|LBJ to Kennedy in 1962: If only [John] Glenn "were a negro"|
Johnson, like other presidents, would often reveal the motivations in asides that the press never picked up. During one trip, Johnson was discussing his proposed civil rights bill with two governors. Explaining why it was so important to him, he said it was simple: “I’ll have them niggers voting Democratic for two hundred years.” (p. 33, Kessler)
That blacks vote for their self-interest is reasonable (how in the world would black people survive in the free market world - a still egalitarian free market world - the Koch Brothers wish to make America is never explained, except with people saying something about welfare being a modern-day plantation. Me thinks the blacks like this plantation...)
Worries about Johnson extended to his management of the space program. Despite the success of Alan Shepard’s suborbital flight in May 1961, by February 1962 NASA had still not matched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s orbital success the previous April. Bad weather and technical problems had aborted ten televised U.S. planned launchings between May and February. But on February 20, John Glenn’s spaceship orbited the earth three times in just under five hours before a pinpoint landing in the Atlantic near Bermuda, where helicopters from a nearby U.S. cruiser waited to life Glenn and his capsule from the ocean.
The White House was jubilant, especially because it knew that problems with the capsule’s heat shield had brought the mission close to disaster. Another successful flight by Scott Carpenter in May gave Kennedy – in contrast with the steel price conflict, stock market downturn and Estes scandal – something to cheer about. (If only Glenn “were a Negro,” Johnson told Kennedy, who laughed at what became his favorite example of Lyndon’s constant preoccupation with political calculations.) (p. 501 – 502)
At the time America was knee deep in a Cold War and a space race with the Russians, Vice President Johnson's main wish was John Glenn having been born a negro...