniversary of the peace corps for the sergeant shriver global messenger spending the last two decades of his life working for special olympics i'm sure to the tutelage of his wife but anyway thank you this was brilliant i will buy more copies to make thank you for coming in for the work you are doing. >> touching on a delicate subject it seems to be that eunice was one of the early
people and what was emanating if joe had given the same quality and quantity to teach you that he gave to joe junior or jack or ted. i would like for you to comment on that. >> not just the kennedy family but the world that was mired in sexism and in 20th century america which he would have loved to the to run in the 11th congressional district? yes she would which you make a better congressman than jack?
[laughter] make people say she would have made better senator or ivy league president she said what she thought and really didn't care what you thought and i don't thank you could entertain that in her. now they say that about bobby. he was tough and he infuriated people somebody else had to smooth feathers he is the kennedy men could do that. but she would not have teamed
herself to run for elected office she had more respect for people that were elected to public office than anything she had accomplished maria asked her and her dying weeks you must be so proud of all you have done and accomplished. she said i was never elected to public office. no but the nature of the woman that would have made her a bad candidate made her a fierce advocate she never would have accomplished what she did if she wasn't as aggressive as she wants. senators tell me they would cringe and they would say eunice is coming. [laughter] and one of her a said her method she went to get the appropriation talk to the senator would put her -- t5 t5
but she got what she wanted and she used her name and she learned public -- relations from her father and use that name for people who had no voice did not have to do that she could have a lovely leisurely life. she was incapable of rest or relaxation but but she never taught us to sit down. [laughter]
>> where did you learn to imitate her? you are really good. [laughter] mac i would listen to a lot of audiotapes. i felt she was over my shoulder. kim shriver kept her office is exactly that one and it even has the same stuff in the trash it's locked and i asked but he said are you sure? i went in and there is this wonderful memorabilia but as i walked around the room a book fell off the bookshelf.
and i was in there alone. i'm trying to get out of there. she would not have liked me. i don't play touch football i don't weigh 105 pounds. she would have seen a flaw. but if the television today turn off the tv and then say get onto yourself. what does that mean? but they knew what that meant contribute and get on it. don't be self-indulgent -- self-indulgent. >> what book fell out? i don't know i did not stick around.
[laughter] >> she would be in the oval office i don't know what you're doing over here but the american with disabilities act need to be reauthorized and i need this and this and she didn't care who was in the oval office or who was the president republican or democrat and in the bid 90s when clinton orchestrated welfare reform she didn't see anything reformist about it because they were taking benefits away and went up to the white house and had a meeting with the policy advisor who was lena kagan who
has a different job now and after she gave her an earful she went into the oval office to the president and that money was restored. so her people were taken care of. she saw the big picture and cared about the big picture and protected them for 50 years. [applause] thank you for coming. it is a beautiful day. thank you. [inaudible conversations]
and they said they were here before with some of the others and we were talking and they said we have to go because i take my work on the other said you do that too? and what we realized we checked our work home and went home at night and worked and the guys went out and had a good time. sometimes it would go to a matinee but we realize that was the difference.