Today in ethics history, on March 15, 1964, President Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress to urge the passage of a voting rights bill. Johnson declared that “every American citizen must have an equal right to vote, a right supposedly guaranteed by the Fifteenth Amendment, passed after the Civil War but foiled by many states that erected barriers based on race such as literacy and character tests and outright intimidation. “Their cause must be our cause too,”Johnson said, referring to Africa-Americans. “Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.”
It is a propitious time to consider LBJ, because a newly published book has revealed that his wife Lady Bird had to talk him out of quitting not long after his voting rights bill had become reality.
Johnson dictated his ideas for a withdrawal statement to his friend, Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas while in the depths of depression. “I want to go to the ranch. I don’t want even Hubert to be able to call me,” he told his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. “They may demand that I resign. They may even want to impeach me.” The First Lady ultimately talked her husband him through that period, allowing him to complete the final three years of his term. She wrote about the episode in her diary, she ordered the entry kept secret for years after her death.
I was not aware that Johnson was prone to clinical depression. Now I’m curious about how many of our other Presidents were. I was aware of three before Johnson—Pierce, Lincoln and Teddy. I’m sure there are more. Leaders, however, must not reveal their doubts and failures of confidence.
1. I believe this is called “putting the cart before the horse...” From the Boston Globe:
US officials have arrested and charged two men with assaulting US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick with bear spray during the Jan. 6 attack, but they do not know yet whether it caused the officer’s death.
Ah, how they want to be able to say that the rioters in the “armed insurrection” in which nobody had a gun (and that wasn’t an insurrection) killed Brian Sicknick. This mission has taken on extra urgency since the mainstream news media keeps saying, even now, that Sicknick was “killed” in the riot or by rioters. Yet as the Globe admits, as of today, this claim remains a lie, or if you prefer, fake news.
My experience is that reminding Facebook friends of this fact drives them bonkers.