11 May, 2007
LBJ’s war and Bush’s
In 1967 a young woman, Doris Kearns, wrote an article in the New Republic called “How to Remove LBJ in 1968.” She said that, as productive as holding protest marches might be, “the longer the marchers sit around in coffee houses and tell each other how great it was, the less likely is a viable political strategy.” She then outlined her, rather unremarkable, ideas about what this strategy ought to be.
What was remarkable is that Miss. Kerns was at that time a White House aid. Even more remarkably, upon discovering this betrayal, President Johnson did not retaliate against Kerns. Instead, Johnson took the young woman under his wing, including her at high level conferences, giving her top secret briefs to read, did everything he could to try to win her over to his Vietnam policy. He was even photographed dancing with her at a White House reception. Kerns was not won over, but she and Johnson became good friends none the less. When Johnson left the White House, he engaged Kerns to help him write his memoirs, and it was this experience that served to jump start her highly successful writing career (under her married name of Doris Kearns Goodwin) .
As a thought experiment, try to imagine what would happen to a young White House aid or intern today if they published such a piece. Can you imagine how such a person would be vilified, persecuted, attacked? Rush Limbauger would be foaming at the mouth calling for an immediate trial for treason. The IRS would undoubtedly find something criminally wrong with her tax return. Ann Coulter would call her a “mullah loving lesbian whore.”
Bad as Vietnam was, Johnson looks better to me with each passing day.