LBJ’S War on Poverty and Reagan’s Retort
LBJ, you remember the pictures… Well, you may not. He had a couple of beagles, and there were pictures of LBJ picking these dogs up by their ears when they were misbehaving or some such thing. He took a little grief for that, and that was before PETA even existed. But he was admired because, “He was so mean, so forceful. He didn’t take any guff from anybody! He told people what was gonna happen and he made it happen!”
Anybody like that today, even a Democrat… Well, I take it back. A Democrat like that today would be fawned over. That’s true. So I thought what we would do is go back to our archives and give you a side-by-side illustration of LBJ talking about his War on Poverty/Great Society and Ronald Reagan at the same time, 1964, reacting to it. We’ll start out with LBJ first. January 8, 1964. This is his State of the Union Address. This is a period of time that’s covered extensively, by the way, in Robert Caro’s latest book on LBJ.
It’s basically the seven weeks, the 49 days from the assassination of Kennedy through the State of the Union Address, which was January 8 that year. Johnson’s reelection was his first election as president after the Kennedy assassination. It was a profound period. This is where Johnson did everything. In these 49 days, he settled all the scores. He got even with all the people that told him he was never gonna matter a hill of beans. He got even with Robert Kennedy, who hated him (and he hated Robert Kennedy), and so forth.