tv The Presidency LB Js White House Tapes CSPAN June 2, 2022 3:42am-4:41am EDT
cspan.org/history. >> good evening. i'm associate professor and chair of the presidency program at the university virginia public affairs. on behalf of the center the lbj's foundation, like to welcome you to the lyndon b. johnson in the white house takes on the ground jewel in the archives. president johnson he declared it is all here, the story of her time. there's no better example of that history is 650 hours of telephone conversations that lbj's did covering key issues of
the day and his recordings opening extraordinary of the johnson building and fighting were in poverty legislating for civil rights, and struggling policies. he also should shed light on his approach to the presidency and his press and many other issues of the day. in the past 20 years, my colleagues and i support from the national historical publicly relations and commissions, have been transcribing and analyzing lbj's tapes and as of tonight, we are pleased to watch then collaboration with the lbj's' library information a website that provides greater access to the content, lbj's .org and visitors will revere some of the most significant and revealing conversations from the collection and everyone with especially during a time of transcript and each of which is embedded in a rich variety of historical resources we think this will be great value to students and teachers and scholars, interested public
anyone who wants to learn more about president lyndon b. johnson in the administration and the american research and is celebrate the launch of the site and to commemorate the golden anniversary of the lbj's' library, this evening special conversation about lbj's and please join me in welcoming melody barnes michael beschloss brian williams and the director library. >> thank you mark and you so much for the center for this wonderful partnership that's resulted in this terrific new website that makes available widely and with more context than ever before these remarkable telephone recordings from the johnson presidency read and i now have the huge privilege of all coming right extraordinary individuals who are going to help us think about these conversations and think about the 36 president of the united states and the time in
which he lived and is truly a dream team of commentators to help us with this path. and for small i want to welcome melody barnes who is the professor and codirector of democracy initiative at the university of virginia. melody served as a senior policy advisor to president obama in 2020, the award-winning podcast printed in the great society of a project that has very extensive views of the lbj recordings and i would like to welcome michael beschloss, enemy contributing to news and cbs news our and attend highly regarded books on presidential history include to dive deeply into the lbj recording and finally it would like to welcome brian williams, the anchor of the 11th hour, which airs weeknights on msnbc news. brian williams service managing
editor of the nightly msnbc news for decade which he earned every award that a broadcast journalist can earned. brian williams, michael beschloss, melody barnes, welcome and thank you so much for being here. now of course we want to play some of these types get your reactions to them. but let's talk a moment about what these are and why they were made they have come to light over the year. and michael, i think your experience with the case back at least in the 1990s if not further back pretty can you talk a little bit about how you first discovered the tape and little bit about how they came to light over the years that followed. michael: yes, i was having dinner with my friends and i always say, with joe dimaggio of presidential library directors i think markey would agree with that read and this was about
1993 or 1994 as having dinner with him and the jockey club in washington. and the owner date longer time aid in public service in other ways. caribbean talking to me about these types they said know they existed and i said, i had heard that he had made some of those conversations but how many could be actually taped. and harry said, will over 700 hours and they go from the beginning of the presidency to the end. then i said well, if these are real tapes, and numbers, not just lbj sing them earnest for peace and i'm doing this and doing that in the words as long as they were not tapes made for the later historians, this is going to be an amazing contribution to johnson scholarship to understanding him because number one, whatever historian dreams of which is suddenly running into a cash of
an original source that is so immense and all-encompassing change the way we see a president and everything he did and on the other thing is i said this to harry that evening and i would say it now and it you wanted for some lbj i probably would choose the conversations and assure would not choose letters as we all know, he wrote these lovely letters and many of them were not written by him, some of the most heartfelt give you real window under the heart but it is the heart of someone else. lbj was not in the habit of pouring his innermost feelings into a letter. and some by aides who admired him are somewhat restrained and his memoirs was a noble effort i don't think anyone would say that there was a vantage point
was helpful but in certain ways gives you a sense of lbj really talking and telling you what is really on his mind. but have these types and this what you really want and as opposed to let's say dwight eisenhower me what in particular want eisenhower quite reserved in private as he was in public in the same with calvin coolidge and the point is that if think harry, am glad you decided to open these things because this could be a revelation. why did you do it and he said well we are doing it for two reasons, number one, the oliver stone law, the net first of oliver stone was making his film jfk to get files related to the kennedy assassination open and he said that i was advised paralegal people that we might not only have a lawsuit of that time for any of the tapes that you deal with a assassination but also more generally so i
talked to missus johnson i said, if a recommendation for which it can we keep these close or should they be opened. and she said, go ahead and open them. and essentially i'm proud of what my husband did and i know there will be things on them that i don't like because i haven't heard them but am confident enough in what linden did that more people find out about what he did both in the strengths and the flaws, the better which was just the kind of presidential relic you would want and she showed amazing insight and la changed history but i think really change the ways which her husband is seen now by historians. >> one of the questions that hangs on the tape is why lbj made them in the first place. why would you be made these and for that matter, why did american presidents from roosevelt to nixon make similar kinds of recordings.
michael: lbj when he was a center used to make records of the conversations. basically, the walter jenkins and listening in on extensions and making notes very exact notes of lbj for instance getting information from the senator and there was one leg in the johnson entourage to refer to these notes as the dickies scroll. the reason why lyndon b. johnson did this was if the senator doublecrossed him, i believe it or not, in the 1950s, occasionally that would happen, he could go back to the senator and say what you me yesterday and i quote and then have the exact amendment that had been made the senator would wonder why lyndon b. johnson had perfect recall. so the technology had improved so that by the time he became president in november of 1963, he thought that only with the
spieth a historic. would also help him as a manager in the same way that it had in the senate. and so as a result from almost the moment he came to the white house, from dallas these tape machines began rolling. mark: i would just remind everybody that we have lbj to thank for huge parts of the watergate because it was lyndon b. johnson was at one time on his hands and needs chinese he walked the dixon through the amazing recording and that he was saying that you will want these as a record of your conversations. what an incredible gift in historians like michael that we have these as michael currently said to the forward to his first of the two books on the tapes. the only thing worse and anything bad that comes out of the state, anything bad that we
hear in lyndon b. johnson's comments would have been a in lyndon b. johnson's view, to have been forgotten. this has kept him so relevant and yet so intimate the experiences of listening to these conversations. mark: melanie in these podcasts that you debuted last you use the conversation extensively in your project, what was it that made the so valuable. melody: a couple of things, one i'll step back for a second it cannot answer that question through the lens of my experience as a staff person so having been ted kennedy's chief counsel and having been obama's domestic policy advisor, is much as happened in the room estimate happens in the fall. in written material can't capture that. but a memo looks like by the time it that it gets to a senator or a president, is often been edited and reedited lots of
people put their opinions and and they said things back in scribbles and notes. it will tell you something but when you have the conversations, you get the nuance commute in the tone of voice and you get the humor and anger and things that you cannot necessarily interpret from the written word. now all of a sudden our very visible and certainly the oratory is available to you and it gives you a sense of the moment in a way that nothing else really can. and for the purpose of the podcast, i know those who listen to it, and came back to me said that oh my gosh, i kneel that lyndon b. johnson was a character but i never knew that and they never had a sense of that. and i also know from their experiences that i have had it, dealing with other media companies as they have interviewed civil rights leaders. from the period of people
negotiating with him that after listening to the tapes they said, i wish i had known that, i had no idea he thought that. so it gives you a real window into what he was thinking and feeling and the strategic mind and for us, it puts us in the room right happened in a way that nothing else can. mark: let's listen to some tapes. melody and a of your favorites is the conversation with sergeant schreiber ahead of the peace corps in this one comes from february 1st of 2054. and in this we hear lbj informing schreiber and all of his legendary persuasive powers that schreiber is about to be named the new head of the war on poverty. let's roll the tape think back to all. >> good morning mr. president how are you.
[inaudible]. >> i think it was the advice but if you don't mind company has wisdom and i wanted to sit down with a couple of people to see what we can give no have some sort of 19 what happens is you know somebody and someone else in the dome of the heck they're doing with with this program is going to be specifically. and. [clapping and cheering]. and what are you going to do. >> well, just go away and go to camp david and figured out we need something. i will say to them in i've got to myself about yesterday and work out your peace corps anyway you want to and head of the committee and have some acting operator and let him do that don't do anything but i one announcement and quit getting
all these other pressures and and i think he's going to do it you just can't run a dance of course if we get behind this, the better we can talk to the president heck of a lot easier than you can talk to them with a thesis. [inaudible]. and speaks to me. mark: , the what are your thoughts. this is one of your favorite conversations. melody: i love this conversation for so many reasons and some of them may not be apparent as the conversation goes on, there's these humorous moments but johnson is employing every tool that he has any self aimlessly uses. his bullying, he is charming it, he is relentless. and he is doing this and fern entered furtherance of an objective, event objective that he has read so he has his idea with regard to the war on
poverty and he wants to move quickly. and he understands from his experience in congress that he has got to be able to keep the peace, that is the press, no offense. brian. [laughter] and assure them as a nation that he notices that he's moving forward so he knows what he wants to accomplish and he rightly understands that sergeant shriver is the right person to do that and he doesn't care that sergeant shriver is grieving quite frankly. he cares but for his objective he does not care. he just lost someone a family member, president kennedy and he doesn't care that he already has a full-time job running the peace corps and he doesn't care that he is a family who just returned home from being overseas from a period of time and he is focused on what he wants to get done and the reason that i appreciate the tape is because it tells you what kind
of leader he is the good of the bad and the if you're sergeant shriver and it tells you that he is relentless in pursuit of his large objective and that he understands the personnel policy that is got to get the right people in those jobs and moving and you see that throughout his administration. even as early as that first night when he tells, just get on the plane predict and jack is in texas and in asking why am i getting on the plane and he said just go on the plane you've goto get the right people are places. in order to execute on this agenda that he has that he was to bring to fruition knowing that the window is going to be narrow as it is for every president and he is going to execute. so that's why appreciate this moment. mark: even before we had the tapes, we knew that lbj was incredibly persuasive and about the johnson thing but the tapes he provided so much more
evidence of those persuasive skills. and what wasn't do you think the maid lbj legendarily persuasive. michael: any think it is so many contributing factors in a big one is to say that texas and his upbringing there, he was the personification of everything bigger in texas and he would use all of his physicality and michael is this in barnyard ways that we can talk about. brian: and as a huge physical presence. he had an enormous wingspan and he knew exactly what he was doing. and he had a command of the language encoded mailed this marvelous mixture of washington talk and texas talk read and you would not want to go up against him. we know that from all of the
kindhearted souls who tried and lost over the course of these days. mark: and even able to do it over the telephone with virtue of the physical sense. brian: that is right. mark: many of the conversations showed different dimensions of these persuasive skills that johnson treatment there are a few small number perhaps of the conversations that reveal a different even submissive side to lbj's personality and what i would like to do now is to play very different kind of conversation in this one between lbj and the first lady. lady bird johnson and this one comes from our seven, 1954. the comes just have the president has given a press conference and shortly thereafter missus johnson called of her husband and offers a critique of his performance. during press conference. >> missus johnson is calling.
>> do you to listen to that one. my critique. i thought that you look strong firm and dazzled guy and a close-up was much better the distance. [inaudible]. >> will i cite this, also from the distance. and during the statement you are a little breathless. and too much looking down and think it was a little bit to - in a change of pace. not enough, and also in the senate. there was a considerable pickup and drama and interest when the questioning began. your voice was noticeably better interfacial expressions were
noticeably better. in the mechanics of the room were not too good. although i heard you well throughout, i did not hear your questioners clearly. >> will the questioners won't talk. >> some of them he could hear but definitely you cannot hear them very well. every now and then you need good quick answer contains a pace pretty that's why was very glad when you answered one man and you answered both of their questions. i thought your answer was good and i thought your answer in vietnam was good. i really didn't like the answer on the. [inaudible]. i heard you say you actually had set out others you don't want your country to hear.
in night was convenient for the people pretty. >> i'm not going to have that conversation i didn't say what i was doing. i didn't say at all. >> in fact i reaffirm that i would not go pretty. >> i see, i just didn't hear a durkin the meaning of it that everybody else did. i think that the outstanding thing with close-ups were excellent. you need to learn when you're going to put have a prepared statement you going to need to have the opportunity to study in a little bit more and read it with a little bit more conviction and interest. and change of pace. >> was certainly criticized, they won't use it all. mark: we learn from this
conversation. michael: we learned that it was impossible for lyndon b. johnson to be a great president if lady bird johnson had not been first lady. and the problem here is almost every first lady i think and melody would probably agree with this is they always say i really have very little influence on the present to the credit to him. it was all his doing and she would have guessed for state dinners or something like that it lady bird is no exception. in those conversations and i will have with her, she said the same thing. it will if did not know any better, just think that she was sort of this polite minor figure in the entourage. one of the great are actually one of the revelations is that lbj taped his wife without her knowledge and answer, did you know that he was taking you and she said no. but nothing would've surprised me in the case of that. and the other thing is that he
would talk to her maybe a little bit less on this phone call but elsewhere just beautifully. my wife for this and she said, you really should be writing books on these tapes and you should talk to me much more the way he talked to her. but the point is he wanted a little bill for lady bird extremely polite and self proclaimed that didn't have much to do with those five and half years as president and just listen to the call of what you just heard from he was very dependent on her opinion and way and very influenced by it in a way that he was not by anyone else in this world. mark: hi this is one of those arenas in which the tapes had really been transformative perhaps enabling inside, not just the white house but the dynamics of the relationship between the president and . brian: is absolutely indelible to me recording on which missus johnson says mary call of the
age she is exclaiming about the minor being able to fly from coast-to-coast the same day as expression i have used since the moment i first started. i was exciting to me is about the miller center is the first such wonderful contextual list and archivist that i had hoped there's room for recording a collection of them just call that mr. is my hope that we can hear the great recording of the presidents talking over the noise again smoke is making on the tv. in the first residence. [laughter] and i hope that we can hear all of those cans of diet root beer and fresca being opened by the president. and i hope we can hear the exchange conversation at when lizzie baines comes in the oval office and her dad agrees her the way any dad would be happy
degrees any daughter. and obviously with swelling with pride and these are the moments that you come for the history for that is value. of what often stays with you the family that you get to overhear these tapes. mark: beautifully said in the other thing is that how many times i have felt in a bit melody and brian, but where's the announcement about that you both felt the same way you hear conversation knocked you out and shows you what a human being that lbj is and how funny is partied and some interesting to be around and then you realize it is hard to see this thing published or played a public. it would be horrified and angry. and lbj in 1964 describes in two
granular details had after my first book came out i was talking to missus johnson and i said really happy with the way the tapes in the book were received. and she always would tell you that she knew what she really thought she said i really was good to tell you the truth, could live the rest of my days happily without hearing you play that tape on tv. but she said, you should know that tape is my grandchildren's favorite and i'm never quite figured out why that was but about a month later, i got a letter from mr. hagar who was still alive offering me a free pair of custom-made hagar flats. [laughter] mark: listening to this lady bird tate, one of the things that i really appreciate and i think the listener should appreciate is that for president in particular there are very very very very few people who
will speak truth to power and tell you exactly what they think whether you like it or not and i think the spouse is usually one of those people. and you hear that. and she just goes through a list. she didn't just say all couple of things were good and some things were bad will work on them pretty she clearly had written them down and she checked through them one at a time. and it was because she loved him and wanted him to be the great president and he wanted to be prayed that the nation needed someone has playgirl i think presidents rely on their spouses in a close family members, there are a few key staff who will say that to you. mark: people always said that he had mood swings but you never really see or hear them and you really hear them on these tapes. case in point, and 1964, when he
so upset by criticism, but more criticism in time magazine lady bird. he said a mushroom going accept this nomination one that we go back to texas and he fell into what can only be called a depression and she was subject to think throughout his life. and lady bird, you just here on the stage, the one person who could pull him out of it and she said to him essentially, you do that, you'll sensually be continue to what critics are saying. when i could not more with all three of you what you're saying it for you to think a wonderful about the approach to policy and policymaking process but most memorable parts are often the bits of information it of the insight into his personal life and personality. in the way he conducted himself day in and day out. it calls attention to this
dimension of the leadership and life inside of the white house. and yet of course the tape is also inescapably do shed light of policy questions but let's come to some of those policy questions. must come first of all to civil rights. i know i would like to come back to you i wonder if your favorite conversations here melody, let's listen to lbj speaking with martin luther king on january 15th, 1965. it's a couple of months before lbj with sandy for congress and announce we shall overcome in support of the monumental legislation known as the voting rights act of 1965. here's a really think a revealing conversation sheds light on lbj's approach to the civil rights problem and also his relationship with one of the giants clearly of the civil-rights movement. >> i think it is very important
that we not say that we are doing this or were not doing this because it may but we take the position that every person on in this country reaches those certain age, that even right. and that we just do this weather is a mexican or whoever it is. number two, i think with the own special privilege to anybody. and we can stand and if you can, contributed greatly in the deal by giving you yourself taking very simple examples of discrimination that a man's got to memorize longfellow or whether he has the first ten amendments are he is got to tell
you what amendment 15 and 16 and 17 as and ask them if they know. and show what happens. and some people don't have to do that. but when a negro comes in he is got to do it and we can just repeat and repeat and repeat. you don't want to follow him but he had an idea but if you just take a simple thing and you repeated often enough, even other people will excepted pretty well this is true and if you can find the varsity run into in alabama and mississippi and louisiana south carolina whe i think one of the worst dozens of at school and. [inaudible]. being denied the rights to cast a vote and to get one illustration it and give it on radio and on television get in on in the focus and in the
meetings and everyplace you can. pretty soon, the fellow they didn't do a thing goes during the driving a tractor, hill will say that is not right and then that will help us on what we are going to show through again. >> you are exactly right about that pretty. >> if we do that we will break through and it will be the greatest breakthrough of anything not even accepting this, think the greatest achievement of my administration, the greatest achievement in foreign policy the scinto group yesterday was passage of 64 civil rights act. but i think this will be bigger. because i will do things that these metrics could do. mark: is so much to talk about in this conversation unless start with what it tells us about lbj legislative part, ability can we give you first
predict. melody: it is a tactical matter, this moment has to be put in context and he's got a lot of legislation upon help. he's trying to move his great society program which is so broad and it every aspect of american life into some and one of the things that he had said to president kennedy when he was alive, and advice that was not taken was you gotta get the order of these things right because if you say all of the sultan same time particular with civil rights, and with the southern caucus, your legislation will sit behind it and they won't move anything pretty he started his administration starting his own advice and apart what he is trying to do is to move parts of the war on poverty legislation while he also wants to move forward with voting rights and so he is trying to ultimately
try to do several things. take conversation as it goes on for me to try to convince doctor king, this hold off one minute we will move this but these are things going in there be good for african americans and people of color. as well but just give me a moment on this and at the same time, he is also telling him that there are ways we can try and build momentum and to create a sense of inevitability and pray into people's sense of justice and fairness if they only understand what is going on if they only understand how unjust and how fair it is and how unfair this all is. and i think that is thinking very empathically about how to create the momentum environment to move this piece of legislation and at the same time move other parts of his legislative program.
anything is a human matter and i love this prayed i would love to talk to him today about to see he would feel, his sense that feeling of fairness and justice existed in the body politics that people only knew if they got only see, they would come around. there's more to say but those of the things that jumped out at me when i think about what he try to do strategically and also, what he believes is possible amount with the american people. mark: these conversations of course there are several with martin luther king jr. they shut so much interesting lighting on the relationships between lbj and the civil rights movement generally and of course in particular and brian williams what your sense of what these conversations tell us about that read.
brian: something melody just touched on and this needs to be said as a new generation of students during this time glenn often younger folks feel that all of history should have sensitivities. and you are going to hear figures of speech terminology and vocabulary that is time specific read and thankfully our country does not talk away some of the people on these tapes notably our president talks talk back then. but i hope it is helpful to teach our language standards have migrated. remember the new york times used words to describe japanese adversaries during world war ii that we would never dream of using an conversation or anyone else for that matter in 2021.
but on the subject of civil rights, to be essentially when the president is talking about marshall, he tips his hand especially late at night and this is a huge goal to him listening to the specific recordings with doctor king. you are reminded that every single is new again. here we are in 2021 and so many states are throwing the kitchen sink at the problem of these people wanting to come out and vote read and they are putting up new barriers for the voting which is stunning and depressino watch the same time. mark: michael lbj attitudes toward trees have been the subject towards endless speculation entrance ventilation of years.
when did he become a true champion of civil rights one of the sources and so many other categories of americans predict what is your view to the conversations tell us about some of the big questions that alone surrounded lbj the portion of race. michael: will of the biggest question thing markey would agree that the president is he gave great speeches lbj certainly did especially the voting rights at the beach in march 1955 and he just hired a really good speech writer or did he really minute and type. and i would go so far as to say that if he had not paid these tapes, there probably by now would be several histories saying that lbj used terrible words in private and with other segregationists would and never really serious about civil
rights. but was persuaded to come out with the civil rights bill on the voting rights bill later on in a fair bill. i probably kennedy or others more liberals because he was afraid of not getting a nomination in 1964. and they was never serious about it. if you listen to these tapes and listen the one we just heard of lbj and him okay, that if somebody was really serious. and he felt in town and is god i think all of you know any talk to family members, or did this come from and many of them will say but he was teaching mexican-american students public access as a young man in 1948, a run for the senate and texas would did not give him a lot of leeway to be pro- immigration or pro- civil rights in real question is do you produce when he was president and he certainly did more than anyone except abraham lincoln and
number two, did it come at a real conviction and i think the tapes demonstrate that mr. did. mark: another problem was a situation in vietnam. in many of the conversations, with this all important topic. this was no conversation this one comes from may 27, 64. and lbj is on the phone this national security advisor. monday and this is at a point where lbj is trying to keep vietnam off the agenda and of the front pages but as well aware major decisions are looming before him few months on the road. >> the more i think and getting into another. [inaudible]. that one can never get out of
it. and i believe that the chinese communist come into it and i don't think that we can drive 10000 miles away from home in that area. [inaudible]. and don't think it's worth ripping apart i don't think that we can get out. [inaudible]. it is an awful mess. [inaudible]. what is it for three and what is it worth to this country. [inaudible]. we have a treaty everybody else has a treaty out there. and of course you start and they tissue right into your own kitchen. [inaudible]. and that is trouble the suffer the world if anything comes apart on it, that is the dilemma, that's exactly it. >> when everybody talk to seto my gosh, please and of course i read this morning and this is because it can be.
[inaudible]. but this is a terrible thing that were getting ready to do pretty. >> mr. president, and he is only positioned in one sense this one is one that we have and we let it go by and i am not telling you today what to do in your position i just think mostly what we have to do is tread with it for a while. [inaudible]. clearly there are a few questions surrounding lbj controversy on this is role in the decisions as to when they are in 1964 and in 1965. this conversation it, tell us about how lbj was processing this decision and ultimately to go ahead with the escalations later that year in early 1955 grade. >> will it shows us the obviously, he says it out loud
the conflict within him about the conflict in southeast asia. in the american public would've been very curious to know that the president deep down after bourbon or two in the evening, would be one of the harbors as he referred to the national security structure around him that he inherited largely in a selfless way. i don't know how i would feel if i had lost a brother or son or a father in the vietnam war and it suddenly stumbled across this reporting which gives new meaning to the word, ambiguity. ambiguity is putting the best possible flight on it and then as a history of the vietnam war unfolds, we have getting into all of the issues that all of us who were alive and kicking back
then, remember and read about subsequently. see for you something in this conversation others like it, we might listen something like this and become or synthetic to the very difficult aren't that pretty was in and yet we also modified medical of young from going ahead with escalation and he knew would be very problematic and dangerous for you to highlight we as people listening to this for many decades after the fact, wrestle with the complexities of lbj's legacy. first we come down between sympathy and criticism of the decisions he ultimately made afraid. michael: almost every thought you had about him was true, he was available at and he was tortured by the knowledge and he says on these tapes pretty i can get involved in vietnam and
50000 americans dead and everybody, that is my linguist got his. but pretty close was language and you listen to this years later and i said you're actually right, listen to yourself and take your own advice. but at the same time, is being urged by an awful lot of people at him and this is not the only reason but brings us to the secretary of defense robert pretty and he was a famous rerun famous for the 1990s and is essentially don't blame me for vietnam. i was only secretary of defense pretty blame president johnson who was gung ho for going into the war in vietnam. and that shows one of the benefits of these tapes because unlucky for him about a year or two later came out the tapes on vietnam with lbj talking to him and far from telling lbj that vietnam is got a lot of problems that we should consider, he was
saying that i was secretary of defense and i can tell you that he would've done this i can tell you essentially that is necessary for us to win in vietnam in order for us to prevail or survive a cold war i would like to thank also i think this is probably true, that lbj knew the making tapes of these conversations would protect him against opportunistic advisors like mcnamara try to claim later on they give them advice that he actually didn't give him and that's the basic inspiration richard nixon has as right and i have talked about in doing his own tapes because he was worried and henry kissinger when plan credit for the opening of china and it the soviet union and the settlement vietnam and nixon wanted tapes to make sure that the actual story would be shown on a real record i can't help
but to think that lbj did as well. melody: if the tapes show us or allow us to hear something that we often talk about which is the loneliness of this job. we talk about it a lot, the famous kennedy reported he is kind of looking down and get the sense of the burden of the office this gives you the sense of it in real time with real policy. mike had awakened out and not sure how we got in. and all of the issues that surround this in quite frankly, staff person tells him that we should pray on this. and i'm a person of faith to believe in the power of prayer but i also know that my former bosses would have wanted me to come forward to something in addition to that. and suggestions by sale that that at the end of the day the buck stops there.
and the weight of these decisions is enormous and i think the tapes give you a sense of that and it's not as though there's just one of these decisions every few weeks. her multiple decisions like this everything a day prayed. mark: quality as you pointed out earlier lbj in the spirit is dealing with a whole array of different subjects. on if you have any thoughts about to what extent lbj's comments about vietnam are shaped profoundly by his calculations with respect to his domestic arena and society. melody: absolutely and their many debates and michael and brian and other historians have talked about all the reasons why lbj moved forward as he did in vietnam but it is clear and he makes statements and is angry and frustrated and you hear that many times because of vietnam
and because of the massive resources. human and financial that are going into vietnam that could support and fund his great society program but instead, they are going into an effort that he is even completely believe in but does not know exactly how to bring to an end to bring to an end in a way that he would need to be successful. so there was a direct conflict between what he had to do as a matter of foreign policy what he wanted to do as a matter of domestic policy in fact i think there is a quote raise preparing this to kind of his mistress who in fact he wanted to be faithful to but awful adventure in vietnam and at the same time, as time went on the criticisms was coming from those with whom he
aligns himself on the civil rights agenda on the were in poverty agenda for example martin luther king's very very sharp critique at the riverside church. and that of others which had to be painful just to kick in the gut to somebody who cared profoundly about this domestic agenda. mark: we collected over the last couple of weeks questions from our friends of the library community. many of them were directed at questions that have already arisen for several of them point out that lbj was of course the subject of any number of biographies and histories long before these tapes come along then take some and give all this evidence to work with. in your estimations, what is the one if i can ask you none. question. the one take away from the tape
that significantly altered what we thought we knew about lbj before this betrayal became available. see tip i'm struggling with one thing because we often talk about the complexity of him and we talk about the strategic sensibilities and his ability to get things done and i think that the tape weaves that together for us pretty well we listen to individual moments, it is when you put all this together uses of who he is and all of his strategic genius in his legislative appetite and what fueled maybe this is it, what i believe that his desire was to be obviously he wanted to be president more than anything and he wanted to be a great president. and he knew great presidents had
to do great things. you can see these tapes what fueled that and how he tried to meet that achievement and all of its most biggest nature. michael: to me, the master class, to borrow from the social media macular of today into lessons in how to view the presidents pretty and in the granularity and some these phone calls, these are not the sexy phone calls from these another phone calls to make headlines get about her talked about. when he calls the state department desk officer, for a specific country. makes you stop and when you listen to it in 2020 when you ask yourself, and a former president of the understand that there was a desk officer at the state department for each of the
nations around the world. before we have the formalized situation in and we have today, lyndon b. johnson unable to sleep, comes out of the military office and ask about the air mission that he knew was being carried out overnight u.s. and vietnam. he wants an accounting of all of the aircraft. they'll make it back safely. on and on and on. his lobbying techniques, is granular knowledge of what is in certain pieces of legislation. how all of the cabinet departments work. he gets dug still in on the phone secretary of treasury, the man is how is the money when i was a kid. is almost is better in terms of describing the work of the department of treasury and it's how to presidents and that's me is one of the great unsung
takeaways from these recordings. mark: beautifully said no surprise for melody and brian and i love the fact that brianna mentioned lbj wedding of a night for those american flyers to come back from having bonded north vietnam hoping they had survived. in the fundamental question did he have a soul. was he doing civil rights and voting rights because it was politically smart. tahiti woody dan vietnam because it is a master manipulator and transactional leaders of all time he was those things over the tape show is this a somebody with enormous sensitivities and emotion and heart and soul. he was doing it because and empathize with those who have been locked out in this country for centuries and when he thought poverty, it was the same thing and you saw that and as a
child, and as brian says when he was a pleated kind, hoping and praying that god more and more religious as the war went on as you can see in these tapes. this was someone who lady bird 171 of her diaries, i think it was published, she had said that i wonder if lyndon can really be an effective commander-in-chief because is to emotional they care so much when this flyers go out at night and cares too much whether they are going to come back or not and she was saying the real commander-in-chief has to distance himself at least a little bit. and if you're asking to the regrets of the tens of thousands of young americans who died because of the decisions vietnam. in the last four years of a happy man. another people might've been able to calm themselves into thinking that they had done
everything right and very well for the kind of souls that this man had and above all, the fact that soul even see in the center of every one of these major political decisions that we both honor and criticized. >> beautifully put, i mentioned at the outset this is dream team and i think that you absolutely lived up to that. i can't thank you enough, what a wonderful way to celebrate the lbj library 50th anniversary but above all to help us think about these wonderful resources that we are making available to our partnership with the center of the site will be lbj tapes dot org we hope that everyone from scholars to people who just have it interest in the johnson presidency in the 1960s will visit the site and make extensive use of it in the years to come.