The Administration: The Virtues of Talking Back

Flying to Southeast Asia in 1961 on one of his first foreign-policy assignments from President Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon Johnson was nervous and irritable. He vented his sensitivities on staffers, particularly on Carl T. Rowan, the press adviser the State Department had assigned to accompany him. Several times Johnson berated Rowan in front of newsmen. Several times Rowan talked right back.

In a somewhat less public scrap, Rowan took exception to a sentence in a joint communiqué that Johnson was to propose to India's Prime Minister Nehru. Warned Rowan: "It's condescending and Nehru won't like it." Johnson forcefully disagreed. But sure...

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