LBJ, MacBird, and Power Elite Analysis

Email Print

Today I had a great moment in cross-curriculum teaching about power elite analysis.

I was showing my Political Parties students a rare History Channel video, Chasing Demons: LBJ VS. The Kennedys. The documentary is a psychological examination of the behind-the-scene confrontation between Robert Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and its impact on America in the period following John Kennedy’s assassination. The film utilizes actual recorded phone calls between the principals, with insightful commentary by key historical persons/witnesses involved in these matters.

We now know from recently published books and taped interviews that the “elephant in the room” which is never discussed or mentioned in the program was the firm belief by both Robert Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy that Lyndon Johnson was involved in JFK’s murder in a coup d’état.

The film dramatically portrays Lyndon Johnson’s increasing paranoia and dark suspicions concerning Robert Kennedy and his ulterior motives against him, fueled by covert intelligence reports given to him by his long-time close associate (and next door neighbor) FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, enemy of both John and Robert Kennedy.

One of my students remarked that the documentary resembled the plot intrigue in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I pointed out that this was an outstanding and very perceptive observation, for there had actually been a very controversial play, Mac Bird, written on this theme. All the other students then began to see parallels between the two stories from what they had remembered from studying Macbeth in their English Language Arts class.

The eagerly awaited, volume four, The Passage of Power, of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Robert Caro’s exceptional biography series, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, covering this period will be published on May 1st.

1:22 pm on March 2, 2012