WASHINGTON — Presidents named Reagan, Bush and Clinton applauded Michael Jackson in his lifetime. John Roberts, now the nation's chief justice, said there were limits to adulation of a pop star.
As a young lawyer in the Reagan administration, Roberts was dismissive of White House aides who suggested the president send a letter congratulating Jackson on giving underprivileged children free tickets to Washington-area concerts in the 1980s.
"I hate sounding like one of Mr. Jackson's records, constantly repeating the same refrain, but I recommend we not approve this letter," Roberts wrote. "Frankly I find the obsequious attitude of some members of the White House staff toward Mr. Jackson's attendants, and the fawning posture they would have the president of the United States adopt, more than a little embarrassing."
Then, the lawyer's word of caution.
Roberts noted that another star, "a newcomer who goes by the name of Prince," was planning a concert in Washington. "Will he receive a presidential letter? How will we decide which performers do and which do not?"
The writings were released in 2005 when President George W. Bush nominated Roberts to the Supreme Court.