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Untrodden GroundHow Presidents Interpret the Constitution$
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Harold H. Bruff

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226211107

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226211244.001.0001

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Bear Any Burden

Bear Any Burden

Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson

(p.293) Chapter Ten Bear Any Burden
Untrodden Ground

Harold H. Bruff

University of Chicago Press

President John Kennedy addressed two foreign policy crises unilaterally, with different results. At the Bay of Pigs, he endorsed a covert scheme that failed; in the Cuban Missile Crisis, he averted nuclear war with a quarantine and a secret deal with the Soviet Union. In both cases, he struggled to control the military. He was slow to make civil rights a faithful execution priority. In Vietnam, he began a duplicitous engagement that the next two presidents continued. Lyndon Johnson demonstrated the maximum power of a president in the congressional process. His legislative legacy restructured American law and politics and led ultimately to the overreach of the Great Society. His War on Poverty tried to help the powerless. In Vietnam, he obtained authorization in the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, distorting the facts to do so. Congress funded the war despite its misgivings. Johnson spied on domestic dissent, violating the First Amendment.

Keywords:   John Kennedy, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, civil rights, Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson, Great Society, War on Poverty, Tonkin Gulf Resolution, First Amendment

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