tv The Presidency Secret Presidential Recordings CSPAN August 19, 2019 12:01am-1:12am EDT
americans try to move past their petty concerns. woodstock became the icon for that for a lot of young people, this moment when they could rise above circumstances and anger and pettiness and create something wonderful even if that wonder only lasted three days but those three days clearly have lived on in the minds of those who were there and i think we all should take stock of woodstock. >> we thank you for your time >> next on "the presidency," historians analyze the secret white house tapes of john f. kennedy, lyndon b. johnson, and richard m. nixon. we get an inside look into hell -- how presidents conducted day-to-day business and hear their candid assessments. the university of virginia's miller center hosted this event. prof. selverstone: good afternoon, everyone.
i am marc selverstone. associate professor in presidential studies at the university of virginia's miller center, and as chair of the center's presidential recordings program, i'd like to welcome you to a special panel, echoing the -- echoes of the past, featuring my colleagues on the recordings program. it's quite wonderful to be here with everybody. something of a reunion. kent was with us for years and years, now spending time at the university of south carolina. for the next 75 minutes, we'll share insights from the secret white house tapes, and we'll look to explore dynamics therein, but also to relate them to contemporary developments, to see what kinds of questions they prompt us to ask about contemporary dynamics, about the history they contain, about
parallels to today's events, about the practice of democracy itself. just a word about the recordings program. we were established in 1998, and our goal, we are the only institution of this kind doing it, is to analyze and transcribe the secret presidential tapes that presidents made from 1940 through 1973, so franklin roosevelt through richard nixon. we do this work at the miller center. we do it offsite as well, because so much work these days is browser-based. but we publish work through the university of virginia press and its electronic imprint. the presidential recordings digital initiative, digital edition, is ours. we also publish snippets of
conversations, kind of the greatest hits, through millercenter.org, and we will share many of those clips with you today. before we get going, i want to acknowledge a few people who have helped us along the way. the national historical publications and records commission, an arm of the national archives and records administration, has been very generous in their support, and we appreciate their belief and confidence in us and the work that we do. i'd like to acknowledge carrie matthews, associate editor and our program administrator. carrie's guiding hand is evident in every thing we do. she keeps us honest, and makes sure there are as few mistakes as possible in our work. if there are any here today, that is all on me. and finally, i'd like to acknowledge mark saunders. mark saunders was the director
of the university of virginia press, the founder and motive force behind its electronic imprint, and a close friend. mark passed away this weekend, suddenly. it is a tremendous loss for all of us. mark had the great vision for our program, taking us from letter-press editions we were publishing with norton that worked out very well, but mark ushered us into the digital age, and we are deeply saddened by his loss. we will miss his guiding hand. but in the spirit of what mark wanted, which was for us to be an important voice in bringing this history to the united states, and encouraging greater transparency into the workings of the government and into the
presidency, we will push on. and so, we are pleased to be here today. to help us sort out the connections between past and present, nicole hemmer will be our guiding hand today. she is perfect for this job. she is an assistant professor in presidential studies at the miller center, a member of the presidential recordings program, and again a wonderful colleague. she's also editor and founder of the washington post series "made by history," and the podcast "past present." i'm deeply grateful to nikki to over here from the session she just moderated to help us. thanks. prof. hemmer: thank you, mike. i really look forward to this. working with secret white house tapes is as exciting as it
sounds. you get to be a fly on the wall in the oval office in the 1960's and 1970's, a time that big decisions are being made and big plots are being hatched and history is being made. we will hear from that, starting with marc, who will tell us a little about what the white house tapes tell us about endless wars, something that is incredibly timely. marc is also the author of the award-winning book "constructing the monolith." why don't you start us off? prof. selverstone: thank you. so, the united states has been at war, on a war footing for 17 years, 18 years. most conspicuously of course in iraq and afghanistan, but also in locales as disparate as somalia, yemen, libya, syria.
collectively, these engagements have been known as the war on terror, or the global war on terror. most recently, president trump in his state of the union address referred to them as "endless wars." the presidents preceding trump recognized their endurance, and had sought to at various points disengage in the midst of ongoing hostilities. they didn't do so willingly necessarily, or even with the same amount of enthusiasm, but do so they sought to. president bush, in the status of forces agreement with iraq, something he was led to pursue, looked to extricate the united states from iraq by december 2011, with combat forces out of the cities by 2009, and by 2011
u.s. combat forces out of iraq. president obama, through his afghanistan review that took place in the fall, into the winter of 2009, he looked to begin the departure of u.s. forces from afghanistan, in the summer of 2011. and president trump most recently had spokem about withdrawal from syria, in an announcement on december of 2018, that has subsequent been -- subsequently been qualified by the pentagon. this is not the first time in recent history that a president has sought to turn over the fighting in ongoing conflicts to local allies, particularly in the midst of the unpopularity of these wars, and with a specific timetable in mind.
that honor goes to vietnam. we associate the term vietnam-ization with the process that richard nixon pursued, to de-americanize the war, wind down the american profile in vietnam, and turned the fighting -- turn the fighting over to the south vietnamese forces. but this wasn't the only time americans looked to wind down the engagement in vietnam. president kennedy did so, in the middle of his 1000 days. in the summer of 1962, president john f. kennedy began planning to get american troops out of vietnam. drafts for such planning were produced in early 1963, were debated and refined, into may and june, then presented to kennedy in fall of 1963. on october 2, president kennedy was presented with plans to get virtually all united states
combat troops, not combat troops necessarily at that time, they were military advisors, but u.s. soldiers out of vietnam by the end of 1965. in an effort to kickstart that process, 1000 advisors were to be withdrawn by the end of 1963. we know about this because of the pentagon papers, which has a lengthy section on this withdrawal. but we also know about it in much greater color and texture because of the kennedy white house tapes. so what i would like to do for you now is play a combination of tapes, tapes we spliced together from meetings that took place on october 2, 1963, one of them a morning session, relatively small between kennedy and senior national security advisors, and then an evening national security council session, after which a public statement was made in the rose garden of the white house indicating the
united states would be leaving vietnam by 1965, and that 1000 troops would be withdrawn by the end of 1963. the people we will hear from in this conversation are president kennedy, secretary of defense robert mcnamara, national security advisor george bundy, and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, maxwell taylor. [audio recording] [indiscernible] >> it is going well -- [indiscernible] the first three quarters -- [indiscernible]
we can take over the forces, in conjunction with -- >> we need a way to get out of vietnam. to leave forces when they are not needed, i think it is wasteful and it complicates both their problems and ours. >> [indiscernible] so that goes back to paragraph two, mac. >> yes, it does. >> well, it is something we debated very strongly. i think it is a major question. i will just say this, we talked to 174 officers, vietnamese and u.s. in the case of the u.s. i always asked the question, when can you finish this job in the sense that you will reduce the insurgency to little more than sporadic incidents?
[indiscernible] i realized, actually, that's not necessary. i assume there's no major factors, new factors entering -- >> well let's say it anyway. and then 1965, if it doesn't work, we'll get out of the delta. >> [indiscernible] >> it looked like we were overly optimistic. and i am not sure, i'd like to know what benefit we got out at this time, announcing 1000. >> [indiscernible] we are not as influenced, the course of action. >> [indiscernible] i'd say to the people, we do have a plan for reducing the exposure of u.s. combat
personnel to the guerrilla actions in south vietnam, actions that the people of south vietnam should gradually develop a capacity to suppress themselves. i think this will be of great value to us in meeting the very strong views of fulbright, and others that we're bogged down in asia and will be there for decades. prof. selverstone: so, of the many things that this conversation prompts, aside from robert mcnamara being the one who seemingly is pushing for this planning process is the intensely political nature of the withdrawal process, as much as it was key to the way folks were feeling in congress, to the flexibility of the timetable that kennedy seems to embrace, while the white house statement came out squarely and said we will look to be out by 1965. kennedy seems to be hedging on that, if 1965 doesn't work,
we will simply get a new date. there are a host of other strategic, bureaucratic and economic reasons that kennedy is pursuing this withdrawal. one of the questions that does arise is whether he gets what he really wants. that's something nikki and i want to engage with briefly. but initially, one of the goals of this withdrawal, other withdrawals, is to encourage your local partners to fight better, to tell them, we aren't here forever. that doesn't seem to have happened as a result of the kennedy withdrawal. the local partners didn't push on the way the administration wanted. some changes took place in the short time he was around to see them. we know from what took place in early 1964, that it was not sustainable. this is a question we need to ask, as we think about timetables for withdrawals. how effective are they? are presidents really able to sustain the domestic political
support that they want to get from these? it is not clear that kennedy was able to do that, either. and is it really the case you are going to induce in local allies the capabilities and functions these withdrawals are supposed to provide? prof. hemmer: that would be my question, mark. you listen to the conversations, and you can see they are really thinking about this. they have a strategy. they have a set of theories. these are very smart people, engaging in what historians and americans would come to think of as a very dumb war. the same thing goes for some of the wars we are engaged in today. is the answer that you cannot think your way out of these? what is the lesson to draw? prof. selverstone: i would say, it's a question i asked, too, the extent to which subsequent administrations have reflected
on this case or on the case that nobody knows better than ken hughes, vietnam-ization. how much did they understand it? in kennedy's case, i don't think they thought terribly hard about the timetable. they threw it out, particularly because the 1964 presidential campaign was coming up, and there was a real concern the u.s. was getting bogged down in asia, as mcnamara says. they're looking for an out. but if you look at, say, the process president obama engaged in, the extended, months-long review for afghanistan. you recall there was the initial surge of troops in spring of 2009, but in the late summer, fall of 2009, and we know about this through a series of well-placed, well-timed leaks at the time, obama was getting his national security team together again and again. would this be a surge of 10,000,
of 30,000, of 40,000 troops, or more? would we be going full counterinsurgency, trying for counterterrorism? this is all playing out in the papers. and obama was doing something the kennedy administration did not do, to think much more rigorously about this and bring in the stakeholders. one thing neither of them seem to do sufficiently, the kennedy administration certainly, was to bring in congress. how do you get out of endless wars? think harder about how you get into them, and have a better grip on that. which leads to all kinds of questions about the authorization for the use of military force, a major matter that we need to engage on with these processes. prof. hemmer: as you know, the vietnam war didn't end in 1963, or 1964, etc.
and it led to a real shakeup in u.s. politics. and ian mcgee, associate professor of presidential studies at the miller center, is -- and author of "the problem of jobs," is going to walk us through somne of those insurgencies. we're getting now into the johnson and nixon tapes, and they get a little earthier. there's going to be some swearing in these tapes, i just want to say, in the forthcoming segment. >> thank you, nikki. good afternoon, everyone. i assure you, there's much more out there. i have two short clips from lyndon johnson's secret white house recordings i want to share with you this afternoon. my goal in doing so is to contrast the insurgencies in the 1960's, civil rights, antiwar,
anti-poverty activists compared to political insurgencies today. in doing so, i would like to step back from the standard left and right frame of politics. to consider both past and present more broadly. periods of profound challenge, but in many respects a functional political establishment in the united states. i would like to offer a important observation about what is different today and what that contrast means. my first clip comes from december 1966. the day after christmas. lbj's presidency has entered its period of decline at this point. he is facing increasing resistance to the war on poverty, the emergence of a much stronger antiwar movement, and he has taken serious losses in the november midterm elections. during a long telephone conversation that day, with bill
moyers, press secretary, president johnson turned to the question of how to encourage sargent shriver to stay on as director of the office of economic opportunity, the agency managing johnson's troubled war on poverty. johnson indicated he was not giving the budget that shriver wanted, and offered blunt statements about his perception of the tension between funding for the war on poverty and the activist insurgencies. this is a clear indication of an establishment figure's perception of the period's activism and what he saw as its cause. [audio recording] pres. johnson: i am not anxious for him to stay. i would like for him to. i think he's the best man for it, and he has my support and my confidence and so forth.
and i will, whatever figure i give in the budget, i will, what -- i will fight for it, as i did last year. but i can't keep him from being the victim of bobby and ribicvoff and clark, and i can't keep him from being the victim of the commies out here yesterday. to give the money to poverty, not vietnam. i think that is hurting poverty more than any world in the world. these commies, these kids with long hairs, saying they want poverty instead of vietnam. i think that's what people regard as the great society. prof. mckee: the second clip, spring of 1968. to the fight the democratic presidential nomination that year. senator mccarthy of minnesota and senator kennedy launched campaigns trying to channel the insurgent political energy, the "long hairs and commies" johnson referred to against the
president. to challenge him for the party's nomination. on march 23, 1968, president johnson spoke with chicago mayor richard j. daly. this is the establishment. they spoke about how they thought bobby kennedy could be defeated by their network of mayors, governors, and members of congress. their confidence on march 23, 1968 is striking. [audio recording] pres. johnson: the committee, to a man, they said, we welcome a primary, let them come in here. >> well, god bless you. pres. johnson: you and dick hughes, pennsylvania, texas. i don't think we will lose a single mountain or southern state. i counted the congressmen last night. we have 160 and he has 8, from massachusetts and new york, and
most of them are real extreme reform left-wingers, and -- >> i think in a way, it is a good thing. the more that i think about it. we're trying to hold off, trying to do everything, and i was trying to talk to him, because i was giving him some sound advice. pres. johnson: you were, and everybody knew that. >> but yes, it's just as low. -- as well. he doesn't seem to be going anyplace. pres. johnson: he's going to get a lot of publicity, a lot of media treatment. >> i said to him, all you are going to do is try to divide our party. pres. johnson: he's always got three or four polls hired, but we have to have four men to be my board of directors on this country. we need you and dick hughes of new jersey, who is solid as a rock. we have to get barr and tate of pittsburgh and philadelphia.
we were there yesterday. they are solid as a rock. if, we have o'hara, at the moment trying to buy it off, but if we can take ohio, illinois, pennsylvania, and texas, and new jersey. >> hell, we're in. pres. johnson: that's all of it. >> i think it will be a landslide. prof. mckee: of course, despite their confident expectations of a landslide, lbj would withdraw from the race a little more than a week later. two months after that, kennedy would be dead. the thing is, johnson and daly weren't really wrong. vice president hubert humphrey would capture the nomination over mccarthy and mcgovern at the convention in chicago, which of course was tremendously disrupted by protests. discussing this more, i'd argue the outcome would have been no different had the contest in
fact been between johnson and bobby kennedy. ultimately, despite trying to channel this energy from the activists of the period, both bobby kennedy and mccarthy were themselves establishment figures -- one, the former attorney general and brother of a slain president, and the other a senator. both of them were trying to capture the energy of the antiwar, civil rights insurgency johnson reacted to. the establishment johnson and daly discussed in the second conversation. partly this is the political limitation of the strength of the insurgency itself. after all, nixon wins the election that fall. but also, they were not really of those movements. they were ultimately part of the establishment themselves, not really part of the activism or the insurgency.
they and johnson and the mayor represented the establishment. this is the broad contrast i want to draw to our current movement. we, too, live in an era of insurgencies, but in contrast to bobby kennedy, eugene mccarthy, donald trump succeeded in part could position himself with some degree of authenticity to his core audience as an outsider figure, not only mobilizing but actually representing populist insurgent resentment and anger against the country's political establishment. what that energy actually meant of course, we can discuss and debate. and bernie sanders, with his reluctance to join the democratic party, represents a variant of the same thing. so today, facing the 2020 election, which will test trump's continued ability to ride that populist, outsider momentum and energy, as well as the ongoing strength of that movement itself.
just as fascinatingly, we'll watch again as the democratic party establishment, joe biden, elizabeth warren, kamala harris, and the cast of many, many, many other contenders for the nomination, attempt again to mobilize the channel and perhaps to contain the energy. thank you. prof. hemmer: so, from political insurgencies to political chicanery. ken hughes has been with the presidential recording program since 2000, called by bob ward -- woodward one of the foremost experts on presidential -- on the secret presidential recordings. you're going to draw more parallels between the political chicanery of the past and today. >> interesting, the nixon administration comes and goes. when things are going well, i do not get phone calls for
recordings. when things are not going well, i get many calls from reporters. i get a lot of attention these days. most recently within the release of the mueller report, the questions of a president encouraging aides to perjure themselves and engaging in came upion of justice once again. it was particularly interesting to me to see the analysis of trump's attempt to dangle pardons over the heads of aides like paul manafort because it was so different than the way nixon did it.
trump talked about how unfair the treatment of manafort was. he said the president would look to see if anybody was treated unfairly and he might get a pardon. robert mueller said obstruction of justice is not usually taking place in public. the fact that it takes place in public does not make it more legal. president nixon was the more subtle one. when he was trying to encourage his aides to not cooperate with the special prosecutor investigation and the congressional investigations of watergate, he did things in secret. the tape we are going to play was made the day after john dean testified to the senate watergate committee in may of 1973. house counsel. nixon had refused to allow dean to testify, just as trump is trying to prevent his aides from
testifying before congress. trump is invoking executive privilege. as nixon did then. he discovered that when your former aide volunteers to testify, executive conflict is not going to stop them because your aide has a right to do that. he discovered that if he does not send the aides on his side to testify before the committee, the country will only hear from the aides who are going to testify against him, so he is meeting with his former chief of staff, white house chief of staff, and he talks about pardoning everybody in his inner circle. and there is some blue language in this as well. [clip plays of transcript]
they all did. and they -- all the ones he mentioned, his former attorney general and campaign chairman, they were all charged with obstruction of justice and perjury in 1974 and the grand jury that indicted them wanted to indict nixon as well. but the special prosecutor at the time said, we are not really sure we can indict a president, so they simply named him as an unindicted co-conspirator. until richard nixon got on that helicopter in 1974 to leave the to fulfill for good, his promise to them and pardon resigned,before nixon they said the people need somebody's head, and if you pardon everyone else, they will take your head. nixon did not fulfill this
promise. he ended up being the only person pardon for his crimes in watergate. everybody he promised to pardon went to prison. do we have time to get to vietnam? >> sure. >> ok. everybody is paying attention to obstruction of justice. few people are paying attention to donald trump's exit negotiations in afghanistan. but they are taking place. he has a plan. it has three elements. complete american troop withdrawal, a cease-fire between the warring parties in afghanistan, coupled with negotiations about a future government, and security guarantees. a guarantee would be that the taliban will not allow any terrorist to use afghanistan as a base for terrorist attacks in the united states. bookmeone who wrote a about richard nixon's exit from vietnam, i have to tell you, all
three elements were involved in nixon's exit strategy, and nixon's strategy was basically designed to make it look like he had succeeded in getting peace with honor in vietnam, but in fact, all he was getting was what he called an interval, a period of a year or two between the day the last american troops left and the day north vietnam finally took over south vietnam. when nixon talked about withdrawing all of the troops to hisetnam, he tied it reelection campaign and made sure the troops stayed just long enough to keep south vietnam from collapsing before election day, which would have revealed the strategy failure. almost all of them came back before election day, so he could tell the public, i am withdrawing, and that would be very credible. he did get a security guarantee from the enemy. in nixon's case, it was north
vietnam'ses -- north agreement to withdraw. you can hear nixon on the tape saying it does not matter if you get the guarantee. they will never withdraw. and you hear harry kissinger saying, that's right. right before the election, they were able to say, look, we finally got the north vietnamese to agree to withdraw from the -- the final thing was a cease-fire between the warring parties and negotiations over future elections. nixon and kissinger say quite plainly that the elections will never take place in vietnam. the cease-fire will not break -- will break down. the two sides will fight it out, but by that time, they will be gone. the 1972 election will be in the rearview mirror. people can hold them accountable. this tape was made the day before henry kissinger flew to
paris to close the deal with north vietnam. they suspect he is absolutely correct, that the north is finally willing to accept nixon's demands. he has had the president of south vietnam, our ally, briefed on those demands, and the president of south vietnam actually wept when he heard them and said, this will keep us going for a little while, but i'm going to have to commit suicide. our is going to destroy country. henry kissinger is going to explain to nixon his take on that. [transcript clip playing]
and we believe that peace is at hand. nixon and kissinger were very clever about arranging this so that it looked like they had won, when they had just done a controlled form of fall out. trump can do that. the last time that they discussed their plans in public, his plans were to bring the last american troops home sometime in late 2020. if he can come out and say, our troops are coming home and the taliban guarantees that afghanistan will not be the home of terrorism, the taliban and afghan government are entering into negotiations about the future government and a cease-fire, if he can. of the people at a crucial time for him, when it all falls apart
after the election, it would be too late to hold him accountable. keep an eye on that. prof. hemmer: in the midst of areof this, as we experiencing today, there were major shifts in realignment with the two major parties and their coalitions. a professor of history at the university of southern carolina and a south carolina in a research fellow at the miller center specializing in the great society is going to tell us a little bit about it. >> thank you. when i was a kid, i was in texas. there was a guy who hosted the sports news and after the sports was over, he would be on this show called bowling for dollars. i never understood how someone could go from the sports desk to the bowling for dollars desk. the professor has done a similar thing today. this is the bowling session. nixon would be the best bowler in the white house. >> according to nixon.
[laughter] >> according to nixon. the democratic primary is coming up. there are a lot of bowling pins up and there will just be one standing. i will try to extinct stop metaphor right now and talk 1964.lbj from we know that richard nixon quit. we may not know that lbj actually quit, too. he just did not make it public. he talked about it to a couple of his closest allies, a couple of his oldest friends. he talked to his wife about it. i'm going to talk about the most sincere political minute of lbj's life. i have been doing lbj for over 20 years. i boil it down to this one minute. nixon quit because of a lot of reasons. johnson quit, i will sum up, because he was a baby.
[applause] -- [laughter] >> they would say that his mother did not raise him right. we can debate that at another time. i wanted to focus on 1964. days into the convention in atlantic city. it is two days before lyndon johnson gave his acceptance speech, the fireworks, his name in lights, the perfect coronation of johnson in his political career, and a little after -- a little more than two haves after this moment, -- landslide lyndon, who had made it to the senate by 87 votes would have defeated the republican candidate by almost 16 million votes. about 90% of the electoral college give their votes to lyndon johnson. it would be the high point of
american liberalism. it would be the beginning of the end of the democratic party's dominance of american politics. now, on august the 25th, lyndon johnson awoke in a bad mood, which was not uncommon. [laughter] >> he skipped his calisthenics regime. he would have a serious heart attack in 1965. he called his brother at the beach in south carolina, had to get the south carolina reference in, he would make a series of phone calls throughout the morning to the senator from georgia, to several of his key aides and press secretary. his longtime aide walter, and he would talk to his wife. afternoon, hebit would find lady bird lying on the ground, at the white house underneath the tree, holding hands a little bit and talking. it might be a weird thing to do during the middle of the democratic national convention.
what they were talking about, among many things, was the fact that lbj had told lady bird that he was going to quit. he had for the first time in a decade actually written out a press statement that he was withdrawing his name from nomination. he was -- the country needed better educated people, they needed harvard educated people, they needed younger people. he could not hold the country together. he could not even hold the democratic party together. this was the mississippi freedom democratic party issue, they are trying to figure out a compromise. they would come out with a compromise that did not make many people happy, but enough that johnson could move on and he would change his mind and withdraw. he did not release a statement, but -- the defense that he would make after he made the decision to stay in is what i think is the most sincere political minute of lyndon johnson's life. before we play that, i want to say a few things about what lady bird said while she was lying
there under that tree. she had left lyndon alone in his room with the shades drawn. [laughter] >> he told her he was quitting. she would arise from the lawn, go upstairs, and read a letter to johnson. you can read this letter if you want. she told him that he was brave. as brave as fdr, as brave as harry truman. she told him that if he quit, it would embarrass his friends and it would make his enemies so happy. they would jeer and cheer. she would tell him that his future would be, quote, a lonely wasteland, and if you know anything about lyndon johnson, he could not stand to be alone. he always wanted somebody just sitting next to the bed. and she ended it, i love you always. lbjhis is this moment of stripped down to the bare essence.
if we could appeal all the onion away, what was that at the middle? we will go back to january 1928. i want to just preface this with what he said to hubert humphrey about what the democratic party was for. we are forewarned poverty. i tell students every time i teach, if you want to go into politics, read this. if you can convince your voters that you control these words, you are to win. we are for war on poverty, economic growth, world peace, security, medicare, human dignity, human rights. this is johnson talking with a texas twang. this is what we stand for. a government of strength. a government that is compassionate, and it just makes these guys look silly. he said god have pity on the republican party for what they stand for. if we go from that january back to august 25, they had just come
up with this compromise johnson was happy with. lady bird had written him this letter. he was talking to hubert humphrey. purity this is where the of johnson's thoughts come out. he is its planing what he thought the democratic party was for, what it had always stood for, and what it would continue to stand for. >> our party has always been a group you can come to from injustice, whether it was userer's wages or a interest rates, the ku klux klan whipping somebody. injustices have wound up, and we have symbolize them some way or other in the county or state or national convention for time immemorial.
that is what the democratic party is for, and that is why it was born, wyatt survives, wyatt thrives and exists. survives, why it thrives and exists. we are hearing and we are just saying that we passed a law back in 1957 and said the first time in 85 years that everybody will have a chance to vote. we set it again in 1960, we set it again in 1964, and then, by god, it still had not been executed. we are going to say it again in the convention in 1964. >> johnson a couple days before he accepted the nomination. he is exhausted, pushed through the ringer. he had been up late at night for several days. this is what his brain reflexively went to. this is what i stand for. this is the party that i have been part of for the past three decades. this is what they stand for. when somebody asks, i think
johnson nails it down here in this one minute. i have a second clip i want to play. i'm going to run out of time. if you we can talk more about it in questions. this comes in negotiations for the voting rights act. what i want to insert here is -- in 1964,re is that there is a rebirth or reeducation of the conservative movement. i would make a suggestion to go back and see the transformation backemerges after 2016, go to the wallace primary in 1964, where he carries over 30% of voters in a shocking upset, even sameh he did not win, the percentage in indiana, and 43%, the vast majority of white voters in maryland voting for george wallace, segregation forever candidate. that is who lyndon johnson was
most afraid of. those wallace voters. in 19 625, johnson is trying to hammer down the voting rights act. martin luther king jr. had made an antiwar speech. .e called the white house johnson is going to tell him a little bit here about the voting rights act and how he thinks he needs to use his influence and other civil rights leaders can use their influence to influence republicans in the house and in the senate. they need to go after those republicans who seem to be wavering on particular issues. i will just let lyndon johnson protect the future here of american politics. >> for god sakes, you try to get in here. they are going to put a package together that i can see forming.
iller and i got him to agree to send some, and that to allire sent from roy the republicans. but the republicans are going to hold well. time they get a chance to help out, they will blow it. , but they help out have not got that much sense. that is why they have disintegrated as a party. they are going to wind up being pretty solid. then they are going to get the southerners. >> i will let lbj have the last word. [laughter] prof. hemmer: we are going to open this up for questions from the audience. before we do that, i just wanted to ask a few questions from the panel as a whole. taking a step back and thinking about -- we just listened to all
of these tapes that have such resonance with the present moment. thehere anything about presidency at the time from the tapes that is different from the present moment? is it all shocking similarities? what is different? >> the fact that we are living in an opposite world? [laughter] hard to explain the president, as you know. great question. >> it is a contrast, but may be an on-ramp to where we are today. the fact that lbj in the oval office had three televisions, one for each of the major networks so he could follow the news in real time, you know, he had to tinker with the newswires as well. think about that. the president of the u.s. is setting this up and he is the
first to do it. compare that media and news and information environment, the speed that it represents, to the world we live in today, particularly the way social media has been mobilized by donald trump, increasingly by , it isoliticians as well an incredible contrast, but i think that is actually one of the starting points. we can point to a number of cases. that is a striking one for me. >> i would just refer to a conversation we had privately yesterday about our experience listening to the tapes, which is a joint, an extraordinary -- a joy and an extraordinary opportunity to spend your day with lbj, even richard nixon. their ability to shock is wearing off a little bit because we are in a different
generation. ken is teaching students on a daily basis now, and where 10 years ago we were finding the tapes to be startling and revelatory and shocking in some respects -- you hear richard nixon and johnson as well, and if we played other tapes, you would hear more obscenities from jfk than you thought he uttered, but he would. the sense of what is public and what is private and what is acceptable anymore, i mean, private lives are being played out publicly in ways that just would not have been the case before. the very private nature of what they are talking about here is i think partly what leads us to think of these materials as so extraordinary. now, you have decrees, pronouncements, potential presidential pardons coming out in public, the difference between public and private and the ability to play out the private lives in public changes theway we understand
presidency itself. certainly, what we now know about john f. kennedy i do not think that have happened. john f. kennedy could have comported himself today as he had in the past. prof. hemmer: i am really struck by the president to hear on the tapes versus our image of them still today. you listen to lbj really miss those major political shifts of his era. he is somebody we think of as a political whiz. he just whiffs on both of these you played for us, to a certain extent. with jfk, not being able to navigate his way out of this war with the brightest men of his generation around him. i mean, do you think -- which do ler? the men ona
the tape or the ones the public saw every day? nixon was really very self-conscious about crafting a public image that made sense and fit all the norms of his time. if you listen to richard nixon doing an interview that was going to be broadcast, everyone here is the best informed, most prepared, most statesmanlike person who could possibly fill this office. that person was a creation of the nixon you hear in private, who is the most brilliant political strategist and who -- you know, one example, he knows exactly what he should be saying about race and civil rights in america, and he says it in public, and in private, he is
quite racist. policies he thinks will help the base of his party, which now, thanks to him, includes a large part of the white south that formerly voted for democrats. he makes calculations that, if i do affirmative-action, that will create a richer class of black people who might become republicans the way catholics became republicans when the new deal helped them. but if i do affirmative-action, white people in the south will think i am helping black. that will really hurt me. it is this very calculated thing. >> i think you really have to listen to him in private to see what he is up to. >> with kennedy and the public-private persona, at least with respect to vietnam, kennedy
is a skeptic on vietnam. he is a skeptic through much of his administration. you can hear that skepticism in terms of the policy that he is presented with. all thatng to help us much? what is the advantage? what if it is not going well yeah come -- going well? can we really pull out? there is a lot to suggest that that is the real kennedy. he never committed in public. lyndon johnson does. that is one of the differences between -- that takes place in the transition between jfk and lbj. by 1964, the rhetoric changes. you don't get that from jfk that much. on the tapes. on the other hand, there are these moments, publicly, where
war to say, it is their win. we can help them, we can assist them. he also says i think it would be a mistake to withdraw. that is not to mean that he does not think that we have to stay there until we win. the question of what is his actual posture towards vietnam, and where would he have been later on -- my personal sense is that he would have tried to stay in vietnam and to have supported some portion of the south vietnam to maintain sovereignty below the 17th parallel. that is what it is all about for him. what that looks like, what roger helton was pursuing, whether it , there isore sabotage a good chance it would have as well. i think there is skepticism about american prospects pushing on to victory. i think that was there throughout.
>> for johnson, the public johnson, it is pretty boring. he thought he should be a statesman and be greeted by a high school speech teacher, which he was. obviously, and private, he was a different person. there are many stories of when his aides were writing his memoir, giving him a draft and saying, that is not good. they would be trained to put lbj into it and he would be trying to take it out. withing.e is never not he is trying to build a fire break among moderate white voters. he spends 19 six t5 trying to do that. 1965 trying to do that.
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