JFK & LBJ by Tom Wicker


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There is no sense comparing or contrasting Wicker's look-alike title to Evelyn Lincoln's Kennedy & Johnson (reviewed on p. 310). Suffice it to say that her book is for featherwits while Wicker's is for middlebrows, especially, those familiar with his sound, sober columns for the Times. He's the Times' Washington bureau chief and he presents a careful recall and explanation of the events that led up to both JFK's and LBJ's frustration by Congress, analysing their separate attempts to implement Presidential power over legislation. He also presents his ideas of each man's traits and circumstances that might have made their individual courses with Congress inevitable. Kennedy's failure to achieve a popular mandate, his over-compensatory refusals to entertain federal aid to Catholic schools, and his indecent haste to compromise on his promised programs emerge as the chief factors Wicker sees in JFK's difficulties with House and Senate. Wicker thinks Johnson's Southern/Western regionalism was a boon to his handling of domestic issues but a major drawback in judging our Viet Nam commitments. Wicker also points up Johnson's tendency to slacken his wheeling and dealing once he had a Democratic majority in Congress. Intelligently argued, this makes up in immediacy what it necessarily lacks in perspective.

Pub Date: May 27th, 1968
Publisher: Morrow