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Lyndon Baines Johnson was born August 27. 1908, in Stonewall Texas, on the Pedernales River.

Perhaps you might argue with my describing him as a great President.  After all, he did preside over the expansion of the war in Vietnam.  It is the one great black mark on his record.

But he did as much if not more than any President to expand opportunity in this country, and he did far more than FDR did to address questions of racial inequality.

Perhaps it was because he saw poverty and discrimination up close, teaching poor children of Mexican background when he first graduated from San Marcos State Teachers College.

I will not recapitulate his entire career.   It is sufficient to list the legislative accomplishments of his 5+ years in the Presidency:

1964 Civil Rights Act
Revenue Act of 1964
Economic Opportunity Act of 1964  (basis of War on Poverty)
Equal Opportunity Act
1965 Voting Rights Act
1965 Immigration Act
Fair Housing Act
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
Higher Education Act of 1965
Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965
Established the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities
Public Broadcasting Act of 1967
Gun Control Act of 1968 after assassination of Robert Kennedy
Medicare
Medicaid
Food Stamps
Work Study
VISTA
Head Start
Neighborhood Youth Corp
Model Cities Program

and so on -  that is NOT a complete list of his achievements

He established the Kerner Commission which informed the nation  "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal."  It pointed out the serious problem of white racism.

Johnson was far from a perfect President.

The list of accomplishments above is not his entire record, either positive or negative.

But I think it is fair to say his was a transformative Presidency, one that advanced an agenda first begun in the Progressive Era, advanced in the New Deal, and greatly advanced during Johnson's time as our 38th President.

It seems appropriate as officially a Republican convention whose platform seeks to roll back and undue the advances of Johnson and FDR that we take a moment on this his birthday to remember his greatness.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (20+ / 0-)

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:01:17 AM PDT

  •  Environmental legislation, too! (14+ / 0-)

    Wilderness Act
    Wild Rivers Act
    NEPA (my favorite!)
    Endangered Species Protection

    IMHO he should be right up there with Teddy Roosevelt for great conservationists.

  •  We need LBJ's environmentalism today (11+ / 0-)

    With climate change and the ominous omen of the disappearing Arctic sea ice we should all be reminded what LBJ had to say about protecting our planet:

    Three things, and three things only sustain life on this planet. They are a thin layer of soil, a cover of atmosphere and a little rainfall. This is all that the good Lord has given us, except one thing. He has given us a choice of what we'll do with it. We can waste it, we can pollute it, we can neglect it. Or we can conserve it, we can protect it... We can pass it along to our children, more promising and abundant than we found it.
    This is the place where he was born 104 years ago. The original dog-trot home was demolished long ago, but LBJ had this replica built on the same location when he was President.

    LBJ Reconstructed Birthplace

    Oh, and P.S. it is spelt Pedernales despite being pronounced by everyone in central Texas, LBJ included, Perdenales. Here is the original entrance to the ranch over a dammed low water crossing on the Pedernales:

    Original LBJ Ranch Entrance

    "Lesbian and gay people are a permanent part of the American workforce, who currently have no protection from the arbitrary abuse of their rights on the job." --Coretta Scott King

    by craigkg on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:13:45 AM PDT

    •  I've driven across that (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      craigkg, Woody, Senor Unoball, Mary Mike

      long, long ago. What a beautiful place.

      •  It is. I've been there probably 15-20 times (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        citizenx, sfbob, Senor Unoball, Mary Mike

        My parents owned a cabin on 2 acres of land in the Hill Country when I was growing up and the LBJ Ranch was a favorite place for us to take our guests. Never gone across that bridge though.

        "Lesbian and gay people are a permanent part of the American workforce, who currently have no protection from the arbitrary abuse of their rights on the job." --Coretta Scott King

        by craigkg on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:20:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  have fixed spelling of river eom (5+ / 0-)

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:19:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No problem. Common mistake (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        citizenx, Senor Unoball, aliasalias

        We talk a little different here in Central Texas. Manor is pronounced may-nur not man-or, Burnet is burn-it not bur-net, Manchaca is man-shack not man-chak-a, etc.

        I am impressed however that Wikipedia even has the bastardized pronunciation!

        The Pedernales River (ˌpɜrdəˈnælɨs pur-də-nal-iss) is a tributary of the Colorado River

        "Lesbian and gay people are a permanent part of the American workforce, who currently have no protection from the arbitrary abuse of their rights on the job." --Coretta Scott King

        by craigkg on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:24:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  here's a list of Texas' local pronunciations (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mightymouse

          for their cities and towns.
          http://www.texasalmanac.com/...

           I'm a 5th gen Texan (currently in the NW) with half my relatives in west Tx. and the other half in east Tx., Vernon (and Panhandle area) and Paris, respectively.
          One thing that is hard not to notice at a Family Reunion is that they do not sound the same. The west Texas relatives aren't too quick to let go of a word compared to the relatives around Paris, who don't skimp on emphasizing their vowels, but they do it quicker. Not exactly 'quick' in the general sense of speaking, but definitely quicker than the folks from Vernon.
           Maybe someone from somewhere else won't notice any differences but if they wanted to try they could check out one of our family reunions.

          without the ants the rainforest dies

          by aliasalias on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 03:39:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The man knew how to get stuff done (12+ / 0-)

    Very underrated president, this country is better off for having him

  •  So Conflicted Because of the Vietnam War (4+ / 0-)

    which was a major driver of the very premature end of his War on Poverty, and foundation for the Republican Revolution. He didn't expand the war, he created it. Our troops were only advisors before him, he made it the shooting war.

    Nonetheless for economy and race policies he was our last liberal President. In those policies he was indeed a great President.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:21:12 AM PDT

  •  Barack Obama (5+ / 0-)

    is the result of LBJ's Civil Rights push. He could see how the Democratic Party would suffer in the South because of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, but he put the people above the  Party. Two generations later the People elected an African American to the White House. I think LBJ would also not be surprised by the vitriol thrown at Pres. Obama.

    LBJ needs to be celebrated for the vision of his Great Society. Since Reagan, the right has done everything they can to remove LBJ's accomplishments from the law books. They must not suceed.

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:25:11 AM PDT

  •  His greatest moment (5+ / 0-)

    besides twisting arms for the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts:

    Lyndon Johnson's "We Shall Overcome" Speech re: the Voting Rights Act -- and I believe a couple of weeks after the attack on the Selma marchers.

    A brave and eloquent address to the nation.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:35:02 AM PDT

  •  I really liked LBJ (6+ / 0-)

    Even though I hated him for the Vietnam War. I really, really wanted to like him for all of the good domestic stuff. It irked me that I was obliged to demonstrate against him all those years ago.

    It's probably because of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965, which LBJ pushed for and which resulted in housing policy having its own cabinet seat, that I got to have the career I've had for the past 35 years.

  •  Just finished "The Passage of Power" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    craigkg, citizenx, Mary Mike, aliasalias

    A wonderful book, The Passage of Power is part 4 of Robert Caro's magnificent biography of LBJ.

    This volume encompasses the 1960 election and Johnson's pick as vice president, and runs through early 1964 as he creates his own presidency out of the horror of Dallas.

    I've not read any of the first three volumes of the work, but now plan to go back and read them in order.

    Had it not been for Johnson's Vietnam legacy, I'm sure he would have gone down as one of the best presidents in US history, for the many accomplishments noted in the diary.

    I'm not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was. -- Mitt the Twit

    by Senor Unoball on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:42:07 AM PDT

    •  I totally agree (4+ / 0-)

      Were it not for Vietnam, he'd be mentioned in the same breath as FDR, Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. I think history will be kinder to him as time passes.

      "Lesbian and gay people are a permanent part of the American workforce, who currently have no protection from the arbitrary abuse of their rights on the job." --Coretta Scott King

      by craigkg on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:46:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Voting Rights Act (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        craigkg, teacherken

        It's fascinating to read details of the maneuvering, arm-twisting, begging, coercing, and political knowledge that it took to pass the Voting Rights Act.

        Even with the inherent support Johnson was given in the immediate aftermath of Kennedy's murder, it's astonishing that Johnson was able to push through the Voting Rights Act because of the blocking maneuvers of Southern Democrats in the Senate.

        No other president would have been able to have done it, and Johnson was primarily able to get this act passed because of his intimate knowledge not only of Senatorial process, but of Senators themselves. He knew their personal and political weaknesses, and how to use those to advantage.

        Can you imagine if Johnson had been president 3 years ago when the Affordable Care Act was under discussion? He might have been able to have passed a law that would be quite different than what we ended up with.

        I'm not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was. -- Mitt the Twit

        by Senor Unoball on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:56:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I have to agree his accomplishments were great (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Senor Unoball

    However, I can not call him a great president. Good? Yes, without a doubt. Very good? Maybe with one eye closed.
    Great? Not even close.

    The social issues he championed, yes, were truly  great.

    However, his escalation of the Vietnam conflict was terrible and can not be left off the other side of the scale.

    The abuses of the FBI and the CIA against U.S. citizens and others, during his administration, should be on that scale too.

    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

    by Farkletoo on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:54:38 AM PDT

  •  LBJ (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Senor Unoball

    Sorry, but not only did he preside-no, make that order-the escalation of the Vietnam War, his domestic programs were not at all as radical as everyone seems to think, or what the nation required.  Where was the pro-labor, anti-big business legislation?  Where was the economic restructuring?  Where were the universal social services?  About the only thing LBJ has going for him is the civil rights laws, and that was-and is- not good enough.  Look at the state this country was in at the end of his term of office.
     

    •  did you read the diary? (0+ / 0-)

      You don't consider those things listed above as "universal social services" ?
      Medicare
       Medicaid
       Food Stamps
       Work Study
       VISTA
       Head Start
       Neighborhood Youth Corp
       Model Cities Program

      I protested him over Vietnam, just as I did on Nixon who made LBJ look like a hippy when it came to Vietnam,... and for a lot longer, but there is no getting around the lasting impact , for good , that LBJ meant for this Country.
       I certainly know the difference living in America before and after his Presidency, but his best legislation has been steadily chiseled down by the administrations of both Parties. What remains of the original scope of those programs to people across the Country are still vital to the lives many millions of people today (myself included), which is a testament to how it good they were at their inception. Imagine us without Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Head Start, to name just a few things aside from the voting rights act.

      without the ants the rainforest dies

      by aliasalias on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 04:13:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not Eisenhower, great, thanks (0+ / 0-)

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 03:09:29 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for posting this (0+ / 0-)

    I would agree that, with all his faults, LBJ was a great president.  I can't imagine any president, Democrat or Republican, not getting caught up in Vietnam as inextricably as did Johnson.  Kennedy and Nixon became similarly intwined — we just didn't realize it in Kennedy's case at the time.  

    It pains me to see modern Democrats abandoning the initiatives that were Johnson's — and the nation's — greatest achievements.  

    Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

    by Big River Bandido on Thu Aug 30, 2012 at 07:49:55 AM PDT

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