So part of my job deals with listening to interviews conducted as part of a documentary about the civil rights movement. So as a result I get to hear all sorts of people talk about the civil rights movement, with a bunch of different perspectives. From people who knew and worked with Martin Luther King personally, to liberal (and radical) white activists, to community leaders and so forth.

I also apologize for the political digression, I usually try to avoid discussions of current politics, because they are difficult, and so often fail to address the important issues that are at play in our world. As an aside, thats why I write fiction. But with this as a backdrop, I was posed with a question that I think bears a little bit of collective pondering.

I was listening to an interview with a former member of Lyndon Johnson's administration, who was largely saying, "look at all the wonderful things we did," and I have little tolerance for this, because it's clear that this is really just posturing. I mentioned this to someone I work with and they said, (as many liberals these days say,) "yeah, and he was probably better than what we have now."

Of course, being the ornery sort that I am, I'm wondering if this is really the case.

Johnson started (or escalated) a war that was a farce, and lost control of the political situation to such an extent that he deployed federal troops to put down riots in '66 and '67. Let Johnson also not avoid responsibility for J. Edgar Hoover's behavior in the 60s. There are also plenty of reports that Johnson, was as a person, something of a creep (though we don't have a good comparison on this point) I think it's not worth ignoring.

And while Johnson is credited with passing the civil rights act and the voting rights act (and what has Bush done that's that good?), I'd argue that the civil rights acts are hardly an example of timely and forward thinking/progressive government. Not that I think they're bad, just that they were "as little and as late as possible."

So what do you think?