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Robert Caro declares LBJ had nothing to do with JFK death

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The Wall Street Journal of April 28-29, 2012 contains a lengthy review by Robert Draper of Robert Caro’s new book, “The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power.”

Here are some highlights of the book review:

“…Mr. Caro’s almost monastic 36-year-long dedication to his subject has succeeded in winning over virtually all of his critics, including almost every Johnson confidant.”

“…Mr. Caro has revealed that Johnson had accepted the ignominy of the vice presidency in large part because (as he told Ed Clark, a key consigliere[sic] and later a key Caro source) ‘seven of them got to be president without even being elected.’”

“What commands the most attention in ‘The Passage of Power” is an unforgettable 65-page elaboration of November 22, 1963, the day of infamy on which the assassin’s bullet elevated Johnson to the presidency.”

“(While conspiracy buffs will be riled by Mr. Caro’s statement that ‘nothing I have found in my research leads me to believe that whatever the full story of the assassination may be, Lyndon Johnson had anything to do with it,’ most of us will probably be relieved that the narrative doesn’t wallow in innuendo.”)

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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Going all the way with LBJ

By George F. Will,

Washington Post

April 28, 2012

Around noon on Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963, almost exactly 24 hours after the assassination in Dallas, while the president’s casket lay in the East Room of the White House, Arthur Schlesinger, John Kennedy’s kept historian, convened a lunch at Washington’s Occidental restaurant with some other administration liberals. Their purpose was to discuss how to deny the 1964 Democratic presidential nomination to the new incumbent, Lyndon Johnson, and instead run a ticket of Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Sen. Hubert Humphrey.

This example of the malignant malice of some liberals against the president who became 20th-century liberalism’s most consequential adherent is described in Robert Caro’s “The Passage of Power,” the fourth and, he insists, penultimate volume in his “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” which when completed will rank as America’s most ambitiously conceived, assiduously researched and compulsively readable political biography. The new volume arrives 30 years after the first, and its timing is serendipitous: Are you seeking an antidote to current lamentations about the decline of political civility? Immerse yourself in Caro’s cringe-inducing catalogue of humiliations, gross and petty, inflicted on Johnson by many New Frontiersmen and, with obsessive hatred, by Robert Kennedy.

Caro demonstrates that when, at the Democrats’ 1960 Los Angeles convention, John Kennedy selected Johnson, an opponent for the nomination, as his running mate, Robert Kennedy worked with furious dishonesty against his brother, trying to persuade Johnson to decline. Had Robert succeeded, his brother almost certainly would have lost Texas, and perhaps both Carolinas and Louisiana — President Eisenhower had carried five of the 11 Confederate states in 1956 — and the election.

Johnson, one of the few presidents who spent most of their adult lives in Washington, had no idea how to win the presidency. Convinced that the country was as mesmerized as Washington is by the Senate, Johnson did not formally announce his candidacy until six days before the 1960 convention.

Johnson did, however, know how to use the presidency. Almost half the book covers the 47 days between the assassination and Johnson’s Jan. 8 State of the Union address. In that span he began breaking the congressional logjam against liberal legislation that had existed since 1938 when the nation, recoiling against Franklin Roosevelt’s plan to “pack” the Supreme Court, produced a durable congressional coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats.

Caro is properly enthralled by Johnson putting the power of the presidency behind a discharge petition that, by advancing, compelled a Southern committee chairman to allow what became the 1964 Civil Rights Act to get to the Senate, where Johnson’s meticulous cultivation of another Southern chairman prevented tax cut legislation from becoming hostage to the civil rights filibuster. By taking such arcana seriously, and celebrating Johnson’s virtuosity regarding them, Caro honors the seriousness of his readers, who should reciprocate the compliment.

Caro astringently examines Johnson’s repulsive venality (regarding his Texas broadcasting properties) and bullying (notably of Texas journalists, through their employers) but devotes ample pages to honoring Johnson as the most exemplary political leader since Lincoln regarding race. As vice president, he refused to attend the 400th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, Fla., unless the banquet would be integrated — and not, he insisted, with a “Negro table” off to the side. He said civil rights legislation would “say to the Mexican in California or the Negro in Mississippi or the Oriental on the West Coast or the Johnsons in Johnson City that we are going to treat you all equally and fairly.” Caro never loses sight of the humiliations and insecurities that were never far from Johnson’s mind.

Caro is a conventional liberal of the Great Society sort (“Unless Congress extended federal rent-control laws — the only protection against exorbitant rents for millions of families . . . .”) but is also a valuable anachronism, a historian who rejects the academic penchant for history “with the politics left out.” These historians consider it elitist and anti-democratic to focus on event-making individuals; they deny that a preeminent few have disproportionate impact on the destinies of the many; they present political events as “epiphenomena,” reflections of social “structures” and results of impersonal forces. Caro’s event-making Johnson is a very personal force.

Samuel Johnson said of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” that no one ever wished it longer. Not so Caro’s great work, which already fills 3,388 pages. When his fifth volume, treating the Great Society and Vietnam, arrives, readers’ gratitude will be exceeded only by their regret that there will not be a sixth.


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In selecting highlights from Mr. Draper's book review, I should have included his more complete statement, which follows:

“Particularly jolting is Mr. Caro’s laudatory treatment of the Warren Commission charged by Johnson to report on the Kennedy assassination. Rather than deploy the historian’s benefit of hindsight and point out its serious investigative lapses in the apparent interest of putting the whole shady matter to rest, he praises the now widely ridiculed commission (on which my grandfather served, I should disclose) as one that helped a nation ‘build confidence’ in the new president. (While conspiracy buffs will be riled by Mr. Caro’s statement that ‘nothing I have found in my research leads me to believe that whatever the full story of the assassination may be, Lyndon Johnson had anything to do with it,’ most of us will probably be relieved that the narrative doesn’t wallow in innuendo.) In this single instance, it feels as if Mr. Caro found himself on a narrative roll and wouldn’t let LBJ’s expeditious but hardly heroic commission slow his story’s locomotion.”

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This book will be number 1 for a while. It is an incredible opportunity. We should try to get a new Amazon review up every single day if not hour. These reviews should be full of product links to great books like Breach of Trust and Unspeakable.

The corporate media censorship should not go uncontested. Amazon reviews on a book that will get this amount of views is a real opportunity. Also mention Black Op Radio and quote from other good sites.

We need to do this. There will never be the publicity of another JFK movie. We do it or the implications of the coup will be forever niched and trivialized.

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You can even pair Caro with another book in a kind of challenge. Here is how I did it.


I love reading Caro on LBJ. But there is no National Security State there. Even great historians like Allen Brinkley fail to ride both broncos-- the traditional three branches, electoral model and the newer one, the post 1947 National Security State. Official McLeftists like Chomsky are peddled to the extent that they confirm the statist mantra that this new military, intel AND MEDIA bureaucracy was always under the thumb of the President. No thumb was that wide, and especially after January 1953 [ notice how we hear the least about the CIA between 1953-1960 from our official "leftists"]

Do you take your own curiosity seriously or manicured? If the former, try this challenge: read the most important book on the US presidency written since 1945. It is JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglass. This book rides both broncos.

Check out what Ray MGovern, John Perkins, Daniel Ellsberg, Marcus Raskin and Richard Falk have said about JFK and the Unspeakable. The Footnotes alone are the Alexandria of the US National Security State.

Compare it to Caro's new book. Read both at once. The twain is not marketed to meet. That's your job as a citizen living at a time when the largest Military Industrial Media Complex in world history is 64 years old and grown beyond lenses. Or you can keep reading The New Yorker, and conflate Daniel Ellsberg with moon landing wackos. Nobody will make fun of you.http://www.amazon.com/JFK-Unspeakable-Why-Died-Matters/dp/1439193886/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

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Guest Robert Morrow

I suggest for folks to post at the Huffington Post article on Caro's LBJ book: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/passage-of-power-robert-caro_n_1464067.html#comments

And, by the way, I am completely disgusted that I have been place on "moderation" at Education Forum. It is called "Shoot the messenger if you can't handle John Kennedy's (or Lyndon Johnson's) sexual dysfunctions. Sorry, they both had problems in spades in that department. If is one big reason LBJ was able to strongarm/blackmail his way onto the 1960 ticket in the first place.

NEW YORK — Robert Caro receives the most interesting mail.

"I get letters, constantly, saying, `I see your book's coming. I hope you're going to prove in this book that LBJ did it,'" the award-winning and ongoing biographer of Lyndon Johnson says during a recent interview at his midtown Manhattan office. "Did it," as in killed President Kennedy.

"When I talk at colleges, you can hardly have a lecture or a speech without one of the first questions being, "Are you going to prove that Johnson did it? Or, are you going to show that Johnson was involved in it?' And when you say Johnson had nothing to with it. You can feel the audience doesn't accept it. You lose your audience."

Believers in Oliver Stone's "JFK" and other conspiracy theorists who hoped that Caro, the most hard-working of historians, would finally nail Johnson will have to look elsewhere. In "The Passage of Power," the fourth of five planned volumes on Johnson, Caro devotes more than 100 pages to the events immediately before, during and after Nov. 22, 1963. Nothing in his many years of research made him suspect Johnson.

"I never came across a single hint, in anything I did – in interviews or all the documents – that would lead you to make such a conclusion," he says.

The Johnson books are an obsession, regardless of who you blame for the death of JFK. Caro has been writing about the late president for nearly 40 years and fans, as anxious in their own way as followers of "Harry Potter," have waited a decade for the latest volume. "Passage of Power" begins in 1958, when Johnson is considering a presidential run; continues through his unhappy time as vice president; and ends in early 1964, weeks after he succeeds Kennedy.

Published this week, the new book is around 700 pages and the series totals more than 3,000; Caro has enough unused material in his filing cabinets to fill many more. Length has not deterred readers or critics. The first three volumes have sold more than 1 million copies. Caro has won two National Book Critics Circle awards, a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, for "Master of the Senate." More honors seem likely for "Passage of Power," which The New York Times' Michiko Kakutani has praised for its "consummate artistry and ardor."

But his influence reaches beyond sales and prizes. The author, who has never held or sought political office, has become a kind of wise man in Washington. According to Ron Suskind's best-selling "Confidence Men," Democratic senators read Caro's books as they attempted to pass health care legislation in 2009 and Rep. Barney Frank consulted "Master of the Senate," which covered Johnson's dominating run as Senate majority leader, as he urged fellow Democrats to support new financial regulation. President Obama has met at the White House with Caro and has said that "The Power Broker," Caro's Pulitzer winner about municipal builder Robert Moses, influenced his own political thinking.

Caro said he hears often from members of Congress. He remembers being asked to visit by Sen. Edward Kennedy's staff several years ago, when Republicans, then in the majority, were threatening to change long-established rules on debate and streamline the voting process. Some called it "the nuclear option," and it was never enacted.

"I think everyone was reading `Master of the Senate,'" says former Kennedy aide Jim Flug, who helped arrange Caro's visit and adds that the historian may have persuaded a couple of legislators to change their minds. "Whenever Bob comes to Washington – I remember a breakfast at the Library of Congress – all the events are always full up. You have people in Washington just listening to every word he says."

Room for the new book already is being made in current political debate. Caro mentions a review in Newsweek by David Frum, a contributing editor for the magazine and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Frum greatly admired "Passage of Power" and called it a primer for how a president might lead. He then labeled it an "unspoken critique of President Obama."

"Yes, certainly, Obama shares Lyndon Johnson's gift for driving opponents crazy, if it is a gift," Frum writes. "But the use of power Caro so vividly describes is not something that comes naturally to our current president."

Ridiculous, Caro responds. Any critique is not only unspoken, but "unwritten," "unthought."

"I have a high opinion of Obama," says Caro, praising the president for the health care bill and other legislation.

For Caro, lean and determined at age 76, a sign of achievement is when someone complains about his work. His success rate is high. Johnson aides and family members were angered by his early books on LBJ, especially the second volume, "Means of Ascent," which presented Johnson as vicious and unprincipled as he won a highly questionable Senate race in 1948. But "Master of the Senate" was a redemptive book for both subject and biographer and Caro was welcomed, for the most part, by the Johnson camp. One of his toughest critics, former LBJ aide Jack Valenti, agreed to talk to him for future volumes. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, in Austin, Texas, no longer restricted his access and even began selling his books.

"Passage of Power" offer new opportunities for discussion. Caro suggests in the book that Kennedy might have dropped Johnson in the 1964 election, even though Kennedy himself had said publicly he had no such plan. All agree that the vice president was an outsider in the administration – his opinions ignored, his outsized personality mocked – but the consensus among Kennedy aides and family members has been that the president never seriously considered finding a new running mate.

Caro wonders. He notes that everyone was equally sure Kennedy would not choose Johnson in 1960. Kennedy had picked him in part because Johnson could help ensure support in Texas and other Southern states, but by the fatal visit to Dallas in November 1963, Johnson's influence had fallen enough that Kennedy made some key decisions about the trip in a meeting to which Johnson was not invited. At the same time, an investigation into the finances of Johnson aide Bobby Baker was leading to questions about Johnson himself. Life magazine was planning a long investigation. Congressional hearings had started the morning of Nov. 22.

Given Johnson's lowered standing in Texas and the testimony in Washington, "the president's assurances that he would be on the ticket might start to have a hollow ring indeed," Caro writes.

Caro also questions a narrative dear to Kennedy admirers.

At the time of JFK's assassination, a coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats were blocking his legislative agenda, including a tax cut and a civil rights bill. Johnson got them passed, along with Medicare, education and other initiatives that Kennedy couldn't get through.

Former Kennedy aides Ted Sorensen and Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. are among those who have said that those bills also would have gotten through had JFK lived. They reasoned that Kennedy, who won narrowly in 1960, would have been re-elected by a substantial margin and enjoyed larger majorities in Congress.

But Caro points out that the Senate committees were dominated by experienced and conservative Southerners with their own agenda. An especially hard case was Sen. Harry Byrd of Virginia, the deficit hawk and chair of the Senate Finance Committee. He had refused to act on the tax cut bill when Kennedy was in office, but, thanks to LBJ's charm and flattery, eventually cleared it.

"There had been times before (in the 1930s) when (Franklin) Roosevelt had huge majorities in Congress, but after the Southern Democrats decide no more New Deal legislation is going through, no more New Deal legislation goes through," Caro says, adding that obstruction lasted into the 1950s, until Johnson became majority leader.

"Only one guy got bills through – it was Lyndon Johnson."

Caro was friendly with Sorensen, Kennedy's devoted speech writer who died in 2010. They were neighbors on Manhattan's Upper West Side and would meet often, the two sitting on opposite couches in Sorensen's apartment, overlooking Central Park. Sometimes, they would discuss whether Kennedy could have gotten his legislation passed.

"I remember going over this again and again with Sorensen," Caro says. "He wouldn't agree with me."

The historian says the book tells two stories: "The deep hatred" between Johnson and the Kennedys, especially Robert Kennedy, and what happens when JFK is dead and roles are overturned. Johnson, the unwanted vice president, is in charge.

"That's why I call the book `Passage of Power.' The title is what it is. You examine something in its moment of greatest crisis and you see what it has to do," Caro says. "To watch Lyndon Johnson grab up the reins of power and get Kennedy's legislation moving, how he keeps the people in the Kennedy administration from leaving and reassures the American people, is to see political genius in action."

Caro has called Johnson a story of darkness and light, and clouds will gather in Volume V, which Caro expects to complete within the next few years. Among what happened during Johnson's last decade: His landslide victory in 1964; his fateful decision in 1965 to commit ground troops to Vietnam; the rapid passage of historic bills, including on civil rights, education and immigration; Robert Kennedy's brief run against Johnson for president in 1968; the assassinations of Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.; Johnson's announcement that he would not seek another term; his final years back in Texas and his death, in 1973.

The book, Caro says, will be long.

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Seat of Power

‘The Passage of Power,’ Robert Caro’s New L.B.J. Book


Published: May 2, 2012

The New York Times

  • “The Passage of Power,” the fourth installment of Robert Caro’s brilliant series on Lyndon Johnson, spans roughly five years, beginning shortly before the 1960 presidential contest, including the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis and other seminal events of the Kennedy years, and ending a few months after the awful afternoon in Dallas that elevated L.B.J. to the presidency.


The Years of Lyndon Johnson

By Robert A. Caro

Illustrated. 712 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $35.

Among the most interesting and important episodes Caro chronicles are those involving the new president’s ability to maneuver bills out of legislative committees and onto the floor of the House and Senate for a vote. One of those bills would later become the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

You don’t have to be a policy wonk to marvel at the political skill L.B.J. wielded to resuscitate a bill that seemed doomed to never get a vote on the floor of either chamber. Southern Democrats were masters at bottling up legislation they hated, particularly bills expanding civil rights for black Americans. Their skills at obstruction were so admired that the newly sworn-in Johnson was firmly counseled by an ally against using the political capital he’d inherited as a result of the assassination on such a hopeless cause.

According to Caro, Johnson responded, “Well, what the hell’s the presidency for?”

This is the question every president must ask and answer. For Lyndon Johnson in the final weeks of 1963, the presidency was for two things: passing a civil rights bill with teeth, to replace the much weaker 1957 law he’d helped to pass as Senate majority leader, and launching the War on Poverty. That neither of these causes was in fact hopeless was clear possibly only to him, as few Americans in our history have matched Johnson’s knowledge of how to move legislation, and legislators.

It’s wonderful to watch Johnson’s confidence catch fire and spread to the shellshocked survivors of the Kennedy administration as it dawned on them that the man who was once Master of the Senate would now be a chief executive with more ability to move legislation through the House and Senate than just about any other president in history. Johnson’s fire spread outward until it touched the entire country during his first State of the Union address. The words were written by Kennedy’s speechwriter Ted Sorensen, but their impact would be felt in the magic L.B.J. worked over the next seven weeks.

Exactly how L.B.J. did it was perfectly captured later by Hubert Humphrey — the man the president chose as his vote counter for the civil rights bill and his Senate proxy to carve its passage.

Humphrey said Johnson “knew just how to get to me.”

In sparkling detail, Caro shows the new president’s genius for getting to people — friends, foes and everyone in between — and how he used it to achieve his goals. We’ve all seen the iconic photos of L.B.J. leaning into a conversation, poking his thick finger into a confidant’s chest or wrapping his long arm around a shoulder. At 6 foot 4, he towered over most men, but even seated Johnson commanded from on high. Caro relates how during a conversation about civil rights, he placed Roy Wilkins and his N.A.A.C.P. entourage on one of the couches in the Oval Office, yet still towered over them as he sat up close in his rocking chair. And he didn’t need to be in the same room — he was great at manipulating, cajoling and even bullying over the phone.

He knew just how to get to you, and he was relentless in doing it.

If you were a partisan, he’d call on your patriotism; if a traditionalist, he’d make his proposal seem to be the Establishment choice. His flattery was minutely detailed, finely tuned and perfectly modulated. So was his bombast — whatever worked. L.B.J. didn’t kiss Sam Rayburn’s ring, but his lips did press against his bald head. Harry Byrd received deference and attention. When L.B.J. became president, he finally had the power to match his political skills.

The other remarkable part of this volume covers the tribulation before the triumphs: the lost campaign and the interminable years as vice president, in which L.B.J.’s skills were stymied and his power was negligible. He had little to do, less to say, and no defense against the indignities the Kennedys’ inner circle heaped on him. The Master of the Senate may have become its president, but in title only. He might have agreed with his fellow Texan John Nance Garner, F.D.R.’s vice president, who famously described the office as “not worth a bucket of warm spit.”

Caro paints a vivid picture of L.B.J.’s misery. We can feel Johnson’s ambition ebb, and believe with him that his political life was over, as he was shut out of meetings, unwelcome on Air Force One, mistrusted and despised by Robert Kennedy. While in Congress he may not have been universally admired among the Washington elite, and was even mocked by them as a bit of a rube. But he had certainly never been pitied. In the White House, he invented reasons to come to the outskirts of the Oval Office in the mornings, where he was rarely welcome, and made sure his presence was noted by Kennedy’s staff. Even if they did not respect him, he wasn’t going to let anyone forget him.

Then tragedy changed everything. Within hours of President Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson was sworn in as president, without the pomp of an inauguration, but with all the powers of the office. At first he was careful in wielding them. He didn’t move into the Oval Office for days, running the executive branch from Room 274 in the Executive Office Building. The family didn’t move into the White House residence until Dec. 7. But soon enough, it would become clear that the power Johnson had grasped for his entire life was finally his.

As Caro shows in this and his preceding volumes, power ultimately reveals character. For L.B.J., becoming president freed him to embrace parts of his past that, for political or other reasons, had remained under wraps. Suddenly there was no longer a reason to dissociate himself from the poverty and failure of his childhood. Power released the source of Johnson’s humanity.

Last year I was privileged to speak at the funeral of Sargent Shriver — a man who served L.B.J. but who in many ways was his temperamental opposite. I said then that too many of us spend too much time worrying about advancement or personal gain at the expense of effort. We might fail, but we need to get caught trying. That was Shriver’s great virtue. With Johnson’s election he actually had the chance to try and to win.

Even as Barry Goldwater was midwifing the antigovernment movement that would grow to such dominance decades later, L.B.J., Shriver and other giants of the civil rights and anti­poverty movements seemed to rise all around me as I was beginning my political involvement. They believed government had an essential part to play in expanding civil rights and reducing poverty and inequality. It soon became clear that hearts needed to be changed, along with laws. Not just Congress, but the American people themselves needed to be got to.

It was hard to do, absent a crisis like the losses of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. By the late 1960s, America’s increasing involvement and frustration in Vietnam, the rise of more militant civil rights leaders and riots in many cities, and the end of broad-based economic growth that had indeed “lifted all boats” in the early ’60s, made it harder and harder to win more converts to the civil rights and anti­poverty causes.

But for a few brief years, Lyndon Johnson, once a fairly conventional Southern Democrat, constrained by his constituents and his overriding hunger for power, rose above his political past and personal limitations, to embrace and promote his boyhood dreams of opportunity and equality for all Americans. After all the years of striving for power, once he had it, he said to the American people, “I’ll let you in on a secret — I mean to use it.” And use it he did to pass the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the open housing law, the antipoverty legislation, Medicare and Medicaid, Head Start and much more.

He knew what the presidency was for: to get to people — to members of Congress, often with tricks up his sleeve; to the American people, by wearing his heart on his sleeve.

Even when we parted company over the Vietnam War, I never hated L.B.J. the way many young people of my generation came to. I couldn’t. What he did to advance civil rights and equal opportunity was too important. I remain grateful to him. L.B.J. got to me, and after all these years, he still does. With this fascinating and meticulous account of how and why he did it, Robert Caro has once again done America a great service.

Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States.

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What I find fascinating is that people as worldly as Caro and Clinton seem to think it unthinkable that a man who'd helped kill his predecessor could go on to pass legislation helping minorities and the poor.

They seem unable to grasp the basic facts of agriculture, and religion, for that matter--that flowers can spring from cow dung, and great deeds can arise from a guilty conscience.

EVERYONE knows Johnson was an ambitious and conflicted man, whose career was at an end on 11-22-63, UNLESS some deus ex machina should appear and rescue him from scandal and ruin. And BINGO! it appears out of nowhere like lightning...in Johnson's home state, no less.

And yet, we're not supposed to think about such things, and Caro refuses to explore such possibilities in his epic investigation of Johnson's psyche....

Johnson was a man, and men are capable of great evil, as well as great good.

Edited by Pat Speer
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only thing missing is actual evidence....

you need to speak to James Galbraith, whose father indicated to him how scared LBJ was of Lemay and his minions post-assassination. Not the fear of a co-conspirator. Yes, he benefited. No, there is no evidence he conspired.

Edited by Allen Lowe
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You're right, Allen. There is no evidence Johnson conspired to kill Kennedy beyond the statements of questionable sources.

There is, however, a simple rule of thumb that you can question one's intentions prior to an event based upon their behavior after the event has occurred.

And Johnson did everything within his power in the days after the assassination to make sure no open and wide-reaching investigation ever took place.

And he lied about his reasons for doing so. While, in his book The Vantage Point, he makes out that he pressured Warren to chair the Commission investigating/whitewashing the murder in the name of national security, as the suspicion the Russians were involved might balloon into WW3, the reality, as clearly discerned once one looks at the whole of the evidence, was that his primary concern was that HE would be implicated in the crime.

While it's true he could be innocent, and still worry about being implicated, one can't go around pretending--a la Caro and apparently Clinton--that Johnson's behavior in the months after the assassination was legendarily heroic.

I mean, he thought the single-bullet theory was nonsense, and acted as though he could think as much without also thinking there'd been more than one shooter. In other words, he came to power through a murder, and FAILED to adequately investigate the murder and ascertain who was involved to even HIS satisfaction.

So how can we pretend he heroically quashed doubts about American exceptionalism, when he bore these doubts himself, and refused to act upon them.

He was either complicit in the murder or a horrible coward whose legacy of cowardice has stretched on like the drippings of an incontinent dog.

Edited by Pat Speer
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I agree he was a horrible guy, involved in not only all kinds of political and financial dishonesty but ready to engage in mass murder (Vietnam). But one can also see his desire to cover up and then pursue evil military ends as the result of both mendacity and military blackmail - which is what he told John Kenneth Galbraith. And his desire to cover up was no more intense than Specter's or Gerald Ford's or Earl Warren's.

There are just no known associations between LBJ and those most likely to have conspired, from military and military intelligence to CIA assests or Cuban exiles. Unless you take Madeiline Brown seriously.

and once again I urge you to discuss this with James Galbraith, who has done great work on the military side of the conspiracy, if in oblique ways. He has discussed the Joint Chiefs' urging of JFK to launch a first strike a few years before, and has documented it well. He has, through his own research and through his father's close knowledge of both JFK and LBJ, come to a conclusion far different than those who think LBJ was in on it.

Edited by Allen Lowe
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What I find fascinating is that people as worldly as Caro and Clinton seem to think it unthinkable that a man who'd helped kill his predecessor could go on to pass legislation helping minorities and the poor.

They seem unable to grasp the basic facts of agriculture, and religion, for that matter--that flowers can spring from cow dung, and great deeds can arise from a guilty conscience.

EVERYONE knows Johnson was an ambitious and conflicted man, whose career was at an end on 11-22-63, UNLESS some deus ex machina should appear and rescue him from scandal and ruin. And BINGO! it appears out of nowhere like lightning...in Johnson's home state, no less.

And yet, we're not supposed to think about such things, and Caro refuses to explore such possibilities in his epic investigation of Johnson's psyche....

Johnson was a man, and men are capable of great evil, as well as great good.

Pat, I used to feel this way about Johnson. Now I wonder how much the fear of insurrection was behind the Civil Rights legislation - on Johnson's part, and on the parts of certain of the influential people whe were running him. Fear, also, of suffering the consequences of real or imagined Soviet involvement in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements.

It would be useful to track Civil Rights developments against US civil unrest against the war to see at what point Johnson's decision to initiate Civil Rights legislation became an inevitable one.

Edited by David Andrews
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Excerpts from an interview of Robert Caro by Brian Bolduc in the Weekend Wall Street Journal, May 5-6, 2012, titled, “Political Power: How to Get It and Use It”:

“The book also shows the momentous occasion when Johnson’s compassion and ambition ‘coincide.’ Mr. Caro says, ‘This genius of his for using political power to help people is unleashed.’ After Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson uses all his political guile to push the slain president’s legislative program – the famous income tax-cut package and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – through Congress. At the same time, Johnson avails himself of any opportunity to amass greater popularity, and thus greater power. To wrap himself in the Kennedy mantle, he makes certain that Jackie Kennedy, her dress stained with her husband’s blood, is photographed next to him when he takes the oath of office on Nov. 22, 1963.”

“The Kennedy’s are ‘not going to like some of the stuff in the book, but it’s not my job to do that,’ Mr. Caro says. Nevertheless, ‘they were certainly great in helping me understand the dynamics between the Kennedys and the Johnsons.’ And they were more helpful than the Johnson clan, which has long been antagonistic towards Mr. Caro’s efforts. Lady Bird Johnson stopped talking to him after a few interviews, and ‘the daughters, I am told, really hate the books,’ he laments. ‘I haven’t really tried to talk to them.’”

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