The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Another LBJ hack with rose-tinted glasses

Todd Purdum has a Golden Age-ist piece today on the passing of the breed of gentleman political lawyer, of the Clark Clifford stripe- the sort for whom the conflict of interest was the stock-in-trade.

The kicker is a sort of equivalent of the magnolia-scented nostalgia for the Old South that survived Appomatox for so long:
"It's all so different from the Washington I found when I came here," said Harry C. McPherson, who was Lyndon B. Johnson's counsel in the White House. "It's a fascinating subject, how we in the capital city of this empire have arrived at this period, in this condition. It's not one that ought to be celebrated."

It happens that McPherson, a fellow-Texan, worked for LBJ for a dozen years, on and off, from 1956 [1]. It's hard to take seriously strictures on a fall-off in levels of civility from the loyal servant of a crook [2] and a bully [3] who made a habit of showing off his pecker to mixed gatherings!

Johnson's press secretary turned liberal media idol, Bill Moyers (several earlier pieces), is perhaps more airbrushed than airbrushing. But one got this from the Great Man in his much-hyped speech at the National Conference for Media Reform:
I grew up in the South, where the truth about slavery, race, and segregation had been driven from the pulpits, driven from the classrooms and driven from the newsrooms. It took a bloody Civil War to bring the truth home, and then it took another hundred years for the truth to make us free.

Then I served in the Johnson administration. Imbued with Cold War orthodoxy and confident that “might makes right,” we circled the wagons, listened only to each other, and pursued policies the evidence couldn’t carry. The results were devastating for Vietnamese and Americans.

Interpretations of history (both about the South and about Vietnam) that are as delusional as Trent Lott's famous 2002 counterfactual on the victory of Strom Thurmond as States Rights Party presidential candidate in 1948.

I prefer A wizard did it.

  1. He has ten oral history interviews at the LBJ Library site.

  2. The succession of KTBC regulatory scams netted his family millions, for instance.

  3. The famed Johnson Treatment was but one technique.

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