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LBJ: The Civil Rights President

[ 0 ] January 31, 2008 |

I was happy to see Ted Kennedy endorse Barack Obama, but he apparently did it in at least some measure for a silly reason:

There’s more to Sen. Edward Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama than meets the eye. Apparently, part of the reason why the liberal lion from Massachusetts embraced Obama was because of a perceived slight at the Kennedy family’s civil rights legacy by the other Democratic presidential primary frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Sources say Kennedy was privately furious at Clinton for her praise of President Lyndon Baines Johnson for getting the 1964 Civil Rights Act accomplished. Jealously guarding the legacy of the Kennedy family dynasty, Senator Kennedy felt Clinton’s LBJ comments were an implicit slight of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, who first proposed the landmark civil rights initiative in a famous televised civil rights address in June 1963.

One anonymous source described Kennedy as having a “meltdown” in reaction to Clinton’s comments. Another source close to the Kennedy family says Senator Kennedy was upset about two instances that occurred on a single day of campaigning in New Hampshire on Jan. 7, a day before the state’s primary.

I suppose the fact that he’s related to JFK gives him marginally more of an excuse to defend his brother’s legacy, but the fact is that JFK consistently dragged his feet on civil rights while LBJ actually got the two most important pieces of civil rights legislation since Reconstruction passed. Clinton’s comments were not only unexceptionable but obviously correct.

…commenters are correct to note that the sourcing on this isn’t exactly airtight.

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