Skip to comments.The World Leader Who Didnít Attend Churchill's Funeral
Posted on 12/11/2013 12:16:04 PM PST by Kaslin
Why did one of the most politically savvy leaders ever to occupy the White HouseLyndon Baines Johnsondecide not to attend the funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965? And why didnt he send his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey? Questions remain nearly 49 years later.
Nearly 100 world leaders are now making their way to South Africa for the state funeral of Nelson Mandela. It will be a whos who of global power-players. Its important for them to be there, because its a risky thing to miss a great mans funeral.
President Obama invited George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and their wives, to join him on Air Force One for the trek to Johannesburg. When Anwar Sadat was assassinated in October 1981, President Ronald Reagans security team strongly advised against him traveling to Egypt.
That was just a few months after Reagan was seriously wounded and barely escaped death at the hands of a would-be assassin, so the concerns were understandable. Mr. Reagan decided to play a Presidential Hat Trick. And the next day Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon boarded the presidential jet for the journey. Because Secretary of State Alexander Haig was head of the official delegation, he claimed the Presidents Quarters for himself, leaving the three formers to make do in coach.
Churchill died at the age of 90 on January 24, 1965, after a series of debilitating strokes. His final illness became an international vigil for nearly two weeks, so there was plenty of time for world governments to prepare.
In fact, the British government had been prepared for a long time. More than ten years earlier, at the direction of Queen Elizabeth II, a plan called, Operation Hope Not had been developed for Winstons eventual passing.
Lyndon Johnson was inaugurated for a full term on January 20, 1965, following his landslide electoral victory the previous November. He was at the top of his political game and riding high in the polls. But a few days later, on the night Churchill died, LBJ called seven reporters to his bedroom at the White House and told them that his doctors had advised him not to fly to London. He said: I dont have the bouncy feeling that I usually have.
Presumably because no bouncy feeling isnt an actual recognized disease, the official diagnosis was a bad cold.
He also told them that he was not sending Vice President Humphrey, but instead he would send Secretary of State Dean Rusk (who didnt actually attend either, citing illness) and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Johnson also noted that former President Eisenhower was attending as a private citizen. The grand farewell for Churchill was a global media event, watched on television by more people than President Kennedys funeral fourteen months earlier.
The reporters at his bedside described Johnson as looking sicker than they had expected: Hair disheveled, he lay in a four-poster, canopied bed speaking softly, coughing lightly from time to time and blowing his nose.
Johnson was widely criticizedhere and abroadfor his failure to make the trip. Many in the British government saw it as a slight. And in some ways it represented a minor setback in American/Anglo relations at a crucial time in the Cold War.
Some of President Johnsons biographers take great pains to write about the mans energy and perseverance. For example, Robert A. Caro writes in his tome, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate, about how the man had regularly refused to allow the illness to interfere with his work habits. And how LBJ drove himself mercilessly even when he was supposed to be ill, with aides wondering, how could a man have such energy if there was something seriously wrong with him?
This description flies in the face of the image Johnson projected to the journalists that day.
A couple of weeks later, in a White House press conference, Johnson seemed to reveal a hint of thin skin when he was asked about his decisions related to Churchills funeral:
I am glad to have the press reactions and the reactions abroad on the protocol involved in connection with funerals In the light of your interest and other interests, I may have made a mistake by asking the Chief Justice to go and not asking the Vice President. I will bear in mind in connection act in accordance with our national interest.
Soon after Johnsons non-apology apology, someone coined the term credibility gap and affixed it to Lyndon Johnson. As with many things about LBJ, the truth is elusive.
Did LBJ have heart attack few months before
Also I understand Reagan didn’t make it because dude got just wounded he need time to recover
This piece is to give BO cover for being shown to be the Child that he is
That photographer, bless him, is on a world of trouble right now
“Because Secretary of State Alexander Haig was head of the official delegation, he claimed the Presidents Quarters for himself, leaving the three formers to make do in coach.”
Al Haig was in charge, there on Air Force One.
I bet he even put on the Air Force One Presidential jacket.
He really wanted that job.
Eight years before. In 1955.
LBJ, like BO, was an a**hat who despised Churchill.
I recall conversations amongst the adults when I was a young buck. My predominantly Republican paternal family used to rail against LBJ as a hard-hitting, ruthless politico while the union-loving Democrat maternal side of my family used to extol his virtues as a creator of freedom and liberty.
As an adult, I can see now that the latter was full of crap.
Or “Great Society”.
Sickness doesn’t explain why no one else was dispatched. I thought the real reason was because Churchill hadn’t attended Roosevelt’s funeral 20 years before.
The US “Presidents” I DESPISE:
He was still feeling guilty for having JFK assassinated.
Just out of curiosity, why Teddy R? Most republicans like him.
Don’t forget Buchanan.
LBJ was a venal, phony, disgusting, murdering so and so. The lowest of the low.
Don’t know enough about him to despise him. Educate me.
He was a NorthEast “Progressive”. Like the Bushies and Nelson Rockefeller.
No doubt the photographer is in Valerie Jarrett's crosshairs. Sux to be him; hope his affairs are in order.
Maybe no GCA ‘68 either. *sigh*
Explain please....make it to what?