Of course, President Lyndon Johnson’s role in the Vietnam War tarnished his laudable part in promoting civil rights. According to the Times article, one of the reasons he declined to run for a second term in 1968 was the civil unrest associated with the Vietnam War. This decision was preceded by a visit from his (pregnant) daughter Lynda, whose Marine husband was about to be deployed to Vietnam. She appealed to her father “Why do we have to go to Vietnam?” That night Johnson announced he would not run again for President and also halted bombing of North Vietnam. You see, it does matter when those who propagate war have something to lose. If our current president, also with two daughters, had a like investment in the war of his own family’s welfare, would different decisions be made?
There were several points that came out of the article that amazed me, two in the same paragraph, which I quote here.
The young congressman [Lyndon Johnson] lost a Senate bid in 1941. Later that year, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor sent the country into World War II, he fulfilled a campaign pledge by joining the Navy. He put Lady Bird in charge of his congressional office, which she managed efficiently. She overcame her shyness to lobby Cabinet members and other Washington officials on behalf of constituents.Wouldn’t it be nice of all congressmen and women would promise and then keep their promise to enlist in the armed forces if our country goes to war? But, you say, if every congress person did that, we’d have no congress? Ya think? It might have made for a different vote back in 2002 giving the president such quick and unchecked permission to use force against Iraq.
The second point was that she lobbied Cabinet members on behalf of her constituents. Whoa. What a novel idea. When’s the last time your congress person (or spouse of congress person) lobbied the White House on your behalf?
Update: I contributed this same post at BlogHer.org here, which includes a few comments.