[ Johnson's] irrelevant rationalizations and often inaccurate reconstruction of events . . . conspired to turn an essentially unmanageable and, in some ways, unavoidable crisis in a fundamentally unstable and crisis-prone Caribbean nation into a crisis of confidence in the President himself.
-- Philip L. Geyelin in Lyndon B. Johnson and the World
"You can imagine what would have happened," Lyndon Johnson said privately on May 3, 1965, five days after he had ordered the United States Marines to land in the Dominican Republic, "if I had not done so and there was an investigation and the press got hold of that cable."
"That cable" arrived in the White House at 5:14 P.M., Wednesday, April 28, from W. Tapley Bennett, the United States Ambassador in Santo Domingo. Bennett had the deeply inbred caution of a career foreign service officer in a post of utmost sensitivity. He recommended an immediate landing of the Marines and warned that "American lives are in danger" ("blood will run in the streets," Johnson was to paraphrase it later) if the Marines didn't quickly arrive.
It was, by any reasonable standard, the obvious advice to follow, unanimously given not only by the ambassador but also by his deputy, the three military attachés, the economic attaché--the entire "country team." When the full country team recommends immediate emergency action, even so drastic an action as military intervention in a foreign country, a President is more likely to accept that recommendation than not, particularly a President who, like Lyndon Johnson, is guided by the consensus.
Yet, this obvious, wholly reasonable decision by Johnson was to subject him to criticism, primarily from the liberals, of an intensity he had