LBJ: Let Goldwater Have It

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AUSTIN: Tapes of Lyndon Johnson made in the summer of 1964 reveal a man who despite his successes, never really felt like he belonged out front. "The South is against me and the North is against me and the Negroes are against me and the press doesn't really have any affection for me," LBJ told associates on the tapes, newly released by Johnson's presidential library in Austin. "I don't think a white Southerner is the man to unite this nation in this hour." When it was pointed out that if he didn't run, Republican Barry Goldwater would get the White House, Johnson responded: "Well, that's all right. I don't care. I think he can do better than I can." TIME's Hugh Sidey says the tape caught the classic LBJ doldrums. "He was just victimized by Kennedy's death. The Camelot existed in many minds, still does. There was just a huge number of people who couldn't stand to see LBJ take power and I don't think, even despite his victory in 1964, that he ever claimed the hearts of people like Kennedy did. He was always talking about whether the people liked him or not." But Sidey is confident that LBJ's doubts about his qualifications were happily exaggerated. "Johnson was the most trained, experienced man to handle things after the Kennedy assassination. This country is so lucky that he was there. He brought all the players together, he understood perfectly how the government works and he had a great sense of history."