Yesterday we remembered the bloody Sunday march on Selma (March 7, 1965). By Monday morning LBJ was knee-deep in a political confrontation of epic proportions. His recorded phone conversations that day show that he was more upset with MLK than with Wallace. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, with much less fanfare, his Marines were landing on Red Beach 2 near Da Nang in South Vietnam, marking the beginning of what the Vietnamese call the “American War.” That was March 8, 1965. The next day LBJ authorized the use of Napalm. Before the year was out he would be “waist deep in the big muddy.” Quite a weekend.
Note: six years later, on March 8, 1971, anti-war protesters broke into a Media, Pennsylvania FBI office and stole a trove of classified documents that revealed the FBI’s COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program). The covert program was aimed at spying on, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations, primarily the anti-Vietnam War movement. One of the principal players in the COINTELPRO story was one Mark Felt, later revealed as “Deep Throat” in the Watergate Scandal:
By Rick Perlstein. Essential reading for those interested in understanding the creeping divergence in American politics over the last 50 years. This detailed description strongly challenges the dominant narrative among many historians that there was a widespread coalescence around progressive, liberal, political solutions in the country under JFK and in the early years of LBJ. And that those tendencies represented the spirit of the age, only to come crashing down in the jungles of Vietnam. On the contrary, Perlstein shows that through it all there was a strong conservative reaction gestating just out of plain sight. He posits that LBJ’s landslide victory in 1964 was as much a product of a bumbling Goldwater campaign, bad timing and a devious opposition as it was a statement of national political consensus. The Goldwater revolution was just put on hold temporarily only to burst into the open sixteen years later with the coming of Ronald Reagan. In many ways Goldwater’s shadow is as long today as are those of JFK and LBJ. Highly recommended. RF