Because of Vietnam - the war not the country - LBJ is remembered, not as the great president he might otherwise have been, but as a tragic failure. And rightly so. His fear of appearing weak, or of being called weak by hawkish Republicans; his desire not to be seen as a coward; his misplaced regard for his overeducated advisors - these factors all led him to escalate an unwinnable war we ought never have fought in the first place. And his fear of seeming to dither, of appearing to lack resolve, of simply admitting error; these fears led him to further escalate and to lie to the American people about why our boys were killing and dying in a far off country.
I thought, after watching the documentary, that what LBJ, that crafty expert on legislative process, should have done is this: he should have very publicly asked the Congress for a Declaration of War, then failed to do his usual arm-twisting. In that way he could have been seen as hawkish, but without the harm of actual escalation. Put the blame on the Congress, while actually bringing about a saner policy. And, not entirely incidentally, re-establishing the Constitutional assignment of war power to the appropriate body. I think this would have been brilliant, and would have permitted LBJ to accomplish the great reforms that were his domestic agenda.
As a Constitutional scholar yourself, I imagine you must share my dismay that the Executive branch has, since WWII, essentially usurped the power to declare war that the Constitution gave to the Congress. I would hope that you would want to see this power restored to its rightful place, and I hope you will consider acting - from the Office of the President - to restore it.
Like LBJ, I am sure there is a lot you would like to accomplish domestically as president. I fear that your domestic agenda may, like LBJ's, be destroyed by an expensive bloody pointless foreign war, a quagmire. I hope you have the courage LBJ lacked, to be honest with yourself and the American people, to admit a mistake rather than perpetuating and exacerbating it. I hope you will de-escalate in Afghanistan, and I hope you will help to restore the Congress' rightful power to declare war in the course of doing so.
Thank you for your consideration.
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