My friend Tom Cahill has given me permission to republish his letters home from his voluntary exile in France. This is the eighth in the series. It will be daily until I have caught up and then as I receive them.
It wasn't enough for then Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson to realize his childhood ambition of becoming President of the United States by orchestrating what the French call a "coup d'etat"--the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963. LBJ wanted to be nothing less than America's greatest leader as he thought only a wartime president could be. He even tried to outperform his longtime idol, Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to Phillip Nelson in his second book about Johnson, "LBJ: From Mastermind to 'The Colossus'" (2014).
Thus with his incredible skill at manipulating people including the media and the masses and because of his unquestionable criminal insanity, he micromanaged the Vietnam War until he left the White House in January 1969. By then he bitterly called the Oval Office "a cage" for among other reasons the vicious chant of anti-war demonstrators he could hear in Lafayette Park across from the White House, "Hey, hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today," according to Horace Busby, longtime friend and aide of LBJ in his book "An Intimate Portrait of Lyndon Johnson's Final Days in Office" (2005).
At a party in the White House, Christmas Eve 1963--a month after JFK's murder--Pres. Johnson told members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)--America's highest-ranking generals and admirals--"Just get me elected (in November 1964), and you can have your war," according to Peter Dale Scott in "Deep Politics and the Death of JFK" (1993) and others.
About Christmastime, 1965, a year after winning his campaign against Barry Goldwater who he labeled a "warmonger," at another meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, LBJ had one of his many "psychotic meltdowns" (called "hissy fits" in Texas), blaming the military leaders for his own mistakes in Vietnam. Screaming, cursing, expressing his "disgust with them all," and "Noting that it was he who was carrying the weight of the free world on his shoulders, he (LBJ) called them (the JCS) filthy names--shitheads, dumb shits, pompous assholes--and used 'the F-word' as an adjective more freely than a Marine in boot camp would use it. It was unnerving, degrading," according to a witness, Lt. Gen. Charles G. Cooper in his book, "A Marine's Story of Combat in Peace and War." (2002).
Does this remind you of another world-class megalomaniac who blamed his generals for his own miss-micromanaging the war in Europe and Russia in the early 1940s?
Admiral David McDonald of the JCS, like other military veterans no stranger to stress, said on his way back to the Pentagon after LBJ went "ballistic," it "was the worst experience I could ever imagine," according to Gen. Cooper.
About a year later, at a more mellow time for LBJ, he bragged, "It it (the Vietnam War) belongs to anyone, it's my war," according to psychohistorian D. Jablow Hershman in her book "Power Beyond Reason: The Mental Collapse of Lyndon Johnson" (2002).
Yet on another occasion, when Pres. Johnson became exasperated with reporters who kept pressing him, demanding why the US was in Vietnam, "The President unzipped his pants, extracted his penis (he called Jumbo), and announced, 'This is why,'" according to Hershman in her book.
Lyndon Johnson casts a long shadow on American and world politics and history. To this very day, he and his unpunished crimes influences people and events as if he is mentor of the misguided, outright corrupt neo-liberals like the Clintons and neo-conservatives like the Bushes who--like LBJ--are self-proclaimed "masters of the universe." Personally, I see nothing less than a Truth & Reconciliation Commission being able to flush out of control these self-obsessed demagogs. And a place to start might be with Phil Nelson's newest book on Johnson, "LBJ: From Mastermind to 'The Colossus'" (2014). Buy a copy, study it, donate it to your library, and tell all in your network about the book. Or, unless you have a better idea, wallow in fear of the future of your children, your grandchildren and generations to come.