In his column “Now It’s LBJ’s Turn” (March 16), PG executive editor David Shribman said, “Johnson as president didn’t get everything right. But now it’s important for us to get Johnson right.”
Lyndon Johnson has been dead for 41 years, nine short of the fabled total historians are so fond of using as a benchmark for measuring presidential legacies.
But do we really need any more time for it to be LBJ’s “turn”? In spite of his landmark domestic legislation, the one overriding consideration has to be his gross ineptitude in handling the Vietnam War.
It was Lyndon Johnson who ordered our pilots to fire at North Vietnam’s planes only when they were in the air. We were not allowed to hit them when they were on the ground. Any half-wit knows that if you strike them on the ground, they won’t be able to be airborne. By hitting North Vietnamese planes on the ground Johnson feared the Red Chinese would enter the war.
It was the same specious reasoning Harry Truman used for firing Douglas MacArthur; MacArthur wanted to win in Korea. Truman was afraid the Red Chinese would be our undoing.
The names of more than 58,000 people on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. — one of whom was a friend and classmate who left a wife and five children — should dominate every discussion among those obsessed with LBJ’s legacy
Getting LBJ “right” hasn’t taken many of us very long at all. For those who need more time, what else would they like to know?
ROSS A. MATLACK JR.