John Taylor’s post about the two Republican Presidents overlooked —at least so far but don’t hold your breath— in Minneapolis reminded me of an article I meant to post last week — from the Weekly Standard‘s “Scrapbook”.
At least Republicans aren’t the only ones with selective and expedient memories.
The Party of LBJ
Anybody who thinks politics can’t be a brutal, unsentimental business–as THE SCRAPBOOK believes–should think back to the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. President John F. Kennedy had been shot to death just 9 months earlier, yet the podium was flanked –no, dwarfed– by two gigantic, multistory photographs of the new president, Lyndon B. Johnson. Yes, there was a smaller –much smaller– portrait of JFK behind the stage, but it was one-third of a triptych featuring Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman (who was very much alive, but did not attend).
Fast-forward 44 years to Denver, where the Democrats have just nominated their first black candidate for president, and you would expect that Lyndon Johnson–creator of the Great Society, the man who pushed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act through Congress, and appointed the first black cabinet member and Supreme Court justice–would be mentioned, if ever so briefly, in the course of his party’s convention. But you would be wrong.
THE SCRAPBOOK was, frankly, astonished: Last Wednesday was even LBJ’s centennial, for gosh sakes–but not a peep. Indeed, when Barack Obama spoke to the multitudes on Thursday night, the only predecessors he mentioned were Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. No Truman, whose foreign policy set the course for the postwar era; and no LBJ, whose vision of civil rights and the role of the federal government remains the Democratic standard.
It is possible, of course, that the omission was deliberate–Johnson, of course, was the principal author of the Vietnam war–and it is equally possible that Senator Obama (who was born in 1961) and senior members of his campaign apparatus have only the haziest notion of what Truman and Johnson–and FDR and JFK, for that matter–actually did as presidents.
Still, THE SCRAPBOOK would think that, at a national convention where the delegates listened patiently to the likes of Jimmy Carter, Joe Biden, and Al Gore, a minute or two might have been set aside in memory of the president who, as much as any Democrat, invented his party’s current ideology, and set the stage for Barack Obama.