One of my Christmas gifts this years was the book “Kennedy & Johnson” by JFK’s long-time secretary Evelyn Lincoln, which was allegedly suppressed at the behest of LBJ due to the unflattering portrayal of him. (I couldn’t find any reference to that on the Internet, though, so take that rumor for what it’s worth which may be very little.)
While I haven’t gotten to anything really negative about Johnson yet, other than comments about the tension between JFK and LBJ. I have found some historically interesting facts in the book. For example, both Kennedy and Johnson felt that 1960 was their opportunity to run for President and waiting would not only ruin their chances, but the chances of others from their various “groups”. A Kennedy loss would harm other Catholics’ chances, as a Johnson loss would harm future Southerners. This, too, heightened the tension between them as did the different styles of their campaigns: JFK running a populist campaign, competing in many primaries to show Catholic candidates could win votes among the people, while Johnson ran an insider’s campaign.
The differences in styles also was displayed by their announcements as candidates for President. Given that we’re about embark on the primary schedule of the 2008 campaign, I found their announcement dates particularly interesting. This coming year, Iowa will be holding their caucuses on January 3rd. In 1960, JFK didn’t announce until January 2nd. LBJ didn’t announce his candidacy until July 5th. 48 years ago, candidates weren’t announcing until almost Independence Day, this year, we’ll likely have known our nominees for about 4 months by then.
I can’t say this particular development is an improvement. Not all progress is positive.