tv Book TV CSPAN September 2, 2013 9:30pm-10:31pm EDT
john f. kennedy to lyndon johnson. this is about an hour. i think the question when you write a book like this, the first question that you have to answer is do we really need another book about the kennedy assassination? is there anything new to be said about the assassination of president ken i can? are there new materials that have suddenly become available not available for the past 46 years that allow us to see these event in a different light? obviously my answer to that question is yes, for selfish purposes. most of the people. -- it's
because of initiatives that kennedy had taken. these issues are fascinating, and they have inspired what is and remain and will remain a passionate debate among people on all different sides of this issue. that's not what this book is about. i am not writing a book about what shot jfk. i have no new theory to offer about where the bullets came from or who shot jfk. actually a very different book. what i'm interested in is not who shot jfk. i'm interested in the trants for of political power that takes place in the hours after the assassination. i want to move the focus away from the tragedy that is unfolding in the presidential limousine, and move it back about sixty feet to the car carrying lyndon johnson.
follow johnson over the course of the day as he goes to parkman hospital and air force one and back to washington, d.c. to give people a sen of the texture of the decisions he to face and the choices he confronted. when you think about it, the kennedy assassination represented the most dramatic and sudden transfer of political power in american history rip. kennedy was the first chief executive to die instandpointly from the wounds. even lincoln, who was shot at point-blank range at the ford theater survived and lived until the following morning when he died. kennedy died instantly. when confronted johnson with what i believe was a unprecedented crisis. i'm interested in the issue of crisis management and presidential leadership in the hours that followed the assassination. i focus on the first 24 hours. you know, which is very different from other books i have written and the books that other professional historians have written. normally what we're trying to do is to convict the dots. to tell the story of change over
a period of time. what i try to do here instead is focus on a single 24-hour period to give you a sense of the texture of the moment. my students have complained that number one, i talk tews and history is boring. it's bore rebecause we know the end of the story. why do we need to learn about date, name, and time. what i find fascinating about history is being able to go back. in a moment of time and understand the past has many different possible paths. there are a lot of possibilities. choices not taken. and put people back in that moment at that time to understood the range of choices. in this case that lyndon johnson faced and realize how contingency and unintended consequences play in the historical process and produce a result which no one at the time could have anticipated. and by focusing on 24 hours, by focusing on some of the details that oftentimes get air are brushed out of history. i think we are able to transport
people back to that moment. so you not only can now, with the benefit of hindsight, get a sense of reevaluate some of the decisions that lyndon johnson made. you can also put yourself back in that moment. you're at the hospital, and someone comes to you and you have the same information in front you that lyndon johnson had in front of him. the president has been shot. it's possibly the first shot in what could potentially be a confrontation with the soviet union. what do you do in the moment? what choices do you make? i would hyper ventilate and pass out. that's why i'm a professor and not a president. allow the individuals to allow people to go back in the moment of time and experience it. and experience the same type of celebration -- situations and choices johnson confronted. not only is the framework different. i also in term of the issue there are new sources that are available. and i am very grateful to the family of william manchester who
gave me access to all of the resource terrible -- materials he used to write his very controversial and best selling book "the death of a president" published in 1976. if you go back they were opened up last year for the first time. i was the first 2000 use them. the materials look almost all of these people with a few exceptions are now dead. but when you go back and look at the interviews, manchester interviewed the major players in 1964 and 1965 and the material was still fresh. and knees -- these people come alive. the humanitarian dimensions to the story come alive. the human dimensions that have been left out of the warren commission which is a legal brief. a very clinical and concise. but also it is not -- it's focused on solving a crime, and it's not focused on lyndon johnson or his actions after the assassination. and i also found that people just volunteer and gave manchester material. material that was not available
to the warren commission. there are, for example, documents in the man chser papers which he choose to the no use and interviews he choose to to the use. ic provide a fresh light and new perspective on the event that took place that day. i also -- i sought out the manchester paper and found them. they are at west leon university in the special collection archive. i came a very valuable and useful oral history that was conducted by the president -- jfk presidential library in 1978. mccue was his air force aid on november 22nd 1963. it's in the category of pure dumb luck. i happen to be working at the kennedy library on the day 31 years after he conducted the interview that mccue's interview was declassified. within hours of it being open to the public i was ability to get access to it and use it in the book for the first time.
i'll talk a little bit later about the insight the oral history provides it us. finally, there are the cause on asking different questions and material. there's a lot of information open to the public far long time. that other people looking in to this issue have not focused on. there's both the johnson library and the national archive in washington, d.c., there's a report conduct bid the secret service. all the secret service agents involved in the presidential detail and the vice presidential detail gave detailed reports what they were doing, what they saw, and when they were doing them. the few people have been looking to glean information about the assassination. if you look at it instead to get a sense what johnon is doing. you get this great understanding of lyndon johnson and every step he's taking in the and who is in the room and talking to. it's essential in trying to tell the story. what do you end up? there is new questionses asking
using a different format and you have new sources bhap is it i'm able to say about november 22nd 1963 that no one has said before? the first part of this story, i think is important the event that take place in the hospital. roughly 40 minutes that johnson at the hospital from 12:40 until 1:30 when he leaves for air force one. and the question that i try to -- the question i asked of the material, which has not been asked before is take so long for lyndon johnson to find out that kennedy is dead? kennedy is shot at 12:30. kennedy is pronounced dead at 1:00. johnon finds out he's dead at 1:20. i think the timeline is wrong for reasons i would be happy to elaborate on later. lyndon johnson to set the stage. he's two carringses behind president kennedy in the motorcade as they turn on the
plaza. when the first shot rings out, johnson hears it. he doesn't think anything of it. it sounded like backfire from a motorcycle. he wasn't alarmed. roof yous hears the same sound. he's also not alarmed. what he sees does alarm him. he looks out and looking now at the -- grassy knoll and sees people falling to the ground and looks ahead and sees what he describes unusual movement in the presidential car. so he leaps out of the front seat of the car and jumps over the backseat and grabsson and throws him to the floor of the car. you hear the second shot. and the third shot and depending what theory believe the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth shot. johnson is on the floor of the limousine. he hears these shots but he didn't see anything. he doesn't see anything in the personal motorcade. as soon as he's on the floor and
all 180 pounds on top of him. the car picks up speed and they begin a frantic race to the hospital. johnson doesn't know what is going on. kneels the car accelerate. he hears -- you have to realize the car is going 70 miles per hour. the air is blowing through it. the radio is at full blast. johnson wanted to hear how the local radio stations are covering the mode candidate. he had the radio on the whole time. they are race together hospital. he looks over to make sure that lady bird is okay. but hears chatter over the secret service channel. he doesn't really know what is taking place and what is happening. young blot at one point there's so much noise he talks to him we're going a hospital. it's possible that there's been an incident in the presidential mode candidate. when we get to the hospital we're going take you to a secure location. downside? and johnson said yes, partner. they pull up to the hospital, and i realize that johnson's car is a few seconds behind president kennedy's limousine. the kennedy limousine is parked
a few yards away and the president is laying in the arms and the lap of the first lady. but johnson doesn't see any of this. as soon as they screech to a halt agents surround him. they take him to the medical. they close the blinds, they remove people and put a guard in the gate and put him in boothe 13. you have lady bird, roofus and johnson in a room with a sterile examination table and two plastic chairs. that's all. at this point lyndon johnson knows nothing. so the question then is why does it take so long for him to get information about what happened to the president. everybody about else in the presidential motorcade have saw the shot or saw kennedy's body. they had an understanding how serious it was. so johnson wants information. he wants to know what is going phone. he doesn't know who has been shot.
he questions the fest report from the shift supervisor. soon the car pulled in to the hospital, he jumps out of the backup car and goes to the personal car and opened up the back door and wants to get a sense how serious the president's wounds are. and he lifts up the first lady's arm and looks at the president's head and tells william manchester in a interview he did with manchester at that moment he knew that kennedy was dead and johnson was president of the united states. he said, my secret service manual tell miss tow protect the united states of -- he said to roy. you stay with kennedy. i'm going johnson. he goes to -- the first person to give a report johnson. robert already made up the mind that kennedy is dead and johnson is president. that's not what he says. what he says to johnson is first to report to johnson, i have seen the president's wounds and i don't think he can survive. and johnson said, i need more information. i want to hear from o'donnell.
he was the chief of staff for the kennedy white house. and he wants to hear from roy who was president kennedy's. as he leaves the room he runs to another secret service agent who arrived late but didn't see anything. he said have you seen -- what is the president's condition? and he said very matter of factually. the president is dead. and later robert called william manchester and said johnson didn't know what i knew. kennedy is dead. the next person who comes in was roy he was in the limousine, the presidential limousine. he was one of the people who helped lichted ceb -- lifted ken i can's he says the president commission is not good. anyone who has seen the president's wounds that's an understatement. the president's condition is more than not good. the president's condition is fatal.
and in a few minutes later o'donnell comes back and said the president was in a bad way. what i'm struck by is all of these people o'donnell was riding in a car fifteen feet behind kennedy when he sees the fatal shot and turns to him and said he's dead. what i'm struck by. the. the question i'm asking myself is why doesn't anyone state the obvious? why doesn't anyone come to johnson and said, mr. vice president, the president has suffered a major head wound. even if doctors are able to keep the heart beating. he clearly can no longer function as president. ..
but it was just too much for them to accept and to have to verbalize that lyndon johnson the man who they have ridiculed food they never wanted to be vice president in the first place was now going to occupy the chair that john f. kennedy had. they are not able to tell him that. they give him the right advice. they tell him get on the a plane and fly back to washington did they tell him what they should have told him that they can't bring themselves to tell him that kennedy is dead and he needs now to assume the powers of the presidency. so this is i think one of the issues that you have to deal with and talking about but
there's another dimension to it. while people like kenny o'donnell cannot bring themselves to acknowledacknowled ge that kennedy is dead and to tell lyndon johnson he is now president they give them the right it dies but lyndon johnson 's own insecurities are being played out. johnson clearly has enough information. he knows from emory roberts that kennedy is in serious condition and may like we die. why doesn't johnson seized power? why doesn't johnson assumed the powers of the presidency having a general understanding of what kennedy's condition as? the problem is that lyndon johnson is so paranoid about robert f. kennedy and he is so afraid that if he appears to be overreaching, if he appears to be literally stepping over the body of the dead president in order to assume the powers of the presidency he will be perceived as being out of line and the kennedys will use this against him. in a taped phone conversation later on he was afraid for those
first couple of days that robert kennedy was going to do everything he possibly could to deny him the presidency. you have this stalemate. you have this standoff and within minutes after the assassination. on the one hand the kennedy people would not tell lyndon johnson that he was president and lyndon johnson refuses to assume the powers to what you have is a vacuum. at parkland hospital you haven't unacceptable period of time. you have 40 minutes when the united states is out of a functioning commander-in-chief. this is the year after the cuban missile crisis. if anything the imperative at that time should have been to maintain a chain of command but for 40 minutes we are without a functioning commander-in-chief. i spent a lot of time in the book focusing on that 40 minutes apart in hospital and trying to explain this dynamic pair this dynamic is significant. it's significant because it sets
the stage iv the debate. so just move the story ahead to a critical moment this new and interesting event we haven't seen before. this comes courtesy of brigadier general godfrey -- mchugh was with the presidential party on november 22 and to set the stage again it happens at parkland hospital and johnson is told he is dead and he is waiting for the first lady to show up at the body of the president to fly back to washington. the kennedy people put the body in a casket and are ready to leave the hospital and a justice of the peace in the corner. you can take the body. the assassination of a president is governed by local law which means the autopsy has to be done in dallas. many people are not prepared to leave and watch their beloved
president he assassinated and leave their body behind. mrs. kennedy makes it clear she is not leaving without the body body the president so they essentially kidnap the body of the president did they force their way past the local of the justice of the peace. they love the person bring bring in out to air force one and carry this casket up the steps and put it in the back of the plane. as soon as they do that kenny o'donnell says to make mchugh get this plane in the air. the dallas police are in cars that will surround him board the plane and drag the body often bring it back for an autopsy in dallas. he wants to get this plane in the air so mchugh who is the air force aid to the president and responsible for maintaining the kennedy fleet goes to the front of the plate and says to the captain at this plane in the air. i can't because there will be a ceremonial board and we are not sure. eventually he finds out the
lyndon johnson is on the plane but the kennedy people don't know that. they think johnson has taken the other plane that he flew an and is already on his way back to washington. the store -- store a mchugh tells an oral history that was declassified for the first time last year which is revealed in the book for the first time. this is what he said. he is looking for lyndon johnson and he can't find him. he realizes the only place he hasn't looked as the presidential -- so he opens the door and looks in the presidential room. the only place on on the plane hasn't looked is the bathroom. the bathroom in the presidential bedroom on air force one. so he walks into the bedroom by his own account. he walks into the bedroom and he opens up the bathroom door. do you know what he finds? he finds lyndon johnson. he finds lyndon johnson he says in a ball on the floor of the bathroom with his hands covering his face crying hysterically.
it's a conspiracy. it's a conspiracy. they are going to kill us all. they are going to kill us all. i don't know what he did next. excuse me, close the door. what do you do after this? this story of what mchugh claims to have seen aboard air force one runs against every other view of lyndon johnson. everybody who witnessed or saw lyndon johnson said he was cool, and collective. the secret surgeon -- secret server and agents like lyndon johnson but there is no reason while they will say anything nice. they all observed that he was subdued which is appropriate.
the account runs counsel to every account we have of lyndon johnson that day so the question i have is it true? how 46 years later can you determine that an encounter between two men both of whom are dead ever took place? so in the book i lay out the reason why i think what mchugh says is true and also the reasons why i am suspicious and i leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds about how credible general mchugh's account of lyndon johnson's behavior on air force one is and finally they think this book does something very few people can do which is paint a fairly positive portrait of johnson. you have have to realize when you are dealing with a situation like this there are no manuals to read. there are no books to read about how to behave.
johnson doesn't have advisers around him who are giving him choices are making recommendations pick box ab or c. lyndon johnson is governing with his instincts. this is leadership at its very basic. lyndon johnson deciding on his own what is right and what is wrong in making decisions based on fragmentary evidence and what lyndon johnson understands instinctively is the single most him port and message he can convey its continuity. he needs to send a message to the american public, to our allies and potential enemies that the government continues and he is in charge and he has done that brilliantly. he does it most brilliantly in how he choreographs the picture of the swearing in aboard air force one. you have to realize the kennedy people do not want mrs. kennedy mrs. kennedy -- johnson understood the value of having mrs. kennedy in a photograph and he understood that he needed to convey this image of continuity.
so he asks mrs. kennedy to participate and asks kenny o'donnell to go back and get mrs. kennedy who was just a model of grace and dignity and strength. she says it's the least that i can do. that picture -- the plane takes off three minutes after the picture is taken. the photographer posed so while johnson is making his way back to washington the picture of the swearing and is projected to the rest of the nation. it's exactly the image that president johnson needed to send johnson just so you know also wanted to choreographs the exit from the plane at andrews air force base when they arrived in washington but on that occasion the kennedy's refuse to cooperate. you have probably seen these images of the small cargo truck coming down with a casket and rob are kennedy and mrs. kennedy
walking to the back in the kennedy aides. what i found in the house select committee on assassinations or papers are in the national archives in washington and i found an interview with one of the kennedy aides, which proves that what happened is someone handpicked all the people who would leave with the body leaving behind some of the kennedys who would cooperate with johnson on the plane. that scene of confusion of the kennedy people getting off and leaving wins against the carefully scripted image that lyndon johnson wanted to present that evening. but also you see johnson the next day. dean rusk secretary of state secretary of defense robert mcnamara. in both cases they went to the executive office building expecting to have a one-on-one meeting with lyndon johnson and they walk in and there's lyndon johnson but there's a whole bank of reporters. lyndon johnson wanted to sit down and tell him in front of
the national media that they were going to remain and be a part of this administration. that was an important message to be conveyed and what is striking to me is that a man who is so brilliant is using the media would later be so clumsy. in his relationship with the media. we also see it's not just johnson the tactician. that evening november 22, 1963 johnson comes back to washington and later he goes to his private residence to call washington d.c.. some friends are over and he goes to bed around 12:00 at night. johnson was never one to sleep a lot. he changed into his pajamas and gets into a supersize king bed and he invites three of his aides to join him. there is johnson sitting in the bed propped up with pillows with lady bird tossing and turning trying to sleep next to him and laid out his vision of the great society. the great society was born within hours of the kennedy
assassination. in a sense lyndon johnson is a visionary leader someone who had a clear sense of where he wanted to take the nation. this ingrained compassion for the poor and his desire to push along the kennedy civil rights legislation and to do things for senior citizens. you see i think a visionary johnson and also johnson who is a brilliant tech titian -- practitioner but you also see in these 24 hours the fatal flaw what would become the fatal flaw of the johnson presidency. lyndon johnson was devious and manipulative. he was so concerned and so worried about the reaction of the kennedys that he made a member of the kennedy group somehow responsible for every made your decision he made in that 24 hours. he claimed that kenny o'donnell told him to take air force one the plane that president kennedy
had been flown on when reality the secret service made that decision. they did it because they thought there was better communication on that plane. later the whole issue about the taking of the oath lyndon johnson clearly wanted to take the oath of office in dallas. he wanted to take it in part because he was afraid if he didn't take it any less stuck on a plane for three hours heading back to washington that the kennedys would find some way to his deny him the presidency. he manipulates robert kennedy and calls the attorney general and manipulates robert kennedy into agreeing that he should take the oath of office in dallas on air force one. when the kennedy group comes to the plane he tells them it was robert's idea. so so many times along the way he tells so many lies and he doesn't have to tell lies. i think it's that dishonesty and insecurity that would become what would later be known as a credibility gap that eroded the
moral integrity of lyndon johnson's presidency. what i'm struck by is in the end there is an irony. the assassination of president kennedy made the johnson presidency possible but it also doomed it because kennedy had not been assassinated very likely lyndon johnson never would have been present and johnson would have won re-election and if things had gone well robert would have been the heir to the throne and not lyndon johnson. the assassination also doomed him to failure because it created a myth. it created this myth of the heroic jfk. it was a myth that either lyndon johnson and certainly not lyndon johnson that no other political figure in america could have with that too. lyndon johnson's dense the final days of his presidency and of
his life living in the long shadow of the tragedy of november 22, 1963. let me stop there. before we take questions and answers, if you have a question we have a c-span microphone so we ask that you wait until the microphone arise but before we get there, and why i want you to read the book. it's very important that you read the book. i want to point out the history channel has done a wonderful two-hour documentary based on the book which really captures a lot of the issues and the personalities involved. the producer of the two two-hour documentary is over here. his name is anthony. anthony stand up for a second. [applause] i keep telling anthony he needs to change his first name. anthony won an emmy a few years ago. if i were anthony my first name would be an made award-winning anthony.
i think anthony did a brilliant job in this documentary and it captures -- for me it was fascinating to watch how he took the words on a page and transformed them into this gripping visual representation on television. if you haven't seen the documentary i would encourage you to watch it. check your local listings or go to the history channel web site at history.com and find it. that is my one announcement. the microphone -- we have a question here. >> even though you start out by saying that the book clearly does not deal with the conspiracy as you pointed out that is on most peoples minds. the question is what is your favorite since there are so many what is your favorite? >> you now i'm just going to -- the question is what is my
favorite conspiracy theory and my answer is none of them. i am one of those crazy people. [laughter] my personal feeling is the warren commission that lee harvey oswald assassinated president kennedy. in my own view it's really a revel in because i'm looking at what lyndon johnson did in the 20 in the 24-hour set for the assassination. while lyndon johnson is flying back to washington he hears the name lee harvey oswald for the first time. the first time he hears it it's in connection with the officer. i'm looking at this issue of who shot jfk in the first 24 hours of what i was struck by separate from the theories about whether oswald did it or not is how worried johnson is. the information about oswald
coming out. he was somehow did so what johnson is so afraid of when he's coming back to washington about to assemble the government for the first time was he was being pressured and a war with the soviet union. whether oswald acted alone or part of a conspiracy johnson is afraid there will be such a public backlash against the men men -- fidel castro that he will be forced into a war. johnson remembered the days of joseph mccarthy and he worried whether oswald was part of conspiracy or not. a simple biography and the facts of his life couldn't produce the same result which is tremendous public outpouring and desired to go to war with cuba or the
soviet union. yes, over here. >> is ours the continuity of executive authority wasn't lyndon johnson and the house of representatives in 1945 experience -- and takeover of power? [inaudible] what i would like to ask you regarding that is sadly for presidents have been assassinated and several others others -- other than the immediate death of president kennedy or the executive -- [inaudible] c. it's a great question. it's one of the questions i asked. there couple of different dimensions. the issue be raised is it good issue about what happened when franklin roosevelt died.
roosevelt dies and the people who are with roosevelt in a warm springs contact the white house and the first person they tell is eleanor roosevelt. eleanor roosevelt is attending a conference when she gets a notice to come back to the white house immediately. she comes back to the white house and all this is playing outside outside of the public eye. it is the former first lady who has no constitutional role or power who informed the vice president harry truman that roosevelt is dead and harry truman is now president. within a few hours at 7:00 that evening within a few hours in the white house harry truman takes the oath of office. what is so different about this is this takes place in the full glare of the media. you cannot understand the
assassination and understand the impact it had on an entire generation. i look around and i see people who were my age and older. you remember where you were when kennedy was shot in large part because of the people. this is the first event in human history that the entire nation experienced in real time. with the roosevelt assassination was played out on the radio but people watching this -- kennedy used television to build a personal bond with the public and when they saw him assassinated within a few minutes of the shooting walter cronkite was on cbs announcing there had been shots fired at the presidential motorcade. a few minutes after that it was on the air and stayed on the air on all the other networks, only three back then. abc, nbc, cbs were on the air
and stayed on the air the entire weekend. this is playing out in public trade what i was struck by when i was writing this this section about the oath of office right around the same time barack obama was taking the oath of office and john roberts forgot the constitution. i was struck that the next day robert's, he administered the oath of office again and private he was on the presidential plane , could johnson writes back on air force one. mi president of the united states or am i not president of the united states until i take the oath of office? no one knew the answer to that. the press conference that malcolm killed off is holding at the hospital when he announces to the public that kennedy is dead around 1:36 or so, the question is where's lyndon
johnson and has he taken the oath of office? it was all playing out in the full glare of the media. the other presidents who were assassinated all linger. when mckinley was shot in buffalo in 1901 he lingered for days. there were reports he was getting better and he took a dramatic turn. i think he lived for seven or eight days. when garfield died, he lingered for a time. so what was unique about the kennedy assassination was he was the first president who died in full view of the public. i think that change the entire dynamic. it changed the relationship between the public and the presidency and also created an extraordinary expectation of lyndon johnson. when lyndon johnson gets on a plane at andrews air force base at 6:12 in the evening of november 22, the public had
heard his voice for the first first time. you know candid camera the tv show? there's a candid camera skit a month or so before the 22nd and you know what the joke is? 30% of the people didn't know who he was so lyndon johnson is in a matter of hours forced to assume the power of the presidency under the most horrible circumstances but to do so in the full glare of the media. he asked introduce themselves and -- himself. the words that he speaks are the first time americans have heard his southern accent. certainly since the day of woodrow wilson. this was new and shocking and it just compounds the problem. it's one of the reasons why i few johnson in a favorable light this is an unprecedented crisis that he faced a. despite his penchant for deception he faced an
unprecedented crisis and the handle it well. that was a long-winded answer to the question. it was a very good question. we have someone in the back. >> what the ding said what did johnson think of rob burt kennedy? they may not have known that there is some clarity in the constitution. >> is better paranoia. the constitution made lyndon johnson the president of the united states not the kennedys and not the attorney general. there's an interesting wrinkle in this. this is before the 25th amendment which laid out the procedure for filling in office and the vice president takes over the case of the president being disabled. the first president and vice president to have a formal agreement of and about how they would perceive eisenhower and
nixon. the agreement that eisenhower and nixon said essentially if for some reason the president became incapacitated and was unable or wasn't aware that he was incapacitated the procedure they would use is the vice president would have to consult and get the support of half the cabinet in order to assume the powers of president. lyndon johnson and john f. kennedy came to a similar agreement but there is one little claws. kennedy said he not only had to seek the support of half of the cabinet's, he have to consult with the attorney general of the united states. the attorney general of the united states was the president's brother robert f. kennedy and lyndon johnson's arch enemy in the white house. again a lot of this is speculative. we don't know what is going through people's minds. lyndon johnson being a political creature that he is nearly every
word in that document and every punctuation point he knew. what was he thinking? was this going to be a woodrow wilson situation? in his paranoid mind did he believe somehow the kennedys were going to hide the fact that president kennedy was disabled? first first of all if he leaves the hospital and kennedy listens to the public believe he abandoned the president and abandon the first lady? if he leaves and he is isolated on a plane for three hours what is the attorney general doing? besides the fact there is a separate military chain of command which goes through the secretary of defense which was robert mcnamara. you have to think that johnson is playing out all of the scenarios. they are all paranoid fantasies. the american public would accept
lyndon johnson is president because the constitution makes him president. robert kennedy vehemently opposed johnson's appointment. in fact there is a famous scene in the biltmore hotel in 1960 when first president kennedy appears to ask lyndon johnson to be on the ticket and robber tries to go down and talk him out of it. there's this great story about when john f. kennedy was thinking about running for president. he sent robert to lyndon johnson lyndon johnson was a big mover and shaker in washington. he goes to lyndon johnson to see whether lyndon johnson is going to run against him and if johnson is going to try to stop him by supporting humphrey. he goes to the lbj ranch and rfk was a slightly built man. johnson takes him deer hunting instead of -- i don't know much about rifles instead of giving him aid to your rifle he gives
them a high-powered shotgun. robert kennedy pulls the trigger and it knocks him down 3 feet and he cuts his forehead. lyndon johnson make some comment about that is not the way a real man shoots a gun or something along those lines. robert kennedy hated him from the very beginning. johnson was convinced that robert kennedy was trying to -- johnson is convinced that robert robert -- all the bad stories in every scandal that comes out in the media was somehow connected to johnson. johnson is convinced that as robert kennedy. it's hard now for us to understand the hostility that existed between these two men and i think that leads to johnson's paranoia. clearly paranoia and there is no basis or reason or rationality
but sometimes people are irrational. the point was this is about the president being assassinated but for the first 40 minutes that johnson doesn't do -- know that and on air force one he doesn't know whether he officially becomes president until he has taken the oath of office and one of the reasons he wants to take it so fast is he thinks once he takes the oath there's nothing they do. what could they do that -- to him before that? nothing. he needs to know he is president. i should have prefaced this by telling you i only take easy questions. these tough questions. >> i wanted to ask about the early part of your book you discuss the ways in which the kennedys and johnson tried to solicit writers to provide an
account of that day that would support their view of what had happened and he talked about the influential narrative of the president. could you comment a little more in the way in which the narrative that manchester provided influence the american public's view of johnson because probably the most important book published on the subject. during the 60s at least. >> until the 1960s. you're absolutely right. remember there was a great article in "vanity fair" about william manchester. the kennedy family hired manchester to tell the official version. mrs. kenny discourages people from writing about the assassination and he is absolutely of brilliant storyteller. he did a tremendous amount of
research. when you go back and look through his research the amount of work he did in such a short. of time. he gets most things right. he gets lyndon johnson almost completely wrong. there is correspondence were manchester said he never liked lyndon johnson. when the book was finally ready for publication it led to a lawsuit with the kennedy family and mrs. kennedy was primarily concerned that manchester had violated her privacy that she shared as many details about her feelings after the assassination. a couple of hours later she regretted doing that and she plopped manchester. all the interviews are there except the ones where mrs. kennedy and robert kennedy and some of the other kennedys are there were a lot of things are blacked out. that was part of the agreement that manchester made with them.
she wanted him to remove this. she felt and than robert kennedy believed that the portrait that was in negative portrait of lyndon johnson. it was so bad the portrait that even the kennedy people objected to it. robert kennedy was afraid that people would see this as nothing more than a political attack by the kennedys against the sitting president at a time when robert kennedy is down the senate. the kennedys really did not accept this. no one accepted the view of this very negative portrait that he painted of lyndon johnson. manchester says for example and in johnson was simply at the whim of a secret service agent at parkland hospital. the secret service were in his face. they were insisting that he leave parkland hospital and go back to air force one.
clearly there were so many other comments he made about lyndon johnson that were not appropriate but that incredibly influential book has done more than any other to define or understanding of lyndon johnson. manchester paints a present of this boorish president who is insensitive to mrs. kennedy in the kennedy family who seems over eager to assume the powers of the presidency and seems just clumsy. johnson has this tough world to play walking a fine line. on the one hand he has the profound grief of this kennedy family. at the same time he needs to lead the the nation paid when they arrived at andrews air force base the kennedys didn't want the entire world to see mrs. kennedy. they didn't want them to see the casket carrying the president's body but johnson insisted the national media be there. he understood the powers that was walking a fine line.
the family and the people around them, it's hard to appreciate their grief and their sorrow. but there is a sense of entitlement that i found difficult to comprehend. i think that overall lyndon johnson managed that well. johnson of course doesn't cooperate with manchester and he refuses an interview with manchester paid if you go to the johnson library which is a wonderful place to work you see all these notes where manchester is constantly writing asking for access to the president. he kept putting him off and then comes along jim bishop. jim bishop is a popular writer. it was interesting for me when i write history books the stories need to be objective and bear in mind that jim bishop is sending love letters to johnson. you are such a wonderful leader and i can imagine writing a book
about you. johnson agrees to participate in the project that jim bishop is doing about the day in the life of lyndon johnson. what they are both trying to do and what lyndon johnson does is to tell his side of the story. jim bishop comes out with this look called the day kennedy died by 1968 people were sick of lyndon johnson and no one wanted to hear his side of the story. oddly enough -- how many people here know of manchester's book lacks how many people have heard of jim bishop spoke? most people don't know who jim bishop is. although his account manchester is too critical. he blames the kennedys for all things that are wrong with america. what i try to do is find a
balance we have one more question. [inaudible] >> when did that come out? >> that was earlier. >> instead of choosing kennedy kennedy -- [inaudible] >> we have time for one more question. over here. >> johnson was from texas wasn't he? soap people knew about that place where kennedy was shot. he must surely be paranoid because of what you said.
there was a warning. see what is interesting about this story is that johnson did not want kennedy to go to texas. texas was his turf. there was a debate going on between two factions of the democratic party and johnson clearly sided with john connolly who was governor of texas and kennedy was trying to find common ground and johnson wanted kennedy to lead texas to him. yet commonly done well in texas so he had a pretty good idea about how to manage it. kennedy at one point cuts johnson out of the discussion. johnson points out that john connolly the governor is in town and finds out that connolly had a meeting with president kennedy he isn't even involved. he is concerned about dallas.
he is supposed to the idea of an open motorcade and want kennedy to go to -- the johnson from the beginning was not in favor of kennedy going to texas. he opposed the trip that kennedy wanted to raise money and he wanted to get a measure. texas was a key state. kennedy came out for the civil rights bill and the whole issue of civil rights was turning the democratic south into the republican south. from the beginning kennedy is trying to get a sense in how he's going to handle that. i want to thank all of you for coming out tonight. [applause] and thank c-span. [applause]
>> about every 40 years someone has tried to come in and dominate the afghan scene and control it and use it for its own purposes. there have been periods of afghan history when the rulers of afghanistan have taken advantage of the geographical position of afghanistan to play sort of a neutrality card using the favoritism towards one global power playing back against the possibility of leading to the other global power cheap keep both of them
somewhat at bay and this has been a diplomatic strategy of successful afghan rulers. the cold war for example with the notable. matt. both the ussr and the answers were interested in afghanistan and both were competing to enlarge their influence in the country and somehow because of the counterbalancing of those forces there was a period when afghans were in control of their own destiny. during that. matthew saw modernization and change in afghanistan that was more rapid and more sort of dramatic than you have seen anywhere in this country. that period ended when the pendulum of trying to swing back and forth between the inner afghanistan and the outer world started to swing so fast and so far that it finally crashed and the country succumbed to a two by the small communist group
which then quickly was followed by the soviet invasion and i would contend that from that day to this we are still in the aftermath of the after affects of the soviet invasion. the soviet invasion pretty much destroyed the fabric of the country. you know the 6 million refugees that were driven out of the country the destruction of the villages and the tribal structure than the creation of a state of war in which the whole traditional afghan system for generating leadership was the gateway to a new system which was in that state of chaos if you had a gun if you had a gun and you were good with it you would probably end up being an important guy. that brought into beating -- being a whole class of afghan leaders who are commanders and now they call them warlords.
and that enters the fray. when the soviets left the sky started following each other. in the wake of that came the -- so now we are in the country and i think we have come in with something of the same idea that the soviets have which was this is a primitive country in a lot of trouble and if we restore everything and produce material benefits for the people they will be grateful and they will come over to our side. there is more to it than that however. afghans are very interested in material benefits like anyone is that there is the question of the reconstruction of the afghan institutions and the society, the soul, that the family structure in the reconciliation of all of these contending factors on the app and seen. this business is not completely business from the contentions with an afghan society over
dominating the identity and afghanistan. up next on booktv, a panel discussion on the creation of the sixth floor museum in dealey plaza house in the former texas schoolbook depository which remembers the life presidential tenure and assassination of president john f. kennedy. this is an hour. [applause] >> it thank you very much for being here today. this is truly a remarkable audience. i've been at the museum for 13 years and i can't think of another event or program where we had an audience quite like this. they're far too many people who require ignition for me to catch everyone's name so please forgive me if i don't acknowledge you. i do want to point out some of our special guest today. jim labelle the retired police detective who -- lee harvey
oswald at the time he was shot. [applause] you might want to save your applause because i have a lot more here. eugene boone the sheriff who discovered the rifle on the sixth floor of the depository that day and also in that area we have phyllis hall and nurse from parkland hospital who was in the room when president kennedy died and over there is rose lodge who was in houston at the time of the assassination behind rows we have the wonderful julia reid who is 82 governor john connolly and pierce almond one of the first reporters inside this building after the assassination. pierce was later our tour narrator
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