One somewhat stares at it wondering whether to pick it up. Its girth sets you back. My Uncle has said a book this size should really count as reading two books. And then you think gosh, I have already read almost 2,000 pages in the past three books that Robert Caro wrote about Lyndon Johnson. Do I really want to forge through another 600-page book? Then you find a time when you can commit and you do it. You start to read Passage of Power and you are grateful for every moment.
The main reason one really appreciates reading a dense biography like this is because one is reminded that history almost always predicts the future. This fourth book on the life of Lyndon Johnson centers on the period between 1958 and the beginning of 1964. The book tells of the period in LBJ’s life that is focused on his relationship with John F. Kennedy and the rest of the Kennedy clan.
As a matter of full disclosure, I have come to believe the Kennedy clan is a blight upon America. After Jack and Bobby were killed we were left with Teddy, for whom I had near total disregard, and the next generation of Kennedys is totally annoying and should never have been elected to public office. I had been hoping they might give up public disservice and just go lay on a beach somewhere for the betterment of mankind.
The grabbing at the Kennedy legacy has been illuminating to watch especially on the heels of Ira Stoll’s book JFK, Conservative. He certainly was in favor of what became to be known as the Laffer Curve. He understood the idea that lower tax rates will stir the economy and bring in higher tax revenues to be used for his favored programs. His successors in the Democratic party have not grasped the concept. I often argued that the Democrats should keep their mouths shut about George W. Bush because his tax cuts raised revenues $750 billion over four years. But this current President would rather punish people in the name of fairness than lower tax rates.
Those of you believing JFK was a conservative should just focus on one fact. He was the person who brought unionization to federal employees. That caused an avalanche of unionization of public employees at the state and local level which has caused massive problems for all levels of government. That is enough of a legacy to dispel any idea of him being a conservative icon.