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This “Society” isn’t Great

February 28, 2020

Yesterday I reviewed Amity Shlaes’ new book that she titles Great Society.  Shlaes is a journalist with a serious disposition evident in her role at the Coolidge Presidential Foundation and in her 2007 book The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.

I’m writing a new book that prominently features the destructive policies of President Lyndon Johnson and figured that I’d get the low down on “the Great Society” of LBJ by reading Shlaes’ new book.

Lyndon Johnson was the one American president that I despised utterly because I worked for Barry Goldwater on the 1964 campaign and knew that LBJ was planning to increase troop levels in South Vietnam without a strategy for achieving victory.  And I loathed his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, and the producers of LBJ’s “Daisy” advertisement that blamed Goldwater for a future nuclear holocaust.

Shlaes’ book justifies my loathing and more.

“Great Society” is a narrative history of an era that grew the administrative “deep” state exponentially and burdened Americans with programs motivated by socialist ideas spun off by Tom Hayden and Michael Harrington and implemented with zest by LBJ and his chosen anti-poverty Czar, Sargent Shriver.

Shlaes is an historian with an eye for “colorful” personalities and their interactions as they mired the United States in a land war in Asia and attempted the realization of a socialist dream of redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. When reality intervened to destroy LBJ’s dream, he blamed “that bitch Vietnam,” not his perverted zeal to “best” the New Deal.

This review appears in Theimaginativeconservative that features thousands of essays on culture, education, religion and politics and is one of only two or three remaining “conservative” journals for serious, popularly written, scholarship.


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