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Lyndon Baines Johnson and Ronald Reagan

Since, in his view, government was good, Johnson sought to expand its role. Reagan, seeing government as evil, sought just as earnestly to reduce its role.

There was very definitely what came to be known as the "Johnson style". Johnson's political style was formed in the rough-and-tumble of post-war Texas politics, where the handshake and the wink often counted for more than formal agreements. Johnson's chief tool in forging domestic policy was direct communication, usually by telephone. A study of White House logs shows the enormous time he spent on the phone talking to legislators, cajoling them, persuading them, and twisting their arms. He was a legislator above all. His method was to formulate a legislative plan, and then assemble the forces necessary to see it through.

Foreign policy was a different matter. Johnson inherited from Kennedy the tendency not to communicate with Congress on major foreign policy initiatives. In Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam, "Congressional leaders were informed of, but not consulted about, major steps." In the crucial Gulf of Tonkin incident, which began the wholesale escalation of the Vietnam War, Johnson called in Congressional leaders to ratify a decision he had already made. In later years, he came close to admitting that the incident may have been exaggerated or even fabricated so as to justify his policy decision.

Nonetheless, it was in his relations with


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Lyndon Baines Johnson and Ronald Reagan. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:29, October 24, 2014, from
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