In Vietnam, what did President Kennedy do that President
35. John F. Kennedy.
Elected in 1960 in a
close race where the role of TV image is a factor. He is
charismatic. He clears the air of the issue of him being a Catholic
by reaffirming the separation of church and state. He creates the
New Frontier image but reality is pragmatic with civil rights. An
anti-discrimination in public housing bill is signed but applies
only to housing to be built. His administration tries to block
civil rights marches and demonstrations. JFK’s view at the time is
that communism is a Russian monolith, and that Vietnam is a threat
to the U.S.. He sends troops in 1961, beginning a self-commitment.
When popular demonstrations erupt at home, he misses the chance to
withdraw and save face. JFK is assassinated in 1963. If he had
lived, Vietnam would have continued. His legacy is his charisma
inspires the younger generation in public service. .
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
LBJ completes JFK’s
term. He is from Texas, a segregated state. He has a strong
personality with unsavory aspects. He identifies with FDR’s New
Deal traditions. The civil rights movement is in full swing and he
pushes important civil rights legislation affecting
African-Americans, women, and other minorities. This includes the
War on Poverty and education. His important legacy is the Great
Society laws. He is reelected in 1964 during the Vietnam War. The
Tonkin Bay hoax gives him great authority for a major escalation of
the war eventually reaching 500,000 troops. Domestic programs are
cut. When increased hope is thwarted domestic uprisings result.
The 1968 Tet offensive dooms the war effort as lost, and leads to
low public confidence in the president. LBJ drops out of the
37. Richard M. Nixon
He is elected 1968. He
is the epitome of the Cold War politician. He manipulates Cold War
hysteria as vice president for 8 years under Eisenhower. He lacks
charisma. He loses to JFK in 1960. He returns from political
defeat to win the 1968 election. His domestic policy includes
starting EPA, advocates minimum guaranteed income, and universal
health plan in Keynesian tradition. Attempts Vietnamization of
the Vietnam War to reduce troops, but also steps up bombing which
extends to Cambodia. He wins reelection in 1972. The Cold Warier
breaks open relations with Communist China in 1973, boosting
American business interests. The war winds down 2 years and the
guerillas win in 1975. His personality is secretive and vindictive,
distrusting others. The Watergate scandal exposes the president’s
illegalities. He resigns in the face of impending impeachment. His
legacy is mixed. In foreign policy he opens the door to China for
economic reasons. The Vietnam War is intensified and then ended.
In Latin America he supports the overthrowing of governments not to
our liking, installing brutal leaders. Domestically he initiates
reforms. He is a paranoid president believing he is above the law
and provokes a constitutional crisis.
38. Gerald Ford.
As vice president he
becomes president after Nixon resigns. He is diminished by his
blanket pardon of Nixon. His wife, Betty, breaks First Lady
stereotype with her refreshing candor, and adds a human dimension.
He is genial but has an image of bumbler. He loses the 1976
39. Jimmy Carter.
anti-segregationist Governor of Georgia, is elected in 1976 and
serves only 1 term. He is chosen as a Southern candidate by the
Democrats. His informal style, outsider role hinders achieving his
agenda. He advocates human rights as a factor in foreign policy.
The Iranian Islamic revolution undercuts his reelection bid when he
is unable to free American hostages. During the campaign debates it
is image not substance that wins the day. There is the controversy
of the Iranians not releasing the hostages until Ronald Reagan is