Author Topic: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president  (Read 2566 times)

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Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« on: February 20, 2014, 08:09:45 PM »
http://theweek.com/article/index/256657/why-lyndon-b-johnson-is-the-worst-modern-president

by Damon Linker
February 20, 2014

The competition for worst president since the early 1930s is pretty fierce. But for my money, Lyndon B. Johnson comes in first, winning the contest of awfulness over George W. Bush by a hair.

The bloody debacle of the Vietnam War has a lot to do with this judgment (just as Iraq plays a big role in my negative assessment of Bush). According to a recent front-page story in the New York Times, the keepers of Johnson's legacy fear that I'm not alone. In an effort to rehabilitate his reputation, these Johnson defenders, who include members of his family, have begun an effort to direct attention away from the war and toward his achievements in domestic policy instead.

I'm afraid that doesn't solve the problem.

Yes, passage of the Civil Rights Act will always be a milestone in the history of race relations in the United States. But beyond that accomplishment, Johnson's record in domestic affairs suffered from the same defect as his foreign policy did: A reckless disregard for limits.

As I argued in a recent column about the "war on poverty," Johnson announced his wildly unrealistic goal of eliminating poverty prior to formulating any concrete ideas about how it might be achieved. He simply assumed that it could be done if we set our minds to it, so he declared the rhetorical war and left it to his advisers to craft policies that would win it. No surprise that the war was lost as a result. Indeed, one of the main legacies of the "war on poverty" was an increased cynicism about what the government can achieve.

The same dynamic prevailed in Johnson's case for the creation of a "Great Society," made in a speech delivered in Michigan on May 22, 1964. Living on the far side of Ronald Reagan's rhetorical attacks on big government, Bill Clinton's pragmatic triangulation, and Barack Obama's decision to reform health care using a proposal first floated by a right-wing think tank, Johnson's bizarrely inflated rhetoric cannot help but sound like the transcript from an alien political world.

Johnson starts by proposing that the U.S. move "not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upwards to the Great Society." This society "demands an end to poverty and racial injustice."

"But that," Johnson tells us, "is just the beginning."

The Great Society will be a place where "every child" finds knowledge to "enrich his mind and enlarge his talents." It will also be a place where "leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness," and also where people move beyond "the needs of the body and the demands of commerce" to strive for "beauty" and "community."

People in the Great Society will "renew contact with nature," honor "creation for its own sake," and care more about the "quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods."

"But most of all," Johnson proclaims, "the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor."

Referencing Aristotle, Johnson sums up his vision for the Great Society by committing it to combating "loneliness and boredom and indifference" so that citizens would be free "not only to live but to live the good life."

Really? Boredom?

The problem with this agenda isn't that Johnson proposed unworthy goals. It's that he proposed goals that were too worthy — and obviously, indisputably unattainable for many individuals, let alone for any conceivable government program. (An older liberal friend of mine claims to have thought at the time that in this speech Johnson came awfully close to sounding like Santa Claus.)

Johnson's approach was similar with the war in Vietnam, though with much greater and far more deadly consequences. The objective — military victory over the godless Commies in southeast Asia — was not implausible on its face, but it was enunciated without a clear plan for how it could be achieved. Johnson seemed to assume that all we needed was the will to make it happen.

When it comes to the social welfare programs that Johnson signed into law in order to prosecute the war on poverty and realize the Great Society, they were a decidedly mixed bag. Some, like Medicare, have proven popular and enduring. Others, like the anti-poverty programs wrapped up with the Office of Economic Opportunity, were far less effective, and ended up being dismantled during the conservative resurgence they helped to inspire.

In every case, the policies would have been better served by a more modest rhetorical justification.

Johnson's presidency went down in flames because it could never live up to his own irresponsibly exalted standards. Despite what his apologists may think and hope, the damage to his reputation can't be erased by distracting attention from Vietnam, which was only one aspect of a multifaceted failure.
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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2014, 08:20:50 PM »
Toss up  Wilson, Roosevelt or LBJ
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2014, 09:28:07 AM »
The War on Poverty was destructive in so many ways.
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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2014, 06:47:46 PM »
Toss up  Wilson, Roosevelt or LBJ


Wilson.....
"Die-hard conservatives thought that if I couldn't get everything I asked for, I should jump off the cliff with the flag flying-go down in flames. No, if I can get 70 or 80 percent of what it is I'm trying to get ... I'll take that and then continue to try to get the rest in the future."

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2014, 06:56:35 PM »

Wilson.....
Agreed, but the article talks about post-1930s presidentes. Who was worse of that lot, FDR or LBJ?
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Online kevindavis

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2014, 06:58:19 PM »
Agreed, but the article talks about post-1930s presidentes. Who was worse of that lot, FDR or LBJ?

LBJ.... At least FDR had a coherent war policy....
"Die-hard conservatives thought that if I couldn't get everything I asked for, I should jump off the cliff with the flag flying-go down in flames. No, if I can get 70 or 80 percent of what it is I'm trying to get ... I'll take that and then continue to try to get the rest in the future."

Ronald Reagan

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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2014, 07:57:31 PM »
LBJ.... At least FDR had a coherent war policy....

I agree...
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2014, 08:03:32 PM »
Toss up  Wilson, Roosevelt or LBJ

Given the constraint - "worst president since the early 1930s"  - contained in the article we must, IMHO,  choose between FDR, Jimmiah CAAATA,  LBJ, and Obama!

Obama wins that one HANDS DOWN.  Jimmiah CAAATA takes second and LBJ third.

There have been worse than Obama believe it or not but that was prior to 1930 and thus excluded from this one!
« Last Edit: February 22, 2014, 08:07:53 PM by Bigun »
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2014, 08:13:43 PM »
Toss up  Wilson, Roosevelt or LBJ

Theodore or Franklin??  Teddy Roosevelt was one of the big Proggressive Presidents and seized more land on behalf of the Federal Park Service than any other President up to that time among other things.

Wilson has his own special place in hell for the unique damage he personally wrought on the US Constitution.  LBJ has his special place in hell for founding the continuing downfall of the black population in this Country, as proven by the recent revelation that there are more abortions than live births in the New York black community, for one example among many.




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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2014, 08:20:27 PM »
Theodore or Franklin??  Teddy Roosevelt was one of the big Proggressive Presidents and seized more land on behalf of the Federal Park Service than any other President up to that time among other things.

Wilson has his own special place in hell for the unique damage he personally wrought on the US Constitution.  LBJ has his special place in hell for founding the continuing downfall of the black population in this Country, as proven by the recent revelation that there are more abortions than live births in the New York black community, for one example among many.

And Abraham Lincoln has a special place in hell for having opened wide the door through which every progressive since has walked!

He walked all over our Constitution and we have a monument to him in Washington!  Pathetic!

“It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” —Voltaire

Offline Chieftain

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2014, 08:23:24 PM »
And Abraham Lincoln has a special place in hell for having opened wide the door through which every progressive since has walked!

He walked all over our Constitution and we have a monument to him in Washington!  Pathetic!

How about every single Supreme Court Justice how has sat on the Court for the last Century and systematically helped the Democrats undo the Checks and Balances??  I hope they burn them head first in flaming iron pits....




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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2014, 08:28:45 PM »
How about every single Supreme Court Justice how has sat on the Court for the last Century and systematically helped the Democrats undo the Checks and Balances??  I hope they burn them head first in flaming iron pits....

Actually I lay that at the feet of congress the members of which do not fully understand the powers given them under the Constitution.
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Offline Carling

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2014, 08:35:50 PM »
And Abraham Lincoln has a special place in hell for having opened wide the door through which every progressive since has walked!

He walked all over our Constitution and we have a monument to him in Washington!  Pathetic!

This is supposed to be sarcastic, right?   :shrug:
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Online Bigun

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2014, 09:11:24 PM »
This is supposed to be sarcastic, right?   :shrug:

Nope! Serious as a heart attack!
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2014, 09:39:33 PM »
This is supposed to be sarcastic, right?   :shrug:

Define the parameters of sarcasm in the age of Obama.....

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Offline Carling

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2014, 10:34:29 PM »
Nope! Serious as a heart attack!

Wow.  What a weird opinion you have re: Lincoln.  Do you still favor segregating schools, too? 
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Online Bigun

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2014, 10:46:13 PM »
Wow.  What a weird opinion you have re: Lincoln.  Do you still favor segregating schools, too?

Nope! And that has noting at all to do with the subject at hand!
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Offline Carling

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2014, 10:49:03 PM »
Nope! And that has noting at all to do with the subject at hand!

I'd like to know why you are so critical of Lincoln.  You brought him up. 
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Online Bigun

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2014, 11:15:54 PM »
I'd like to know why you are so critical of Lincoln.  You brought him up.

Go back and read what I wrote it's right there.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2014, 11:19:54 PM by Bigun »
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Offline Oceander

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2014, 12:24:10 AM »
Quote
Johnson's presidency went down in flames because it could never live up to his own irresponsibly exalted standards. Despite what his apologists may think and hope, the damage to his reputation can't be erased by distracting attention from Vietnam, which was only one aspect of a multifaceted failure.

The only thing distinguishing Obama from LBJ is the color of his skin.  Obama will never face such criticism because of the color of his skin; he is the antithesis of everything MLK Jr. stood for.

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2014, 08:05:56 AM »
The only thing distinguishing Obama from LBJ is the color of his skin.  Obama will never face such criticism because of the color of his skin; he is the antithesis of everything MLK Jr. stood for.
Amen to that.
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Offline MBB1984

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2014, 03:05:00 PM »
The only thing distinguishing Obama from LBJ is the color of his skin.  Obama will never face such criticism because of the color of his skin; he is the antithesis of everything MLK Jr. stood for.

Obama and LBJ and MLK, Jr. all worshiped big government.

Offline Carling

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2014, 08:59:07 PM »
Go back and read what I wrote it's right there.

I read it.  It was simplistic.  I'd like some further explanation for why you hold that view. 
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Online Bigun

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2014, 09:01:54 PM »
I read it.  It was simplistic.  I'd like some further explanation for why you hold that view.

I hold that view because the historical record on it is VERY clear! He walked all over the Constitution early and often and Obama is following his lead!
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Offline Carling

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Re: Why Lyndon B. Johnson is the worst modern president
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2014, 09:45:04 PM »
I hold that view because the historical record on it is VERY clear! He walked all over the Constitution early and often and Obama is following his lead!

OK then.  Reminding myself to never take any of your posts seriously from this point forward. 
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