Retreat from the Great Society
BY the winter of 1965-66 Johnson had a government in place of his own making. A number of Kennedy's appointees still held high office, most notably, Rusk at State, McNamara at Defense, and Larry O'Brien as principal legislative liaison. But no one could doubt that the Kennedy officials had now become Johnson's men, officeholders who worked comfortably in behalf of the President's domestic and foreign policies.
Most of the aides Johnson had appointed in November 1963 were still at their posts two years later. But Jack Valenti and Bill Moyers had become firsts among equals. Valenti continued to be a man Friday. He kept the President's calendar, coordinated work on presidential statements, prepared LBJ's correspondence, and oversaw "special presidential projects," which meant everything from liaison with Senators Dirksen and Mansfield to day-to-day dealings with the State Department. Valenti was as loyal to Johnson as anyone in the administration: "I sleep better at night knowing Lyndon Johnson is President," he told the press. But two and a half years with LBJ had exhausted him, and in April 1966 he decided to accept appointment as president of the American Motion Picture Association of America. 1
Bill Moyers would also leave at the end of 1966, complaining later that "after you've worked with LBJ, you can work with the Devil." The strains of serving Johnson and a chance to return to journalism decided him to become the publisher of the Long Island newspaper Newsday. But for three years he had been one of Johnson's most devoted special assistants. And Johnson had rewarded him: In October 1964 he had become Chief of Staff with responsibility for task forces that had shaped so many of the landmark reforms during 1965. In July 1965, Johnson had made him George Reedy's successor as press secretary. Though Moyers's principal activity was the care