Friday, May 25, 2007

Iraq versus Vietnam... LBJ and Dubya

President Lyndon Johnson listens to a tape recording from his son-in-law Capt. Charles Robb, who was a Marine Corps company commander in Vietnam. By Jack Kightlinger, Washington, DC, July 31, 1968
David Seaton's News Links
People are always comparing Iraq to Vietnam and the photograph above does the job very well... better than any I've ever seen.

The candid photograph above shows the President of the United States bent in sorrowful concentration listening to a recorded message from his son in law, a US Marine serving in Vietnam. Can you imagine George W. Bush - who also has two daughters - having a son in law in the US Marines, much less one serving in Iraq? In fact I can't even imagine Bush ever sitting in such a tragic pose in all his life... unless he was hungover.

The man in the photograph is Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, a man whose presidency was destroyed by the war in Vietnam. If it hadn't been for Vietnam, I believe that LBJ's would have been one of history's great presidencies: certainly one of the greatest from a progressive point of view.

The centerpiece of Johnson's administration was the "Great Society's" social programs, and most of what little social democracy the United States possesses today we owe to LBJ. Medicare, Medicaid, and federal education funding, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the National Public Radio are just a few of the programs we owe to Johnson. The Wikipedia article states that, "The two main goals of the Great Society social reforms were the elimination of poverty and racial injustice".
As the Bible's shortest sentence puts it, "Jesus wept". All in all it was the most fertile period of social legislation in American history after FDR's "New Deal". African-Americans probably owe Johnson more than any other president after Lincoln.

FDR was Lyndon
Johnson's hero... funnily enough Roosevelt was also Ronald Reagan's hero too. Many consider that Ronald Reagan's main achievement was defeating the "evil empire" - which probably collapsed under its own dead weight - when in fact Reagan's principal goal, one could call it his life's work, was to destroy as much as he could of Johnson's "Great Society". Bush's hero of course is Ronald Reagan.

A man of prodigious, practical energy, an impassioned defender of the underprivileged and the excluded, with all his faults, LBJ was "a man in full"... nothing like the autistic and incompetent little twerp that sits in the Oval Office today. DS

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