Friday, October 22, 2010

I Miss You, Lyndon.

My big brother Billy lives about 90 miles north of me, and when I drive up to visit him the highway I take goes the route to the LBJ ranch and crosses his beloved Pedernales River.
I am forever reminded what a great president he was, and I need to explain why I think so.
After John F. Kennedy was assassinated, he left several major, controversial projects on his desk in the Oval Office.
Johnson, who most people outside of Texas considered an oafish, redneck clown, went all-in and forced the passage of Medicare and civil rights legislation that forever changed the fates of elderly people and minorities for the better.
And by "forced the passage," I mean he literally approached defiant Senators and threatened to ruin them and their careers if they didn't vote his way. And by God, LBJ had the clout to do it.
As an example of LBJ's style, have you ever heard of Pat Nugent? No? Here's why. Pat Nugent had the nerve to marry LBJ's youngest daughter, Luci Baines, and he was promptly given a well-paid management job with KLBJ, the radio station Lady Bird owned. Once Nugent had done Lucy Baines wrong and they divorced, LBJ fired him and he was banished from any seeking any gainful employment in the United States from then on. He's now self-publishing some little two-bit, obscure directory in Austin.

LBJ's courage in forcing through civil rights and Medicare cost him and his beloved Texas dearly.
Moderate and conservative Texas Democrats with racist tendencies defected to the Republican party and turned Texas from a blue state to a red state, and it's remained red ever since.
Besides civil rights and Medicare legislation, Johnson also had the pressing matter of the Vietnam war weighing heavily on him.
People like me took to the streets to protest the war by the tens of thousands, and we hated Johnson for his hawkish stance.
In fact, when it was time to run for re-election, a weary, long haired LBJ politely declined the opportunity and stepped away from politics forever.
In his heart, I believe Johnson wanted to end the war. But he had thrown his helmet over the fence and he had no choice but to retrieve it.
Oh, how I wish we had Johnson in office today.
The Republican bullies and teabaggers of today would have been tamed like Pit Bull puppies by Johnson, through diplomacy, threats or whatever means required to shut them the fuck up.
Johnson was a mean, calculated bastard when it came to getting his way.
But outside of his unpopular stance on the Vietnam war, his way was often the right way for the American people who deserved a strong advocate in the White House.
Unlike Obama, Johnson would never have dreamed of entering office with an aim to Kumbaya the Republicans. He hated Republicans because they stood for the same kind of shit they stand for now.
If LBJ was president now, crooks like Tom DeLay would be dancing with the convicts. Bill Frist would be working as a volunteer at some free clinic in the boondocks. Newt Gingrich would be a castrati singing in a boy's choir. As for Sarah Palin, first Johnson would have fucked her on the Oval Office desk, then exiled her to Wasilla for life.
For all his backwoods oafishness, Lyndon Johnson was a brilliant politician who knew exactly how the game was played, and how to work the odds to his favor.
As a Democrat, I am adamant in saying we need another strong Democratic bastard or bitch in the White House, who wants to serve the people and not the Republicans, the military industrial complex or the corporate suits whose greed is insatiable.
I think the closest thing we have to an LBJ type today is Hillary Clinton.
I wanted her to be our next president in 2008 because I sensed her hawkishness was a necessary ploy to appeal to the bloodthirsty among us. As a woman, she had to amplify her willingness to wage war, and anyone who doesn't get that is naive.
Hillary has backbone. Hillary is feared. Hillary, simply put, has the same sized balls as LBJ, and we need that right now.
I think LBJ would have liked Hillary. I think they would have been kindred spirits.
And if we can't have LBJ, we can and should have Hillary as our next Commander in Chief.
She's been a loyal soldier to Obama. But she's not Secretary of State to serve him, she's there to serve us. And she would serve us well as our next president.


Iain said...

Although I don't imagine that she will, I'd like to see HC go for it, as a less naive president than Obama has seemed to be, and, obviously, not the Republican one that seems so horribly inevitable.

Can't agree with her support for the Iraq war, though. If this was considered a necessary tactic, then she's just as guilty of ditching principles to speak to Republicans as Obama.

That said, I'd love to think she would want to exact revenge on Republicans for the past. Also, I'm sure she'll have learned from Obama and would find a much better balance between doing stuff and trying to get re-elected. Or, even better, forget the usual obsession with a second term, LBJ-style, and just do stuff.

Karen Zipdrive said...

ALL politicians ditch their principles to get elected.
Obama lied out his ass about ending the wars to get elected, so how is it so different from Hillary lying about escalating the wars?
With Hillary as president, I believe you'd quickly see the ball sacs of the radical right retract and witness a new willingness to knock off the obstructionism and start making some goddamn deals.
Someone has to end this log-jam and no Republicans are willing to even try to be conciliatory.

bigsis said...

LBJ also got Medicaid passed.
And Its not usually recognized but LBJ was behind "Operation Texas" which was an undercover operation to relocate European Jews to Texas away from Nazi persecution.
In 1938 LBJ worked covertly to establish a refuge in Texas for European Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. He helped hundreds of European Jews enter Texas through Cuba, Mexico and South America.
His grandfather was a true Christian and always told Lyndon to take care of the Jews, they're God's chosen people and he should help them in any way he could.

Matthew Hubbard said...

Hillary is no LBJ. Hell, Nixon's record for passing progressive legislation is several times more impressive than Bill's was.

Karen Zipdrive said...

Whoa, horsie!
Hillary is NOT Bill.
I think Bill amply demonstrated through his actions that his wife is of a better moral character, and Hillary has demonstrated by staying with that cheating son of a bitch that she is capable of mature, reasoned responses to outrageous acts.
She also has been an effective, respected Secretary of State who has demonstrated real loyalty to her timid, inneffectual boss.
Matty Boy, you know I adore you but it's really sexist to make assumptions about a woman based on the actions of her husband.
Hillary has her very own law degree, she has experience as a well-respected U.S. Senator and she's paid her dues both personally and professionally.
She reared a wonderful daughter, she's been a good role model for girls AND boys, and she's always kept her dick in her pantsuit.
While I realize that Bill had experience as governor of a backwoods hick state when he ran for president, Hillary would be entering office with better qualifications, foreign policy and diplomacy experience, and have I mentioned she hasn't wasted time or money by fucking around on the tax payers' dime?
She's not Bill.
She may not be as slick, likable and flirtatious as Bill, but do we really want another frisky president with major zipper troubles?

nonnie9999 said...

lbj was one tough sonuvabitch who knew how to get things done. not sure he would have survived the 24-hour news and the internets, but he sure would have given them a run for their money.

i had read that story about operation texas a few months ago. i don't remember where i had seen it, but it gave me even more respect for lbj. thanks, bigsis, for reminding me of it.

i was with hillary all the way, and i would love, love, love to vote for her for president.

Iain said...

I get that they all put their consciences to one side before an election, KZ, some to a greater degree than others. And I wasn't suggesting that Obama's pre-election stance on the war was any more principled than Hillary's macho posturing - given subsequent actions, the president definitely carries more shame.

I'd love to be able to vote for her. She's more clever than any other candidate. She hates elected republicans and has enough memories to mete out some cathartic retribution. And she is certainly politically astute enough to do things the right way round - speak to Republican voters before an election, with talk of tax cuts, equivocating about DADT, etc., before spending the first two years of office following her progressive instincts quickly and clinically. Like LBJ.

Unknown said...

The is a simply wonderful post KZ. The only thing I ever held against LBJ was the Vietnam War. He was a great arm-twister and a great american. He was a great President, one of my top three actually, when I minus the war.

His LadyBird is one of my fav first ladies as wildflowers were special to her, and they are to me as well since we have thousands of acres of them in Kern County every spring. I think of her when I see them.

Yes, I think he would of loved HRC and her brass balls.

Matthew Hubbard said...

Hillary isn't Bill. She hasn't shown as much talent at this. Bill had an LBJ moment with Newt Gingrich when he found out how much Newtie liked the young and strange.

She had her chance with health care and she blew it. She never had anything in her election campaign stronger than "You're picking on me 'cause I'm a girl." In California, she was in bed with scum like Willie Brown. Nothing you can say can take that bad taste out of my mouth.

I'm glad to have you as a blog buddy, but I can think of three things that start with H that we are never going to agree on: Housewives, Hillary and Hammer.

Unknown said...

Jesus Matty, you actually blame HRC for the healthcare debacle during Billy's time in the oval office? She wasn't an elected official at the time for Christs sake!

KZ knows I wasn't a fan of hers when she ran for Prez, but I still believe she has the balls for the job...unlike Obama who doesn't seem to have any balls.

Oh...and Rangers win!!!!!!! YAY!!!! say so long Yank$!

bigsis said...

We've had almost nothing but self serving white men as Presidents and they screwed things up. So we put a highly intelligent, but sweet and naive black man in office and his weakness has enflamed and empowered the ignorant and insane (tea baggers and Palinistas). Face it, men can't handle the job as Prez without screwing up, so how about tapping into the other 50% of the population...WOMEN.

HC has it all. She can intimidate pompous white men, and she's as intelligent and kind hearted as Obama.

Distributorcap said...

i wont dive into the Hillary debate here..

but LBJ - LBJ inherited Vietnam - expanded it and then got stuck when he realized that his generals do what generals do - fight wars - even ones that are unwinnable. LBJ increased troops and made it worse because he didnt want the Harry Truman stigma of "who lost China" (gawd, is that the most awful reason to go to war - losing countries - grrr) - Obama is doing a very similar thing in Afghanistan (similar, not exact) - he does not want to be the guy who lost in Afghanistan - especially the black guy who lost. and listending to the generals - GENERALS FIGHT WARS - period.

that is where the similarity ends. obama has ZERO spine - good talker, bad behind the scenes. obama also does not know how to deal with his enemies (the GOP is not opposition, they are enemies bent on destroying him).

LBJ also had the wherewithal to bow out of the 68 race - knowing his presidency was broken by Vietnam and the Tet Offensive - 4 days later King was killed, effectively ending the Johnson era.

LBJ had guts and a bulldozer attitude - and i think he actually cared about people - vietnam will forever tar him. i think obama cares about people - only he simply cannot deal with being the first black president - i think it is overwhelming him.

LBJ died the day before the Vietnam cease fire (which btw was a joke since the war went on for over 2 more years) was signed and 2 days after Nixon was sworn in for his 2nd disastrous term. how ironic

okjimm said...

I read an LBJ anecdote once... said that when he was running for the Texas statehouse he was asked for campaign strategy against a strong opponent. Lyndon said," Let's call him a pig-fucker."
His aides did not think that appropriate. Lyndon said that it would be worth it just "to hear him deny it."

bigsis said...

Thurgood Marshall and LBJ were long time drinking buddies and had long discussions about life, politics etc. According to Thurgood, during one of their chats LBJ confided to him that it would be recorded in history that he lost the Presidency because of the Viet Nam war, but LBJ said the real reason is because he dared to appoint a black man to the Supreme Court. LBJ was a wise man.

The election of a black President has revealed the depth of racism that's always existed in this country. The haters would rather see our country fail than see a black man succeed.

Karen Zipdrive said...

Hillary spent months of research and work on health care reform, and it's wasn't that she failed, it was that the GOP made a laughingstock of her efforts because it hit their precious insurance companies right in the nuts.
She wasn't like some ditzy housewife writing reforms from her kitchen table, her legal and research skills were enough for the Nixon Impreachment committee to ask her to research and draft the amendment for impeachment.
AND this was while she she was still a fucking law clerk.
I will stipulate that Vietnam was LBJ's Waterloo, but he even grew his hair out in his last weeks in the White House, I think as a silent nod to us protesters.
Matty Boy, MC Hammer was an inspiration to my own Big Sis because during her darkest days in law school, his "Too Legit to Quit" was her anthem.
He helped Texas gain one damn fine victim's rights atttorney.
The Housewifes are very popular, and I am among millions who agree.
And Hillary would have made--and will make-- a great fucking president.
So I hate to say it, mon ami, but I think you are Hrong on all counts(big kiss).

Karen Zipdrive said...

OKJimm-- now that was hilarious and beautifully captured LBJ's wit.

Lulu Maude said...

Hillary's weakness is in the us-v-them mentality... not about Republicans, and she was right about the vast right-wing conspiracy... but in the case of the health care fiasco she shut out major stakeholders (I do hate that term) who disagreed with her. Not a great way to negotiate to consensus.

Obama's enemies have exploited the 'other' syndrome that is an insidious part of racism. Hillary will be vulnerable on that front, only now it's sexism... since she's the 'right' race with the wrong equipment.
(strangled cry here...)

bigsis said...

The legislature treated Hillary the same way they now treat Obama, and that's to do all in their power to assure failure.

Unknown said...

Great point BigSis! I never thought of it in that context.

Alexa said...

Thanks for this, Karen. I've not known much about LBJ ... and I agree with you ... one like him is badly needed ... and up here in Canada, some of us are pining for a prime minister with the cojones of Pierre "Just Watch Me" Trudeau (our PM from 1968 - 1984, except for a brief Tory blip in there somewhere) -- He had a mind like a steel trap ... I often wonder how it all might have panned out if Trudeau were still alive and our PM ... He and Barack Obama might have had a real meeting of the minds. I can imagine Trudeau kicking some Barack butt, like a vigilant and unrelenting mentor. Trudeau was piss-poor with all things economic, but he had a political presence that said, "Don't even *think* about fucking with me or my country." And he adored his sons. So many women went bonkers over Pierre ... and there I was, thinking that if I could have chosen one man in the world to be my father, it'd be him.

... Reading your post again, I think that LBJ and PET (Pierre Elliott Trudeau) would have clashed like rams over Vietnam, but they were on the same page re: civil and human rights. Trudeau's most famous quote was probably, "The church and state have no business in the bedrooms of the nation."

@okjimm -- I laughed so hard I nearly snarfed my tea!