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Stone on LBJ

In response to:

The Making of a President from the July 30, 1964 issue

To the Editors:

In his review of Mr. White’s book, Lyndon B. Johnson, I. F. Stone discusses the President’s political success in terms of, “…the rough and tumble rise of a poor boy to the Presidency…by a sure instinct for which way the wind was blowing.”

Calvinist Stone wants it pure. Is this not what he is saying? Like Abraham Lincoln, for instance, who thought it necessary to await the military decision at Antietam before issuing the Emancipation, and at that, inserting the phrase, “…an act of justice, upon military necessity.” Italics are mine.

Or perhaps as pure as I. F. Stone himself, who at one time blew loving kisses at Eisenhower, when the Republican candidate in 1952, announced, “I will go to Korea.”

But the records are available…A telegram to Senator Johnson, for instance. It was the first time since the Tilden-Hayes election, that a Negro organization sent a felicitous message to a Southern politician, “Thanks for helping us get even this little bit.” A reference to the Civil Rights Act of 1956. The Civil Rights Act of 1960 was wholly the Majority Leader’s.

And there are more records…In the previous seven years under Vice-President Nixon, the Commission on Government Contracts instituted six suits, only one outside the District of Columbia. In the two-and-half years under Kennedy, Vice-President Johnson processed seventeen hundred complaints, settled 72 per cent of them. Today, for the first time in history, there are Negroes working in the carding rooms of Southern textile mills…I cannot think of an assignment that offered such little promise in the way of drama, headlines, or even ordinary news despatches.

In 1959, I wrote: “Only a Southerner will be able to wipe out the evil of racial segregation…he will achieve power in the only way it is possible to win political office in the South…’holler Nigger’ along with the others…but this fellow will return among the racists and knock their heads together once and for all…I have a strong suspicion that Lyndon Johnson is that fellow.”…

Harry Golden

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