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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A Path to War was an interesting event with good PQ, though kind of long - especially when watching the West feed from the Eastern time zone ! Anyway, now that I have the obligatory on topic comment...


I must confess that history was the least of my interests in school. So, A Path to War was an interesting education on some of the pieces that I had missed about the dark part of our nation's history. I was nearly jolted from my seat when one of Johnson's advisors was subtitled. It was the man we all love to hate. The man who can do no right. That cornerstone of evil himself - no, not Bill Gates ;) - none other than Jack Valenti! I thought, "well, he's about the right age, but it must be another JV."


Anyway, this morning I got to e-digging and didn't have to look any further than the Motion Picture Azzholes of America's website to find a bio on this "revered" man. If it weren't for his consistent rectal-cranial inversion in the last four decades, history would probably have remembered him quite fondly. A junior genius. A war hero. A presidential aide.


The irony here being that A Path to War could be the title of the story which documents Jack's unsavory and anti-consumer efforts over the last several decades. Of course, in that he probably knows most of those who will write history, they'll probably leave out most of the nasty parts :rolleyes:


Anyway, it was an interesting presentation. Oh, and it was strangely OAR ;)
 

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LBJ was before my time too.. So, I was surprised to see Valenti mentioned in one of those "behind the scenes" things.


This helps to explain some of the lobbying power exerted by the MPAA..
 

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One man's opinion...


Valenti was just another one of the Kennedy advisers that Johnson was 'saddled' with, after the assassination. It's widely known that most of them had a real dislike for Johnson, as the only reason he was on the ticket originally, was that Kennedy needed him to carry the South. After the assassination, Johnson on the other hand was truly dedicated to fulfilling the legacy that Kennedy had laid out.


I always thought this was quite ironic, here you have a bunch of Northeastern snobs, looking down on a albeit rough hewn but self made man. Remember at that time Kennedy himself was being looked down upon for a number of reasons, including the fact he was Roman Catholic (he was the first Catholic President) and his father (who funded his son's campaign to the tune of millions) came into his money from illegally bootlegging liquor into the country during Prohibition. And they were looking down their noses at Johnson!


It was even more ironic when Bobby Kennedy threw his hat into the ring during the Presidential primaries. He came off as such a opportunist, initially not wanting to challenge the sitting President regardless of his moral objection to the war, but jumping in as soon as Eugene McCarthy proved that Johnson was vulnerable.


IMHO, this was a real shame, because Johnson was one of the finest Congressional puppeteers the White House has ever seen. He spent his whole life in the Congress, he had an uncanny understanding of our legislative system, and how to make it work.


Having lived through that period of time with a personal stake, I thought 'Path To War' was a very accurate, well done representation of that difficult time in our history.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Ken H
One man's opinion...




Having lived through that period of time with a personal stake, I thought 'Path To War' was a very accurate, well done representation of that difficult time in our history.
I also lived through those terrible times, and I was very fascinated by the movie. It really held my attention. I never realized to what extent Johnson was influenced (and very badly) by his advisors. His place in history would have been so different if he had followed his heart. His statement near the end of the movie where he told his speech writer to leave out references to the Great Society was quite sad and touching.
 

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Having lived through that period, and followed events very carefully, I thought the film was accurate to my recollections.


George W. Ball was known to be consistently correct in his unhappy objections.


Robert McNamara, as we now know, has recently revealed himself to have decided that the war was wrong sometime before he quit waging it. You could see it in his eyes then, and you can read it in this film.


Most of all, poor Johnson just couldn't get away from this obligation left to him by Kennedy, couldn't see the folly in it. He probably would have been better off to get rid of the Kennedy team and bring in his own people.


For all his skills and domestic vision, Johnson lacked an international vision, and lacked the ability to move from one position to another with political grace.
 

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I would like to add that we should be thanking HBO profusely for giving all of us here at the AVS HDTV Forum exactly what we want: Compelling content in HDTV.
 

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Having been deeply affected by the events at the time, I couldn' t watch for long and had to turn it off.


Frank
 

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Originally posted by Ken H
I would like to add that we should be thanking HBO profusely for giving all of us here at the AVS HDTV Forum exactly what we want: Compelling content in HDTV.
Indeed, yes.


As much as I criticize HBO for their non 2.35 OAR policy, I do commend them for many of their excellent original movies, which happen to be in OAR, so I'm happy to watch them ;)
 

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Another great HBO original moive in HD. I also noticed Jack Valenti in the movie and I believe the actor was his son John Valenti.


Jay
 

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To use a Johnson phrase-


HBO wants Jack's "pecker in their pockets" so they did him the honor of using him and his son in the film. Smart move in my opinion!
 

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One of my favorite LBJ stories was his take on J. Edgar Hoover.


Over decades, Hoover had developed his own little fiefdom at the FBI. He had a file full of dirt on anyone of relevance who breathed, from President's to Pope's. Toward the end of his tenure at the FBI, Hoover was rumored to be going senile, but no one dared to try and get hid of him for fear of the reprisals. LBJ had to figure out what to do with Hoover, in the end he decided he was 'better off with Hoover inside the tent peeing out, than outside the tent peeing in', and let Hoover stay in charge of the FBI.


Way off topic: Hoover became Director of the FBI in 1924 and died in 1972 at age 77, a 48 year span in charge of the largest police agency in the world. At the time, then President Nixon was to have said "Jesus Christ! That old ****sucker!"
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the great comments guys. I have to confess that I actually did live through that period as well... however I spent the majority of it in diapers:p
 

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The sets were authentic including the old Norelco studio color cameras that were in wide use during the 60s. The only thing I questioned was the color newsreel footage. No satellite backhauls in those days so a lot of newsfilm was overnighted back to the States. I remember mostly black and white instead of color.


One of the funniest lines to be read by a newsman about the tragic events in Viet Nam, was uttered once by NBC's Herb Kapalo (sp?). He misread the sentence "....ground fighting in Viet Nam was sparse today..." as "....ground farting in Viet Nam was sparse today..." He never looked up or corrected himself....simply kept reading. A true professional.
 

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Sorry to tell you this, but Valenti was one of LBJ's own loyalists from Texas. I know this because I'm in Houston and the University of Houston never ceases to remind anyone who will listen that Valenti was an alum. In those days the Democrats had a pretty strong apprenticeship system - LBJ had been one of Sam Rayburn's men since the Depression. LBJ in turn had his own group of Texas loyalists. The rule was that no matter how much liberals and conservatives in the state hated each other, they would always come together when it meant bringing pork barrel to Texas. Obviously a principle that Valenti succeeded in imposing on the movie industry in his later years.

Since I don't have cable (how else could I have saved the money to buy the HDTV tuner?), I haven't seen this film. I don't know if it discusses all the times that experienced combat officers were sent as observers to SVN in the '50s and '60s and came back warning that it would take hundreds of thousands of Americans to prop up the whole rotten operation. When I was studying International Relations, all the info I had was that LBJ had plenty of warning even before Ball got pessimistic. Like those old CBS educational messages where at the end of a historical drama an actor would tell you what books to read if you want to learn more about this topic, I can only refer you to the classics; The Pentagon Papers, the books of Bernard Fall and the early articles of Daniel Ellsberg. The conclusion is, LBJ followed a script written by the CIA many years earlier, and he knew the ending wouldn't be happy. He just wasn't willing to pay the price to improv. Something to think of while our nation prepares to make itself into the Great White Father for a billion Moslems with many of the same grievances as those 40 million Vietnamese.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Richard Slay
Sorry to tell you this, but Valenti was one of LBJ's own loyalists from Texas.
Sorry? No need to be sorry, thanks for the information.


My point was that Valenti was originally part of Kennedy's staff and that Johnson felt compelled to keep things intact. It was probably quite fortunate for Johnson & Valenti that they were both part of the Kennedy administration. This is evidenced by Johnson making Valenti his first special assistant to the President, which took place on Air Force One on the way back to Washington DC, from Dallas, on that grim, fateful day.
 

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Somehow, I've missed this film everytime it's been shown. Still, I remember those times as well. Dean Rusk married a cousin of my maternal Grandmother. As a woman, I wasn't faced with the prospect of going to VietNam. Instead, in later years I said goodbye to college friends whose lottery numbers sent them to that hellish place. I sat for 14 hours in a darkened dormitory room with a young woman whose fiance had died three weeks after his arrival in South East Asia.


It is difficult to communicate to younger generations the magnitude of the cultural and political shift after JFK's assasination. I can still hear Walter Cronkite's wavering voice telling us the President was dead. I remember a young Dan Rather reporting on the war. Everything changed forever. Lady Bird and her daughters did not come off well in comparison to Jackie. There was a fascinating documentary I caught awhile back that speaks to much of LBJ the man as well as the politician. Like Lady Churchill, Lady Bird was a refuge from the politcal minefield.


HBO is to be commended for this production, in addition to "A Gathering Storm" from a few weeks back.
 
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