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Lyndon B. Johnson. Optimism Confindence Arrogance Hubris. Contrast between JFK and LBJ. JFK handsome and charismatic LBJ homely and awkward JFK well spoken Vulgar and crass. The LBJ to admire.

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Lyndon B. Johnson

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Lyndon B. Johnson





Contrast between JFK and LBJ

  • JFK handsome and charismatic

  • LBJ homely and awkward

  • JFK well spoken

  • Vulgar and crass

The LBJ to admire

Compassionate: taught very poor Mexican-American children for a year. Became a defender of the poor

Ambitious: A true Texan- liked to talk, think and dream big

Ruthless: Bullied and intimidated to get his way

LBJ Treatment

LBJ to hate

Vulgar and rude: Was an expert curser

Vain: Gave Whitehouse visitors busts of himself (even the Pope!) Had over 500K pix taken of him while in W.H.

Ruthless: Bullied and intimidated to get his way

Historical viewpoint of LBJ

Earned lasting respect (Civil Rights) & lasting animosity (Vietnam)

Rode coattails JFK into office but proved and excellent politician. Achieved more legislative success than any other pres. Except FDR ( who had 12 yrs)

JFK set the agenda LBJ carried it out

“War on Poverty”

  • America was in the mood for reform

    • Strong econ. meant $ to spend on reform

    • Poverty was rediscovered in Appalachia

    • People trusted ideas of experts

    • People had faith in govt action

The “other America”

Difficult dilemmas of poverty

  • How do we measure poverty? (the poor of the 1960s led far better lives than the poor of the 1930s, but in relative terms.

  • Who are the deserving or undeserving poor? (temporary v. permanent)

  • Why does poverty exist?

Achievements of War on Poverty

Head Start and Job Corp were started, although many were never funded well

1960 poverty was @ 22%, by 1970 13% (were programs responsible??)

Still too many hoops for many poor to jump through

1964 Election: a landslide

Liberal Legislation 1965

National Endowment for the Humanities

National Endowment for the Arts

Clean Air and Water Acts

Wilderness Protection Act

“The Great Society”

A courageous legislative push to gain a better quality of life for all Americans especially the underserved

Voting Rights Act

Immigration Act

Other ground breaking legislation

Federal Aid to Education

Medicare and Medicaid – medical insurance to poor and elderly

Assessment of “The Great Society”

Many lasting legislative achievments

Mixed results, too hasty or rushed

Some thought it did too little, others thought it increased govt too much

Raised expectations to an unachievable level

“They were optimists who reflected the confidence of most contemporary American liberal thought. Unlike radicals, they thought that most poor people needed only a helping hand to rise in life. Unlike conservatives, they had great faith that government could and should extend that hand. “

-James Paterson - Historian

LBJ’s Demise: Vietnam

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