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Johnson's Legacy, Today's Democratic Race


President Lyndon B. Johnson reaches to shake hands with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. after presenting the civil rights leader with one of the 72 pens used to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in Washington on July 2, 1964. (AP)

By Dan Balz
AUSTIN -- When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton meet Thursday night for their critically important 90-minute debate, they will do so in an arena not far from the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library, the marble-sided mausoleum-like structure that houses the documents and memorabilia from the 36th president's tumultuous presidency.

In the Democratic presidential race, Obama has cast himself as a latter-day John F. Kennedy, summoning the energy and glamour of a new-generation politician to add luster to his own campaign. Clinton has embraced the Johnson model, if not the Johnson presidency -- effective if not inspirational, master of the system, and perhaps resentful of her younger rival's rhetorical gifts.

The side-by-side comparisons of Obama and Clinton as Kennedy and Johnson are fascinating if partly flawed. Certainly Obama embodies some of the Kennedy appeal, generating enthusiasm among young people the way Kennedy did in the early '60s.

His support from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the late president's brother, and of Caroline Kennedy, the late president's daughter, has given him the Kennedy family imprimatur. Others from the Kennedy era have embraced Obama as a politician who can restore some of the sense of hope and freshness that marked Kennedy's presidency.

Clinton has not run as Johnson, but more than once she has invoked his name as a counterpoint to the enthusiasm that surrounds Obama's candidacy. Last September, as she was attempting to dampen Obama's appeal and draw a distinction between his change-oriented message and her argument that experience matters, she used Johnson as one example.

"From my time in the White House and in the Senate," she said, "I have learned that you bring change by working in the system established in our Constitution. You cannot pretend that the system doesn't exist."

She went on to cite Franklin Roosevelt and the creation of Social Security, Theodore Roosevelt and his trust-busting efforts, and Johnson on voting rights and Medicare.

"They got big things done because they knew that it was not just about the dream, it was about the results, and that's what we have to do again," she said. "We need to dream big, but then we have to figure out how to make those dreams a reality in the lives of Americans."

She returned to Johnson around the time of the New Hampshire primary, as Obama was surging, to suggest that it took a skilled and experienced politician to fulfill the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. Then she said, "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done."

That statement blew up in Clinton's face, interpreted by some African Americans as an attempt to diminish either King or Obama or both, and she has generally avoided references to Johnson in that context. But even now, as she makes her stand in Johnson's home state and in Ohio, she at least implicitly makes the argument that an understanding of the machinery of politics -- along with a commitment to the kinds of policy changes she and Obama are promoting -- is critical to bringing those changes to fruition.

Johnson still occupies an uneasy position within the Democratic Party and in the eyes of history. He is revered by many Democrats for his domestic focus on outlawing discrimination and creating the Medicare system. Those Democrats want to see Johnson elevated to what they regard as his rightful status. But he is still reviled by some for his prosecution of the Vietnam War, which tore the country apart during his final years in office and which ultimately drove him out of office.

As Johnson and Kennedy biographer Robert Dallek said Thursday morning, Iraq has reminded antiwar Democrats and others of Vietnam, to the detriment of Johnson's legacy. "Johnson is still dogged by the defeat in Vietnam and leading us into an unwinnable and unpopular war," he said. "The Democrats don't want to go there and embrace him."

But Dallek also noted that the very possibility that Obama could emerge as the Democratic presidential nominee would represent the fulfillment of all that Johnson did to advance the cause of civil rights and racial progress, despite the risk to his own party, during the 1960s.

"In a sense, it's quite fitting that this debate between a woman and an African American should take place next to Lyndon Johnson's library," he said. "In that sense, he would be delighted."

Dallek makes another interesting comparison between the old rivalry between Kennedy and Johnson and the current competition between Obama and Clinton. "Johnson assumed in 1960 that his experience, his leadership in the Senate, his ties to all the principal leaders in the Democratic Party would be sufficient to propel him to the nomination," Dallek said. Kennedy instead went out and ran in the primaries -- there were only a handful then -- and persuaded party bosses he should be the nominee.

Clinton began with the same kind of inside connections as Johnson, while Obama had few. Instead, he has sought to prove himself through the primaries and caucuses, running everywhere he can. She has selectively competed, to her detriment, and now finds herself fighting to hold what establishment support she has long enough to demonstrate enough popular appeal to slow Obama's momentum.

It's not likely that LBJ will be much mentioned once Thursday's debate gets going, but it would be useful to hear both Obama and Clinton talk about his presidency and how his experience has influenced their own views of the office. His Great Society was a proud moment in Democratic Party history, only to become a symbol of government's failures and overreaching.

Clinton's husband effectively rewrote the party's message in 1992 to acknowledge those failures -- and public discontent with big-government programs -- and famously declared the era of big government over. But the Democrats have drifted left in the past eight years, if not in the shape of the policy proposals they are putting forward, then in a re-embrace of government activism and government initiatives.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama has used a major speech to describe their own ideology or political philosophy. Obama has a quite liberal voting record but a message of unity and working across party lines. Clinton comes out of the New Democrat movement created by her husband and may be more moderate than Obama on some issues, but with her party moving left, she has been willing to move with the activists. What they learned from and now think of Lyndon Johnson might provide a revealing and helpful tutorial for all voters.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 21, 2008; 3:01 PM ET
Categories:  Dan Balz's Take  
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Posted by: kuirpmcds xbpvkr | April 16, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I first likened the battle between Obama and Clinton to the Kennedy/Johnson rivalry back in January, even before Mary Ann Akers revealed the real reason for the Kennedys endorsement of Obama. You can read my prescient piece here:
http://jonswift.blogspot.com/2008/01/why-kennedys-are-endorsing-obama.html

Jon Swift

Posted by: modestjonswift | February 29, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

How come no mentions of Bobby Kennedy in all this? Take a good look at the photo; you can make RFK out in it in the background. Bobby had a hand in the drafting of that Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it was Bobby who pushed Jack to finally "get going" so to speak, with respects to getting legislation drafted and submitted. And while I'm often at odds with the viewpoints of Frank Luntz, it is RFK that Sen. Obama is "channeling" in this campaign. It's Bobby's language and speeches and campaign, that in my opinion, have transcended the passing of the years.

Posted by: tdc221 | February 24, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

CHESS613, yours is the best, most succinct, balanced, profound and fair-minded take on these too often reductive comparisons. Thank you.

Posted by: jhbyer | February 21, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

DON't FORGET THIS, you don't want to trust the outgoing LOSERS....because they're burying landmines in your administration kids...

.

THE REPULSIVE SCAMMERS HOPE YOU FORGET THE LAST 8 YEARS AS THE DEMOCRATS DID IN 1992....


DON'T !!!!


As Bill Clinton was about to take office, there were other lingering questions about secret Republican dealings with Saddam Hussein's Iraq during the 1980s. The CIA allegedly had assisted in arranging third-country supplies of sophisticated armaments to Saddam Hussein in his border war with Iran.

President Bush had angrily denounced such charges after they were raised following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. But a number of witnesses were alleging that the CIA had helped arrange the supplies, including cluster bombs to Iraq through Chile.

In 1992-93, the Democrats were in a strong position to get to the bottom of all these historic questions that had so entangled U.S. foreign policy in the 1980s. The Democrats controlled both houses of Congress as well as the White House. Walsh was furious with Bush's Iran-contra pardons and was considering impaneling a new grand jury to force Bush's testimony. [See Walsh's book, Firewall, for more details.]

Getting answers to these questions also made policy sense, if for no other reason than it was important for the new administration to know where diplomatic mine fields might be hidden in this delicate geopolitical landscape.

Shutting Down

But the Democrats -- led by then-House Speaker Tom Foley and Rep. Lee Hamilton -- chose a very different course. Apparently believing that battling for answers would distract from the domestic policy agenda, such as passage of a universal health care plan, the Democrats chose to shut down all the investigations.

In December 1992, Foley signaled Bush that he would have no problem with the Iran-contra pardons. After the pardons were issued, a few Democrats groused but no hearings were held and no formal explanation was demanded, even though this may have been the first time a president had used his pardon powers to protect himself from possible incrimination.

After the Inauguration, the Clinton administration offered no help to Walsh in arranging declassification of documents that would have aided his investigation. When Bush refused to submit to an interview with Walsh's prosecutors, the Democrats made not a peep about this final move to obstruct the Iran-contra investigation.

Faced with a lack of political support, Walsh decided not to call Bush before a grand jury and shut down his office.

On the 1980 Iran issue, a congressional task force chose to obscure or cover up the new evidence of Republican guilt. Bani-Sadr's letter was misrepresented in the task force's report as mere speculation. Bani-Sadr's detailed account of the interplay inside the Iranian government was simply ignored.

Only those who bothered to dig through the task force report's appendix could find out what the Iranian president had actually said.


Not a single story about Bani-Sadr's letter appeared in major newspapers.

In an odd twist, the task force accepted the testimony about deMarenches's account of Republicans meeting Iranians in Paris as "credible," but then incongruously dismissed it as irrelevant, since it conflicted with Republican denials.

The extraordinary Russian report describing what Soviet intelligence files had shown about the Republican-Iran initiative was simply hidden. There was no serious follow-up with the Russians to determine how solid their intelligence was and how they had obtained the information.

SEARCH ON Russians, October Surprise, Cater, Paris, Robert M. Gates, George H.W. Bush


get to know a little history.


.
...
.


first things first: shut down halliburton, bechtel, kbr, blackwater, dyncorp's involvement in IRAQ...


conscript the contractors and make them work for GSA at GS scale wages,


as a first step, seperate the thieves from the money....simple eh?

.


it's a national security issue. we don't get what we pay for. and I don't remember paying to have IRAQ's infrastructure destroyed so the citizenry couldn't protest the oil theft shunt...


.


.

Posted by: aMonster | February 21, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

when John Negroponte was made the Director of National Intelligence with the ability to excuse any company from being audited or reporting revenues....


what companies were excluded?


included within those companies were companies that the Whitehouse families profit from? or their families families or CRONYS ????

Halliburton, Bechtel, Carlyle Group, KBR, DynCorp, BLACKWATER


did not have to disclose.

is there any part of this administration that does not scream


___CONFLICT____OF______INTEREST____ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


can we try these thieves and then hang them for each major crime ????


.if convicted of course.


...if convicted !? ,


let us pray....

.

Posted by: aMonster | February 21, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I wanted to respond to the interesting article in today's Post, comparing Obama to Kennedy and Clinton to LBJ (Hillary initiated this during the NH primary by remarking that Obama may compare himself to Dr. King, but it takes actual presidents like LBJ to actually make dreams a reality). Though this may be an easy comparison, there are a lot flaws to it, as the newspaper pointed out. It pointed out the obvious flaw - that LBJ will forever be linked with the failure of Vietnam, something Hillary wouldn't want to be compared to - but it also failed to mention that most of the Great Society programs (Medicare, the War on Poverty and the Civil Rigths Act of 1964) were either so vast it could not have realistically come to fruitition or they were directly co-op'ed from the Kennedy's, whom LBJ hated. The Civil Rights battle was largely Bobby's and John's battle from the Washington end (supporting King, Abernathy, Shuttlesworth, John Lewis and so many others on the front line). It was Bobby who made the call that got Dr. King freed from a Birmingham jail. It was JFK that campaigned to blacks in the south where LBJ was loath to piss off his loyal constituents. It wasn't until JFK died that Johnson took over (or tried to) Kennedy's programs and made it his own. And to be honest, the Civil Rights Act of '64 wouldn't be enforced strenuously until well after Lyndon left office - leaving most blacks to think at the time that the bill was a piece of paper that had no real strength. The War on Poverty did not eliminate poverty, and Medicare has become a pinata most Republicans love to whack at the expense of the Democrats - a program that gives very little medical relief for the poor while keeping them dependent on the government. Lyndon Johnson, who after five years in office left in disgrace just as Bobby was entering the '68 election race, was the most Republican of Democratic presidents and while Hillary Clinton in a sound bite championed LBJ over Dr. King, she not only became the lightningrod for those who uphold Dr. King near and dear to our hearts, but ironically embraces the most least embraceable of modern day Democratic presidents.

The Obama / Kennedy comparison is also interesting, but for different reasons. Both have interesting parallels. Both are entering a presidential race after being one term Senators. Both won highly esteemed literary prizes (Obama the Grammy for audio spoken version of his book, Kennedy the Pulitzer for Profiles of Courage). Both have beautiful wives and young kids. The greatest comparison is their support from youth- a source neither party felt would be a strong factor. Neither in 1960 nor today did either party feel young folks 18-24 would vote. The truth is, neither party felt they had a candidate that would motivate youth to vote. Prior to Kennedy, the Democratic party leaders were Estev Kefauver (whos public Kefauver Hearings brought down Costello and other mob bosses) and Adlai Stevenson, whom Republicans dubbed the egghead for his brilliance. Kefauver never got past Stevenson, who in two elections never got past the war president Eisenhower, though Ike presided over an unfavorable outcome in Korea. Today, prior to Obama, the Democratic leaders are of course the Clintons, John Kerry and Al Gore - Gore, much like Stevenson, has shown his brilliance over his analysis of global warming through his filmed presentation An Inconvenient Truth. Both men were defeated by a war president - Bush, though he has presided over a very unfavorable war in Iraq. So in both situations, people wanted change - they wanted to feel they had a voice. Granted the economy was much better under Ike and despite problems wiht McCarthyism, race relations (Brown v Board of Ed, Rosa Parks and the bus boycott that followed it) and the U2 spy plane incident, Ike still had a very good approval rating. But with the emergence of Kennedy, people knew what they wanted. Even with a close race, and it's a given many people in the south via poll taxes were not given a right to vote, it's clear the people's choice was Kennedy, not Nixon. Nixon also talked about experience over style (I would never compare Hillary to Nixon, though), Kennedy with his young crew of advisors - the whiz kids - they showed plenty of substance, handling the Cuban Missile Crisis, the East German blockade and civil rights issues. Even in failure, he stepped up to the plate, admitted failure to the bay of pigs (the "failure is an orphan" speech). Now can you imagine Bush admitting failure?

Now we can't compare how Obama will be in the White House just now. But he's already proven to have one great talent few have paid attention to: while he has a gifted voice, he clearly also has a gifted ear. He's listening to what people want to hear and he's advocating what many want in our government. When Hillary Clinton tries to explain away why she voted for the War In Iraq, Obama makes the clear argument that he listened to Bush's argument for war and concluded it didn't hold up. Yes I know he wasn't in congress then, but even when he was, he never voted to put more money in the War in Iraq. He's paying attention to the youth movement and responds to it by telling his crowd to text message people about the campaign and to use their cellphones, blogs and their myspace page to get the word out. When pundits said they weren't getting enough talk abotu issues (just talks of change), he changed his game in Houston by talking specifics about how he would strengthen the economy, his stance on the War on Terror and his plans to make America more green friendly. It's why his numbers are up among white men and among women in general. The last couple of times I've seen him talk, I've never seen him use a piece of paper. I know he has a set script of things he talks about (as every politician) but you get the sense it's all natural, all organic. A few of the white lawyers I work with say the same thing. We know all politicians mostly say the same thing, and make the same promises. But you gravitate towards the one who you can truly believe in.

Obama's voice is of course different from Kennedy's, and it's hard to make a direct comparison between two very different men. But I strongly believe that Obama has taken the Kennedy mantle because many of the young democratic voters WANT to give him the mantle. I believe they've wanted to give that mantle to anyone who would fit the bill - just as Bill Clinton fit the bill in '92. And perhaps many blacks were looking for fit the King mantle on someone - anyone who would step up (just as Jesse Jackson did in '84). Obama appeals to both and though he didn't directly ask for it, he'll gladly do his best to fit the template. I believe people carry metaphysical templates around. Men have a template of the perfect woman in their heads - likewise women, men. Voters have a template of what their candidate should be, and many of those characteristics are made by past templates - like Kennedy. Obama has clicked with the young Gen X'ers (like me), liberal democrats who feel Hillary has moved too close to the center; blacks (like me), and simply those who want to simply be inspired again. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It's what made both Roosevelts, Kennedy and Bill Clinton so special as politicians - their words stayed with you. You quoted them. You heard them quoted and misquoted by others. When you see the words, you hear the voices as you're reading them. And for the moment, Obama has that. Hillary Clinton isn't just fighting for her political life - she's fighting against something far more intangible. A dream. A dream not directly created by Obama. A dream that existed with the words of JFK, Dr. King and many others who struggled for peace, universal freedom for all and a safe America.

Posted by: Chess613 | February 21, 2008 7:21 PM | Report abuse

The contrast between HRC and LBJ is startling.

1. After one term in the Senate, LBJ rose to Senate Majority Leader. He was a master manipulator and this enabled him to push through passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by a coalition of northern Democrats and Republicans, who actually provided more favorable votes than the Democrats (who were still then a 50% southern party).

2. After one term plus two years in the Senate, Hillary is not majority leader or hold any other leadership position. She has yet to propose and secure passage of a SINGLE major bill -- compared to three for Obama, two in his first two years while the Republicans were in the majority.

Posted by: mnjam | February 21, 2008 06:04 PM
__________________________________________

To be fair, Hillary doesn't have LBJ's size. You get a 6-3 guy UP IN YOUR FACE (a favorite Johnson move -- back then, that was the height of an NBA Forward), it's hard to say no. Hilary is diminutive.

That said, no, Hill's nowhere near the pol LBJ was. (I'm not talking president, just skill as a politician throughout his career.) She is so hostile to Repubs, I don't think she can be; LBJ could cut a deal with Ev Dirksen in his sleep. I think Scoop Jackson a somewhat better analogy, purely in terms of his support of a war deeply unpopular among the party faithful, that support trumping all of his other virtues.

As for Obama, he's most like RFK -- not many years as a Senator, long political experience, young, able to reach across racial and class lines, particularly appealing to intellectuals within the party, outspokenly anti-the-war-we're-in-now, appealed to hope and our better natures. Obama's a better speaker -- he rivals Ted IMHO (and for me, Ted is on the Mt. Rushmore of 20th Century Speakers, with FDR, JFK, and Reagan); Bobby was pretty low-key, his impact lay in the message and the evident sincerity behind his words. The young RFK was a lot like Hillary, but after his brother's murder, he mellowed out and became philosophical, much like Obama is.

Posted by: gbooksdc | February 21, 2008 7:08 PM | Report abuse

"Obama has a quite liberal voting record but a message of unity and working across party lines. Clinton comes out of the New Democrat movement created by her husband and may be more moderate than Obama on some issues, but with her party moving left, she has been willing to *SAY SHE WILL* move with the activists."

Fixed.

Posted by: gbooksdc | February 21, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Senator Obama has sponsored or co-sponsored 570 bills in the 109th and 110th Congress.

Senator Obama has sponsored or co-sponsored 15 bills that have become LAW since he joined the Senate in 2005.

Senator Obama has also introduced amendments to 50 bills, of which 16 were adopted by the Senate.

His record is in fact quite impressive for a junior Senator from Illinois.

Posted by: jswallow | February 21, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Hillary, you seem to have latched onto the phrase "let's get real."

Could you and your husband please get real on ethics and morality?

You both have some explaining to do.

Martin Edwin "Mick" Andersen

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | February 21, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

No doubt LBJ was a master of the system, but he rode the civil rights act to passage on the memory of a beloved President. Who has to die to get a health care plan passed?

Posted by: caribis | February 21, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

"But the Democrats have drifted left in the past eight years, if not in the shape of the policy proposals they are putting forward, then in a re-embrace of government activism and government initiatives."

This sentence is incoherent. The Democrats have not drifted lef "in the shape of policy proposals" but in "a re-embrace of government activism." Totally incoherent? Which is it?

Posted by: mnjam | February 21, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Ridiculous comparison. Sen Obama is a do-nothing Senator, compared to then Sen Kennedy. There are some comparisons between Sen Clinton & then Sen Johnson: they are both bi-partisan strategists; they get things done. I hope that Sen Clinton's campaign can be saved, as I will be forced to vote for a Republican for President, if she isn't the Democratic nominee.
Posted by: jubran1 | February 21, 2008 04:08 PM
------------------------------

The jubran1's of 1960 derided Senator John F. Kennedy as a good looking playboy, who did nothing except talk good and write books, and promised to vote for Nixon.

jubran1 is channeling these people now.

Vote for McCain, jubran1. Enjoy national bankruptcy, 100 years of war and a Supreme Court that will make the Spanish Inquisition seem enlightened.

Posted by: mnjam | February 21, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

The contrast between HRC and LBJ is startling.

1. After one term in the Senate, LBJ rose to Senate Majority Leader. He was a master manipulator and this enabled him to push through passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by a coalition of northern Democrats and Republicans, who actually provided more favorable votes than the Democrats (who were still then a 50% southern party).

2. After one term plus two years in the Senate, Hillary is not majority leader or hold any other leadership position. She has yet to propose and secure passage of a SINGLE major bill -- compared to three for Obama, two in his first two years while the Republicans were in the majority.

Posted by: mnjam | February 21, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

The contrast between HRC and LBJ is startling.

1. After one term in the Senate, LBJ rose to Senate Majority Leader. He was a master manipulator and this enabled him to push through passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by a coalition of northern Democrats and Republicans, who actually provided more favorable votes than the Democrats (who were still then a 50% southern party).

2. After one term plus two years in the Senate, Hillary is not majority leader or hold any other leadership position. She has yet to propose and secure passage of a SINGLE major bill -- compared to three for Obama, two in his first two years while the Republicans were in the majority.

Posted by: mnjam | February 21, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I've got an idea.

If you want to know how Hillary or Bill feel about somethin', just take a poll and wait five minutes. Then ask 'em.

But you gotta wait for them poll results first.

I can't wait to vote for Obama in the NC Primary. I know it's no Texas or Ohio, but I suspect it will feel very rewarding.

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | February 21, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Everybody knew that the dying days of the Clinton campaign would be interesting. She may have to be dragged off the stage kicking and screaming. But neither mudslinging at McCain nor personal attacks on Obama will change that.

Posted by: dunnhaupt | February 21, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

And Balz definitely practices George W. Bush-era journalism. No doubt about that.

Posted by: jlelijah | February 21, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Forget it. Barack Obama is just a very gifted speaker (who borrows lines to make his stand more enticing just like "just words") He has the audacity to compare himself to MLK and JFK. The two were also good speakers. What of Obama's stand on the issues. You cannot run the government only in the premise of change. You've got something more explicit to offer for which has none. People are buying his rhetoric and it is sad. Is thre something he has done in the senate for which he can name for the voting people to be really taken? Nothing. I would rather vote for a Republican than vote for him. But with what is happening to McCain, barack may talk himself to the presidency. What a mess. People vote not by the issues. People vote for rhetoric which won't put food on the table, take care of the dwindling economy and the war on terror still very much alive.

Posted by: sonia_delmundo | February 21, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

yes i agree history has given lbj credit for the civil rights and other programs he initiated to assist the less fortunate.the thing about lyndon johnson is that he was a master politician who was very well connected and an astute man in knowing the working of washington.the main thing about lbj is that he was a southerner and connected to all the other southern senators who were chairman of most of the important committees.lbj knew how to deal and to call in favors,he knew how to ask for assistance in getting measures passed and he knew how to reward a senators districts with government projects.i don't know if we'll ever have a president with the likeness of lbj again. vietnam really took it's toll on this gigantic of a man,vietnam and people protests in the streets over the war.it's a war he inherited however he was part of the administration.he never complained that it was not his war.lbj was a gigantic ,true texan that people of the lonestar state can be proud of.he wasn't a transplant like both bush's who used texas as a base for their political fortunes.lbj was the last masterful politican.he was a gigant.

Posted by: ronaldtennillegeorgia1 | February 21, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I see that recent polling in Texas is showing a shift. Rasmussen did a poll on 2/14 and showed Clinton with a 16 point lead. Rasmussen did a poll in 2/20 and showed Clinton with a 3 point lead.

Remember the Alamo.

Posted by: steveboyington | February 21, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Interesting comparison. Kennedy comes to office and there is the Bay of Pigs followed by the Cuban Missile Crisis and then the lame attempts to assassinate Casto and then he escalates the Viet Nam war. Johnson inherited the mess and should have abandoned ship but was following in the footsteps of Camelot but at least he addressed the domestic issues well. Kennedy almost got us involved in a nuclear war but got lucky. How lucky do you feel with Obama? The US embassy was stormed today in Belgrade, Pakistan is about to go under, Kenya is a mess -- it reminds me of Dirty Harry with his magnum -- So how lucky do you feel America with Barak Obama at the helm? If Not Hillary, Vote for McCain.

Posted by: krutkow75 | February 21, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

A lot of the interesting and relevant early history of Sen. Hillary Clinton's public service career has been under-reported in national press coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign. She deserves the same credit for having added new philosphical insights and political commitments to the fundamental outlook she developed within her Republican family household when she was growing up as other national political hopefuls have been granted along the way.

For example, she demonstrated early appreciation of the conservative constitutional principles of Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona even as she later developed a personal commitment to the practical governmental applications put forward by both JFK and LBJ, so it does not do her candidacy justice to separate her political ideals from either one or the other of Bill Clinton's presidential predecessors.

When Bill Clinton was running for President in 1992, we had considerable reporting, understandably, of his state political career in Arkansas as a congressional candidate, Arkansas attorney general and ultimately as governor of the state. But Hillary Rodham Clinton also had impressive public service accomplishments from their years in Arkansas which have not received very much news coverage or "analysis and review," including her chairing of the educational standards committee for the Arkansas public schools and her tenure in legal services for the Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Both the Obama campaign organization and the "Kennedy A Team," if you will, have succeeded in inducing us to merely "skip over" much of the period between the 1970s and 1990s as if nothing of consequence was attempted or accomplished by the political leaders in ascendancy during that era.

Why, they didn't even mention Sen. Ted Kennedy's own noble bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1980!

Perhaps the underdog "Kennedy B Team," including some of RFK's children, will help try to fill in the gaps as the first generation of Joseph P. Kennedy's children did around the dinner table every night and thus maintain the Kennedy's vigorous "touch football" traditions in friendly political competition.

Meanwhile, the press should not forget the entire pathway of Sen. Hillary Clinton's lifelong journey in politics, law and public service. She brings more personal political education on major policy questions to her campaign than perhaps any candidate since Sen. Henry (Scoop) Jackson of Washington.

David P. McKnight
Durham, N.C.

Posted by: Proctor2 | February 21, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I think Barack Obama is a sitting duck.


He doesn't have the backing of a Kennedy family.


And the people of the United States have been routinely ignored for the last 8 years with no repurcussions to bushCO and CRONYs...

there is plenty of evidence that Gore didn't even lose in 2000,


but since he's a nice guy, he didn't pursue it.

Barack may be an interesting speaker but his position of saying,


"we're the future!"


completely ignores the fact that he doesn't understand the present and he doesn't want to.

he's selling slogans.


and a dumbed down, desperate AMERICA is buying them.

.Huey Long was a better candidate than Obama.


.

Posted by: aMonster | February 21, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Obama's had more than a bellyful from Hillary and Mr. Wonderful. Having her as VP very well could prove suicidal to a BO administration. I hope (there's that word again!) Obama nominates someone talented however, except for Bill Richardson, I can't think of anyone else in his party.

Posted by: filoporquequilo | February 21, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

how about comparing Hilary Clinton to McGovern

and Obama to Hubert Humphrey...


that would be a more accurate comparison


children.


.

Posted by: aMonster | February 21, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

there is no comparison between Obama and Kennedy.


Kennedy came from power and influence, his father was a rackateer. And JFK served in WWII in difficult circumstances. He married wealth and prestige. He understood a few things. He had some backing.


Obama has a flavor.


Bill Clinton prevailed whilst being assaulted from all sides, by multiple sources...all bushCO and CRONY related. Hillary has stood with him as an advisor and confidante. She has also done her own work in the world. She's been in Washington since 1992 as an OUTSIDER and survived. Unlike Jimmy Carter who was backstabbed by some in the CIA, and by George H.W. Bush


William Casey, Robert M. Gates, George H.W. Bush have all been implicated with testimony linking them to backstabbing Jimmy Carter while he was a sitting president....


they acted as "republicans," not as CIA AGENTS but they used their position to broker a deal with the IRANIANS to delay release of the 52 IRANIAN hostages until after Ronald Reagain was elected...


they acted against a sitting president for partisan gain.


that is what Bill Clinton has been put through.


doubt me ???


SEARCH ON KEN STARR, Bush crime family

see what comes up.


.

Posted by: aMonster | February 21, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

JFK was a president of great rhetorical skill who inspired a generation. He was also a vehement Cold Warrior under whose watch the Bay of Pigs fiasco was executed and the nation was brought to the brink of nuclear war. Vietnam was an albatross inherited by LBJ from his predecessor. Not wanting to be the President who was the first to "lose" a war, LBJ allowed the war to spiral out of control. I have often wondered what the legacy of JFK would be had he not been assassinated.

If we are to consider Obama as JFK's heir apparent, we should look at what JFK did as well as what he said.

Posted by: mr_young4ever | February 21, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

How about a look at how the 2008 presidential campaign candidates compare to the 1860 (Lincoln, Douglas, Seward, etc.) ones?

Posted by: ericp331 | February 21, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Compare Hillary to Barry Goldwater - she worked for him and I believe she was a Republican first - rumor has it that she wrote a Thesis on the Civil Rights Movement and good ole Bill sealed it. Oh the politics of old will not go away!!

Posted by: djwinfield | February 21, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Clinton. like LBJ, would rather support an ill-considered foreign war than let the Right call her chicken.

Posted by: twstroud | February 21, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Ridiculous comparison. Sen Obama is a do-nothing Senator, compared to then Sen Kennedy. There are some comparisons between Sen Clinton & then Sen Johnson: they are both bi-partisan strategists; they get things done. I hope that Sen Clinton's campaign can be saved, as I will be forced to vote for a Republican for President, if she isn't the Democratic nominee.

Posted by: jubran1 | February 21, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I remember JFK, he is the president who's father used his mob connectons to get his son in the white house against Richard Nixon.

I remember the voter fraud allegations coming out of Chicago due to his dad having Mayor Daly in his hip pocket thru mob connections

I remember that he screwed anything with a heartbeat while his beautiful wife, Jackie, sat in the white house with Carolyn and John John (and her sad miscarraiges, probably caused by stress).

I remember Marilyn Monroe in a dress that had to be pinned on her singing breathlessly while the whole country watched "Happy Birthday Mr. President".

I remember Marily Monroe sadly complaining that after Jack had finished with her, he passed her off to Bobby Kennedy. (the reason for her "suicide" when both would not return her calls) Bobby used to clean up after Jack quite often.

MM was only one of many, many women who were visited by JFK or secretly brought into the white house by secret service agents thru the back door. Jackie was upstairs.

It was rumored that the Kennedy family paid her $1,000,000 to stay with Jack until he was out of office because,- she was humiliated and wanted to leave him. But the Kennedy name couldn't handle it so rather than jack change his ways, they pushed around their money.

I remember Ted Kennedy leaving a woman named Mary Jo in his car at the bottom of a lake (Chapaquidack) because he was driving so drunk crossing a bridge that he went off the bridge and landed in the water. He left her there while he ran home and sobered up and called the "kennedy clean up" committe to save His reputation. She of course drowned, she is dead. Of course, he at the time was also married, and not to Mary Jo.

So - there you have my memories of JFK, Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson of course was left with the mess of Vietnam, but he did more than any other president for Civil Rights, but he will forever live in the shadow of the better looking, better connected magical mystical Kennedys.

Don't believe it? look it up.

This article made me want to puke my lunch.

Posted by: lndlouis | February 21, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about speeches articulating a political ideology or philosophy, but I thought that Obama laid out the vision of what a president is supposed to do in his Iowa and New Hampshire speeches (i.e. for starters to rally Americans around a common cause -- in this case to simply remind Americans that we are one nation, one people. It may sound obvious, but after 7 years of George W. it's a necessary reminder).

As far as the liberal v. conservative debate goes, these days it has been reduced to an absurdity that centers only around social policy.

Is nuclear non-proliferation just a "liberal" idea? Is the idea of transparency on earmarks legislation just a "liberal" idea? Balanced budgets -- are those just "liberal ideas"? A level-headed foreign policy that doesn't engage in war based on fictions -- is this just a "liberal" idea? Is the notion that the Constitutional principles must be respected just a "liberal" idea?

After 7 years of George W. Bush and 6 years of his rubber stamp GOP congress, I could see how someone might say "yes". But I think even this would be an oversimplification.

Posted by: JPRS | February 21, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Dan
Nice article. With respect to the LBJ's accomplishments domestically versus the Vietnam war blunder, I think the comparison also applies to Senator Clinton. Many Democrats cannot forget Clinton's support for the Iraq war. If she loses the nomination, that vote (or should I say two votes: the opposition to the Levitan amendment also) will be one of the major reasons why many Dems did not rally behind her.

Posted by: AB68 | February 21, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Comparing an incompetent legislator like Obama with a war hero like JFK is very strange.

Obama needs to learn to push the "correct" button before he is given the responsibility of commander in chief. He may end up pushing the wrong button again.

Posted by: SeedofChange | February 21, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

H Clinton's move to the left may have been to her detriment. At least with Obama you know where he stands, very liberal. With H Clinton you don't really know where she stands, liberal or centrist.
I think voters want to know where the candidate stands and unclear messages or changing messages only stand to annoy and confuse voters. That is H Clinton's main problem...

Posted by: sniezgod | February 21, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I understand there's no room in Mr Balz's ridiculous novel for actual information, but a discussion of how this:
"That statement blew up in Clinton's face, interpreted by some African Americans as an attempt to diminish either King or Obama or both"
happened seems called for.

Posted by: zukermand | February 21, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I share Tip O'Neil's view that President Johnson would have been considered as great a President as FDR had we not been enmeshed in the Viet Nam war. No President since Johnson has done as much for working class and marginalized Americans. Between his legislative savvy and soaring rhetoric, Barak Obama combines the best qualities of Kennedy-Johnson.

Posted by: InspectorOh | February 21, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama has used a major speech to describe their own ideology or political philosophy."
That is an excellent point.

This aside, it is already in the bag for Obama:

Barack vs Hillary Analysis
The Home Stretch- Hillary's Personal Alamo:

http://newsusa.myfeedportal.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=53

Posted by: davidmwe | February 21, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

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