When Lady Bird took the podium, as one of a host of national and local politicians, she pointed out that the region surrounding the dam “consists of eons of time laid bare – on stone pages and in the treasure troves of Indian myths and artifacts” that would make the resulting Lake Powell “a magnet for tourists.”
I had already conducted the first five oral history interviews with Lady Bird Johnson when she telephoned my LBJ Library office one day in the spring of 1978. Her first words were “Hello, Mike.
“Señor Presidente,” Lyndon Baines Johnson said via a long-distance telephone call from the Oval Office. “We are very sorry over the violence which you have had down there but gratified that you have appealed to the Panamanian people to remain calm.” President Johnson often talked politics on the phone but seldom with foreign leaders.
Democratic governments often have a hard time changing their minds, as recent U.S. decision-making about Iraq and Afghanistan has made clear. Even when the United States encountered monumental frustrations and setbacks, Washington kept fighting, adjusting its strategy and tactics but not its overall goals or the assumptions that underpinned them.
Liz’s family moved to Austin when she was seven years old, so that she and her older siblings could ultimately attend the University of Texas. This was a transition that prepared her for the wider world. By the time she graduated from UT with a degree in journalism, she sensed that her prose and her spirit would enable her to make her mark. “Give me wide open spaces, a Model T, and a typewriter,” she wrote to her mother, “and I’ll see you in the hall of fame.”
Why did the United States choose to fight a major war in Vietnam? The question has bedeviled scholars almost since President Lyndon Johnson made the decision in 1965.