Media is loading

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021


Succeeding President John F. Kennedy, Lydon Baines Johnson inherited a myriad of affairs. Larger-than-life LBJ, however, was up for the challenge. He stepped into the role boldly and won the 1964 presidential election with a landslide victory. Yet, Johnson underestimated the complexity of Vietnam, as each previous president had claimed victory over the dilemma. He entered the White House with numerous grand aspirations, but many of them, especially his beloved Great Society, became overshadowed by Vietnam. Despite hoping to avoid the moniker of “War President,” LBJ left the office feeling defeated by the small country in South East Asia. The rapid deterioration of the situation in Vietnam was in-part due to LBJ’s crisis management decision-making method. The decision-making process of Johnson was influenced by much more than his Tuesday lunches with the Awesome Four, in which he convened with McGeorge Bundy, Robert McNamara, and Dean Rusk to form policy specifically for the Vietnam conflict. Johnson’s experiences before his presidency were the ultimate determinant of his faulty leadership choices throughout the Vietnam War; his Texan upbringing, service during the Great Depression, and involvement with periods of conflict constructed his approach to directing combat. These defining moments of LBJ’s life guided him into a war he could not overcome and prompted decades of unrest among the American people.