Lyndon Johnson’S “Great Society”

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Alabama Gov. George Wallace is perpetually plotting new ways of stopping Johnson’s civil rights agenda. And Vice President Hubert Humphrey watches in horror as Johnson takes the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara , who believes the only method to take care of Vietnam is to accentuate America’s navy involvement.

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His administration was later successfully demolished by Vietnam and the non-stop turbulence of a struggle-torn presidency. Viewing this chapter of American political history from the vantage of today’s governmental paralysis, Schenkkan could also be forgiven for going soft on Johnson. He doesn’t skirt the tragic waste, both financial and human, of the Vietnam War. (Acebo’s set, which continues the witness gallery design scheme of “All the Way,” piles up with debris because the warfare spirals out of control.) But the playwright’s perspective is simply too balanced to see Johnson as a tragic figure.