About the National Archives

Plenary Session, Council of State Archivists

Joint Annual Meeting with the Society of American Archivists and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators

Remarks by Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States
August 4, 2006, Washington, DC


“In America,” Oscar Wilde wrote, “the President reigns for four years, and journalism governs for ever and ever.” With us this morning is an extraordinary journalistic voice of measurable civility and good sense amidst the journalistic sages of our time—and a friend. As you may have noticed, Washington has no shortage of political commentators within the media, but there is one with unique credentials, capable of calmly and quickly getting to the heart of the matter without rhetorical frills or embellishment.

Cokie Roberts brings to her reporting and commentary many years of experience covering the corridors of Congress and the great, the near-great, and the not-so-great men and women who have walked those corridors.

But she also brings to her work a special perspective in her reporting that could only be gained by being raised as a “child of Congress.” Both her parents, Thomas Hale Boggs Senior and Lindy Boggs, served with distinction—together over 45 years—in the House of Representatives.

I recently hosted Cokie and her mother, Congresswoman Boggs, in an “American Conversation,” one of our public programs at the National Archives, and found the evening informative and delightful, just as I’m sure we’ll find Cokie’s comments this morning.

Having been able to see Congress from the inside as well as the outside has allowed her to offer in her commentary and analysis a better understanding of our cherished institution of Congress—and why those men and women we send to Capitol Hill act the way they do, whether they please us or frustrate us.

She is a familiar face and voice on television and radio. She currently serves as a political commentator for ABC news and as a senior news analyst for National Public Radio.

For a number of years, she was a commentator on this Week, the ABC Sunday morning public affairs show.

She is also a respected author. One of her books, Founding Mothers, focuses on the wives of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Another one, We Are Our Mother’s Daughters, explores women’s roles and relationships throughout American history.

She is also co-author, with her husband, Steve Roberts, of From This Day Forward, an account of their marriage of nearly 40 years. She and Steve also write a syndicated column.

Her work has earned her a number of honors, including the prestigious Everett McKinley Dirksen award for coverage of Congress; an Emmy; and the Edward R. Murrow award, the highest honor in public radio—as well as more than a dozen honorary degrees.

She was also recently named by President Bush to the President’s Council on Service and Civil Participation.

I am also proud to say that she is a very active member of the board of the Foundation for the National Archives, which supports many of our museum and public programs, such as the Public Vaults and special exhibits.

By serving on the Foundation board, she is following in the footsteps of her mother, who has also served on the board.

There is an ancient couplet that goes something like this:

Immodest words admit of no defense;
For want of decency is want of sense.

It is my very great pleasure this morning, ladies and gentlemen, to introduce our speaker, whose words are rarely if ever immodest and whose decency and good sense shine through each and every one of them. Please join me in welcoming Cokie Roberts.

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