Thursday, August 28, 2008

WELCOME TO THE LBJ RANCH


When I was a kid I watched Downtown Detroit burn for two summers in a row over Civil Rights.
At the conclusion of 5 days of rioting in 1967, 43 people lay dead, 1189 injured and over 7000 people had been arrested.
I can't help but feel proud and patriotic when I see that the many small steps taken have led us to a place where we have a black candidate for the Office of the President.

There is a very good PBS production, "American Experience" that chronicles Lyndon Baines Johnson and his years as President. They say that his career was like a Greek Tragedy.
He was a Texan and a very political man. He was able to pass a lot of legislation to promote Civil Rights.
I especially enjoy the following dialogue he had with George Wallace, the notoriously bigotted Segregationist Governor of Alabama. This is part of what is known as
"The Johnson Treatment"....

"George," he said, "Do you see all of those demonstrators out in front of the White House?"
"Oh, yes, Mr. President, I see them."
He said, "Wouldn't it be just wonderful if we could put an end to all those demonstrations?"
"Oh, yes, Mr. President, that would be wonderful."
He said, "Well, why don't you and I go out there, George, with all those television cameras -- do you see those television cameras?"
"Oh, yes, I see them."
He says, "Let's you and I go out there and let's announce that you've decided to integrate every school in Alabama."

And his southern voice always deepened when he spoke to other southerners.
He says, "Now, you agree the Negroes got the right to vote, don't you?"
"Oh, yes, there's no quarrel with that."
He says, "Well, then, why don't you let them vote?"
"Well, you know," Wallace says, "I don't have that power. That belongs to the country registrars in the state of Alabama."
And Johnson leaned back and he says, "George," he said, "don't you shit me as to who runs Alabama."
And Wallace insisted "No, Lyndon, I don't have the legal authority to anything about the county Registrars.
He said, "Well, why don't you persuade them, George?"
"Well, I don't think I could do that."
He said, "Now, don't shit me about your persuasive power, George. You know, I sit down in bed in the morning when I get up, and I got three TV sets lined one right out back of the other. And I got a little button I can press, and I click it whenever I see something I'm interested in. I press the button and the sound goes on. And I had it on this morning, and I saw you, and I pressed the button and you were talking, and you were attacking me, George."
"Oh, I wasn't attacking you, Mr. President. I was attacking the whole principle of states' rights."
He says, "You was attacking me, George. And you were so damn persuasive, I almost changed my mind."

Well, this goes on for half an hour or more, and then, finally, he turns to Wallace. He says, "George, you and I shouldn't be thinking about 1964. We should be thinking about 1984. We'll both be dead and gone then," he said.
"Now, you've got a lot of poor people down there in Alabama, a lot of ignorant people. A lot of people need jobs. A lot of people need a future. You could do a lot for them, George"
He says, "Now, in 1984, George, what do you want left behind? Do you want a great big marble monument that says,
'George Wallace: He Built',
or do you want a little piece of scrawny pine laying there along that hot Caliche' soil that says,
'George Wallace: He Hated'?"

2 comments:

leslie said...

LBJ was likely the best President that no one understood.

And I am overly fond of Ladybird and her flowers :)

bulletholes said...

He was an interesting man...wanted to build a great society and did some great things, only to be undone by Vietnam.
He let his hair grow in his last years...some say it was because he truly identified with the Hippies...the antlanteans, as Stephen King calls them...and I think in the end he was an Antlantean.