The Chatter Podcast: Presidents' Day and Washington's Legacy with Lindsay Chervinsky

By David Priess
Monday, February 21, 2022, 8:46 AM

It's Presidents' Day! To mark the day, I recorded this special episode with historian and author Lindsay Chervinsky about the history of this odd holiday--and the legacy of the first president, George Washington.

We spoke about the tensions historians face when writing about current events, the origins of Presidents' Day, the advisory bodies that Washington explored before settling on a cabinet, the first president's development of that institution during his administration and its role in early national security decisions, the impact of Washington's choices on his successors, how recent presidents have used the cabinet quite differently than their predecessors had done in the 18th and 19th centuries, and what Washington might think about assertions of executive privilege during the past few years.

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo with engineering assistance from Ian Enright.

Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. See for privacy and opt-out information.

Among the works cited in this episode:

"A diverse Cabinet will make Joe Biden a better president and unify the country" by Lindsay Chervinsky, Washington Post, November 11, 2020

"Five Best: Books on Presidential Cabinets" by Lindsay Chervinsky, Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2021

"The Disturbing Precedent for McConnell's Debt-Ceiling Brinksmanship" by Lindsay Chervinsky,  The Bulwark, October 1, 2021 

The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution by Lindsay Chervinsky

Hamilton: The Musical

Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life by Kathleen Dalton

There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century by Fiona Hill