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View Diary: May 22, 1964: The Great Society (10 comments)

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  •  LBJ left a very mixed legacy (1+ / 0-)
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    Anyone who lived through that era (I'm from the same generation as your dad) will have mixed feelings about him.

    The Vietnam War weighs very heavy in the scale against his substantial domestic achievements. Vietnam was nearly as trumped-up a war as Iraq, with Congress playing the same Pontius Pilate role of abdicating its responsibility in issues of war and peace, through the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and it was LBJ (and his SecDef MacNamara) who put us in a combat role there. Unlike Iraq, there was already a civil war going on there, not one of our creation, but the casualties were an order of magnitude higher. And the repercussions ripped the country apart. The billions Johnson spent on the war meant his Great Society programs were woefully underfunded; some just faded away.

    While his social and environmental policies were progressive, and civil rights legislation could not have been rammed past the Southern opposition in Congress without him, he was also a very corrupt politician--bribery, payoffs, threats, and machine politics were part of the modus operandi that made him such a successful legislator; his closest aide, Bobby Baker, ended up in jail. In another parallel with current affairs, Johnson made sure the Texas firm of Brown & Root, a big contributor to his campaigns, got lucrative Pentagon contracts for which they overcharged and underperformed; Halliburton bought Kellogg, Brown & Root in 1964.

    "to believe passionately in the palpably not true ... is the chief occupation of mankind." - H. L. Mencken.

    by fleisch on Mon May 26, 2008 at 12:20:03 AM PDT

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