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Friday, January 18, 2008

Hillary Clinton is no LBJ

Much was made this past week about Hillary Clinton's perceived comments about Martin Luther King's role in getting Civil Rights legislation passed. While I find Clinton implication that Barack Obama is nothing more than a erstwhile dreamer offensive, I find her trying to liken herself to the political and legislative genius that was Lyndon Johnson even more offensive.

Thursday night I appeared on the Inside Slant show on 1460 AM in Jacksonville. The host Scott Gaillard asked me point blank about the Martin Luther King episode this past week, and I stated while I felt the entire thing was overblown, the fact that Hillary Clinton with seven years legislative experience and having the failure of getting Health Care reform through a Congress which 58% of the members were from her own party showed she couldn't in good conscience wrap herself in LBJ's legacy.

In 1964 the Congress as it had for much of the the past thirty two years was controlled by reactionary southerners. An irony of the New Deal sweep was that it produced some of the most conservative chairman in House Committees we have ever had. Chairmen like Howard Smith of Virginia (House Rules), Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, Senator John McClellan of Arkansas and many many more. The Congress was run by Southerners committed to maintaining segregation at all costs, even if it involved violence. Lyndon Johnson had partially come from that background. While FDR was alive he appeared to be a committed New Dealer and had liberals in Texas, particularly in his native Hill Country thinking he was a worthy heir to Maury Maverick (Mayor of San Antonio, Congressman.) But after FDR's death, LBJ became himself a reactionary conservative allied with Texas' oil and business interests and with their help he stole the 1948 Senate Election. As Majority Leader Johnson allied himself with the Southerners until he decided to run for President at which case he began identifying himself as a "Westerner." In other words much like Bill Clinton he was a chameleon, dedicated to little more than his own political survival.

When JFK's murder catapulted LBJ to the White House he made Civil Rights a priority for his national constituency. But unlike Hillary Clinton's failed and arrogant approach to Health Care reform, Johnson worked the legislation through his allies including the great Hubert H. Humphrey in the Senate. He used every ounce of his political skill to break the Southern filibuster and control of the committees and along with the inspiration and public support created by Martin Luther King's movement, he got the most momentous legislation of a generation passed.

In contrast Hillary Clinton most significant achievement to date was pointing out a right wing conspiracy existed against her husband and voting for the Iraq War without reading the pre-war intelligence. Hillary Clinton is no LBJ.


eplnfl said...


You saw the political firestorm that started after Hilary Clinton made those remarks. She clearly seems to have mis-calculated with that remark. Everthing that comes out of her in my opinion has been carefully considered beforehand by her staff. Her vote on the war was one with a eye on the 2008 race when she felt that the vote would be a plus for her.

Yes, Hilary can not rightfully compare her record with that of LBJ's. In fact the whole Clinton experience issue is a false, she resided in the White House but being First Lady does not qualify you for the top job. Her Senate experience is not much greater than that of Obama.

Ok, I will admit for those who do not know that I am from Chicago and I would look forward to a President from my home town. However and whoever it is American needs a progressive leader soon!

Anonymous said...

For someone who has been soured by the political process (Thank you Mr. Wexler) you can't get away from it. I was at the REC meeting last week, the Reps. are also divided and cannot get behind one candidate. The best choices are no longer in the race.
I will be seeing Irv and Lawerence this Sat. night. Hope to find out what the future holds for them. Until then, two months ago you said we would get together for lunch still waiting. Get in touch, I would like to catch up.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.