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Moyers on Clinton, Obama, King and Johnson

LBJ and Martin Luther King, Johnson Library
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I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

Pop-culture values bias the media - cheapening, hyping, and distorting the substance of our politics.

We don't have a perfect candidate - we never do - we never will. (Yes "Obamamaniacs" sooner or later you will find out that he is not perfect either.) But I want the most qualified candidate - and I would even if the gender and race roles were reversed.

I started out without a preference - as a devoted and excited Democrat looking toward a better future, wanting to choose the most qualified candidate for our country.

I evaluated both candidates thoroughly, and found Hillary to truly be the most qualified at this time.

And she still is.

But we live in a time where competency and qualifications just aren't valued as much as pop-culture, hype, and sensationalism, and if we continue to choose our candidates in line more with these values, we will have a new mess every time we elect a new, inexperienced President.

Many have noticed how much of a role the media has played in all this; pervasively on so many levels - much of it has as much merit as fashion, a fad, a social contagion. It would be fair to say the media has played a big role in playing Barack up, and Hillary down, beyond what is fair, balanced, or accurate.

This is not "American President Idol," this should not be a personality contest or about likeability, much less, what is fresh, new, and young. We need a truly experienced, qualified President. In his 60 Minutes interview, Barack said he had to think long and hard about his candidacy and would he be able to 'pull this thing off'. I don't want a candidate who's that unqualified - who knows that they don't really know what they're doing and are trying to 'pull it off.' That's not what we need right now. That's what we've had in the White House for too long.

It used to be that so many were fashionably cynical. Now so many fashionably want hope and change. Well, maybe "you" do - maybe you've been cynical for too long - but now you think you can just "have" hope and change, if you elect a candidate who talks about it the most? Like hope and change are just some kind of commodity, some feel-good fashion fad that you can just buy into now that you've realized it doesn't come magically along with an ipod or new pair of shoes, but comes along with supporting Barack Obama? And then what about when he's off the scene? Will you just go back to being fashionably cynical, after his administration makes the inevitable mistakes that all administrations do? And then you'll find fault with him, and he will be a flawed character. Many will put him down. How many are that superficial? Too many. That is the problem with our society and culture.

Has anyone noticed how McCain is not being touted as much for his "Momentum," or for all his wins, as Barack is? How no one in the media is asking Huckabee - who is truly too far behind, to give-up?

I will vote for Barack if he gets the nomination, but I don't believe he truly deserves it at this point, and it will not at all be with the confidence with which I vote for Hillary.

And guess what - if it were the other way around, and the more qualified and experienced candidate were an older African-American man, and the under-experienced candidate were a younger, inspiring, eloquent white woman - I would still feel the same way.

Indeed, with all his inexperience, a vote for Barack necessitates a lot of additional hope.

If we don't start to choose our candidates based on the true depth and breadth of their experience and qualifications, we will continue to falter, and fail as a country. Anyone who pays attention at the debates with an open mind can clearly see that Hillary is the most qualified knowledgeable, competent candidate.

There are many who know better and can see how her so called 'baggage' are just smear tactics that have been piled on her by the opposition through the years. By now most know that you can't believe everything you hear or read about those in the public eye, especially in politics. From her work in New York State as a Senator - she won over former Clinton-bashing Republicans and skeptics.

That is what inspires me. Anyone can read a speech (especially one they haven't written), almost anyone can inspire if they practice. I want someone experienced who has learned from previous mistakes and worked hard, who has proven how much they know and how much they can deliver. That is what our country needs.

I do want someone who was involved in much of the policy-making and consulting in Bill Clinton's administration, which, according to many clear-minded seniors I've talked to - was the most effective administration they experienced in their lives. Bill Clinton's administration - that got us out of a recession and deficit, and into a surplus, with some of the highest job creation rates and socio-economic prosperity this country has ever had. That's what impresses me:

"By the end of the Clinton presidency, the numbers were uniformly impressive. Besides the record-high surpluses and the record-low poverty rates, the economy could boast the longest economic expansion in history; the lowest unemployment since the early 1970s; and the lowest poverty rates for single mothers, black Americans, and the aged. Real wages, after declining over the course of the Reagan and Bush years, rose under Clinton. To be sure, the gap between the very rich and everyone else widened—as it has continued to do since—but gains for the rich, for once, didn't leave behind the poor and lower middle class."

-- From David Greenberg, Rutger's University Professor of History and Media in the Slate magazine article "Memo to Obama fans: Clintonism was a success."

http://slate.com/id/2183941/

If there's anything we should have learned from the last seven years of Bush it's that speeches and rhetoric mean nothing, proven competency means everything. That's real hope and change.

We need to change our values to those which are less governed by pop-culturism, and more by hope and change in a deeper more permanent way. In a way that isn't dependent on the words and breath of one person. Or else it will be nothing more than another fleeting, fad.

The media has far to go: Why was it, when Hillary was ahead with delegates, people weren't saying that Barack should step down? Why don't people acknowledge that many of the states he won were small states that usually go Republican in a general election anyway? Or that caucuses are democracy by mob mentality and not a good representation of the full population? Or that the real reason Barack won more of Hillary's base in Virginia was just because he's being touted as the one who could beat McCain? When after the 527s get done attacking him with all their psychologically manipulative attack ads inducing fears about all of the real "unknowns" and inexperience of Barack, his poll numbers against McCain will probably plummet, and more swing voters will feel comfortable and safe with the "knowns" of McCain?

Hillary was strong before the media started to disrespect and weaken our truly most qualified candidate, Hillary, because it's values are more those of superficial pop-culture of style, youth, and freshness, over substance, and are resultingly biased, un-comprehensive, and severely short-sighted. I am quite thoroughly disgusted with too much of media and too many journalists in general, for their lack of fair and balanced journalism. Some of the only journalists I really respect at this point are Jeff Greenfield at CBS, Mark Halperin, and Bill Moyers.

Harvard graduate, cultural commentator, writer, and humorist Peter Sagal noted how it is scary that too many "Obamamaniacs" are reminding him of a Tom Cruise kind of irrational fantaticism.

Noemi writes:

>>Obama is being made into a leader before he has had a chance to truly lead. He is being molded into an orator who can move masses...

Ah, but he already moves masses, effortlessly. This attempt to diminish him by implying he is "handled" is sad.

>>Mrs. Clinton has all the makings of a great leader and President of the United States in terms of her ability, experience, desire and machine.
...the United States of America is in dire need of a spiritual leader.

Please reread the scandal baggage attached to Hillary. I'm astonished you would call for a "spiritual leader" then favor Hillary!

>> one who in addition to all of the necessary qualifications will also give hope of moral recovery to this country.

This is Obama's authentic appeal.

>>In one of the darkest moments in our history, we go blindly into the presidential elections.

Please read the factual news reports. Obama is not leading blindly. People are not blind. The people are speaking. Time for you to hear what they say.

Please go to www.Americans-Away-From-Home.com

Thanks!

Carole

When people talk about Hillary's "experience" vs. Obama's, why is it that no one mentions her "scandal baggage"? This is, after all, part of her "experience." Google "Hillary Clinton" and "scandal" and you come up with 471,000 hits. That doesn't mean 471,000 scandals, but Whitewater will come back to defeat her when it comes to putting her experience up against the republican candidate. Hillary Clinton, unfortunately, has too much "experience" for the scandalmongers to chew on during the presidential election.

Obama's popularity is not about his charisma, as some say. It's about his character all his life long. It's about his recognition that the system needs not just change, but transformation. It's about his message that we the American people are the only ones who can make that happen, not some singular savior.

Channel-surfing on 1/31, I happened upon Michelle Obama's eloquent and down-home speech in Delaware on January 31. She tells Obama's experience like it is...wholly and consistently for and with the people who have no voice.

Well, we the American people have been without a voice for too long. It's time for more than change. It's time for Barack Obama and US!

Thanks Bill Moyers for your ongoing clarification about politics during this Primary season. I wish that you would have Sally Bedell Smith on your program in the near future.

I hope that you have read Sally Bedell Smith's book (For the Love of Politics) which gives an in-depth perspective of the Clinton White House years.

I am concerned about the possibility of another four or eight years of a Clinton White House. I believe that will not be in the best interests of our country. The behind-the-scenes manipulations might be politics as usual - but we need to get away from that and take a more unified approach to move our country forward.

Also - remember that Bill Clinton will be the unofficial Vice-President. In reality the legal aspects of this should be investigated. Think about Hillary’s choice for a figure-head Vice-President. Who would be willing to be that Candidate?

I am a supporter of Barack Obama and worry that Hillary Clinton ultimately will lose the November election for the Democrats.

It seems that people are missing a very key element in the "Obama Mystique" and it is that although he really does sound good when he speaks, the substance behind the words is truly not there. However, he (and his coaches) are playing the disenchanted U.S. public well, addressing the emptiness that has begun to erode our collective faith in any government or politician. Barack Obama may well become President of the United States with his very fine tuned "song" but if we can extend that metaphor, songs are sung by anyone who has talent and can carry the tune. It does not mean that the words have been lived by the performer.

I don't question Mr. Obama's sincerity in wanting to lead this country in the direction of change but I do question his capacity, based on his obvious lack of experience to do so. During the latest Democratic debate, he and Mrs. Clinton played to the Hollywood audience who can't help but love a well-delivered line and were both very good at this although Mr. Obama delivered more punch lines. Alas, we in the U.S. are generally swayed by the rehearsed speaches of our superstar performers. They are our royalty and they set trends, take us on their missions of mercy awakening us to the dire needs of others, endorse products and candidates and we, for lack of any other true leaders or heroes, follow.

We have lost our ability to discern for ourselves partly because we are spoon-fed the news by the electronic media whether on the news programs or the television magazine formats that we have accepted as real even when most are dramatized and manipulated for the sake of sensationalism. Also, we read less, analyze less, study less.

So politicians and their handlers, like movie directors and producers, have learned to play to their audiences. Mr. Obama fills with beautiful words and strong sentiments the gaps in his substantive experience as a world leader. Mrs. Clinton would do well to analyze what is truly going on here and step up her strategy of demonstrating experience and readiness. This is no small fete, as we have seen, without being accused of lambasting her opponent. However, if she can do this without appearing to diminish Mr. Obama, I think she will cut through his oratory and the people themselves will begin to ascertain the lack of true substance there. Mr. Obama’s words, while beautiful, bespeak of a man of much greater depth and true experience which he no doubt will attain some day but which is not yet truly his. If one compares his speeches to those of some of the great leaders of this country, one will recognize that these are not original thoughts. But more than that, one will come to realize that the men who came before him who he emulates came to their words from deep personal experience and pain that engendered the deep passion of their words that then were able to move masses to change. You cannot borrow this experience and make it work.

Mrs. Clinton has a hard road before her. She has yet to consistently light the flame of passion in any of us. As an example, many of us are still puzzled as to what really went on in her mind and heart when her husband betrayed her, humiliated himself, undignified the highest office of the land with his behavior, and betrayed all who placed their trust in him. She said recently on a television talk show that in spite of everything that happened then, she knew that Bill loved her. Nice words but lacking in conviction, especially for so many who may have experienced spousal betrayal in their lives. Whereas we want a President that can lead from day one and has experience to bring about the needed changes in health, education, welfare and end that war with dignity plus bring back our economic stability and growth, we also want someone who trusts us with her (or his) vulnerabilities. Bill Clinton was a great President in many ways who also showed very poor personal judgment right in everyone’s faces. And, that’s why people still love him. Because of his frailties and his brilliance all in one big ball of humanness.

Mr. Obama is being made into a leader before he has had a chance to truly lead. He is being molded into an orator who can move masses without a portfolio of accomplishments to go with the elevated status. He is smooth and polished, cautious and direct, informed and very staged. We need to look beyond this and truly measure the worth of who will become the next President of the United States who will, indeed, change the face and the direction of this country.

Mrs. Clinton has all the makings of a great leader and President of the United States in terms of her ability, experience, desire and machine. But the United States of America is in dire need of a spiritual leader. Not a religious leader but one who in addition to all of the necessary qualifications will also give hope of moral recovery to this country. One who will demonstrate compassion and wisdom to mete out with a fair hand the decisions that will once again make this country a respected leader worldwide.
Both Democratic candidates have a lot to do yet before they rise to these expectations but the citizens of this country are being blinded by words. “People hear what they see” is a line from a popular movie and that, in the case of the relationship that is building between Mr. Obama and the U.S. public is exactly what is going on here. By the same token, the voters are not seeing what they want and need to hear from Mrs. Clinton.

In one of the darkest moments in our history, we go blindly into the presidential elections.


Noemi Santana

I enjoyed your look at Sen. Clinton's statement. I was alive then and remember the facts as well. I concluded that the pundits, activists and others that were demonizing her were too young or uninformed to recognize the truth.

Sen. Kennedy, who has jumped into the fray with both feet for Obama, was slighted because JFK was not given credit for the Civil Rights legislation.

President Kennedy was unsuccessful in his attempt, but history reflects that because of much arm twisting and sacrifice, President Johnson prevailed.

As a Black child growing up in southern Louisiana I benefited greatly from that legislation. I could not get a bill passed, but my President did.

It is a sad day when we will overlook a courageous act for political gain, or to increase television ratings. When Sen. Obama sees these injustices done in his name for his benefit, I expect him to stand up and correct it.

Mr. Moyers, thank you for setting the record straight.

I worked hard screwing people over at my job today (in service to an insurance corporation) and I'm depressed. Last night I watched (California debate)perpetual warrior John McCain, corporate greedbag Romney and Bible- as-Constitution Huckabee avoiding any real solutions, and had trouble sleeping. Ralph Nader's description of Senators Obama and Clinton (she; the corporate candidate on the Demo side, and he; a less than committed advocate for the people) on Democracy Now (Jan. 31st podcast) seems exactly right on. I am wondering why, since most of our biggest problems relate to irresponsible use of our environment, that the Green Party isn't stronger and more popular. It's just another symptom of the plutocratic stranglehold of wealthy corporate owners on our simulated, half-baked democracy. Maybe we will have to fight up from the bottom and elect Greens or other 3rd party people to local boards and commissions. But how long would that take and would it come too late for freedom and global warming abatement? I'll probably end up voting for Nader again. (Now why am I depressed?)Kucinich was right about the fixed Diebold machines in New Hampshire: We should take axes to them everywhere.

I have been waiting for someone to question the omission of Barack's full Name, i.e. Barack HUSEIN Obama. I am not convinced that he is not still a Muslim but merely acquired the Christian faith because he knows that a Muslim has little to no chance of being elected president or much else in the United States. Reading all that has been written on the Internet about Barack HUSSEIN Obama it amazes me that so many people have voted for Hussein Obama.

I am and always have been a devoted Democrat, I took my time to evaluate and choose between Barack and Hillary. And I chose Hillary, she is the only who is truly more qualified and competent at this time.

Deep in my gut, I know she is the right choice. At this point for me, Obama is largely hype.

I would be interested in voting for Barack in the future, after he has more experience, to take a chance and see how easily he would be able to deliver on all his idealism.

I am very idealistic, but when it comes to something of such importance as the Presidency, I need to see more proof of competency.

At this point, all it seems Barack has to offer is a lot of eloquent words, with hardly any real substance to prove himself. It's a pretty easy sell. Who wouldn't want hope and change? All candidates always say they are the ones who will bring hope and change.

It sounds good, but when it comes to actually governing the country, I choose proven competence over words. Now is not the time to take chances with someone who doesn't really know what they're doing, and has never governed before.

I really think an Obama administration would be very disorganized and messy, and it would take them a long time to get it together and get anything accomplished. Unifying is easy to say, much, much messier and harder to actualize. I don't get sold easily. I need to see lots of proof. I don't just fall for what sounds good. And in the debates, Hillary is the one who knows what she's talking about. She excels. She is dedicated. She has delivered and won over skeptics and Republicans in New York who used to be Clinton bashers.

I need to go deeper than just inspiration and rhetoric. Everybody can talk the good talk. Real work in governing is quite different.

(And guess what - I would say that if he was white too! Who's going to accuse me of being racist, just because I have real concerns about his experience and competency? I had even more real concerns about Bush too. Not that I'm comparing them - because I'm not. But Bush was considered more charming and likeable than Kerry. There's so much that more important than just charm and likeability. Americans fall for that at a cost to experience and competence too often.)

When it comes to the Clintons, Barack employs a vast quantity of divisive rhetoric, lawyer double-speak, and double-standards. Because of his eloquence and claims to be "different" many people and the press miss it, virtually completely.

Barack has been attacking and criticizing the Clintons from the beginning of his campaign, saying they are the problem with Washington, when Bill's administration was one of the most accomplished we've ever had.

Obama gets away with all his criticism and attacks because he says he's different, but if they criticize him - all of a sudden they're horrible and being "racist" and attacking "hope." Both of which could not be more UNTRUE. He doesn't have exclusive rights to being a candiate of hope, and he never has. And the press are the ones mostly playing the "race" card. They amped-up the hype that the Clintons were being racist. The Clintons are and have always been, tremendous race advocates! Are they never going to be able to make just criticisms of Obama without being labeled racist?
The media is even more engaged in spin than the candidates and their campaigns.

You do the Clintons no justice. They deserve much more respect. I started out with an open mind, but I am tired of many people's inability to think truly critically and independently. Everyone loves to jump on the Clinton bashing wagon, when they are two of the most intelligent and truly competent leaders this country has ever had.

The Clintons are everyone's scapegoat when they don't at all deserve to be. People love to just see everything they do as negative, and blame them for everything. One objective reporter (I can find his name - they talked about it on the today show), says that he thinks Clinton bashing is so out of line, that it is almost like a mental illness.

They truly delivered hope and change, all while being ruthlessly and relentlessly attacked by Republicans.

The Clintons' "baggage" was created by the Republican attack machine, who had no right to invade their personal problems and marriage, for political gain and exploit.

How is it that JFK is so revered, and even almost complimented on his affairs and womanizing ways, and Bill is so demonized about it?

They were personal, marital issues. What other world leader has ever been put on trial for a marital affair? None. Because the rest of the world knows it's wrong and ridiculous. (And an incredible waste of tax dollars and time.) How would all Americans like to have their marital issues exposed for all to see, judge, and attack?

How were they supposed to unify with people who were hell bent on attacking and destroying them, all as part of their plan for creating a permanent Republican majority? It was a real plan that many key Republicans were following, also trying to smear all Democrats as "Liberals" in general.

People hyper-criticize the Clintons, but it all started with the Republican attack machine, and their plans for creating a permanent Republican majority. The Clintons did not create this divisiveness. They were attacked because they were the Democrats in power.

Blaming them is one of the most unjust travesties I have seen in my lifetime, and I have never felt less respect for the press' ability to view and present issues objectively.

Barack has come in able to present himself as a unifier, but if he had been in Bill Clinton's place in 1992,
the Republicans would have relentlessly attacked him, and tried to make his life hell, and make it very
hard to unify, no matter what he said. They were head strong, hell bent, and full of themselves.

Now because of the disasters of the last 7 years - because of the failures of largely Republican ideas and tactics of the last 10-15 years or so, Republican ideas have played out, and they are finally in a place where they are more willing to look to new ideas and unify in general.

I would respect Barack more if he would stop being such a hypocrite and being too easy on Republicans, while trying to blame everything on the Clintons. That is why Bill has been so frustrated and mad. It's unjust/ unfair.

As of right now, I have lost most of my respect for Barack. He's already proven that he'll portray things unfairly for his own political gain, and not take responsibility.

I truly want this country to be at it's best for all of us. But I think it will take proven competence and experience to do that most efficiently and effectively at this time. Hillary is the most qualified out of all the candidates.

Apparently, The Great Depression of the 21st Century has come.

If 10 million of us planned to march on Washington, D.C. March 15, 2009 (for peace, justice, economic reform and humane jobs) who would we want in the Whitehouse? Which of them would accomodate us owners of the Capital and democratic government with safety and vital preparations?
Which candidate would bid us "come ahead, for your presence and support will empower me in doing the right things?"

At this point I trust none of them. That is why you all are afraid to plan that march.

"Much Ado About Nothing" is right!

Anyone who pays any attention to the Clintons' race record knows that they ARE and HAVE ALWAYS BEEN, TREMENDOUS RACE ADVOCATES.

Hillary was only trying to say that to get things done in government, ultimately you need more than rhetoric and eloquence.

That was her point!

She has nothing but the most profound respect for Martin Luther King Jr. I think she felt too confident that people would know that, and would never question it! The Clintons were at Mrs. King's funeral. And were deeply moved!

The Clintons have said they think Barak is very intelligent and eloquent, but his competency has not been proven.

I would vote for him next time, but not this time. He is lacking in experience. It is so much easier to eloquently say all the right things than it is to actually do them.

Hillary has been through two successful presidential terms with her husband, where our country improved, thrived, and changed for the better.
Even through all the politically motivated personal attacks.

She has been tested for years as a Senator in New York, and has won over initially skeptical New York Republicans - people who thought they didn't like her.

She has proven her competency.

Most of the media has taken the Clintons' quotes completely out of context, to make more sensationalistic stories. They have competely misrepresented what the Clintons were saying.

For the Clintons, it is not about race, it is about proven competence.

The media has been way too easy on Obama, and too hard on the Clintons.

Does any one remember how much hassel Bill truly got about 'Did you inhale?' He got relentlessly attacked about just the possibility of inhaling!

You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can never please all the people all the time.

The Clintons have served our country for the better with tremendous competency and dedication.

We are lucky to have such intelligent competent people offering to work for us again.

We need their proven experience and competence.

They deserve much more respect.

If leisure permits please take the time to read the 3 1/2 page essay of Citizen Michael John Keenan on the psychic distance between socioeconomic classes and the reponsibilities of leadership. Academic and gentle, it can sooth your intellectual wounds. At first I had thought his space-taking pompous until I determined he had valuable information. It contrasts sharply with my direct complaints of Jan. 21-10:23am. I believe I began to share his window cleaning perspective and am now ready to converse with porters. Come into our chariot tired patriot.
beretco.op@gmail.com

To Andie of a comment of 1-20-08 @9:03; So I would have to assume from your comment that the last sentence in such is referring to yourself.

For the first time in all the years I have watched you, Bill, I found myself disagreeing with you completely, and wondering at your naivete. How can you suggest that what Hillary
said about Martin Luther King & Johnson was no big deal?! Why did she choose to bring it up during a campaign for presidency? It was an attack on Obama's ability to 'take charge', but it minimized the struggle and power of the black movement. Just think how outraged women would be if someone suggested that it was the Supreme Court that actually made it possible for women to have the right to choose.

For the first time in all the years I have watched you, Bill, I found myself disagreeing with you completely, and wondering at your naivete. How can you suggest that what Hillary s
said about Martin Luther King & Johnson was no big deal?! Why did she choose to bring it up during a campaign for presidency? It was an attack on Obama's ability to 'take charge', but it minimized the struggle and power of the black movement. Just think how outraged women would be if someone suggested that it was the Supreme Court that actually made it possible for women to have the right to choose.

In Honor of Citizen Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday

Three Political Conversations:

I can conceive of no better occasion than today on Martin Luther King’s birthday to demonstrate in a small speech what this great citizen means to me.

Among all the political musing I have taken in, and could choose from, I have taken together three political conversations that I have come across recently from my casual readings and study in history and literature and not media.

Thomas Jefferson’s “drunken woman” and “the wearied soldier.”

The first of these conversations is a rare colloquy that comes to us from Thomas Jefferson and is contained in a letter to a Maria Cosway. In my effort to know more about this great advocate of equality, the natural rights of man, the sovereignty of the people, the right of revolution I found this written conversation he has between his “head” and “heart” to be the most revealing of Jefferson’s values and the most indelible of all his letters. Here he is at his educated and literate best in order to impress and he goes all out to woo a lady.

But to set the historical stage first I will take a few quotes from letters to a Charles Bellini, John Banister, Jr. and James Madison that preceded this colloquy by a year. This background and insight into Jefferson’s thinking and stay in France will all end up wrapped into this confessional love letter a year latter. One can easily imagine that if Maria was not already married this letter would have been instead a proposal.

To Charles Bellini Jefferson shares that he has been comparing the happiness of the European and France’s poor with not just America’s poor “but the degree of happiness which is enjoyed in America by every class.” Indeed, Jefferson finds the European classes to be, “much, very much inferior,” compared to “the tranquil permanent felicity with which domestic society in America blesses most of its inhabitant’s…” With Mr. Bannister he sees disadvantages to sending America youth to Europe for education. The student “acquires a fondness for European luxury and dissipation and contempt for the simplicity of his own country; he is fascinated with the privileges of the European aristocrats...” Finally, with affection in a missive to James Madison, Jefferson gives an analysis of the issues of the poor and concludes that the property “of this country is absolutely con-centered in a very few hands,” and where according to Jefferson, “formality, ostentation and luxury were always found together.” Results of post feudal society definitely were not to Jefferson’s liking, nor for American society by Jefferson’s comparison.

Now in the colloquy between his head and heart we find that on two separate occasions that Jefferson admits that he too has almost been taken in by the aristocratic lifestyle and that his “head” has made him do wrong. What about the “poor wearied soldier… with that pack on his back that begged us to let him get up behind our chariot,” Heart reminds. Head has calculated that “the road is full of soldiers, and that if all should be taken up our horses would fail in their journey. We drove on therefore.” Realizing that a wrong had been committed Heart counters “that though we cannot relieve all the distressed we should relieve as many as we can.” (My emphasis) Unable to return and find the “poor wearied soldier,” Heart laments “and from that moment to this I could never find him out to ask his forgiveness.”

And what asks Heart about the poor woman that was seeking a charity in Philadelphia? “You whispered that she looked like a drunkard and that half a dollar was enough to give her for the ale-house.” But, “when I sought her out afterwards, and did what I should have done at first, you know that she employed the money immediately towards placing her child at school.”

In this debate the heart wins out. In Thomas Jefferson’s America all are to be counted, to be heard out and to be relieved as we can. Cold calculation of the head will never win out in the end in with our fellow citizens.

Werner Heisenberg’s “National Socialist student” and “Max Planck.”

My next political conversation, which I found very topical for today, comes from Physics and Beyond, Encounters and Conversations by the famous German physicist Werner Heisenberg. In chapter 12 of Revolution and Student Life we come upon two revealing colloquies, one with a National Socialist student and one with the father of German science, Max Planck. In the subtext Heisenberg sees, like the great period of change after the middle ages, the results of great technical change and upheaval taking place that is leading some nations to war.

A National Socialist student finds Professor Heisenberg who graciously grants time for and takes questions from this student who soon “pours his heart out.” “Why are you so offish towards the movement?” This sets off a great extensive give and take on assessment of political objectives that ends with Heisenberg countering the students “New Germany” and “more foes, more hero’s” position with: “I am firmly convinced that we must never judge political movements by their aims. Now when it comes to means, you National Socialists are no different from the Communists; the leaders of both movements have clearly lost faith in the persuasive force of their own ideas. Hence both leave me quite unmoved except for the fact that I am sadly convinced that both will bring down misfortune on Germany.” During the weeks following this conversation university life only became more intolerable because of greater political interference by the Nazi authorities. Jewish faculty and colleagues were being dismissed so Heisenberg sought out an interview with Max Planck.

Right off Max says, “You have come to get my political advice on a political questions but I am afraid I can no longer advise you. I see no hope of stopping the catastrophe that is about to engulf all out universities, indeed our whole country…..I would like to appraise you of my conversation with Hitler a few days ago. I had hoped to convince him that he was doing enormous damage to the German university, and particularly to physical research, by expelling our Jewish colleagues; to show him how senseless and utterly immoral it was to victimize men who have always thought of themselves a Germans, and who offered up their lives for Germany like everyone else. But I failed to make myself understood-or, worse, there is simply no language in which one can talk to such men. He has lost all contact with reality. What others say to him is at best an annoying interruption, which he immediately drowns by incessant repetitions of the some old phrases about the decay of healthy intellectual life during the past fourteen years, about the need to stop the rot even at this late hour, and so on. All the time, one has the fatal impression that he believes all the nonsense that he pours forth, and he indulges his own delusions by ignoring all outside influences. He is so possessed by his so-called ideas that he is no longer open to argument. A man like that can only lead Germany into disaster.”

To stay or flee prewar Germany is considered along with the different outcomes and then the fellow professor bids his leave. Heisenberg on the way home decides to stay in Germany for the sake of German science and “think of the time after the catastrophe,” the only advice that Max Planck could offer him. Two years later the first shot would open World War II. I cannot help but see a reflection of where we are today in this political conversation and how the philosophy of neither Jefferson nor Dr. King, as we shall see, would have never been welcome in Nazi Germany as Professor Heisenberg eventually found out. Indeed, we find two chapters later in Behavior in the Face of Political Disaster the courageous German scientist uttering, “We shall simply have to wait. Until such time as we can do anything at all. Meanwhile we must try to keep order in the small corners to which our own lives are confined.” After all who would listen?

Dr. Martin Kings “the Porter” and “the Window Cleaner.”

The last political conversation is found in chapter one Where are we? And penultimately chapter five Where we are going of Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community? This colloquy and final last testament really is between Dr Martin Luther King and the rest of us – the community. His wife, the late Coretta Scott King, in the introduction reminds us that “in this work Martin Luther King, Jr. stresses the common cause of all the disinherited, white and black, laying the basis for the struggles now unfolding around economic issues. He spoke out sharply for all the poor in all their hues, for he knew if color made them different, misery and oppression made them the same.”

It is in Where we are going that Martin’s story of “the Porter” is introduced as a lesson that he would never forget and harkens back to Jefferson’s poor weary soldier and poor drunken woman. The story he relates is based on a report that he heard of “two men who flew into Atlanta to confer with a civil rights leader at the airport. Before they could begin to talk, the porter sweeping the floor drew the local leader aside to talk about a matter that troubled him. After fifteen minutes had passed, one of the visitors said bitterly to his companion, ‘I am just too busy for this kind of nonsense. I haven’t come a thousand miles to sit and wait while he talks to a porter.’ The other replied, ‘When the day comes that he stops talking to a porter, on that day I will not have the time to come one mile to see him.” Again, this value to care about the other is no different here than with Jefferson’s taking time to listen to a fellow citizen in need or with a concern to bring attention to.

Where are we today? The keys to the double lock of peaceful change were not just in the hand of the black community. The other key, Martin claimed, was in the hand of the white community. Have we as a country used that key to relieve all that we can regardless of color as Jefferson calls us to? Or are we back to 1966 when the problem was declared a simple “The poor can stop being poor if the rich are willing to become even richer at a slower pace.”

Maybe I can reach an answer by way of a colloquy that comes directly from what turned out to be a humbling experience training a new window cleaner in the trade. The new window cleaner from where I was standing and checking his work had missed a spot. “Looks like you missed a spot.” From where the new guy was standing he claimed no such spot existed. “What spot? I do not see any spot.” Soon I was insisting and getting hot about it. “Sure you have. I know you have.” O how humble I did feel when I realized that behind my spot was a brick background. Not until I took the effort and moved to his perspective I soon understood that behind his spot was the deep blue sky that did not background the spot. But we had an understanding because one of us was willing to move closer to the other.

The fear, that I have today in retrospect, is that in America the distance between luxury and liberty and the distance between where the poor woman, the poor wearied soldier, the deluded National Socialist, a somber Max Planck, the airport porter and the service sector window cleaner stand compared to where the rich stand has grown so great and wide that no key or keys can be possibly be exchanged; that the reach has come to far between us, because like Jefferson concluded in European France, the property “of this country is absolutely con-centered in a very few hands.” That now the day breaks upon problems not just of distribution as Martin pointed out, but of both the production and distribution of work and wealth. (As an aside I only hope that I am not shot for suggesting any of this.)

Fortunately, for us Dr. King takes heart and concludes ultimately in his last chapter The World House with the First Epistle of Saint John that Love is the key in the choice between nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation:

Let us love one another; for love is of God
And every one that loveth is born of God, and
Knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not
God; for God is love….If we love one another,
God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Lets us take up this prayer of relief and have a political conversation amongst ourselves on this day in all ways civil and in complete freedom, for these any many other unexamined reasons. Let us then walk together and renew our faith in the values this nation started with; the right of equality, the natural rights of man and woman, the sovereignty of the people, and the right of revolution in values that Martin Luther King in so many words called for nearly 40 years ago today.


I am Citizen Michael John Keenan.

January 21, 2008
Bill Moyers whitewashes his MLK dirty deeds
Thomas Lifson
The oleaginous Bill Moyers takes to taxpayer-funded airways and cyberspace to celebrate Martin Luther King Day by celebrating his boss President Lyndon Johnson, and Johnson's role in getting the 1965 Civil Rights Bill passed and signed.

The following words from his video essay just stick in my craw:

"Johnson kept his pledge and did the right thing."

What Moyers neglects to mention is that he and LBJ had MLK bugged, to try to get leverage on the Civil Rights Crusader. Fortunately, in a comment, journalist Thomas Lipscomb adds the history Moyers whitewashes (there is no better word for it) in the comments section of Moyers' website.

One expects Bill Moyers constant rewrites of history, but it is a bit much when he decides to whitewash his own and LBJ's dirty tricks at the expense of Martin Luther King on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day.

Respected "60 Minutes" reporter Morley Safer remembers things rather differently than Moyers. Compare the two accounts yourself.

January 21, 2008
Bill Moyers whitewashes his MLK dirty deeds
Thomas Lifson
The oleaginous Bill Moyers takes to taxpayer-funded airways and cyberspace to celebrate Martin Luther King Day by celebrating his boss President Lyndon Johnson, and Johnson's role in getting the 1965 Civil Rights Bill passed and signed.

The following words from his video essay just stick in my craw:

"Johnson kept his pledge and did the right thing."

What Moyers neglects to mention is that he and LBJ had MLK bugged, to try to get leverage on the Civil Rights Crusader. Fortunately, in a comment, journalist Thomas Lipscomb adds the history Moyers whitewashes (there is no better word for it) in the comments section of Moyers' website.

One expects Bill Moyers constant rewrites of history, but it is a bit much when he decides to whitewash his own and LBJ's dirty tricks at the expense of Martin Luther King on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day.

Respected "60 Minutes" reporter Morley Safer remembers things rather differently than Moyers. Compare the two accounts yourself.

If you want to get history right, and in particular the passage and implementation of the civil rights act, then why not mention the 'progressives' most hated president (until Bush). The legilislation passed had no teeth in it. President Richard Nixon signed Executive Order 11478, which required that the United Stated government provide equal opportunity in federal employment for all persons, to prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, sex, age, color, religion, national origin, physical or mental handicap. As a result of this, EEO laws were developed.

I recommend anyone wanting the truth on the two parties and racism should take a look at the website of the National Black Republicans.
LBJ and Moyers and many on the Left are "hypocritical" on the race issue, to put it "kindly." There is much distortion out there. But thanks to the Internet, things are being set right.

They may not even feel it now, but the Presidential candidates are transfixed and mesmerized (just like Congress) by overwhelming corporate power and the largess that is doled out for them to run on. Whoever is elected really could wind up shot in the head if they disobey their masters. If Bush is kissing on Saudis, he is licking the corporate elite with his fascist judicial appointments, and Bill Clinton did not do much better. Moyers is mistaken to think that someone within the system can resist a powerful inevitability by seizing and turning history, and Johnson's Vietnam policy (opposed by King, supported by corporate business) is a glaring example.

Change comes only when the wealthy stare their own disaster in the face. Until Americans overcome media brainwashing, educate themselves on what their true interests are, and refuse to cooperate in their own exploitation, little will change. It doesn't matter who plotted or pulled the trigger, corporate America had to kill King to stop his drive for economic democracy and against warmongering for profit. It is hard to become extremely rich or stay that way in a peaceful and just society, and they know it. The chaos that sinks small boats feeds these sharks.

As for Bill Moyers, he has come a long way since then, but is still a half-grown angel at 70. He knows who butters his toast and how long his leash. (That's just the way it is.) If I were in his shoes I'd have played a loop tape of Johnson crying when he told us he would not run for re-election.

Today Hillary, Barack and Gentleman Johnny pass by the statue of Pitchfork Tillman on the S.C. statehouse grounds. They may advocate hiding this graven image to racist violence in a closet. (Some say he did a few good things between lynchings.)As history rolls on I hope the day comes when people want to hide the likenesses of the Clintons, Obamas and Edwardses from view because they were too weak to advocate for policies people really needed (universal public financed healthcare, wholesome food policy, democratization of media, comprehensive election and education reform, the revocation of corporate personhood and the abandonment of war for profit) For me, Bush and the Republican candidates have already joined Pitchfork in the landfill, and I'm asking the democrats if they don't belong on the trash truck.

Perhaps I'm being politically naive, but isn’t Bob "BET" Johnson yet a long-time Bush ally and Republican insider, as well the same man who served on Bush’ discovery-committee to privatize social security? Is he not the same Bob Johnson who’s graciously obliged himself of complementary flights onboard Air Force One with President George W. Bush…clearly as a reward for his continuing loyalty?
Now, there emerges a more important question...while I agree Mr. Johnson’s comments and histrionic-performances regarding Sen. Barack Obama’ Presidential bid were both despicable and disgraceful by any stretch of the imagination, what sort of “back-alley” deal has Mr. Johnson already made with the Clintons…even before Mrs. Clinton secures the Democratic nomination, that would compel a once "rabid" Bush-loyalist and neo-con to jump-ship even with the Republican Party under the direst of conditions, and more poignantly prior to President Bush even concluding his presidency?
And why hasn’t the Clinton camp disavowed his condescending antics? I’d dare say, he’s much to do about the “same-ole-same-ole” degenerative political tactics that today has Capital Hill and all of Washington D.C. gridlocked.
Surely his support for the Sen. Clinton’s Presidential bid cannot be written off as either concern for his fellow African-Americans or an altruistic gesture in-kind.
What then prêt ail could he have been promised… perhaps FCC Chairman, it would certainly be a plausible fit for a man who’s made his fortune in communications?
I find it simply ironic that one who brought us all the raunchy BET rap-videos…those which targeted the already troubled black youth of America, would "dish" a fellow progressive African-American Ivy-league graduate, merely to as assure his continuing spot…along with like-minded reconstruction-era black statesmen and women who’ve made a handsome living dinning liberally since the late sixties, at the trough of "White Guilt," at the taxpayers expense.
Bob Johnson and his fellow-cronies…elite black establishment-slackers and career-politicos who are among a cadre of long-time Clinton-friendly lobbyists-those who fondly reminisce over a return to the roaring 90’s, and who now are pulling out all the stops to derail the momentum of true agents of change for the better: Sen. Barrack and Mrs. Michelle Obama.
A robbery in-progress, and one destined to deprive our great nation of its best hope of two genuine and generous altruist…cheating both America and the world-at-large of a more progressive course absent of the Clinton Dynasty.
We need change; a fresh start; a new page, and closure to both the Bush and Clinton political dynasties. The Obama's chose public service…having years earlier voluntarily selected to sidestep the millions of dollars being doled out to similarly Ivy-league pedigreed Hedge Fund managers, while other graduates of elite universities such as Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Yale, Oxford and Princeton degrees, went for the “EZ” money…such as the Clinton’s own daughter Chelsea who works for a New York City Hedge Fund.
What many seem to have forgotten…regarding one who has cast the hoarsest criticisms against Sen. Obama’ political ambitions, is he not the same President whose political flops cost Al Gore the Presidency? Accordingly, shouldn’t he partially be responsible for the mess this nation and the world find itself in today?
However, in keeping with a spirit of complete disclosure, I myself…a longtime Reagan Democrat, today am somewhat conflicted within this very ugly political narrative, given I've long admired Sen. Hilary & Pres. Bill Clinton...and First-daughter Chelsea.
But the Clinton brand is done from a political vantage point…one of great success, which should now be focused on it global humanitarian effort…also extremely successful.
As for yet another Clinton presidency, ought not this last chapter on the nineteen-nineties have lone been written and closed; boxed up, and stored away. Why dust it off once again? Have we all become a nation of revisionist-thinkers, rather than progressive-thinking visionaries?
Personally…as a fellow X-Gen/Next-Gen, I'd far rather one of our own be given the opportunity to chart the course of our future...rather than yet another Baby Boomer similar to those which has wrought us the past eight years. Irreplaceable years, that we, our kids ...and likely grandkids will spend the remains of our working lives paying down.
As for the fermenting-overblown, propaganda the Clinton Calvary continues encircling Sen. Barack Obama’ camp on some debunked notion that he lacks the requisite “on-the-job” training necessary to be a successful American President...Ummh? Ouch!
Well, let’s examine his track record thus far: grass-roots activist for the poor and disenfranchised in Chicago, Civil Rights Lawyer; Illinois State and U. S. Senator…combined more years in parlimantarian experience than Hilary, New York Times bestselling author; first Black Editor of the Harvard Law Review, Columbia University, not stubborn, affable, and honest?
Well, indeed...sorry Mr. President, "I think I'll roll the dice!” And I pray that this nation...irrespective of whether one happens to be Bi-racial, White, Black, Latino, Asian, Middle-Eastern, African, Republican, Democrat, Independent, and Evangelical…or even an ole-school Dixiecrat, will also decide to roll the dice!
With financial markets, a sub-prime debacle, unemployment, and the economy in the doldrums… all pointing toward-if we're not already in the midst of one, a looming recession, our nation's vast philosophical divide, crucial foreign affairs issues, environmental issues, and an ongoing global terrorist threat, all implores each to at the least think about “rolling-the-dice," are risk an opportunity for truly "new" leadership, and a new direction.”
Because in the end, we as Americans will all “tank or rise” over the next decade, based upon our choosing to be a benevolent nation, and one being navigated by a captain possessing a trio of essential characteristics needed for us as a species, nation, and world to go boldly toward the 22nd Century and beyond: Faith, Hope, and Love.
All of these are requisite moral-convictions that can re-unite both the American and global populous, as well restore America’ image at “home and abroad." “We need change… “Right now,” not more of the same!
Regarding big business, big defense, big pharma, big guns, and big oil lobbyist, as well a consortium of reconstruction-minded ole-school African-American politicos… celebrity and Washington establishment African-Americans who are likely harboring long-term business and political favors in exchange for their endorsements: Magic Johnson, Charles Rangel, Quincy Jones, Jessie Jackson, John Lewis, Vernon Jordon, Al Sharpton, and Mr. Bob "Billionaire" Johnson: "The trough is empty!"
Resigning to attain wealth for “You & Yours, for the most part I think you all have squandered your generation’s civil rights legacy…as well Dr. Martin Luther King’s. A legacy he built upon selflessness, and not power-mongering and greed. What type of leaders are American universities manufacturing today?
All Americans must ultimately share in both America’s wealth and its challenges…such as the urgent environmental crisis’s…not sit by ideally and pander to a handful that has pretty much become both sell-out to their own race and America as a whole.
I can only imagine them all… Washington lobbyists with wealth and access, gleefully foaming at the mouth for yet another "two-term" Clinton Administration “give-a-way” that would only further serve to replenish their “financial” troughs.
Strikingly, I find it disconcerting, disheartening, and saddening that those of Sen. Barack Obama’ most public critics are equally well-educated and well-to-do middle-age and older men of African-American decent?
Many of whom themselves…apparently bogusly, marched alongside Dr. King to advance an equitable-fairness agenda in America that-while it might result in just such a candidate and campaign of a Barack Obama, one apparently they feel a man in their own image is unworthy to pursue.

CBW
Houston, Texas

n light of MLK day, Moyers, an alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin and perhaps one of the school's favorite sons, elected NOT to speak out against the University's investments in South Africa. His voice was also absent regarding Austin Apartheid, the school's use of eminent domain to displace hundreds of low income African Americans and Latinos from East Austin in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Today the University of Texas continues it's economic apartheid by contracting out janitorial and maintenance jobs to private companies denying workers of health benefits and retirement. Dr King's struggle continues albeit without Mr Moyers, who disregarded opportunities to make a positive difference for working people and minorities at the University of Texas at Austin.

One expects Bill Moyers constant rewrites of history, but it is a bit much when he decides to whitewash his own and LBJ's dirty tricks at the expense of Martin Luther King on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day.

Respected "60 Minutes" reporter Morley Safer remembers things rather differently than Moyers. Compare the two accounts yourself.

In Safer's book FLASHBACKS (St. Martins Press, 1990) pp 148 ff.

"I find it hard to believe that Bill Moyers would engage in character assassination over one evening news broadcast -- even given the political imperatives of the moment. But I confess , I find it harder not to believe it.

His part in Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover's bugging of Martin Luther King's private life, the leaks to the press and diplomatic corps, the surveillance of civil rights groups at the 1964 Democratic Convention, and his request for damaging information from Hoover on members of the Goldwater campaign suggest he was not only a good soldier but a gleeful retainer feeding the appetites of Lyndon Johnson.

It's all too confusing. Bill Moyers, the sometimes overly pious public defender of liberal virtue, the First Amendment, and the rights of miniorities playing the role of Iago."

Of course Safer had felt the effect of one of Moyers nastier disinformation campaigns himself. LBJ and his press secretary Moyers summoned CBS head Frank Stanton to the White House and "threatened that, unless CBS got rid of me and 'cleaned up its act' the White House would 'go public'with information about Safer's 'Communist ties.'"

Moyers may not have "gone public" but somehow the ambassador to Vietnam called Safer "a KGB agent" and Secretary of State Dean Rusk noted his "ties to the Soviet intelligence apparatus."

Remember this while listening to Moyers' "objective reporting" the next time.

Mr. Moyer,

I will now refer people to the transcript of Friday's show if I ever find myself in a political conversation and they whip out the race card against Hillary again. Bravo.

Thank you for the ONLY intelligent analysis of last week's Democratic "race" wars, and your exceedingly moving tribute to both King and Johnson. Your piece should have been replayed on ALL the politico shows which fan the flames of controversy to a public that is too uneducated to do anything other than be led by the nose.

You ARE a national treasure!

Thank you for the ONLY intelligent analysis of last week's Democratic "race" wars, and your exceedingly moving tribute to both King and Johnson. Your piece should have been replayed on ALL the crap politico shows which fan the flames of controversy to a public that is too uneducated to do anything other than be led by the nose.

You ARE a national treasure!

I think it was howard zinn who said(I paraphrase)that it has not been the U.S. government who has been instrumental in creating changes that help the American people, it has always been the people themselves that change policies through their everyday lives.
it is lastly the government that steps in, kicking and screaming, trying to manipulate and control the changes and eventually taking credit for anything positive that remains of the reform they can't stop the people from pushing through.
this seems upon reflection of government since I have been keeping track, to hold a great deal of truth.

I think it was howard zinn who said(I paraphrase)that it has not been the U.S. government who has been instrumental in creating changes that help the American people, it has always been the people themselves that change policies through their everyday lives.
it is lastly the government that steps in, kicking and screaming, trying to manipulate and control the changes and eventually taking credit for anything positive that remains of the reform they can't stop the people from pushing through.
this seems upon reflection of government since I have been keeping track, to hold a great deal of truth.

CONTEXT PLEASE! The Clinton Camp has been making racially charged comments throughout this campaign: the Andrew Cuomo "Shuck and Jive" comment, the "Black Friend" comment in the Guardian, and the Shaheen suggestion that Obama might have dealt drugs, etc. You've given absolution without knowing the whole truth.

Apologies, acknowledgments given to wrong blogger.

Thank you MARIA MCGOWEN.

Apologies, acknowledgements given to wrong blogger.

Thank you MARIA MCGOWEN.

Thank you, Curtis James (see below) for your absolutely eloquent and exacting critique on this piece, which is so problematic, and surprisingly offensive given its source. I am so dismayed that this has been broadcast with MLK day just days away & the dynamics currently at play during this Caucus season. Great, thank you LBJ for finally passing policy that was so long overdue. But what has really changed since then?? Can we look at that? Can we honor King in a more appropriate way, and perhaps with an honest and critical look at American conscience today, instead of praising LBJ and inserting Hillary?
I'm totally disappointed in this piece.

Why take a Clinton soundbite (from Fox News no less!), that is so exemplary of her unabashed insensitivity and yes, elitist platform. (Obviously the producers of this piece were quite aware of the implications in their message by using her.) The condescension and tokenism that always lie implicit in these public figures is offensive, totally transparent, and not appreciated. And here in this piece, it's lauded as great triumphs of the American century.

This Monday, I am celebrating Dr. King, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Rosa Parks, Assata Shakur, and the many others who gave up their lives to make change in this world. Hillary Clinton is absolutely the last person who deserves to be given the spotlight anywhere near this context.
When public media toes the middle line...

I thought Bill was trying to explain that, while King's contribution was momentous, we should not trivialize Johnson's role in passing the legislation. I felt enriched by his brief essay and will never forget it.

Likewise, wasn't that what Hilary was trying to say? Was she comparing herself to Johnson? Not at all! Was she saying that King played a minor role? No! She wanted to point out that Johnson's role was significant. End of story.

We do not dissect every word the male candidates say, but we scrutinize every sound—even every sigh—Hilary makes. Lighten up, folks! Stop going on a witch hunt every time this woman blinks.

We have the most brilliant lineup of democratic candidates in history. Let's revel in it and learn from all of them. We're going to need ALL of their talents, in one role or another, to get us out of the pit Bush and his cronies have put us in.

Susan Todd


Bravo Bill! Your comments on LBF and King are brilliant. As a young man in the 60's and 70's, after first voting for Johnson in his race against Goldwater, I came to detest him for his mindless pursuit of the Vietnam war. At the time, this overshadowed all the good that he did. Your piece brought tears to my eyes as I recalled the vicious racial hatred of the times and Johnson's courage in facing it. Thanks for putting this complicated man in perspective for me.

Tom Peterson, Santa Monica, CA

Dear Mr. Moyers,

All week I have been reading the comments about the program with Mr. Steele. Many viewers were put off by Mr. Steele's analysis of race in America today. For many, he did not represent their understanding of how African Americans relate to contemporary America. Many suggested names of people who could represent modern thoughts on the race issues. I was sure that you would have wanted to explore what these people were talking about and would have scheduled someone who could address these issues from a contemporary viewpoint. I was sorely disappointed when Friday's show did air.

In our house you are referred to as St. Bill, so I find it very difficult to believe that you would not try to discover why so many people found Mr. Steele's analysis lacking. Instead, you present a minor essay on why we should not take too much from Hillary Clinton's remarks. With so many people saying that you do not understand who Barack Obama is, you allow it to stand that he cannot win an election because of one man's opinion? Bill, we rely on you to explore the issues; please do not ignore that other scholars have very different viewpoints than Mr. Steele and present them.

I have yet to see anyone address the actual substance of the other side of Hillary's comparasin. She clearly wants folks to see her as an LBJ type who can get things done because she has the experience. But I guess my question is, is this a valid comparasin?

Does she have both the legislative skill and Machiavellian knowledge to get something as politically volatile as civil rights legislation passed? Her last forays into large scale policy overhaul ended rather poorly as I recall. As a constituent I've seen her take the legislative lead on a flag burning amendments but not so much on health care or getting our troops out of Iraq or network neutrality.

Where LBJ forced through Congress civil rights legislation that he knew would "cost the Democratic Party the South for a generation" I truly wonder whether Hillary Clinton would do the same knowing the political consequences. I think these are fair questions and I wish that the media would ask them as opposed to fanning the profitable flames of false controversy.

Perhaps addressing this question could be a subject for future inquiry on the Journal.

I have yet to see anyone address the actual substance of the other side of Hillary's comparasin. She clearly wants folks to see her as an LBJ type who can get things done because she has the experience. But I guess my question is, is this a valid comparasin?

Does she have both the legislative skill and Machiavellian knowledge to get something as politically volatile as civil rights legislation passed? Her last forays into large scale policy overhaul ended rather poorly as I recall. As a constituent I've seen her take the legislative lead on a flag burning amendments but not so much on health care or getting our troops out of Iraq or network neutrality.

Where LBJ forced through Congress civil rights legislation that he knew would "cost the Democratic Party the South for a generation" I truly wonder whether Hillary Clinton would do the same knowing the political consequences. I think these are fair questions and I wish that the media would ask them as opposed to fanning the profitable flames of false controversy.

Perhaps addressing this question could be a subject for future inquiry on the Journal.

I have yet to see anyone address the actual substance of the other side of Hillary's comparasin. She clearly wants folks to see her as an LBJ type who can get things done because she has the experience. But I guess my question is, is this a valid comparasin?

Does she have both the legislative skill and Machiavellian knowledge to get something as politically volatile as civil rights legislation passed? Her last forays into large scale policy overhaul ended rather poorly as I recall. As a constituent I've seen her take the legislative lead on a flag burning amendments but not so much on health care or getting our troops out of Iraq or network neutrality.

Where LBJ forced through Congress civil rights legislation that he knew would "cost the Democratic Party the South for a generation" I truly wonder whether Hillary Clinton would do the same knowing the political consequences. I think these are fair questions and I wish that the media would ask them as opposed to fanning the profitable flames of false controversy.

Perhaps addressing this question could be a subject for future inquiry on the Journal.

Dear Mr. Moyers,

Truth shall overcome and unite everything equally as one.

Thanks again,

=
MJA

Thank you so much for your clarity around the 'race issue' that reared its head last week..as you said "Much Ado about Nothing!" I wish everyone could see (and hear) that piece of history from your perspective! "we" are so caught up in the nitty gritty of things, that we often fail to see the bigger picture,, perhaps it is a form of desperation! Thanks for all you do to shed light on inumerable subjects of interest! Marion Stegner

Thank you so very much for your thoughtful interpretation of regarding Hillary's comment on King and Johnson.

Mister Moyers: I have always enjoyed and been iterested and educated by your many shows and commentaries i have seen over the years. This show last night 1/18 was on fire ...great show ..and i admire your ability to go against the PC mood and acknowledge that yes LBJ played a crucial role in moving this country in the right direction. Marin Luther King was and is a true hero in my mind as well as countless others who moved the country past the stage of istitutional segregation and racism ...but to deny the role of Preisident Johnson is political correctness run amok much like the folks who call Huckleberry Finn a racist book ....thanks for your voice one of the few in mainstream media that stands true

Dear Mr. Moyers:

I watched your commentary on the Hillary LBJ/MLK controversy with much interest. Your comments added an unique p.o.v. of a White House insider who was involved with the nuts and bolts of passing the historic civil and voting rights acts of the 1960s.

However, I was dismayed and severely disappointed by both your premise--"Much Ado About Nothing"--and your conclusions. You have always been one of my genuine heroes by offering insight and clarity, and making connections easily missed by other observers. Your brand of journalism has always been distinguished by nuance and a profound sense of irony. That is why is am so troubled and feel betrayed by your rather dense handling of the current situation.

First off, you bemoan that most of the chatter over HRC's comment are being voiced without the "context" of what she actually said. You then proceed to show a clip of HRC. The clip, though, was not of the original controversial statement, which was made at a campaign event, but of HRC after the controversy swirled explaining herself. Her original statement was not said in a manner nearly as reasoned,calm, and detailed as her later explanation.

I am befuddled and greatly disappointed not only in your cursory discussion of the full historic context of her statement within the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, (artfully explained by other commentators on this blog), but by your neglect of the particular context of this particular political season and the verbal volleying of the Clinton campaign before and after the notorious remarks(also nicely touched on by others).

I do not believe the Clintons are personally racist. However, they and their supporters have repeatedly made issue of Obama's admitted youthful drug use, his age (with the former President referring to him as "kid"), rumors of Obama being a closeted Muslim naturally because of his middle name being "Hussein", "dumb" because he supposedly doesn't understand how politics work, and, most apallingly, the notion of Obama not being black enough (_Guess Who's Comming to Dinner_ and "Bill Clinton is as black as Obama and he has probably slept with more black women" are 2 notorious examples). All of this appeals to the worst of American history and human nature, and are playing upon stereotypes which are profoundly racist, that is black male as both perpetual child and threat, amoral and deceitful. Such tremendous cynicism!

Furthermore, the actual context of HRC's statement is the political juxtaposition of Obama, the hopeful dreamer, and HRC, the pragmatic can-do politican: Obama as MLK; Hillary as LBJ. That is what the statement meant to portray: "Yes, the 'vision thing' is well and good, but it takes a hard-as-nails politico to get things done. He can't do it, I can." Although, I believe HRC greatly esteems MLK, in her haste to build herself up she inadvertently stepped on his legacy, and more significantly, that of the unsung multitudes whose personal sacrifices and resistance to oppression is symbolized and voiced by MLK.

To me, the greatest sin of Hillary's words and the tenor of her campaign is not her supposed racism and her cynical use of negative racial imagery, but her implicit elitism. She says that "it takes a village", but in her and her surrogates dismissive treatment of the seriousness of Barack Obama's presidential campaign as both offering "false hope" and his lacking of political experience, despite his years of community organizing and being an elected representative longer than Hillary herself, it belies her contempt for grassroot democratic action.

Presidential courage and leadership are paramount in implementing political legislation; as are, at significant moments, judicial and legislative courage and action. No one has ever denied this and, most certainly, not Sen. Obama who, after all, IS running for President. (I think he gets how presidential power works, which begs the question,
"what exactly was her point in her original statement anyway?")

But as any student of history and observer of human nature knows, true societal change comes from the bottom up, not bestowed from on high to the masses. After all, the governing document of our country begins, "We the People..." This is something that Obama intimately understands as a grass roots organizer. I fear that the Clintons and many of their supporters --the self-appointed gatekeepers of American politics-- have become so entrenched in power that they have forgotten that simple and profound principle of "We the People". And, therefore, Obama, the hopeful dreamer, has to be shutdown and marginalized. "Wait your turn." "Be practical."

That is the "context" of Hillary Clinton's seemingly innocent statement, Mr. Moyers. I am disappointed in you.

Bill, like the earlier commentators, I treasure your journalism and the uncommon and wise voices you champion in your Journal, but, I have a boil with what you consider "a tempest in a teapot"-- getting it right about the history of the civil rights movement.

MLK's and LBJ's contributions to the enactment of civil rights legislation differ not only in degree but in kind. MLK was the sine qua non of our nation's civil rights history; LBJ was cautiously and, eventually, courageously compliant with the exigent forces of its history that were unleashed by a movement MLK led. MLK came to embody these forces; LBJ, as stand-in for our reluctant nation, succumbed to them.

What I, again, bristle at is your (like too many others') misapprehension of the meaning of the words, "...but it took a president to get it done." That phrase is idiomatic in our American lexicon, inferring something like this: "Here! Step aside! You're not doing it right. Let me handle it." Of course, Hillary is no bigot, no racist. Her words were at best, a gaffe; at worst, an indication of overreach of potential Presidential powers. Only in that sense does your unfortunate use of Shakespeare's tired quotes: "much ado about nothing" or "a tempest in a teapot," apply.

It is apparent that Clintons' used code words to attack Barak's hope message.

Bill, your analysis is so flawed that I have to question whether you remember what previous Clinton campaigns have done and whether that should determine the current situation.

Fairy Tale, False Hope, Law Suits, etc.

Please review Dr. Lakoffs work on Framing before you try to absolve Clintons. The Country is sick of Dynastic politics.

You

Dear Mr. Moyers, Sir

As a second class person by choice, I wish to say just that.

I have never imagined that I will see this country so divided as it is today. I never thought that demarcation line will be so much deeper today then they have been ever. Advantages are taken by the wrong people and used to divide even more the society we live in.

1. How would you name an African-American is not going to change who he is or what is he doing. History has been much harsher to other races in compare. Taking advantages and reminding the past, Will not going to build the better future. Prime example is Obama – Clinton. Personally I believe that is intentional and would end bad.
2. Not hearing the whole statement and/or manipulating it resemble propaganda not journalism; I personally stopped watching US news except PBS.
3. So far Clinton deserve respect for what she say and stands for, it is a different story what mainstream media partly presents, and for what purpose.

President Johnson set and example, What if instead him we had different person, someone like Nixon. History could have much different ending. There are no insurance policies against dictatorship and what they could bring.

“United we stand, divided we fall”, We don’t benefit dividing ourselves. Black or white, rich or poor, we are all the same … Homo sapiens. Thinking man

Given your unique perspective of having been with Johnson in the 1960s, I am glad you shared this with us. It was certainly refreshing to hear your presentation. I thank you for it.

But what your account did not explain, and what I still fail to understand, is what was the point that Hillary Clinton was trying to make when she alluded to Johnson´s role in passing the Civil Rights Act. You say "this was not about race" and "race was never mentioned." OK. But what was the point of the story, then?

Was she trying to point out that we should be cognizant of the pivotal role a President can play when it comes to bringing about CHANGE in our society?

Perhaps. But if we accept your account, Lyndon Johnson in this case was more of a facilitator than an initiator. He said to M.L. King "OK, if that is what YOU want, I will work to make it happen."

But is that Hillary's view of herself: a facilitator whose main talent is the ability to get things through Congress, as Lyndon did?

Most of us (and this is not meant as a criticism) view her quite differently. Indeed, during the episode at the diner on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, she made it quite clear that she HAD an agenda, and if tears welled in her eyes it was because she felt so strongly that she should be given a chance to make that agenda come through. This was never Lyndon Johnson's perspective as a President... or at least in the one area where he did have an agenda (the Vietnam War) he never succeeded in implementing it.

Bill,
As always there was much of value in your journal this evening, but as a veteran of the civil rights movement in Mississippi and a participant in the Selma march, I must object to your nostalgic and ahistorical rendering of LBJ (and your?) civil rights record. It is understandable that time and social change would reshape memory in ways that lend an aura of support for civil rights to LBJ that at critical junctures was either not there or there only when it became political necessary or expedient. Remember that LBJ did not use the power of the administration (and the Department of Justice) to protect civil rights workers like Andy Goodman, James Chaney, and Mickey Schwerner who were attempting to assist African Americans in Mississippi to exercise their constitutional rights. The laws were on the books. LBJ had the power to see that they were enforced. He chose not to because it was not politically expedient to do so. When Mrs. Fanny Lou Hamer, on behalf of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, was testifying before the Credentials Committee at the Democratic National Convention in August 1964, LBJ called a sudden press conference for no purpose except to divert media attention from Mrs. Hamer's testimony about the role the Mississippi Democratic Party had played in suppressing the rights of African American voters and would-be caucus participants. (Were you a party to that decision?)
The point is that LBJ was pushed time after time to take positions on Civil Rights that he would not have chosen to take of his own volition or personal values. Frankly, I find his invocation of "We Shall Overcome" before the United States Congress to have been cynical and pathetic. He did not create this change, civil rights activists who sacrificed life and limb did so. Johnson moved when he had to move, not out of a willful recognition that these were the rights African Americans deserved and had deserved for generations, while, during his rise to power in Texas, he had been virtually silent on those rights. Let's not rewrite this history.
Hillary Clinton's invocation of LBJ fits perfectly hers and Bill Clinton's conception of how change happens--from the top, as beneficence of the powerful not as a result of grassroots struggle and sacrifice (about which Barack Obama, for all of his relative youth, actually has more direct EXPERIENCE.)

I'm afraid I found your attempt to redeem candidate Clinton's inartful and unfortunate comparison of King's and Johnson's contributions also inartful, and though you claimed that all the media had dropped the last part of the statement, you yourself dropped the first part of the quote in which Mrs. Clinton atempted to contrast and compare King and Johnson. But Hillary did what people do every day --stick their foot in their mouth. It's no big deal unless maybe you're somewhat on display and you can't cope. For my money, you can apologize in passing, correct the mistake or misconception, and resume, which is a verbal tactic to which Senator Clinton does not seem prone.

It should be clear to everyone that there no way on God's green earth that you can compare Lyndon Johnson's and Martin Luther King's contributions in one statement.

I appreciate your commentary. You are always so thoughtful and insightful. However, I'm not so sure about the "Much To Do About Nothing" beginning or your conclusion on this subject. I totally agree about President Johnson's contribution to the Civil Rights Act and that both King and Johnson were essential to getting it done. What is left to be explained, however, is what point Hillary was trying to make. Everyone knows we need a president to get a law passed. More importantly, Obama is not in the same position as Dr. King was. Yes, he's a foot soldier. Yes, he is eloquent. Yes, maybe he's a dreamer. But he is also running to be President of the United States, the same office President Johnson held which gave him the power to effectuate the change in question. So her comparison of Obama to King makes no sense unless she was insinuating that Obama has no chance to become president, and that he and Black people alike need her in that position to help them achieve their present day hopes and dreams.

I admire Hillary and Bill and have not decided how I will vote, but this comment has nagged me for the reason stated above.


Powerful commentary by one who was there to witness the historic meetings of King and Johnson.

One question, Mr. Moyers states:
"Lyndon Johnson was no racist but he had not been a civil rights hero, either."

Didn't Lyndon Johnson push through the Civil Rights Bill of 1957 while Senate Majority Leader? The above quote seems to say that Johnson only came around to the cause of civil rights in 1964.

Thanks for the great work all these years!
Warren Ziegler

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