Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lyndon Baines Johnson: Our "Statue of Liberty"


Lady Bird Johnson, 94, Still in Hospital

The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 27, 2007; 2:40 PM

AUSTIN, Texas -- Former first lady Lady Bird Johnson remained hospitalized Wednesday in stable condition nearly a week after she was admitted, a spokeswoman said.

"She's nice and stable and very comfortable," spokeswoman Elizabeth Christian said, adding that her family members are waiting to learn when she will be released. "They still are eager to get her home."

Johnson, 94, the widow of President Lyndon B. Johnson, was taken to Seton Medical Center last Thursday evening for treatment of a low-grade fever, which later subsided.

In 2002, she suffered a stroke that left her with difficulty speaking. She communicates through facial expressions and other ways.


Lady Bird's hospitalization brought to mind her husband, who is never far from my thoughts because my sense of gratitude would not allow me to forget him.

I consider Lyndon Baines Johnson to be the greatest U.S. president of my lifetime. The fact that we are all here today and have been spared a half century of tyranny at home is attributable directly to him. From other U.S. presidents we received and continue to receive nothing but lip service when it comes to Cuba. Johnson could not liberate Cuba because Kennedy had tied his hands in the Kennedy-Khruschev Pact, so he did the next best thing and freed 2 million of us piecemeal.

It was Johnson who signed the original Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) (1966), the most immigrant-friendly legislation ever passed in the history of this nation of immigrants, the likes of which we shall never see again in these xenophobic times. In fact, the Cuban Adjustment Act was essentially gutted by Clinton when he implemented by presidential fiat the nefarious "Dry Foot/Wet Foot" policy which Bush has upheld longer than Clinton did. The original CAA didn't require Cubans to set foot on U.S. land to be free (at the end of their unimaginable travails at sea) but actually saved the refugees' lives on the high seas (at the beginning of their travails) and brought them to freedom here. Of course, it was unthinkable to Johnson or any American then that a Cuban freedom-seeker would ever be returned by the U.S. to Castro's island hell, as unthinkable, in fact, as dropping a rescued baby back into a well or placing a trampoline on the western side of the Berlin Wall. But times have changed. It is now the U.S. which is building a Berlin wall along its border with Mexico and deports even motherless children to Castro's tender mercies.

It was the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, I think, who said that Johnson was the greatest president for the poor and blacks. Well, for what it's worth, he was also the greatest president for Cuban refugees. The fact that most of us are here today and have had lives worth living was his doing. He was our "Statue of Liberty."

Johnson, moreover, understood the real nature of Communism, which his dilettante predecessor did not. If he had been president in 1961, or Nixon, for that matter, the freedom fighters would not have been betrayed at the Bay of Pigs and all Cubans and the world would have been spared the predations of Fidel Castro.

Something else: As confirmed to his biographer Doris Kearns Godwin, LBJ always personally believed that Castro was responsible for Kennedy's assassination. He no doubt saw the definitive proof which has been concealed from the American public for 46 years because of "national security" reasons.

Johnson was as complicated and multi-facetted as Abraham Lincoln, a man writ large, with titanic flaws and titanic virtues, bigger than life except that he actually lived. He was also a deeply compassionate man who loved mankind in all its diversity, whether the poor white sharecropper or the descendent of slaves still kept in legal fetters; the Vietnamese fighting for freedom and civilization or the Cuban fleeing from Communist barbarism because that option had been closed to him.

His widow, Lady Bird Johnson — of Mexican-American ancestry, incidentally — is still with us and currently hospitalized. She was also this county's best first lady and a worthy wife to such a man.

I have always wondered why Cuban-Americans have never expressed their gratitude to Johnson through his widow; for I should think that no man is more deserving of our gratitude and remembrance than Lady Bird's husband. Instead, we are forever extolling Reagan, who did absolutely nothing for us or Cuban freedom. Just like Pope John Paul II. They managed to free all the Western world of Communism except Cuba. Johnson's efforts to combat Communism at least benefitted us also.

Perhaps next year, which will mark the centenary of his birth, Cuban Americans will join their voices with those of the poor and blacks to praise him. Perhaps some day all Americans will realize that Lyndon Baines Johnson was the greatest American president of the latter-half of the 20th century.

21 comments:

Charlie Bravo said...

He was also very certain that fidel castro had have a hand in the Kennedy Magnicidium. A heavy, very loaded, and very long hand.
He confided to Alexander Haig that if the American people ever found out, the Democratic Party would have never been forgiven, and they would have to forget what being in power is like for the next couple of generations. Somehow, these words are documented, but both Press and Government would not reveal this secret or any other secret which can put fidel castro in his right place as an enemy of not only the Cuban people and Cuban nation, but of the American people and the American nation.
Clinton did away -illegally and de facto- with the monument to freedom erected by President Johnson because he wanted to be the president of the left, and wanted to separate himself from any work of dignity ever produced by his predecessors in office. Bush, well, he's simply not interested. What is a shame is that most of the Bush advisors in what regard Cuba and Cubans are native born Cubans, but they will remain silent and will not steer the President into doing anything that would remotely favor a Cuban fleeing communism or that would eventually free Cuba. It's all put together in dollars and cents: a free Cuba would do away with the economy of the Caribbean Basin and the Gulf of Mexico (including Florida, New Orleans) and other leisure oriented places as Las Vegas. More, under the current tyranny, if American tourism is allowed in Cuba, the same would occur.
So, the politicos, the academics, and the corporate forces are very interested in maintaining the status quo, and if the Cuban people suffer, well, we know they don't care.
We need another LBJ. With Texas sized cojones, soul, heart, and brains.

Vic said...

Manuel, please can you post something about "Emilio Ochoa" and the 40's constitution. People of my generation and younger that grew up and were educated in communist Cuba know very litter about those topics and the peoples who some how helped to shape the Cuban nation since they were erased from the history that we study back there.
Thanks!

Charlie Bravo said...

Vic, I have something for you....
Cuban Constitution in Absentia, 2006
Read all the comments....
It was the work of a group of Cubans, an American Woman, and it was subject to consultation with people inside Cuba.

Vic said...

Thanks Manuel!

Vana said...

Indeed he was our Statue of Liberty, without him, many of us would never have left the Island prison, we have to find a way to pay homage to him, and Lady Bird, good post Manuel.
Damn Clinton had to go and spoil it all, as Charlie points out, he just wanted to please the left, and our politicos in Washington, are worthless, good for nothings.

CorgiGuy said...

Here is an interesting article ranking of us presidents,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_United_States_Presidents

I see that bush rank by scholars in the lower tier, in good company with clinton and carter. Bush is determined to hit bottom, SLIP SLIDING AWAY.

Agustin Farinas said...

Manuel
as a beneficiary of the original CAA in have only fond memories for LBJ. Thanks to his initiative I was able to stay in the USA and start a new life when I had to leave my country in the early 60's. Coming from a Southern Texas background it took great courage to carry on with the Civil Rights Act and imlement it fully.
By the way, I am still waiting anxiously for the second installment of the history of Cuban politics from 1952 onwards. Thanks for remembering Millo Ochoa. Good posting.

CorgiGuy said...

Manuel

LBJ opponent was Barry Goldwater. Goldwater despised communism, he was for liberating cuba.

Barry was the father of the conservative movement. For those of you that like history here's a good read. It's called the conscience of a conservative. It's Goldwater's philsophical view of goverment and democracy and what a ture conservative is.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/features/PresidentsEssay/PresEssay2004.pd

retire05 said...

No, Lady Bird Johnson was NOT of Hispanic ancestry. How wrong you continue to be.
For her ancestry, here is a link:

http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=37

LBJ was not the great man you would like to portray him as. He was a crook as big as the state he came from actally stealing his senate seat with illegal votes from Alice,Texas. When Robert A. Caro wanted to write about the corruption of LBJ, it took him three volumes.

And why do you continue to put another nation in front of the word "American" as in Cuban-Americans? Perhaps because there is less loyality to America than to Cuba?
Now, tell me what a xenophobe I am again, while you still do not know my heritage. But while you want to slam me, remember what I told you before; I am an American and my heritage has nothing to do with that.
Here are some notches you can add to LBJ's belt:

higher welfare rolls

removal of responsibility from dead beat fathers

disinagration of inner city communities

greater racial anomosity
higher taxes

I could go on, by why bother. You have already drank the Kool-Aid about LBJ because you cannot remove your personal emotion from reality.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Yes, you are right, gratitude is first and foremost to me, as it should be to every man. And because LBJ saved my life and the lives of more Cubans than anyone ever did, I will always be grateful to him and honor his memory.

But, of course, I am not the only one nor are my people the only people that are beholden to him. He freed millions from poverty and an entire race from the scourge of institutionalized racism.

As for Barry Goldwater, he became a bigger liberal in his dotage than LBJ ever was.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

I will investigate the question of Lady Bird's Mexican ancestry. Anyone who sees a photograph of her cannot doubt it. She is the protypical white Mexican (oh, yes, there are white Mexicans).

But why does the mere thought that she could be of Mexican ancestry cause such pain?

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Claudia (Spanish name) Alta (Spanish name) Pattillo (Spanish name) Taylor Johnson (aka Lady Bird Johnson) was the daughter of Minnie Lee Pattillo. Minnie's parents (Lady Bird's maternal grandparents) are allegedly "unknown." However, there is no question that "Pattillo" (or "Patillo" as it is more commonly spelt) is of Spanish origin. Someone has ridiculously suggested that "Pattillo" is of Scotch origin to spare Lady Bird the "ignominy" of being Hispanic on her mother's side (and possibly Sephardic too). I won't believe it until somebody produces the tartan for the spurious Scotch "Pattillos."

Anonymous said...

As a Pattillo, I can tell you that the name is Scottish. We trace our family tree to Robert Pitilloch of Dundee

http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/ntor/pattillo2.htm

http://genforum.genealogy.com/patillo/

Anonymous said...

That first link should have 2.html on the end (after pattillo)

Oops! :p

Anonymous said...

You can also read about Lady Bird Johnson here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Lady_Bird_Johnson

Her family on both sides (Pattillo and Taylor) came from Virginia. It is well known amongst Pattillo genealogists that the Pattillo family, upon leaving Scotland, settled in Virginia.

Her name "Claudia" comes from being named after a relative named "Claud."

No tartan? That's something I'm trying to find myself. There is speculation that the Pattillo family, or Pattilloch family, descends from the MacDougalls, the MacDonalds, the MacGregors, or the MacLillichs...depending on your source.

Most written records from Scotland were destroyed in the 13th century when Edward 1 of England attempted to be overlord of Scotland.

The MacGregor Society itself recognizes "Patullo" name as one of its septs. "Patullo" is a variation of "Pattillo" and a derivative of "Pattilloch" or "Pitilloch".

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