Please print these out and bring them to class. I'll also be bringing a couple of additional transcripts.
August 21, 1964—10:00 p.m. White House aide Bill Moyers
President Johnson: Why in the living hell they want to put it [a plank supporting the reapportionment decisions] in the platform, notify every little state. [Majority Leader] Carl Albert’s district [in Oklahoma] is put together and he’s abolished from Congress. Now who wants to do that to Carl Albert when he’s the best instrument the liberals have for achievement in this town, since [former House Speaker] Sam Rayburn. Now, why would they want to abolish his district?
It’s not so bad if the Senate abolishes it, or the Court abolishes it. But it’s awful if he is asked—the [Democratic National] Platform Committee which he heads—to abolish himself. That’s just cruel, inhuman punishment. Now, it looks like even a goddamned college professor could understand that.
Moyers: All right.
President Johnson: Paul Douglas has got less sense than any man I know when judgment’s required. He’s always off chasing some damn balloon in the air.
Moyers: That’s right.
President Johnson: So . . .
Moyers: All right.
President Johnson: Bill, the pitch is this: the Congress hasn’t adjourned. It was due to adjourn; it didn’t adjourn. Does Dr. Douglas know that?
Moyers: I hope he does.
President Johnson: All right. Now, why didn’t they adjourn? What are they coming back for? They’re coming back to consider the Tuck bill, and the Dirksen bill, and the Mansfield bill.
What they ought to do—if the liberals want a real plan of attack, [if] Tony Lewis wants something to do, is get ten of them out here at a Georgetown house some night with [historian and former Kennedy aide] Arthur Schlesinger, and let them all agree that one of them will talk four hours and the other one will talk four hours. That’s what they [the liberals] do best: is talk.”
[Senate Majority Leader Mike] Mansfield won’t run after 6.00. They’ll do that for two weeks, and the show will be over. The Tuck bill will be dead. The Supreme Court will be riding high. That’ll be it—period. That’s simple. You don’t have to be smart to know that. Hell, I knew that before I left Johnson City. [Snorts.]
August 25, 1964—4:32 P.M. Georgia governor Carl Sanders
President Johnson: What’s happening is we’re doing four or five things. Number one: we’re coming in there and seating the state of Mississippi. Every damn one of them. Now, they oughtn’t to be, Carl. They oughtn’t to …
Carl Sanders: I don’t—
President Johnson: You and I just can’t survive our political modern life with these goddamned fellows down there that are eating them for breakfast every morning. They’ve got to quit that. And they’ve got to let them vote. And they’ve got to let them shave. And they’ve got to let them eat, and things like that. And they don’t do it.
However much we love [Democratic Senators] Jim Eastland and John Stennis, they get a governor like Ross Barnett, and he’s messing around there with [George] Wallace, and they won’t let one [black] man go in a precinct convention. We’ve got to put a stop to that, because that’s just like the old days, by God, when they wouldn’t let them go in and cast a vote of any kind.
You’ve put a stop to it in your state. But we’re going to ignore that. We’re going to say, “Hell, yes, you did it. You’re wrong. You violated the ’57 law, and you violated the ’60 law, and you violated the ’64 law, but we’re going to seat you—every damn one of you. [dripping with sarcasm] You lily white babies, we’re going to salute you.”
Sanders then suggests the possibility of a convention-wide pledge of loyalty to the ticket, rather than making the Mississippi and Alabama delegations issue separate pledges of loyalty.
President Johnson: . . . Now, I’m a poor old man here that’s got a government falling on me.
In Vietnam today, I just walked out of the [National] Security Council. I’ve got McNamara coming in here at 6:00 tonight. I’m bringing General [Maxwell] Taylor back. I’ve got Cyprus in a hell of a war.
I can’t go up there and tell those damn fellows, and argue with [Harlem congressman] Adam Clayton Powell and Martin Luther King and the fellow from Alabama—Bull Connor. They ought to try to make it as easy on me as they can, because they’ve all been in these things in their own state conventions. They’ve got problems, and they’re going to have them.
Now, this doesn’t hurt anybody. I’m for everybody taking the oath. Nobody claims they won’t do it except Mississippi and Alabama.
Sanders: That’s right, and now they say they’ll do it. They just don’t want to be singled out in writing.
President Johnson: Well, just tell them that every national committeeman has taken it, from every state, speaking for his state.
Sanders: Well, I agree with you. I—
President Johnson: Every one of them have already done it. But I don’t object. I’d come up there myself, walk out naked and take it, if it would ease Bull Connor’s pressure any.
September 5, 1964—4:20 p.m.
Bill Moyers: Hello?
President Johnson: [UAW head] Walter Reuther’s going to say that they’re for Johnson because he’s for the poverty program, and because he’s for education, and he’s for taking care of the sick. He wants a real strong sentence on medical care. I assume there is a sentence on medical care—
Moyers: Yes, sir.
President Johnson: —in here, and on education in here.
Moyers: Yes, sir. And on poverty.
President Johnson: But I want one paragraph lifted—and [speechwriter] Dick Goodwin to work on it till dark, or you—along the lines of the other day that I took out of the [John] Steinbeck speech, I think it was, where we have a right to wish what we want to, think what we want to, worship where we want to, sleep where we want to. Everything like . . . the basic fundamentals that—that Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Constitution thing, wrapped up in one paragraph.
Do you remember the paragraph I’m talking about?
Moyers: Yes. I sure do.
President Johnson: But I want it elaborated on a little bit—“Mind to be trained, a child’s mind to be trained. A church to pray in. A home to sleep in. A job to work in.”
Moyers: All right.
President Johnson: Let’s get education, religion, free speech, free press—“read what he pleases”—that will round him out as a well-balanced, tolerant, understanding individual.
Moyers: All right.
President Johnson: Instead of one of these kooks.
President Johnson: [chuckling] Do you follow me there, now?
President Johnson: I want that one paragraph so that I can have all the Johnson philosophy.
He [Reuther] said, “Now, you’ve got to speak some on poverty. You’ve got to speak some one education. You’ve got to speak some on Medicare.” Somebody’s told him it’s going to be a high level speech. And he wants it a party hack speech.
I said, “Well, I’m going to refer to all of them.” I want it in one paragraph—my philosophy. So that when you quote what I had in that Southwest Quarterly [article]—“I’m a free man, an American, and a senator, in that order, and so forth.” Do you remember?
President Johnson: I want something that you can quote like this the rest of our lives. You can put it up in the preface of your book. “I see a . . . I have a vision . . . dash . . . a vision of a land where a child can [pauses for nine seconds] have a home to live in.”
And then repeat what I just said to you.
“Can read what he wants to, and can wish what he wants to, and can dream what he wants to.” Put in the words, “I have a vision.” Let’s get a little bit of this holy-rolly populist stuff. [voice rising] “I have a vision of a land where every child [pauses] can have training to fit his abilities, a home to protect him from the elements, a church to kneel in.”
Throw at least two biblical quotations in, that are very simple, that every one of them have heard—these working [men], these auto mechanics.
Moyers: All right.
President Johnson: It’s what you Baptists just pour to them all the time.
Moyers: [chuckling] All right.
President Johnson: Make it simple; don’t give me one of these long ones.
President Johnson: Just go back and get me one of the commandments. These Baptists preachers—don’t get on that adultery one. Get some of these, “Thou shalt not [pauses] lie on thy brother.” [Chuckles.]
Moyers: All right. OK.
President Johnson: OK.
Moyers: Thank you.