Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

January 20, 2008

Bill Moyers on LBJ and MLK

Filed under: history — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 1:28 pm

Bill Moyers did a piece on the role LBJ had in enacting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Johnson’s legacy will always be tarnished because of the escalation of the Vietnam War and the haunting chants of “Hey, Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” Johnson’s policies of war, and support for the Civil Rights movement were central to the Democratic party’s schism in the 1968 election. One could argue that Johnson gave in too much.  By fighting for King, Johnson alienated Southern segregationists while not being progressive enough to preserve votes from Robert Kennedy. This combined with the split over war policy assured that a President with a solidly progressive record would only serve one full term in office.

Johnson’s legacy will always be complex. However, if Moyers story tells us anything, it is the importance of having a President that can empathize, can listen, and will try to do the right thing. For all of Johnson’s flaws, I think we can at least credit him with those traits.

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