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The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power

Caro, Robert A. | Knopf, 2012


p. xii

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the Presidency in about as difficult a transition as one could imagine. JFK’s staff despised LBJ. And now he needed their advice. The staffers thought they understood that JFK, if he had not despised LBJ, did not think highly of him either. After all, he had given LBJ practically nothing to do. When the hardest decision about facing the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis had to be faced, JFK had excluded LBJ from the meeting in which the decision was to be made. And they knew that the dead President’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, viscerally hated LBJ. The relationship between LBJ and Robert Kennedy was “one of the great blood feuds in American political history.” “Possessing during his brother’s presidency the power to humiliate Johnson, Bobby Kennedy had taken many opportunities to do so. And now, in a single instant, in the crack of a Dallas gunshot, their positions had been reversed, tables turned completely, and Lyndon Johnson had to power to repay the favor—which he soon began to do.