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Presidential

The Washington Post

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The Washington Post's Presidential podcast explores how each former American president reached office, made decisions, handled crises and redefined the role of commander-in-chief. It was released leading up to up to Election Day 2016, starting with ...Show More

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Constitutional Episode 01: Framed

06:35 | Jul 24th, 2017

In the premier episode of “Constitutional,” we go back in time to that hot Philadelphia summer in 1787 when a group of revolutionary Americans drafted the U.S. Constitution. Subscribe to the "Constitutional" podcast for the full episode!

The preamble

03:36 | Jul 17th, 2017

In order to form a more perfect podcast, we created this overview of what you can expect from "Constitutional" when it launches July 24. Make sure to subscribe to "Constitutional" if you want to receive full episodes when the new series debuts.

Introducing 'Constitutional'

04:58 | Jun 29th, 2017

If you loved ‘Presidential,' check out our new podcast launching July 24. Listen to a preview and subscribe now by going to washingtonpost.com/constitutional or searching on Apple Podcasts.

Donald Trump: Division and union

54:36 | Nov 9th, 2016

In this final episode of the podcast, Library of Congress historians Michelle Krowl and Julie Miller return--along with Washington Post journalist Dan Balz--to reflect on the changing nature of the American presidency.

Barack Obama: The pursuit of identity

56:49 | Oct 30th, 2016

Political strategist David Axelrod and biographer David Maraniss discuss Barack Obama's search for identity -- and how that quest has paralleled America's own complex reckoning with race.

George W. Bush: Changing course

47:44 | Oct 23rd, 2016

Peter Baker, author of "Days of Fire" and a journalist with the New York Times, joins historian Mark Updegrove to examine how George W. Bush's presidency marked the beginning of a new era in American history.

Bill Clinton: The good and the bad

49:37 | Oct 16th, 2016

David Maraniss, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Bill Clinton, explores how his core character traits had both a bright and a dark side. And Washington Post reporter Jim Tankersley examines how his policy legacy has had a similar duali...Show More

George H. W. Bush: Restraint

53:08 | Oct 9th, 2016

Historians Jon Meacham and Jeffrey Engel discuss President Bush's unique form of presidential leadership--a vintage combination of public service, conservatism and emotional restraint--and examine why his legacy has grown more positive over time.

Ronald Reagan: Myths and truths

44:40 | Oct 2nd, 2016

Lou Cannon, biographer and senior White House correspondent for The Washington Post during President Reagan's administration, helps us separate the fact from fiction about who Ronald Reagan really was.

Jimmy Carter: Keeping the faith

58:45 | Sep 25th, 2016

Longtime Carter political adviser Pat Caddell, theologian and biographer Randall Balmer, and Washington Post reporter Robert Costa examine how Jimmy Carter's faith has shaped his leadership in and out of the White House.

Gerald Ford: It's personal

56:55 | Sep 18th, 2016

The president's son Steven Ford joins White House photographer David Hume Kennerly and Berkeley professor Daniel Sargent to talk about how Gerald Ford's experience working across the aisle in Congress affected his leadership style as president.

Richard Nixon: Looking inward

43:41 | Sep 11th, 2016

Bob Woodward, one of the Washington Post investigative reporters who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, examines what was at the heart of Richard Nixon's presidential downfall. The Washington Post's current executive editor, Marty Baron, joins as ...Show More

Lyndon B. Johnson: Power

41:07 | Sep 4th, 2016

The LBJ Presidential Library's director, Mark Updegrove, helps us examine how Johnson worked his will--at times darkly--to get some of the most transformative legislation of the 20th century through Congress.

John F. Kennedy: We are all mortal

49:16 | Aug 28th, 2016

Robert Dallek, Michael Beschloss and Fredrik Logevall--three major Kennedy historians and biographers--join us on this week's episode to talk about JFK and death. But not his assassination...

Dwight D. Eisenhower: Covert action

52:56 | Aug 21st, 2016

Stephen Kinzer, author of "The Brothers," and historian Will Hitchcock explore President Eisenhower's predilection for covert action--both in foreign affairs and in his own leadership style.

Harry S. Truman: Trying to make the right call

37:54 | Aug 15th, 2016

Biographer David McCullough looks at some of the most difficult decisions President Truman made during his time in the White House, and Washington Post polling manager Scott Clement examines the biggest polling failure in presidential history.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Through Eleanor's eyes

54:11 | Aug 8th, 2016

Allida Black, editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt papers, along with FDR Library Director Paul Sparrow and White Ho use speechwriter Sarada Peri, examine Franklin Roosevelt's leadership through the lens of the first lady's own contributions to his presid...Show More

Herbert Hoover: Dealing with disaster

40:25 | Jul 31st, 2016

Herbert Hoover entered the White House with an array of high-profile experiences leading disaster relief. So why was his handling of the Great Depression considered a failure? Biographer Charles Rappleye guest stars.

Calvin Coolidge: A tale of two Coolidges

47:03 | Jul 25th, 2016

Former politician Michael Dukakis, biographer Amity Shlaes and political scientist Robert Gilbert join Washington Post economics reporter Steven Pearlstein to offer alternative reads on Calvin Coolidge's legacy.

Warren G. Harding: Love and scandal

43:48 | Jul 18th, 2016

Steamy love letters. Jazz. Scandal. Psychics. Newspapers. The Hope Diamond. Historian Nicole Hemmer helps guide us through the wild life and presidency of Warren G. Harding.

Woodrow Wilson: A complicated legacy

46:25 | Jul 11th, 2016

Racism, diplomacy, women's rights...historian John Milton Cooper and Woodrow Wilson House executive director Robert Enholm lead us through Wilson's complicated personal and presidential legacy.

William Howard Taft: This chief, not that chief

39:10 | Jul 3rd, 2016

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of 'The Bully Pulpit,' along with historian Michelle Krowl and Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes discuss why President Taft made a better chief justice than commander-in-chief.

Theodore Roosevelt: Exuberance

43:40 | Jun 26th, 2016

Biographer David McCullough and historian Michelle Krowl take us inside the wild, unstoppable dynamism of Teddy Roosevelt, whose energy and activism redefined the role of American president.

William McKinley: The modern campaign

40:57 | Jun 20th, 2016

Republican political strategist Karl Rove dissects what was so transformative about William McKinley's 1896 presidential campaign. And Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig discusses how his assassination modernized the Secret Service.

Benjamin Harrison: The president as conservationist

38:22 | Jun 12th, 2016

Benjamin Harrison was the first U.S. president to use his position to try to save a species, the fur seal. He also set aside more than 13 million acres of forest reserves. This episode looks at the roots of conservation as a presidential responsibili...Show More

Grover Cleveland: Tell the truth

38:21 | Jun 5th, 2016

Known for his forthrightness, Cleveland came clean when news broke about him fathering an illegitimate child; yet he later covered up a cancer surgery at sea. Biographer Matthew Algeo, Library of Congress historian Michelle Krowl and 99 Percent Invis...Show More

Chester A. Arthur: Redemption

39:36 | May 29th, 2016

How does one of the greatest beneficiaries of the spoils system end up being the president who passes civil service reform? Post reporter David Fahrenthold and Stateline editor Scott Greenberger tell the amazing story of Arthur's personal transformat...Show More

James A. Garfield: Shot down

40:50 | May 23rd, 2016

Only 100 days into office, President Garfield was shot down in a train station by a disturbed office seeker. 'Destiny of the Republic' author Candice Millard along with Michelle Krowl, of the Library of Congress, examine the life cut short. Particula...Show More

Rutherford B. Hayes: The most contested election

41:53 | May 15th, 2016

How does a vicious, close and disputed election spill over into a presidency? We examine the razor-thin election results for Rutherford B. Hayes, and the equally fine line he then had to tread as president during the end of Reconstruction. Historian ...Show More

Ulysses S. Grant: Lover, fighter, writer

41:52 | May 8th, 2016

Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs are considered the best ever written by a president. In this episode, Washington Post nonfiction book critic Carlos Lozada and biographer David Maraniss discuss what they found funny, touching and illuminating about the wor...Show More

Andrew Johnson: Stitching up a torn country

35:32 | May 2nd, 2016

What kind of president can repair America's deepest divisions? Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress walks us through Andrew Johnson's time in office right after the Civil War and sheds light on why he struggled to bring the country together.

Abraham Lincoln: His hand and his pen

53:56 | Apr 24th, 2016

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of 'Team of Rivals,' and Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress guide us through Lincoln's love for language--and how his gift for writing and oratory became one of his greatest presidential leadership tools.

James Buchanan: The bachelor and the bloodshed

37:42 | Apr 18th, 2016

America is on the eve of civil war, and James Buchanan is alone in the White House as our first and only bachelor president. Historians Jean Baker and Jim Loewen, and The Washington Post's Jim Tankersley, explore the lack of personal and political un...Show More

Franklin Pierce: Rolling off the tracks

29:59 | Apr 10th, 2016

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer James McPherson and historian Edna Greene Medford discuss Franklin Pierce's role in the country's progression toward civil war, as well as the personal tragedy that unfolded right before he took office.

Millard Fillmore: Teaching the obscure presidents

37:45 | Apr 3rd, 2016

Should we teach the presidency of Millard Fillmore? What do we lose if we don't? Historians Jean Baker and James McPherson, along with researcher Henry Roediger and Washington Post education reporter T. Rees Shapiro, tackle these questions in our 13t...Show More

Zachary Taylor: War heroes and conspiracy theory

29:22 | Mar 27th, 2016

In the 12th episode of the Presidential podcast, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank joins historians Catherine Clinton and Joseph Uscinski to talk about military hero Zachary Taylor and the assassination theories that swirled around his death in ...Show More

James K. Polk: Getting it done

35:00 | Mar 20th, 2016

Through hard work and strategic lying, the 11th president managed to accomplish everything on his agenda. But is being effective the same as being great? We discuss Polk's life and leadership style with historian Amy Greenberg. And musician John Linn...Show More

John Tyler: Ghosts and the vice presidency

32:14 | Mar 13th, 2016

When Vice President Tyler takes over the White House following the death of William Henry Harrison, he sets a precedent that would forever shape presidential succession. This episode features grandson Harrison Tyler and his family, who talk about the...Show More

William Henry Harrison: Great song, horrible death

29:05 | Mar 6th, 2016

Longest inaugural address, shortest presidency. Washington Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri, along with Barbara Bair and Dr. Philip Mackowiak, deconstruct the origins of Harrison's famous campaign slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too" and debunk the...Show More

Martin Van Buren: The story of our two-party system

37:35 | Feb 29th, 2016

He may not have been a very memorable president, but Van Buren did much to create the party establishments we have today--the idea of national parties, nominating conventions and grassroots organizing. Experts Barbara Bair and Mark Cheathem, along wi...Show More

Andrew Jackson: The violence, the fight

44:56 | Feb 21st, 2016

Barbara Bair of the Library of Congress, Steve Inskeep of NPR and biographer Jon Meacham examine the violent life and leadership of Andrew Jackson: the tragedy of his personal life, the brutality of his battles and his policies against Native America...Show More

John Quincy Adams: The trait that broke a presidency

44:05 | Feb 14th, 2016

Scholars Charles Edel and Fred Kaplan, along with Washington Post journalist Katie Zezima, explore the main leadership characteristic that doomed the presidency of John Quincy Adams.

James Monroe: The Forrest Gump of presidents

39:24 | Feb 7th, 2016

In the latest episode of Presidential, we look at our fifth president's knack for being present at famous moments in history--as well as the unexpected and twisted legacy of the Monroe Doctrine.

James Madison: Burning down the house

37:27 | Jan 31st, 2016

Though he's our first wartime president, James Madison is usually better remembered for his work on the constitution rather than his time as commander-in-chief while the White House went up in flames. But Madison scholar Jack Rakove says there's a ke...Show More

Thomas Jefferson: On food and freedom

41:59 | Jan 25th, 2016

The great contradiction of Thomas Jefferson -- that he wrote the famous words "all men are created equal" and yet held more than 600 slaves -- sits at the heart of his complex and controversial legacy today. Experts Annette Gordon-Reed, Paul Finkelma...Show More

John Adams: The case of the missing monument

32:07 | Jan 18th, 2016

Biographer David McCullough, Julie Miller of the Library of Congress, Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post, and Kirk Savage of the University of Pittsburgh give us the backstory on why there's no monument to John Adams in the nation's capital.

George Washington: The man, the myth, the legend

48:29 | Jan 10th, 2016

In the first episode of Presidential, we take a look at George Washington's personality and leadership traits--from fearless action hero to charismatic dancer, to insecure and reluctant president. Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Joel Achen...Show More

Introduction: Welcome to Presidential

03:12 | Jan 5th, 2016

Leading up to Election Day 2016, The Washington Post's Presidential podcast explores how each former American president reached office, made decisions, handled crises and redefined the role of commander-in-chief, starting with George Washington in we...Show More