In the daylight, awake, I have the same
dream repeating like an old forty-five (not the pistol, ask your mum).
Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) was sworn in as
President on board Air Force One in Dallas at Love Field Airport on
November 22, 1963 by Sarah T. Hughes, a Federal Judge and family
friend, making him the first President sworn in by a woman. He is the only
President to have been sworn in on Texas soil. Johnson was not sworn on a
Bible, as none could be found aboard Air Force One; a Roman Catholic
missal was discovered in Kennedy's desk, and this book was used during the
And all of that is true, but it’s the
picture of him then that is the constant landscape of my dream, stood
there somewhat squashed, a miserable Jackie with her life left in front of
her by his side. Him with his palm held up and the crush of folks looking
on from the aircraft’s little cabin. He has the manner of a somewhat
... making a speech on economics is a lot
like pissing down your leg. It seems hot to you, but it never does to
MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — Cecil
Stoughton, the White House photographer who shot the iconic image of
Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office aboard Air Force One, has
died. He was 88. Stoughton died Monday evening at his
Florida home, his son Jamie Stoughton said Tuesday. He had struggled with
health problems after having a hip replaced a few years ago, his children
Born in 1920 in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Stoughton
was John F. Kennedy's White House photographer and followed the president
during both public victories and private family moments.His famous picture of Johnson's grim
swearing-in ceremony in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, shows Johnson in the
cramped Air Force One airplane cabin with Jacqueline Kennedy at his side.
"He was under tremendous pressure," Jamie
Stoughton said. "If his camera had failed, who knows what would have
happened. It was the only proof that Johnson had been sworn in."
Joseph Robinette Biden (JRB) is the first
Roman Catholic to be elected Vice President of the United States and as
well as the first person from Delaware to have risen to that office.
Of course we’ve had a Catholic President
before. A stretch of Interstate 95 in Maryland, running from the Baltimore
Beltway to the State Line, where it becomes the Delaware Turnpike, had
been dedicated by President Kennedy on November 14, 1963, eight days
before his assassination. It was renamed the John F. Kennedy Memorial
Highway soon afterwards.
The picture I see is JRB standing in LBJ’s
baggy suit, jowls hung down, a tall black widow to his side, perhaps his
ancient white-haired mother is next to him also, as she was on polling
day, somewhat confused. I cannot see if they’ve found a bible this time.
They are not in an aircraft, that part seems unlikely. They are not at
Love Field, nor anywhere in Texas.
Jack Valenti, who is by now talked of as
the longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America, was in a
window seat for the Johnson photograph but is not in the picture as I see
it today. Largely because Jack Valenti died on April 26, 2007 on the same
day, albeit 30 years earlier, that Tom Welling was born, the actor and former male fashion model, who's most
famous for his portrayal of Clark Kent in the television series Smallville.
Welling’s father's job required frequent relocation and they moved around
a fair bit when he was young including Putnam Valley, New York,
Janesville, Wisconsin, and then Hockessin, Delaware whose name derives
from the Lenape word "hòkèsa" meaning "pieces of bark" or from a
misspelling of "occasion," as pronounced by the Quakers who settled the
Valenti’s PR firm was in charge of the
press during the November 1963 visit of JFK and LBJ to Dallas. Following
the assassination (and the photograph) he lived in the White House for the
first two months of Johnson's new presidency. Valenti loved Johnson and
spinning isn’t new: "If LBJ dropped the H-bomb, Valenti would
call it an urban renewal project."
What is the moving target of a man’s
purpose? On page 81 of his book Promises to Keep JRB said that
after his wife and young daughter were killed when a truck hit their
station wagon while they were out Christmas shopping in Hockessin,
Delaware, "I liked to walk around seedy neighborhoods at night when I
thought there was a better chance of finding a fight ... I had not known I
was capable of such rage ... I felt God had played a horrible trick on
me." That was his purpose after December 18, 1972, but that was more than
thirty five years ago and he has other things to do now.
Keith L. Washington was born on December
18, 1972 in Dallas, Texas about six and a half miles from Love Field. A
defensive end, he played nine seasons in the National Football League for
four different teams. While on that day in Washington then
President, Richard Nixon, who lived to die of mostly natural causes and
was himself very partial to football, announced that the United States
would engage North Vietnam in Operation Linebacker II, a series of
Christmas bombings, after peace talks collapsed with the North Vietnamese
on the 13th. ’72 was a leap year.
Him and Her, the most well known of the President Johnson's dogs, were
beagles born on June 27, 1963 the day after JFK made his Ich bin ein
Berliner speech. In 1964, President Johnson lifted Him by his
ears while greeting a group on the White House lawn. Her died at
the White House in November1964, after swallowing a stone. Him died
in June 1966, when he was hit by a car while chasing a squirrel on the
White House lawn.
Taureans fear change for the upset it
causes. I fear Joe Biden’s hand on a book. And that’s nothing against Joe
Biden who seems a good workaday soul and would probably make a fist of playing a
President on television. The upset it causes. And I could mention that I
want to write this down to make it not happen, but I write it down because
I feel it clearly and if it happens someday then I can in all my pride
point out that I wrote this down already. I had the great foresight to
imagine the upset that another assassination would cause America. The
foresight to know that the next version of LBJ’s Warren Commission will do
a far better job of not letting the waters get so muddy. They’d get it
sealed up tight from the get go. Guessing that Biden might put his hand on
a book as though anyone else but the Vice President gets to do that when
the President’s getting cold. Imagining the scant possibility that the
novelty of a black and white man as Commander in Chief might rile up some
of the wrong sort of folks.
Hockessin is almost exactly equidistant
between New York City and Washington, DC. Since 1990, the population has
tripled. The boxer Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins lives there. Oldest
man to ever hold the Middleweight Championship. I don’t think Joe Biden will hold a beagle
up by the ears.