Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. “LBJ and the Intellectuals”

Firing Line Videos, Hoover Institution, taped on January 12, 1967, uploaded to YouTube on July 15, 2010.

Guest: Hans Joachim Morgenthau.


A rich discussion of our political culture, starting with the Johnson administration’s confused objectives in Vietnam (Morgenthau: “Does it want self-determination for South Vietnam at the risk of a communist takeover, or does it want to stop communism at any price, even at the price of self-determination?”) and ranging far and wide. Buckley: “Well, then, how do you account for the enthusiasm of the intellectuals for Mr. Kennedy, when in fact it could be demonstrated that his own rhetoric and actions were at least as schizophrenic as President Johnson’s?” Morgenthau: “It’s a very good question. I addressed myself to that question in ’61. . . . The intellectuals . . . had been in the wilderness for eight years and all of a sudden, here comes Mr. Kennedy, Harvard-educated, surrounded by members of the Harvard faculty–there were a few from Yale, in order to satisfy you, but very few, so you were not very much satisfied. And of course many intellectuals, not myself included, thought this was the golden Augustan age for intellectuals.”