Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Uses of Power

Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Uses of Power

Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Uses of Power

Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Uses of Power


"The papers were, by and large, of good quality, but two are worthy of particular attention. Michael Riccards's Failure of Nerve: How the Liberals Killed Liberalism, ' and Robert D. Loevy's To Write It in the Books of 1964' are outstanding and fresh contributions to often debated topics. . . . Bill Moyers's epilogue is superb, rich with personal observations on the man he served for many years." Choice


It is difficult to identify a post-World War II American presidency of more enduring historical importance than the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson. The Johnson legacy can be found today in government programs that feed the poor, educate the middle class, and provide medical care for the elderly. It resonates in the voting power and civil equality of black Americans. It achieves contemporary relevance in the political debate over the wisdom and value of the Great Society.

The images of the Johnson era--with their sharply contrasting evocations-- live equally in our memories. Etched in our minds are the tragedy at Dallas and the triumph of the 1964 campaign; the legislative whirlwind and the anguish of Vietnam; the remarkable eloquence of the president's "We Shall Overcome" speech and the bitter turbulence of the riots in the streets; the great popularity of the early presidential years and the stunning fall from public grace; the generous vision of the Great Society and the personal indignities frequently inflicted on those who worked with Johnson most closely.

Lyndon Johnson, a man of enormous energy and political skill, was, above all, a product of his times. Nurtured on the ideals of New Deal liberalism, Johnson came to believe, as did an entire generation of Americans, that government could offer its citizens the promise and reality of a better life. If he was exceptional, it was not for the boldness of his ideals or the eloquence of his rhetoric. Instead, Lyndon Johnson managed to seize a strategic moment in the nation's history--one ignited by the tragic death of his predecessor and sustained by social revolution--and to translate a vision, partly his own, partly an elaboration of New Deal liberalism, into a domestic program of immense and far- reaching proportions.

Lyndon Johnson was a man of his times in other ways as well. In his view . . .

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