Ana səhifə

Lyndon baines johnson biographical info

Yüklə 56.5 Kb.
ölçüsü56.5 Kb.


  • 1908-1973

  • 36th president of the United States

  • Texas native

  • Southwest Texas State Teachers College


  • 1960 – Johnson named VP for Kennedy

  • 1963 – Kennedy assassinated, Johnson named President

  • 1963 – Martin Luther King gives “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington

  • 1964 – Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • 1965 – Voting Rights Act speech, March 15

  • 1965 – Voting Rights Act passed

  • 1965 – Johnson calls for American troops to Vietnam

  • 1967 – First Super Bowl

  • 1968 – Johnson announces he will not run for re-election

  • 1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated

“A complex convergence of presidential public persuasion, internal and external persuasive advice to Lyndon Johnson, increasing violence associated with civil unrest at home, domestic protest over the Vietnam War, and finally, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. all conspired in time to make a once untenable public policy initiative a codified reality” (Goldzwig, 26).
“The Vietnam War took its toll on the president’s popularity and political viability. It inevitably spilled over to his domestic agenda” (Ibid, 32).
“A succession of summer riots during the president’s tenure was central to growing negative perceptions of his leadership. Simultaneously, the statistics on racial inequality continued to mount” (Ibid).
“While the 1964 Civil Rights At may have had more symbolic influence and the 1965 Voting Rights Act may have had more lasting political significance, the 1968 Civil Rights At was vintage Johnson – a measure pressed for two years and then finally manipulated under duress by a relentless president intent on snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Johnson’s achievement was one he could rightfully share with the nation” (Ibid, 47).
“It was Lyndon Johnson’s political persistence in employing a rhetoric of transcendence that had finally challenged Americans to come to terms fully with and act justly in the arena that constituted one of the most sensitive and volatile domestic policy issues of the decade – fair housing” (Ibid)
“President Johnson never relented and never looked back – save to savor a hard-won rhetorical and political battle” (Ibid)

MARCH 15, 1965 – “We Shall Overcome”

  • Johnson passes the Civil Rights Act in 1964

  • By the end of 1964, the administration was working on legislation that would guarantee African Americans the right to vote

  • However, “the president wanted to give the South time to ‘digest’ the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and he feared losing congressional support for the rest of his legislative plans” if he pushed for the voting act too early

  • Johnson showed signs, however, by Dec. 1964, that he was ready to move forward with voting rights legislation, and in his State of the Union address in January, 1965, he stated:

    • “I propose that we eliminate every remaining obstacle to the right and opportunity to vote” (Pauley 31, from Public Papers of the President, Lyndon B. Johnson 1965 5).

      • Throughout February, the administration “moved slowly and carefully on the purposed legislation. They realized that it was an important bill with significant ramifications, and, therefore, they did not want to act hastily” (Pauley 33).

      • Sunday, March 7, 1965 changed everything when police and other law offices attached civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama --- “Bloody Sunday”

      • The president chose not to respond to the events right away.

      • Everyone looked to the president for a rhetorical response

      • The circumstances following Selma clearly constituted a “rhetorical situation”, which, in Lloyd Bitzer’s terminology, “invited discourse capable of participating with the situation and thereby altering its reality” (Pauley 35, from Bitzer 6).

      • At the same time, the situation required legislation action as well, not just “mere rhetoric” (Pauley 35)

      • The problem for Johnson – rhetoric and legislation were bound closely here. In order to speak, his legislation needed to be complete, which is was not

      • Thus, instead of speaking right away, the White House put the finishing touches on the Voting Rights legislation.

      • Johnson did not decide to speak until the late evening of March 14, when, in a meeting with the congressional leadership, he decided to speak to a join session of Congress the following day. In this meeting, the Speaker of the House John McCormack “shifted the discussion towards rhetorical concerns, suggesting that the president deliver a voting rights message before a joint session of Congress, stating that a speech ‘would show the world that action is being taken’” (Pauley 37)

      • The president stated: “I wanted to use every ounce of moral persuasion the Presidency held. I wanted no hedging, no equivocation. And I wanted to talk from my own heart, from my own experience” (Pauley 38, from The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency by LBJ, 164)

  • Most scholars provide an oversimplified view of Johnson’s complicated public discourse and overlook this speech, and instance where everything that typically characterized LBJ was not there.

  • “His most moving public address, conveying the natural eloquence that he so often took care to shield” (Pauley 26, from Zarefsky, “Lyndon” 224)

  • “The strongest public discourse of Johnson’s presidency” (Pauley 26, from Edwin Black 24)


  • “Johnson spoke with force and compassion, drawing upon his personal experience and his ethos as a Southerner” (Pauley 26)


  • “Timing was a central theme in his rhetoric” (Pauley 27)

  • “Depending on one’s perspective, the president’s discursive involvement in the voting rights campaign seemed to be crisis rhetoric at its finest or at its worst” (27).

  • “Johnson’s response to the voting rights crisis was unusual. He departed from his usual approach to rhetoric in two important ways.

    1. The legislation had been under consideration for some time and was nearly finished when the crisis came.

    2. President Johnson not only was ready to speak to the immediate tactical issue of voting rights but also already had formulated his own understanding of voting rights as a moral and historical issue” (27)

  • The voting rights address shows that Johnson’s rhetoric was not always myopic.

  • Johnson planned carefully his voting rights strategy; he considered both the legislative and rhetorical implications of speaking publicly about the voting rights bill.

  • Kairos – a timely response to a given situation.

    • LBJ’s rhetoric was calculated carefully and coordinated closely with the development of social policy (Pauley 29)


    • The language of Johnson’s speech, not just its moment of delivery, also appealed to the urgencies of the moment (Pauley 38).

    • Terms were used such as “no delay” and “no hesitation”...

  • “We ought not and we cannot and we must not wait another eight months before we get a bill. We have already waited a hundred years and more, and the time for waiting is gone”

  • “So I ask you to join me in working long hours – nights and weekends, if necessary – to pass this bill”

    • His language also gave Selma a broader historical meaning by associating the terms freedom and equality with the terms purpose and promise.


    • LBJ’s timely response was a complicated proposition.

    • Although President Johnson’s speech was tactically timely, it was too little and too late for the rising militancy within the civil rights movement. Lyndon Johnson’s voting rights message on 15 March 1965 was timely, timeless, and, ironically, out of time – all at the same moment.

Typical LBJ
“The evaluation suggested by most scholars is that Johnson was a short-sighted, narrowly strategic presidential rhetorician”

  • Typically focused on the urgencies of the moment

  • His rhetoric often was short-sighted.

  • Opponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had criticized Johnson for attempting to legislate by rhetorical appeals to temporarily aroused emotions, and opponents of the voting rights bill believed that 1965 was a repeat performance”

  • Often spoke before he should

  • His own discourse created most of his political problems.

  • Not only was his rhetoric myopic, but it was also so idealistic as to be unrealistic

  • He promised more than he could achieve, and thus aroused expectations and courted disappointment (29)

  • He ignored the possibility that rhetorical alone might effect social change

David Zarefsky - “Much of Johnson’s rhetoric provided a grand vision to solve social problems, but failed to provide specific recommendations because he had not yet formulated specific policy measures to deal with those problems” (Pauley 28, from “Great Society” 366). “His implicit theory of rhetoric...viewed it as a process of selecting strategies and tactics which would comprise an effective public appeal” (Ibid, 277). Zarefsky suggests that LBJ saw a limited role for rhetoric: he made judgments about the value and ability of his programs without any factual support, and simply used rhetoric to rally public support (Pauley 29).

Jeffrey Tulis - LBJ used public rhetoric to garner support for his programs before he developed them fully” (Pauley 28, from The Rhetorical Presidency)
Theodore Windt - LBJ’s rhetoric usually ran ahead of his policy a man of action, Johnson sought to solve problems immediately, without thinking them through clearly. LBJ’s discourse was a sincere expression of a desire to help oppressed people, but came – unfortunately – before he had fully designed his programs or planned a long-term strategy (Pauley 28, from Presidential Rhetoric: 1961 to the Present).
George Reedy (Johnson’s former press secretary) – Although the president was a brilliant political tactician, he was a poor strategist. Johnson could not look ahead, nor put political issues into historical perspective (Pauley 29, from Lyndon Johnson, A Memoir 52).
Doris Kearns (historian and former White House fellow) – Johnson was more concerned with passing legislation than with deliberating great issues (Pauley 29, from Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, 217-218).

Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur © 2016
rəhbərliyinə müraciət