And no, I'm not talking about Dubya. I'm talking about LBJ. WaPo's Harold Meyerson:
Come August, we’ll have another semi-centennial moment, but it probably won’t be celebrated. Aug. 7 will mark the 50th anniversary of Congress passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which Johnson had requested to give him the authority to respond with military force to North Vietnamese attacks on U.S. ships (some of which, the U.S. government later concluded, hadn’t actually taken place). By 1965, Johnson was interpreting the resolution as carte blanche to send hundreds of thousands of American soldiers to Vietnam, 58,000 of whom died there.
By Bushian standards, Johnson was pretty awful across the board. Yes, he signed into law civil rights legislation, but the civil rights movement made him do it, kicking and screaming. TNR's Michael Kazin has an even lower opinion of LBJ.
In 1965, as Johnson was pushing Congress to enact the Voting Rights Act and Medicare, he was also initiating the bombing of North Vietnam and signing the orders which eventually sent over 500,000 U.S. troops to occupy and fight to “pacify” the Southern half of that country. At the time, liberal Democrats who opposed the war condemned the hypocrisy of a President who could help millions of Americans win their rights and a degree of medical security while he oversaw the destruction of what he called “a raggedy ass little third rate country.” Fifty years later, powerful Democrats in search of a usable past would just prefer to ignore the contradiction.
They would also, it seems, like to forget the profound damage which Johnson’s conduct of the war did to the fortunes of liberalism back home. As every politician and journalist once knew, mass discontent about the debacle in Vietnam split the Democratic Party in two and convinced LBJ not to run for re-election in 1968. The party’s nominee, that flaming liberal Hubert Humphrey, then won less than 43 percent of the popular vote. It would be another 40 years before another unabashed liberal (uh, “progressive”) was elected president.
Johnson's Medicare and civil rights laws were a great contribution to America. But the damage he did contributed directly to Nixon and Reagan, and then Bushes Senior and Junior, and he had more blood on his hands than Dubya ever did.
Just a history lesson. You can't talk about Johnson's accomplishments without mentioning his bloody, awful, immoral failures as both a President and human being.