Monday, February 20, 2017

Lyndon Johnson and The Smothers Brothers - Anyone Think This Would Happen Today?

Until the last election, the Vietnam War and the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson caused the most divisive split in the nation's political persona in modern times.  A symbol of this fracturing was a TV show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

"The brothers’ challenges to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration and comments on other political issues became sharper. Battles with the network censors became more frequent. The brothers took their dispute to the press and became national symbols of countercultural resistance. A little more than two years after the show’s debut, CBS fired Tom and Dick Smothers and canceled their still-successful show."

Tom, left, and Dick Smothers on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.”
Gosh, they look like just real Americans, but don't let that fool you
CreditCBS, via Getty Images

But here's what happened at the end.

"Lyndon Johnson, too, had been enraged by the Smotherses’ barbs. But when he announced on March 31, 1968, that he would not seek re-election, the dynamic between the president and the brothers shifted substantially.

Tom Smothers recalled being so stunned by Johnson’s TV address that he wrote him a letter, saying that he disagreed with him on the Vietnam War, but was impressed by his other accomplishments and wanted to thank him.

Johnson responded with a letter that Dick read on the last episode.

“It is part of the price of leadership of this great and free nation,” Johnson wrote, “to be the target of clever satirists. You have given the gift of laughter to our people. May we never grow so somber or self-important that we fail to appreciate the humor in our lives.”

Hence the difference between a great man like Lyndon Johns and a great fool like Donald Trump.

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