"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


a century

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lyndon Baines Johnson. He was quite a politician, who wielded power in the Senate like few others have. And he probably won an election or two under, shall we say, somewhat questionable circumstances. (My favorite is what happened in LBJ's 1948 Senate race against then-Governor Coke Stevenson, in which 200 dead people conveniently voted in alphabetical order, giving LBJ an 87-vote margin that won him the statewide race.) He kept the Vietnam War going when it was already evident that the mission there was a disaster, and his Great Society programs largely failed.

But despite his shortcomings, LBJ's singular most important achievement is one that will stand forever. Using the Kennedy assasination as an argument for creating a legacy for the late president, LBJ channeled the passions of the Civil Rights movement into legislation that finally gave African-Americans and other racial minorities equal political and citizenship rights in our country. It cost the Democratic party the support of the South, and the effects of that rift still affect our politics today. His civil rights achievements are worth honoring.


Blogger UPennBen said...

Everyone knows that St. Peter is the best community organizer ever. His get out the vote drives are legendary.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 3:40:00 PM

Blogger CharlieMac said...

I think you will find my first reaction to the assasination of JFK
My Dad was a believer in honesty even in governmental officials, and if my Dad hated anyone, it was LBJ.
Dad died shortly before JFK was killed. My first thought when I heard that President Kennedy was dead was, "Thank God that Dad did not live to see LBJ become president!"
Sometimes I still get intermittant nagging thoughts of just who, if anyone, backed Oswald because of what my Dad thought and said about LBJ being "crooked as a dogs hind leg". "El Patron" certainly knew
how to get the Latino vote out on election day in South Texas. From both the barrio and the cemetery. Grin.
Charlie Mac

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 4:23:00 PM


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