All the Way
The most important quality that a president can have is the ability to get things done. Having great ideas is not enough; he needs to be able to convince Congress to pass legislation.
By this measure, Lyndon Johnson was the greatest president of all time.
Whatever you think of LBJ, there’s no denying the fact that he knew how to get things done in Washington. “All the Way” is an entertaining HBO film about Johnson’s tumultuous early years in the White House.
Bryan Cranston doesn’t try to hide LBJ’s personal faults – his crudeness, insecurity, and lack of moral compass. But, all things considered, “All the Way” is wildly pro-Johnson.
It effectively gives him full credit for the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. The film makes Martin Luther King Jr. look like he is all talk, no action. And it paints President Johnson as a tireless hustler, working every angle to get the votes that he needs. He cajoles, horse-trades, sweet-talks, and bullies Congressmen into getting the votes he needs.
President Johnson was the best at getting what he wanted. The problem is that most of what he wanted was absolutely terrible for the United States.
His little Medicare and Medicaid programs probably seemed like a sensible idea at the time. Now they cost a solid $1 trillion every year. When the US defaults on its debt and/or suffers crushing inflation later this century, you can blame LBJ.
Have you noticed that your children and grandchildren are working as hard as you did but are making less money? That’s President Johnson’s fault, too. His Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 ensured that there is always a steady supply of foreign labor coming into the country to compete with American workers. I doubt that Johnson’s plan was to slowly crush and eliminate the middle class; but that’s just he did.
While LBJ had a sincere passion for remaking society, he had little interest in foreign policy. “All the Way” damningly shows how Johnson casually let the military do what it wanted in Vietnam.
It’s easy to argue that President Johnson was a champion of black Americans. But history shows that the opposite is true.
The Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were terrific victories. But the good of those changes is far outweighed by the harm done by his War on Poverty. Welfare rules that favored single mothers over two-parent households had the hideous unintended consequence of destroying the American black family.
In 1965, 82% of black households had a mother and a father at home – a slightly better percentage than white households. Now, barely more than 1 in 4 black children are living with their married mom and dad. The War on Poverty was an absolute calamity.
There is zero defense for Jim Crow and Separate But Equal and it’s wonderful that they’re gone forever. However, growing up in a two-parent household is arguably the most important determining factor as to whether a child grows up confident, well-adjusted, and successful.
If I had to choose to start my life over again and either be a second-class citizen with my mom or dad or as the dominant race but without my father, the decision would be incredibly easy. I wouldn’t walk to the back of the bus; I’d run.
Come to think of it, forget what I said in the first paragraph. A president who can get things done is probably a danger to our country. Lyndon Johnson would have left the United States a better place if he had done nothing.