Monday, January 14, 2008
On MLK V. LBJ
Speaking of meaningless heated blather, I must admit to a bit of puzzlement as to what Senator Clinton was trying to say with her, now infamous, MLK/LBJ quote. So let us hearken to what Senator Clinton actually said:
“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act,” Mrs. Clinton said when asked about Mr. Obama’s rejoinder by Fox’s Major Garrett after her speech in Dover. “It took a president to get it done.”First off, notice that Senator Clinton gives an answer to a Fox freak, and winds up digging herself out of a hole for the next several weeks. Let that be a lesson Senator! Don't give those Fox cruds the time of day. It is not like Senator Clinton will ever change their minds or win over the Fox News audience... they've already been brainwashed to believe that she is the spawn of Satan.
Moving on, Senator Clinton's point in the above quote seems to be that King needed political leaders like Johnson in order to make the dream come true. That point may be somewhat correct... yet it seems to me in an election which is a drive to be the candidate of greatest change, saying you are LBJ to your opponents MLK is a bit of a miscalculation. In the grand scope of things, comparing oneself to a southern white male from Texas while the other guy plays the role of inspirational movement leader who will be included in the pantheon of timeless personalities from Ghandi to Mandella hardly seems a wise course of action. Maybe next she can claim a historic parallel as Herrod next to Obama as Jesus Christ... I mean after all Jesus never could have been offered as the savior of mankind if he were not crucified by the Romans! It took a Roman puppet to start Christianity! (Not that LBJ is like Herrod mind you... and how the heck did I reach a point in one of my ramblings that I would ever have to toss in such a disclaimer anyway?!)
Getting down to the my take of the history here, I consider that LBJ saw what was happening and assisted the inevitable. I'm not certain that without the social upheaval of the 60's that LBJ would have taken the same stance. LBJ was on the right side, just like FDR was on the right side of increasing the role of women in society and the workplace... just when all the men went off to war and the necessity of the times demanded an increased role by women to get us to where we needed to be. FDR would have been on the right side of the civil rights movement in the mid 60's, as LBJ would have been on the side of expanding the role of women in society in the early 40's.
But the agent of change is not the men who signed the laws while bowing to the inevitable. They should be recognized for being enlightened leaders and embracing the change which was forcing itself upon our society. After all, some leaders steadfastly refuse to accept the inevitable, digging the nation deeper into a hole from which everyone else recognizes at some point we will have to extricate ourselves from. One example which readily comes to my mind is having an oil man as President, doing zilch to wean America from a heavy addiction to oil, and leaving it to the next generation to find a way to get us out of the oil hole.
There is another aspect of LBJ which should have Senator Clinton giving his legacy a wide berth. Johnson's legacy is not solely, or even predominately, tied with his acceptance of the civil rights movement. He is remembered as the President who was destroyed by a war which he could not bring to an end. A war which split this nation and contributed mightily to social unrest and political upheaval. I fear history will be an unkind judge of Senator Clinton's part in the Iraq war. If I were advising her I would suggest that comparisons to LBJ, in any context, would not be the best course of action in pursuit of the nomination of a party which is strongly against a war she voted to authorize.
Let me wrap up by owning my whiteness and allowing that I may not be the most sensitive or best judge of what is or is not offensive. I am convinced that anyone who is determined enough can find offense in nearly any lengthy discourse on race or gender or other such matters. So, if it makes the offended feel any better, just be aware that none of what I wrote in this post was meant to be hurtful. Just chalk it up to me being an insensitive lout!
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