deconvolving Liberal icons

Matthew Yglesias clarifies:

The problem, basically, is that Lyndon Johnson comes very close to having been the greatest progressive president in American history. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were triumphs of the American promise over the ugliness of American reality. The Great Society had its problems, of course, but it also did a great deal that liberals love. The only trouble with this theory is that Lyndon Johnson was also a terrible president who basically wrecked the country's foreign policy. The Vietnam War has its defenders, but nobody thinks prosecuting it in the Johnson mold was a good idea. LBJ was, moreover, pretty crazy, as well as ridiculously corrupt, astoundingly power-hungry, and something of a racist.

Hence, psychological defense mechanisms are called for. One popular one is to displace things LBJ did onto the sainted FDR. Oftentimes, one hears Medicare and Medicaid referred to by liberals as part of the New Deal when they are, in fact, no such thing. Others take advantage of the temporal proximity of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to give JFK (a more appropriate liberal icon, personality-wise) credit for the good things LBJ did, while blaming LBJ for a Vietnam policy that was, in fact, put in place by Kennedy. This is aided by retrospectively projecting Robert Kennedy's Vietnam policy and Ted Kennedy's domestic policies onto their brother.

I'm taking notes...

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