I didn’t like Lyndon Johnson (pictured at right being sworn in after JFK’s assassination) when he was alive. Didn’t trust the man. I even went to see a play called “McBird, which accused him of masterminding JFK’s assassination. Besides, he was a coarse old cus who didn’t mind picking up his pups by their ears or displaying the scars from his operations. Not my kind of guy.
Now he’s dead and gone, however, I have come to admire his legislative achievements. I know, I know… JFK’s loss had left the nation in such a state of grief and anger that reform was a lot easier to accomplish in those days. But, for all that, you have to admit it took Texas-size glands to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the guile of a Panhandle coyote to get the Voting Rights Act through Congress. And, despite his shortcomings, you have to concede LBJ made a commendable start on getting that “Great Society” built.
So when one of LBJ’s closest aides speaks, I listen. Especially when he agrees with me.
I’m talking about Bill Moyers (photo at right). You probably know him as an American journalist and commentator who built up a cult following on public television, winning more than 30 Emmys and countless other awards. But did you know he served as LBJ’s Press Secretary from 1965-1967? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On the day that JFK was assassinated, Moyers was in Austin helping with the presidential trip to Texas. When he heard that Kennedy had been shot, Moyers flew to Dallas to offer his services to Lyndon Johnson, sending him a handwritten note, “I’m here if you need me.”
From then on, Moyers served Johnson in a variety of roles. As “special assistant to the President,” he coordinated work on a series of bills designed to implement Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” And he helped write the Democratic Party platform of 1964. In short, he knows whereof he speaks, and he does not speak well of today’s Democrats.
Moyers lambasted the Democratic Party Friday night on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.” Discussing the current health care debate, he declared:
“Too many Democrats have had their spines surgically removed.”
Hey! That’s what I was trying to say when I wrote a blog about “spineless mice” a few days back. It’s nice to know responsible people like Bill Moyers agree with me. Moyers said that, over the years, the Democratic Party “has become like the Republican party – deeply influenced by corporate money.”
Once again, that’s what I’ve been saying! Way to go, Bill! Give ’em hell!
He also had some advice for President Obama, and I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I’ll just repeat it:
There’s a fear that Barack Obama will become the Grover Cleveland of this era … I would much rather see Barack Obama be Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt loved to fight. He came into office and railed against the malefactors of great wealth, and he was glad to take them on. …
I think if Obama fought, instead of finessed so much, if he stood up and declared for what is really the right thing to do and what is really needed instead of negotiating the corners away, instead of talking about bending the curve, and talking about actuarial rates, if he were to stand up and say, ‘We need this because we’re a decent country’, I think it would change the atmosphere.