Books: Two Tragic Presidencies

JFK AND LBJ: THE INFLUENCE OF PERSONALITY UPON POLITICS by Tom Wicker. 297 pages. Morrow. $5.

John Kennedy promised to "get this country moving again"; yet he did not remotely reach his legislative goals in Congress. Lyndon Johnson salvaged much of Kennedy's program; yet he sacrificed his grand consensus in the unpopular Viet Nam war. What defeats great presidential expectations?

Tom Wicker, chief of the New York Times's Washington bureau, suggests that the answer is a fatal euphoria. What Kennedy overlooked was the fact that Congress had no intention of carrying out his campaign promises unless forced to by public pressure. To be...

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