August 3, 1967. LBJ’s frequent companion, Yuki the dog, accompanies him on his walk around the grounds with the press.
LBJ Library photo A4554-23, public domain. L-R: George Christian, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Yuki, Hon. Cyrus Vance, Lt. Gen. John Throckmorton.
"Q. Sir, what is your outlook? What can we expect in the next year or so in military terms in Vietnam?
"GENERAL WESTMORELAND. The statement that we are in a stalemate is complete fiction. It is completely unrealistic. During the past year tremendous progress has been made….
"We have opened up roads. They are now being used not only for military purposes but for commercial purposes.
"We have invaded long-established base areas representing tremendous investment value such as in the vicinity of Saigon. We have pushed the enemy further and further back into the jungles.
"The enemy had planned to take control of the two northern provinces, Quang Tri and Thua Thien. He has been stopped. He has suffered large casualties.
"The enemy had planned to take over domination of the highlands. Again, he has been defeated and great casualties have been suffered. Greater population has been secured and taken away from Communist domination.
"The revolutionary development program has made encouraging progress. It has a long ways to go, I admit, but the Government’s program is off to a good start.
"The ARVN troops are fighting much better than they were a year ago. They are showing greater professionalism. We have paramilitary units that are defeating North Vietnamese regular forces and Vietcong main forces. A year ago this was unheard of.
"The number of defectors coming into the Government has substantially increased. The ratio of friendly troops killed to those killed of the enemy continues to increase. It has doubled during the past year.
"The number of weapons lost by the Government forces, compared with those captured from the enemy, has turned in favor of the Vietnamese forces.
"Two years ago they were losing two weapons for every one captured. Now they are capturing two to three weapons for every one they lose. These are all very favorable trends.
"I think to measure progress, one has to think in terms of objectives. Our objective in South Vietnam is to give the people freedom of choice, to resist the aggression from the North, to try to give the people protection from the terror and intimidation of the Vietcong.
"On the contrary, the enemy’s objectives have been to terrorize the people, to disrupt the revolutionary development program, to take over more of the population, to sabotage the roads and lines of communication.
"He has failed in achieving his objectives. We have succeeded in attaining our objectives. Despite the fact that North Vietnam has now apparently fully mobilized, sending her best troops and leadership to the South, developed a very large air defense system, and having her physical infrastructure progressively destroyed by our offensive strategy, our air war, she has nothing to show for it."
The enemy has not won a single significant victory during the past year, despite the tremendous effort that she has put forth.”
July 6, 1967. Dan Rather and his family visit the Johnsons at the LBJ Ranch.
LBJ Presidential Library photo #C5960-18, public domain.
“Take-off from Philadelphia for Washington, D.C.—This flight was to be speeded up as much as possible for the President was in a race w/ time, for he wanted to make his statement on live television at the White House prior to Chairman Kosygin’s televised Press Conference in New York…
"AF One 26000 landed at Washington National Airport, the MAC terminal. The President and the occupants of his helicopter quickly lined up at the back door of the plane so that they could go directly to the waiting helicopter with a minimum of time. However, as the door opened, it was discovered that the steps had been placed, by mistake, at the front of the plane, so as the President and party raced through the plane, it could be heard over the intercom, ‘Make way for the President.’ As Frank Cormier who was in the press pool on board the plane, [noted] it looked almost like one of the old silent movies in which a comedy of errors occurred.”
Photo: LBJ finally makes his speech, with Lynda behind him and the White House dogs off to the right. #C5791-6A. LBJ Presidential Library.
June 13, 1967. LBJ nominates Thurgood Marshall as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court in a ceremony in the Rose Garden (audio here—listen for the birds and sirens in the distance!). LBJ and Solicitor General Marshall then accompany the press inside for the President’s news conference. LBJ fields questions on the resolution of the Six-Day War and the importance of the hot line, the attack on the USS Liberty, Vietnam, and growing violence in the cities—which is about to get much, much, worse.
LBJ Presidential Library #A4275-11, public domain.
June 5, 1967. Lady Bird records some of the thoughts about the chaotic day in her daily audio diary:
“Not since that day in October 1962 (during the Cuban missile crisis) had I felt so tense and strained, known such a feeling of foreboding…I remember that other day, when I stood in the bedroom at The Elms—a beautiful, clear, golden day—and looked out at the sunlight shimmering on the leaves of golds and crimsons and reds and wondered: ‘Is this the last beautiful October day we shall see?’ But there is nothing I can do about the great clash of powers—nothing at all, except be quiet and sympathetic and cheerful when Lyndon is home…
In this place there are thermometers of trouble somewhere in the world…the presence of TV vans by the West Wing is always one, and in the space outside the press lobby a commentator with a mike standing in the spotlight’s glare. Another is the sudden arrival of a fleet of limousines, some bringing Congressional leadership, and some Chiefs of Staff, to Lyndon’s office.
It was a little after 10 when Lyndon came home to dinner. He looked burdened and the lines in his face deeper, and I felt it would be the greatest cruelty for me to ask him to talk about the war in the Middle East. I tried some brisk, bright reports on what I had been doing today, and they sounded hollow.”
—Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, page 520-522 Photos LBJ Presidential Library 5608-8a, 5608-2a, 5608-3a, and 5608-14a; public domain.
June 2, 1967. LBJ and visiting UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson read news off the ticker in the Oval Office. LBJ has opened the door of the cabinet so he can see news which has just been printed even before it rolls up to the viewing window at the top of the machine.
May 12, 1967. The President’s secretary recording the Daily Diary (probably Marie Fehmer) writes a beautifully detailed description of dinner conversation at LBJ’s table. Also present are Sen. Russell and aide Harry McPherson.
"At dinner, the President told Senator Russell that what he needed to talk to him about was Vietnam …The President outlined three choices open to him:
'1. I can move further in the North—but they tell me that moving further in the north with the bombing will result in only killing civilians and will not accomplish anything that we've not already accomplished. 2. I can concentrate completely on the DMZ. 3. I can concentrate on the areas between the seventeenth and twentieth parallels and make my planes make that a desert. Just destroy anything that moves.'
Senator Russell feels that dragging this out each day leans more toward getting us in a big war. ‘We’ve just got to finish it soon.’ said the Senator, ‘because time is working against you both here and there.’ The Senator suggested that his feeling was that the only way to end the war was to blockade the ports and stop their lines of supply…The President expressed sincere belief that this would get us into war sooner than anything. He also felt that number (1) above would get us into war. ‘The only thing left to take out up there,’ said the President, ‘is a power plant which is located 1/2 mile from Ho’s headquarters. Suppose we missed,’ said the President.
The President then asked the Senator about Lester Maddox. The President told him, ‘Well, I watched him on Face the Nation last Sunday, and just decided that he definitely was not Georgia quality.’ The Senator said that Gov. Maddox was a child of fortune, just lucky, and couldn’t have beaten any other man in the race except the one he did beat.
After his talk w/ Amb. Clark, the President affirmed his belief that he was a ‘Holt and Menzies man.’ Sen. Russell said that he hoped Holt was an LBJ man because he knew that he won eight seats at least as a result of the President’s visit there. The President said that when Holt was here he stood up and said, ‘All the Way with LBJ.’ The President appreciated that, but then took him aside, and said, ‘Now listen, I don’t want you to become a casualty. If you are lost, then I lose a good friend. They’ll murder you back home.’ ‘No, sir,’ replied the Prime Minister, ‘That’s the way it’s going to be.’ ‘And so it is,’ said the President.
The President then launched into a tirade against the newspaper reporters who follow him around at receptions. He explained to Senator Russell that Liz Carpenter’s procedure is to invite about 25 of them as guests to each reception type function and then allow a press pool to cover the whole thing. The President said that he can’t even swallow a mouthful of food without having one of them watch to see if he chewed it properly before swallowing. He said that all we’re doing is inviting 500 guests, standing them before the wall, and then making them be gracious to the 25 who come up to them and ask questions like, ’Are you happy here? Why are you here? Will you come next time? Are you a friend of the family? Isn’t the service worse here than it used to be? Isn’t the coffee weak?’ …
At midnight. Senator Russell stood up and said. ‘Mr. President, it’s midnight, and I have to go to bed because I’m an old man, and you have to go to bed because you’re President of the United States.’”
He [LBJ] also read an editorial in the Sunday Star-Bulletin & Advertiser (of Honolulu, Hawaii) by William F. Buckley, Jr—“Anti-American Theme”— He told mary s and mf to be sure and read the article to see what “your young friends on the left” are doing. He was upset by the references to his own inadequacies in contrast to the glories of the JFK myth and explained that in JFK’s three years little had been done, and went on to enumerate his own successes in the legislative field.
Then the President took two equanil and said that if he couldn’t sleep, he’d get up and work, but he hoped that sleep would come.
March 14, 1967. Lady Bird (in the green dress) and her entourage of 50 or more reporters descend on the Mathis family during her visit to North Carolina.
The First Lady talks with family members about favorite television programs, the garden at the Ranch, and how the children like the Teacher Corps teachers in their school. Lady Bird presents Mrs. Mathis with preserves and honey from the ranch “wrapped incongruously in the elegant embossed paper from the White House.”
LBJ Library Photo #C4719-3, public domain. Lady Bird quote from A White House Dairy.
March 6, 1967. LBJ and Lady Bird, along with aide Jake Jacobsen and others, leave the LBJ Ranch for San Antonio and thence to Washington Along the way, according to the Daily Diary, they engage in some subterfuge in aid of LBJ’s teeth.
"8:56 PM. Arrive the LBJ Ranch—bid farewell to Luci and Pat and walked to the waiting Jetstar—The President came on board saying, ‘Jake, everything fine?’ To Jake’s reply that everything was fine, the President said that it certainly wasn’t with him—he had lost a tooth while eating a piece of candy—actually the crown of a tooth had come out.
"9:14 PM. President and Mrs. Johnson arrived Randolph AF Base, San Antonio, Texas. A dentist, Dr. Henry Pelc, FR 55820, 3510 USAF Hospital, RAFB, Tex, boarded AF One to look at the President’s tooth. To throw the press off as to the reason for delay, baggage was still being loaded. The plane taxied to the end of the runway when the dentist had finished and he went out the escape hatch behind the pilot’s seat to avoid being seen by the press. (Note: The dentist was in his dress uniform as he had been at a cocktail party when contacted.)"
LBJ Library photo #C3936-8, from 11/23/66, photographer snapping photos of LBJ’s Jetstar. Public domain.
September 21, 1966. LBJ has a two-hour, off-the-record meeting with staff from the Washington Post. Left to right: Ben Bradlee, Russell Wiggins, Katharine (Kay) Graham, President Lyndon B. Johnson.
LBJ was an old friend of the Grahams: you can listen to an excerpt of a telephone conversation with Kay from December 2, 1963, a few months after she took over the Post upon her husband’s death.
LBJ Presidential Library photo A3178-13. Public domain.
August 6, 1966. Luci and Pat stage “Operation Departure,” so that they can leave for their honeymoon in private. First, they bade goodbye to LBJ and Lady Bird—in public, for the benefit of the press (above). Then, later, they made their real exit:
“Luci kissed us both and dashed off down the hall. I followed her to the elevator and watched it go down. I knew that… they would go out through the tunnel into the Treasury and into the basement garage. There would be the inconspicuous black sedan and, crouched on the floor of the car, they would begin the drive to New York to spend the night at Mary Lasker’s town house.”
Quote: Lady Bird Johnson’s White House Diary, August 6, 1966. Photo: LBJ Presidential Library photo C2716-14a.