Rank #1: S1 Ep 3 LBJ's War - The Carrot and the Stick
By the spring of 1965, pressure is building on President Johnson to make his case for the war to the American electorate. He resists, preferring to manage the conflict without public scrutiny, but finally agrees to go public, in a speech at Johns Hopkins University. The strategy behind the speech: a little something for everybody. A look at how that strategy works out, and what it reveals about LBJ's congenital bias for secrecy.
Sep 05 2017
Rank #2: S1 Ep 4 LBJ's War - Parting the Curtains
For fifteen months, LBJ kept the country largely in the dark about the Vietnam War. Then, in February ’66, the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and its chairman William Fulbright, administered a strong dose of sunlight.
Sep 12 2017
Rank #3: S1 Ep 5 LBJ's War - The Preacher and the President
“I’ll try to be worthy of your hopes,” LBJ told Martin Luther King, just days into his presidency, and for the next two years, largely made good on that vow. Dr. King, for his part, recognized their common goal – racial and economic justice – and threw his own considerable weight behind it, until finally, the war in Vietnam made it impossible to do so any longer. A look back at the 1967 speech that broke their bond forever.
Sep 19 2017
Rank #4: S2 Ep 3 - The Bully Pulpit
“We will not win our war against poverty until the conscience of the entire Nation is aroused,” LBJ told an aide. But how to do that when most Americans were doing reasonably well and barely knew poverty was an issue?
Somehow LBJ would have to convince a risk-averse and price-sensitive congress to back a costly, new government program aimed at solving a problem many voters barely knew existed. Johnson's solution: the 1965 Poverty Tour, a blitz campaign that would take the president into the country's poorest and most neglected communities in a bid to make the American electorate aware of the largely hidden poverty in their midst, and to rally their support behind his ambitious plan to do something about it.
Commentary and analysis: Joshua Zeitz, author of “Building the Great Society: Inside Lyndon Johnson’s White House.” Learn more at LBJsGreatSociety.org.
Feb 18 2020
Rank #5: S2 Ep 2 - Mr. Poverty
"I didn't know a damn thing about poverty and didn't want the job," Sargent Shriver would later recall, of his conversation with the president, “and I told him so.” But it was no use: Lyndon Johnson had fixed on Shriver to lead his newly declared war on poverty, and that was that. But could poverty really be eradicated? And if so, how? It fell to the reluctant recruit to figure that out, and fast. Johnson had given him just six weeks to turn a dauntingly ambitious idea into a legislative program, and somehow get it through a deeply change-resistant Congress.
Contributing historian: Joshua Zeitz. Learn more at LBJsGreatSociety.org.
Feb 11 2020