01/16/2013 11:09 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

DKG 4 LYFE: Presidential Roundtable


It shouldn't come as a surprise that Doris Kearns Goodwin is the covergirl for every presidential history geek (myself included). She's the winner of not one, but TWO Pulitzer Prizes, wrote the book Steven Spielberg's Lincoln is based on and is a regular on The Daily Show. She's pretty much the Meryl Streep for people who read.

And from that historic election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, 2012 was a year those DKG fangirls and I were having presidential shit fits on a daily basis. All that 2016 presidential contender news and text messages? That was us. (Thanks Hillary.)

We love DKG because she's made presidential history accessible to the non-librarian-of-Congress class. How does she do it? Well, as it turns out, she's also able to talk to dead people.

Yep. What follows is an exclusive transcript of the annual conversation badass Her Supreme Awesomeness -- her new official title -- Doris Kearnsy-G has with dead presidents. Happens every time there's an inauguration. Looks like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt show up for the 2012 electoral round, with a late-as-always appearance from Richard Nixon.

Doris Kearns Goodwin: Thank you all for joining me this year.

Thomas Jefferson: It's a pleasure to be here.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Indeed, a real treat.

George Washington: Ahhh Cooooncurrrrrrrrr.

Martha Washington: George says, "I concur."

Washington's whole "teeth issue" has worsened, so he mumbles. Martha translates. That's love.

Abraham Lincoln: As always, Madame Doris, it's great to be in your company. We've had a good year.

Kearns Goodwin: We certainly have. How does it feel to be an Oscar nominee?

Lincoln: It's a real honor. But as I've always said, it's great just to be nominated.

Roosevelt: Since when have you always said that?

Lincoln: Since I freed the slaves.

Roosevelt sits back in his wheelchair. He's pissed. Lincoln's film did better than Hyde Park on the Hudson, and he's clearly not OK with it. Add that to Lincoln's get-out-of-saying-stupid-crap comeback "I freed the slaves" that he's always saying.

Kearns Goodwin: The year is 2012 and President Barack Obama has been re-elected and will be inaugurated on Monday, January 21st. Considering all of your years in office and the times that you lead, what are your thoughts on an African American being reelected to the presidency? (Looks to Lincoln, along with everyone else.)

Lincoln: Is it my turn? Oh, the black thing, yes, it's great, you know, we've come a long way... thanks to me.

Roosevelt: LINCOLN, LINCOLN, LINCOLN, it's always about Lincoln.

Kearns Goodwin:
Be civil, gentlemen.

Roosevelt: I am civil, but why does it always have to be about Lincoln? Like President Obama, I brought this country out of an economic crisis.

Kearns Goodwin: Yes, speaking of, the country currently faces a divided and polarizing Congress that is unwilling to work with the president. What advice would you offer to President Obama? (Everybody looks to Lincoln for a response.) (Except Roosevelt.)

Roosevelt: Well, I'd -- [interrupted]

Lincoln: -- Me again? Fine. Yes, I have experience working with a divided Congress. You can watch what I did in the new Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln, currently in theaters.

Jefferson: I would think you of all people would avoid theaters.

Lincoln: Not funny.

Jefferson: Come on, it's a joke.

Washington: Arghhh Blargghhhh.

Martha Washington: George is laughing.

Jefferson: Seriously though, my advice to Barack [Jefferson still pronounces it "Bah-rack"] would be to set a mandate and stick to his party's principles.

Washington: Yur da reeeesahn weeee harr partis in fwirst placcccce, annnd dat da pobbbbleee.

Martha Washington: George says, "You're the reason we have political parties in the first place, and that's the problem. And that I, Martha Washington, am a beautiful lady and he's embarrassed none of you have commented on it."

Roosevelt: George is right, as always. We wouldn't have a party system if it weren't for you. You had to go and screw over Johnny (referring to John Adams) and thus screw us all over with this ridiculous divide.

Lincoln: Not to mention that I had to take care of the problem that you didn't want to deal with, aka, I freed the slaves!


Kearns Goodwin: Gentlemen, please, be respectful.

Jefferson: There's nothing wrong with a party system. And I only did what I had to do to John Adams so that I could get elected and do great things for this country.

Just as Jefferson says this, Richard Nixon walks into the room. Roosevelt whispers to Martha, "Jesus, who sent the Evite to Dick?"

Nixon: Hello gentleman, I'm sorry I'm late.

Kearns Goodwin: Hello President Nixon. We were just discussing, well, what were we discussing?

Roosevelt: Not slavery.

Kearns Goodwin:
Let's move on. Currently President Obama and Congress are at a stand still debating the economic direction of this country, primarily taxation and the deficit. Considering your time in office, what advice would you give Obama on working with Congress during economic negotiations?

See Spielberg's new film, Lincoln, now in theaters -- for my answer.

Nixon: In my experience, I've always found Congress...

Roosevelt: Nobody cares Dick. Obama needs to lead with mandates and executive orders. And maybe a fireside chat. Worked for me!

Washington: Heeee contrahl da benks.

Martha Washington: Something about banks.

More control the president has to lead the better. The party, and in turn Congress, should follow.

Kearns Goodwin:
We're coming to the end of this annual roundtable discussion. Any last thoughts on the state of our union and President Obama?

We are faced with many great challenges...

Lincoln: That's great Dick. Our union is great because I freed the slaves. Go see Lincoln.

Wheeen dawbt troost Gahd.

Martha Washington: Yeah, no idea.

Jefferson: Focus on the mandate, support the party and lead.

Nixon: And don't forget to...

Roosevelt: Thanks Dick. He should do what I did and send his wife out instead of him. They just might lift the 22nd Amendment and give him a third term!

Nixon: That wouldn't be very...

Arghhhihjg Deek.

Martha Washington:
George said, "That's enough Dick."

Doris Kearns Goodwin: Thank you all very much. I look forward to speaking with you again when we meet to discuss the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States.

Martha Washington:
Hillary Clinton!

H. Alan Scott will be live tweeting President Barack Obama's inaugural weekend from Washington, D.C. Updates on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Edited by Lori White.