Biden Speech at LBJ Library Would Have
Major Symbolic Signifance as Swan Song

Capitol Inside
July 9, 2024

President Joe Biden could use an appearance in Austin as an opportunity to pull the plug on a badly-shaken White House campaign in a setting that offers deep symbolic value with a speech that he's scheduled for Monday at the LBJ Library on the University of Texas campus.

Biden would be the first president since Texan Lyndon Johnson to cancel a re-election bid in midstream if he hasn't already bowed out of a rematch with Donald Trump before he's set to embark early next week on his first trip to the Lone Star State as the president.

Biden's speech at UT is supposed to focus on the historic civil rights legislation that Johnson pushed through a highly-resistant Congress during his first year as the president after John F. Kennedy's assasination in Dallas in 1963. Johnson, who served a dozen years in the U.S. Senate and almost three as the vice president, is ranked among the greatest presidents in American history in terms of accomplishments on the domestic front.

But Johnson's escalation of the U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam became his eventual undoing - and he announced on March 31, 1968 that he would no longer seek the nomination for a second term or accept if Democrats selected him for the role. LBJ saved the personal note for the end of a nationally televised address to the nation after informing the country that he'd ceased the bombing in Hanoi.

As a leader with minimal experience in foreign affairs, Johnson relied on advice from the Pentagon with his direction of the U.S. activity in Vietnam. Johnson was haunted to an early death by decisions that cost countless young Americans their lives in a war that the vast majority of Americans opposed by the time he stepped down. Johnson, who was 64 in 1968, looked much older than his age when he broke the news on his retirement and effectively passed the torch to his VP - Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota - for a fight that fall with former Republican vice-president Richard Nixon.

But LBJ hadn't locked the nomination down as tight as Biden had this year. Eugene McCarthy was challenging Johnson from the left - and Robert F. Kennedy appeared to be an increasing threat during the Democratic primary voting before the incumbent bowed out of the competition. With Johnson out of the picture, Kennedy won the California and South Dakota primaries before his assasination in Los Angeles on June 6, 1968 at a celebration of his win in the Golden State that day.

Biden has been facing growing calls from Democrats to cancel the re-election since the debate late last month when he had trouble speaking and appeared confused and rattled. Biden's age appeared to be finally catching up to him at the age of 81. Never mind that Trump is an elderly man as well after turning 78 last month.

Trump did nothing at the debate to gain any significant new support after serving frequent claims that were false by any legitimate standard. Trump had been losing ground after a conviction on almost three dozen felony counts in New York in early June. The former president's only chance of winning in November appeared to be on a silver platter from the Democrats.

But Trump is the favorite now with Democrats in epic disarray after failing to be proactive about age as an issue in a presidential sweepstakes that features two old white men.

more to come ...







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