Day 8 still no power at our house but half an hour away, our son is back on the grid so we bugged out and headed for heat and lights. They say that we might have power back in our house on Wednesday or Thursday.
What have I been up to all this time? Lots of closet cleaning, lots of napping and lots of reading about LBJ. Hal K. Rothman’s “LBJ’s Texas White House - Our Heart’s Home” makes me want to live in the Hill Country of east Texas, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Lyndon Johnson and The American Dream” made me wish she wasn’t so clipped and cold about a man she had a close and complicated relationship with and Robert Dallek’s “Lone Star Rising – Lyndon Johnson and His Times” clearly laid out the opposing forces that made the man’s personality what it was.
One thing that comes through loud and clear in any book you read about LBJ is that no matter what kind of finagling it took to make things happen, he sincerely believed in the causes he championed. He was a long -term thinker and deeply aware of how his words and actions would affect his legacy. I read and reread the speech in which he announced that he would not seek reelection in 1968 and could not help but compare his principles and motivation to those of America’s current president. this came at the end of 30 minutes updating details and changes in strategy about the Vietnam war:
“For 37 years in the service of our Nation, first as a Congressman, as a Senator, and as Vice President, and now as your President, I have put the unity of the people first. I have put it ahead of any divisive partisanship. And in these times as in times before, it is true that a house divided against itself by the spirit of faction, of party, of region, of religion, of race, is a house that cannot stand.
There is division in the American house now. There is divisiveness among us all tonight. And holding the trust that is mine, as President of all the people, I cannot disregard the peril to the progress of the American people and the hope and the prospect of peace for all peoples. So, I would ask all Americans, whatever their personal interests or concern, to guard against divisiveness and all its ugly consequences.
Our reward will come in the life of freedom, peace, and hope that our children will enjoy through ages ahead. What we won when all of our people united just must not now be lost in suspicion, distrust, selfishness, and politics among any of our people.
Believing this as I do, I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year.
With America’s sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office–the Presidency of your country.
Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”
Can any one anywhere in this country imagine Barack Obama putting the country ahead of himself?
Lyndon Johnson remains as unpopular now as he was at the time of this speech. Although he carefully crafted and controlled his public image at every moment, in the end he donated 100% of his papers to his library in Austin without censor for “history to be his judge.” His library is the only one with no fee charged for admission and the papers are open to all who seek them. Can anyone anywhere in this country imagine Barack Obama doing that?