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Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency

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  • Posted March 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Lyndon Johnson murdered John Kennedy and it is hard to put a shine on that.

    Hey, I have a question. Isn't it about time that scholarship in Lyndon Johnson addressed a very salient fact? Namely, that LBJ shot his way into the White House? Lyndon Johnson's signature achievement - the civil rights act - was his "get out of jail card" for the JFK assassination. Many liberals justifiably believed that LBJ was behind the murder of JFK, so he had to give them something. Civil rights was LBJ's bone to the liberals who deeply distrusted him. The real agenda of LBJ was to keep himself out of jail and free himself from the Bobby Baker scandal, preserve the oil depreciation allowance for other oil executive perps in the JFK assassination, reward hawks in CIA/military and let his good buddy Hoover keep his job. Mark Updegrove, the director of the LBJ Presidential Library, is in a pickle. Does he tell the TRUTH about Lyndon Johnson or does he get fired from his job? Many, many, many people in life choose to keep their jobs/status/position of privilege rather than tell the truth. Or, more importantly, even seek the truth. This book has the feel of a "rush job" - as if someone said get out something fairly positive on LBJ asap. So apparently the staff just glommed together some LBJ quotes and quotes about LBJ and "bingo!" we have an instant book, wafer thin on any analysis of LBJ and who he really was. Here is one of the quotes that the staff somehow overlooked. Gus Russo: In his oral history, Robert Kennedy bitterly recounted a remark that Johnson supposedly made to someone else after the assassination. "When I was young in Texas, I used to know a cross-eyed boy," Johnson said. "His eyes were crossed, and so was his character... That was God's retribution for people who were bad - and you should be careful of cross-eyed people because God put his mark on them ... Sometimes I think that what happened to Kennedy may have been divine retribution." JFK himself had slightly crossed eyes. [Leo Janos, LBJ speechwriter, Church Committee interview by Rhett Dawson, Oct. 14, 1975 ... also Gus Russo, Live by the Sword, p. 377] Another insightful LBJ conversation that was somehow was overlooked for this effort: the talk that Lyndon Johnson had on the night of 12/31/63, just 6 weeks after the JFK assassination, with his mistress Madeleine Brown at the Driskill Hotel in Austin: "Lyndon, you know that a lot of people believe you had something to do with President Kennedy's assassination." He shot up out of bed and began pacing and waving his arms screaming like a madman. I was scared! "That's bull___, Madeleine Brown!" he yelled. "Don't tell me you believe that ____!" "Of course not." I answered meekly, trying to cool his temper. "It was Texas oil and those _____ renegade intelligence bastards in Washington." [said Lyndon Johnson, the new president; Texas in the Morning, p. 189] I guess that would not put a shine on the LBJ legacy, would it? When will academia start addressing the ugly realities of the JFK assassination in an honest manner? Updegrove's first chapter is entitled "A Man Who Remains a Mystery." LBJ is not a mystery. It is just there are some folks who just don't want to address the dark side of Lyndon Johnson and tell us who he really was.

    1 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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