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My 2 part dissection of CNN's apologia for LBJ


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Here is part one, which is the mild part.  Owing I think to Joe Califano from the title on down. 

Him, Valenti and Tom Johnson spent a lot of time patching up what I think was a disaster of a presidency.

This part of my critique centers on LBJ and his failed War on Poverty and how his ciivl rights program ended up topsy turvy. Summer after summer of incinerations--which the show does not reveal.

https://www.kennedysandking.com/reviews/cnn-s-apologia-for-lbj-part-one

Edited by James DiEugenio
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Posted (edited)

This is part 2, which is worse. 

I mean talk  about getting down and dirty.   I tried to find out who wrote it, got the runaround.  Bat Bridge Entertainment would not return my e mails or phone calls.

If I had written something like this, I would not have done so either.  I mean, Bundy, McNamara and Rusk talked LBJ into going to war in Vietnam?  And they got Andrew Young to say this, what a stain on his reputation.  That is just provable BS all the way.  How stupid it sounds in light of the tape we played in JFK Revisited.  

But these are the things you have to do to play the game.  Which Oliver will not be a party to.  And this is the kind of show one ends up with.  As Bob Parry called it, False History.   

https://www.kennedysandking.com/reviews/cnn-s-apologia-for-lbj-part-two

Edited by James DiEugenio
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Two excellent pieces!

Though it is now approaching ten years, I can still recall a presentation that you delivered in Dallas where you referred to that iconic photograph taken by Jacques Lowe in January of '61 when JFK was informed by Adlai Stevenson of Patrice Lumumba's death!  You made the point, if I recall correctly with my ageing memory banks, "Can you imagine Lyndon Johnson reacting in that way?"

Not that any more ammo is needed, but no mention in either part of Johnson's nefarious actions in relation to the USS Liberty incident documented in Joan Mellen's 'Faustian Bargains'.

p.s. Your photograph that appears in the April 2022 edition of DPUK's 'Dealey Plaza Echo' shows someone living high on the hog since last we met!  Maybe a salad diet is called for.

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I don't know if you've ever used this in any of your pieces, Jim, but I read something in, I believe, Dean Acheson's book Present at the Creation that explained Johnson to me. He said that Johnson was remarkable in his refusal to take responsibility for his actions. He said that Johnson used advisers not to inform his opinion as much as give him someone he could blame for his own decisions. I remember Acheson gave an example. But I don't remember the specifics. But it was Johnson calling in one adviser and getting his opinion, and essentially over-ruling his opinion by saying something like, "Well, couldn't it have been Soviets? Are you sure it wasn't the Soviets?" To which the adviser would agree that it could be the Soviets. Johnson would then call in a second adviser, and say "Well, I just spoke to (fill-in the blank...Acheson, Bundy, Rostow, etc...) and he says it could be the Soviets. Don't you think it could be the Soviets?" To which this second adviser would say "I suppose it could be the Soviets." Then Johnson would call in someone with some power, say McNamara or Rusk, and say "I just spoke to (fill in the blanks...two top advisers) and they BOTH told me they thought it was the Soviets. Now you can bet your bottom dollar if these two agree on anything it's gotta be true. So, dang, we gotta do something about this. We can't just have the Soviets pushing us around."

Now, I just made up that example. But I have a clear memory of Acheson's description of Johnson's methods. He would make up his mind what happened and what to do, then call in advisers, manipulate them so they would sort of agree with him, then tell others they had advised him to do what he'd already decided to do. He was a weasel and a coward of the first order.

And one can see this in his actions regarding the Warren Commission and Vietnam. "Don't blame me! I didn't do it! It was those damned advisers!" 

When it was really him: the man, the monolith, Lyndon Johnson. 

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6 hours ago, Pete Mellor said:

p.s. Your photograph that appears in the April 2022 edition of DPUK's 'Dealey Plaza Echo' shows someone living high on the hog since last we met!  Maybe a salad diet is called for.

 

WTF?  LOL

Just curious Pete... would you ever suggest to someone that it might be time they see a plastic surgeon?

 

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Funny Sandy.  

 

The striking thing about this is that Johnson was oh so willing to push the Vietnam War onto Kennedy; he even wanted McNamara to take back his announcement about withdrawing the advisors. 

This was done in order to blur the line, when in fact the line between the two was oh so distinct.  Kennedy was disguising his withdrawal plan around the election; LBJ was disguising his escalation plan around the election.

And CNN went along with this rubbish.

 

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From my 2021 book POLITICAL TRUTH: THE MEDIA AND THE ASSASSINATION

OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY:

 

JOHNSON GETS HIS WAR

 

Johnson’s bullying of internal opposition was evident in a secretly recorded telephone call on February 25, 1964, to McNamara, who had been working in concert with Kennedy before the assassination to begin the withdrawal process and had continued as secretary of defense under Johnson:

 

Johnson: I hate to modify your speech any, because it’s been a good one, but I just wonder if we shouldn’t find two minutes in there for Vietnam.

 

McNamara: Yeah, the problem is what to say about it.

 

Johnson: All right, I’ll tell you what I would say about it. I would say that we have a commitment to Vietnamese freedom. We can pull out of there. The dominoes would fall, and that part of the world would go to the Communists. We could send our Marines in there and we could get tied down in a third world war or another Korean action. Nobody really understands what it is out there. And they’re asking questions and they’re saying why, why don’t we do more. Well, I think this: you can have more war or you can have more appeasement. But we don’t want more of either. Our purpose is to train these people [the South Vietnamese], and our training is going good.

 

McNamara: All right, sir, I’ll, I’ll get —

 

Johnson: I always thought it was foolish for you to make any statements about withdrawing. I thought it was bad psychologically. But you and the president thought otherwise, and I just sat silent.

 

McNamara: But the problem is —

 

Johnson: All right, then the question’s, how the hell does McNamara think when he’s losing the war he can pull men out of there?

 

That’s when McNamara should have resigned as secretary of defense. Instead he went through the agony of further capitulation, sporadic resistance, and acquiescence that lasted until he was fired in February 1968. The tone and gist of his 1964 conversation with Johnson was similar to the November 24 decision by the new president (in private) to prosecute the war more aggressively. Johnson maintained his lie about not wanting to widen the war until after his election in November 1964 as the alleged “peace candidate” against the bellicose Republican Barry Goldwater. By March 1965 the Marines were landing in Da Nang, beginning Johnson’s massive escalation of the war. Even after that he tried to conceal his intentions, which caused a “credibility gap” and further eroded the loss of faith in the government that had begun with the assassination.

 

Other Johnson telephone conversations from 1964 make clear that well before his dispatching of combat troops, the president himself was harboring grave doubts about the situation he had gotten himself into with Vietnam. Johnson’s secret plans to escalate the war were putting him in a vise that he fully recognized, in the manner of a tragic protagonist enmeshed in a futile struggle with his fate. But he could not tell the public the truth that he felt powerless to do anything about it. Two tapes of LBJ phone conversations not released until 1997 offered startling revelations that would have changed the course of the war if the public had known about them in 1964. “Tapes Show Johnson Saw Vietnam War As Pointless in 1964,” the New York Times reported when they were released by the LBJ Presidential Library. But the “paper of record” buried the Associated Press dispatch on page twelve of its second section. Johnson’s pessimistic May 27, 1964, conversations with two of his closest advisers are striking indications of why such a giant credibility gap would develop over Vietnam, and with hints of why it existed.

 

On that date, Johnson spoke on the telephone with McGeorge Bundy, who had continued as his national security adviser. The president said of Vietnam, “I don’t think it’s worth fighting for and I don’t think we can get out. And it’s just the biggest damn mess I ever saw.” That night Johnson called Senator Russell, his longtime mentor and a foreign policy expert with substantial knowledge of Vietnam, the chair of the Senate Committee on Armed Services since 1955. “Oh, I’ve got lots of trouble,” Johnson told him. “ . . . What do you think about this Vietnam thing?”

 

. . . Russell: Well, frankly, Mr. President, if you were to tell me that I was authorized to settle it as I saw fit, I would respectfully decline to undertake it. [Johnson laughs] It’s the damn worse mess I ever saw, and I don't like to brag. I never have been right many times in my life, but I knew we were going to get in this sort of mess when we went in there, and I don’t see how we’re ever going to get out of fighting a major war with the Chinese and all of them down there in those rice paddies and jungles. I just don't see it. It’s — I just don’t know what to do.

 

Johnson: Well, that's the way I’ve been feeling for six months [i.e., since he took office].

 

. . . Russell: I don’t think the American people are quite ready for us to send our troops in there to do the fighting.

 

. . . Johnson: I’m afraid that’s right. I’m afraid that’s right. I don’t think the people of the country know much about Vietnam, and I think they care a hell of a lot less.

 

. . . Russell: I just don’t know, it’s a tragic situation, it’s just one of those places where you can’t win. Anything you do is wrong. . . . it’s the damnedest mess on Earth. The French poured, they lost 250,000 men and spent a couple billion of their money and two billion of ours down there. And just got the hell whipped out of them. And they had the best troops they had.

 

. . . Johnson: I just haven’t got the nerve to do it, and I don’t see any other way out of it.

 

Johnson gave Russell various excuses about why he couldn’t pull out — it was psychologically important to the U.S., he was obligated by treaty, dominoes would fall, he might be impeached — but Russell dismissed them. The unspoken subtext was that the people in the military-industrial complex who had put Johnson in power expected him to give them the war, and he had to fulfill his end of the bargain. In another conversation with Johnson on June 11, 1964, Russell made this chillingly accurate prediction about how hopeless it would be:

 

“It’d take a half million men. They’d be bogged down in there for ten years.”

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Posted (edited)

Yes Joe, that is the full quote on the conversation with McNamara, which we did not have the time to put in the film.

I agree, he should have resigned right there.  Gone back to Ford, and made millions more.

He did not. It was the worst decision I think McNamara ever made.

This was so bad for him that, until he died he said he still did not know if he was fired or just left. I think the evidence is he was pushed out by LBJ.

There is one thing I should have added to this.  I have come to believe that this was the reason McNamara began the Pentagon Papers.  And this is why they ended with Johnson. 

McNamara wanted to preserve a record that showed just how the war was escalated, step by step. And how that culminated in disaster.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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It is a shame that such crap gets put out by the msm.  So many will accept it without question as the gospel.  Oliver should do an actual movie on LBJ.

Joe or Jim.  I would swear that some years ago I read a reported quote, made in private, I'm not sure to who, words to the effect of "you just get me elected and I'll give you your damn war".  Prior to the 1964 election.  Does this possibly ring a bell for either of you? 

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39 minutes ago, Ron Bulman said:

It is a shame that such crap gets put out by the msm.  So many will accept it without question as the gospel.  Oliver should do an actual movie on LBJ.

Joe or Jim.  I would swear that some years ago I read a reported quote, made in private, I'm not sure to who, words to the effect of "you just get me elected and I'll give you your damn war".  Prior to the 1964 election.  Does this possibly ring a bell for either of you? 

Ok.  Found info online.  "Let me get elected and then you can have your war."  To the Joint Chiefs of Staff at a December 1963 Christmas party.  From "Vietnam: A History" by Stanley Karnow, pg. 326.  But sourced to one of 20 books referenced for chapter 9.

From:

 

 

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52 minutes ago, Ron Bulman said:

It is a shame that such crap gets put out by the msm.  So many will accept it without question as the gospel.  Oliver should do an actual movie on LBJ.

Joe or Jim.  I would swear that some years ago I read a reported quote, made in private, I'm not sure to who, words to the effect of "you just get me elected and I'll give you your damn war".  Prior to the 1964 election.  Does this possibly ring a bell for either of you? 

Ron,

    I also remember reading something about an LBJ quote from December of 1963, in which he allegedly said to staffers, "O.K., gentlemen, you can have your war.  Just make sure I get elected next year."

    I don't think I was hallucinating at the time, so I'll have to hunt around for the source.

    Great essays by Jim D. about the new Califano documentary.  It's truly a shame that the M$M continues to televise these fake histories.

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Posted (edited)

To reply to Pat, yes LBJ was a manipulator from the word go.  McGeorge Bundy did not find out about this until about 1966.  He found out that LBJ had a secret channel to Westmoreland.  And that the meetings on the war were basically stage crafted by Johnson.  He had already decided to give Westmoreland whatever he wanted anyway. This is one of the reasons Bundy quit.  A little known fact is that he and his brother were giving Humphrey secret advice in 1968 and trying to coax him into breaking from LBJ on Vietnam.

This I think is the worst thing about LBJ and his presidency: the fact that he broke apart the Democratic coalition that had been pretty much the basis of the party for decades.  When those Daley led goons started busting open the heads of those students who wanted an end to the war, that was about it for the Democratic Party.  Even Dan Rather said this from inside the Chicago Convention hall. This was the natural culmination of the Fulbright hearings.  Johnson had no credibility left on the war. Those hearings were so devastating to him that he tried to call Stanton when George Kennan was going to testify.  He did not want him on the air.  He knew what a body blow Kennan would be to him.  Here was the father of containment, the doctrine that would lead American foreign policy for about 45 years.  And now he was going to appear before the senate and say that LBJ had overreacted, America could not get involved in every internal dispute in Asia and Africa.  It was bad for them and worse for us, since it would be polarizing.  The Fulbright staff was really right on with this.  They had concluded--correctly-- that what LBJ did was so polarizing that:

…what had happened to turn the liberal supporters of President Kennedy into opponents of the policies of President Johnson…and the right-wing opponents of Eisenhower and Kennedy into supporters of the present administration… (Goulden, p. 166)

 

Edited by James DiEugenio
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No matter my combinations it won't come up.  Lyin Lyndon, Lying Lyndon.  The story won't come up.  Educated at Texas State in San Marcos he schmoozed up to the president.  Lived in his spare room.  His graduating year when the annuals came out with references to his campus nickname of Lyin Lyndon he managed to have all copies have this cut out before distribution.  Where did I read this?  I'm not making it up.

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