LBJ on HBO

Playwright Robert Schenkkan talks Vietnam, Bryan Cranston, and Donald Trump.

By Comments

A scene from All the Way.
Photograph by Hillary Bronwyn Gayle

The film version of the award-winning play All the Way premieres on HBO tomorrow night, starring Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson, still the only president I’m aware of who owned an “aqua car.”

For the upcoming June issue, I recently interviewed playwright Robert Schenkkan about the origin of the play and how it translated to the screen. Schenkkan has deep Texas roots, and his family had a professional connection to Johnson. Here are a few gems from our conversation:

“When we were looking to cast the part, the casting director would ask, ‘What are we looking for?’ And I would say, ‘We need an actor who can be funny, charming, and charismatic and simultaneously terrifying.’ And if you look at Bryan’s career—the balance between Malcolm in the Middle, which is so funny and so broad in its physicality, and then his chilling turn as Walter White in Breaking Bad—he really has all of that as a performer.”

Regarding LBJ’s legacy:

“I do think there is a tragic quality to LBJ. The domestic policy was what was important to him, what was dear to his heart, and what he felt knowledgeable about and secure in. Not foreign policy. He was not a foreign policy expert, and I don’t think he would have ever considered himself one. He goes into Vietnam with his eyes open as early as 1964. You can listen to his phone conversation with Senator Richard Russell in which LBJ complains loudly that he doesn’t know why we’re there. He doesn’t see the point. What’s more, he doesn’t see any way to win, and he doesn’t see any way to get out. This is in 1964. He not only stays the course, but he doubles down and doubles down and doubles down. The fact that he knows that that’s what’s happening even as he can’t help but make those same decisions over and over again is tragic. The loss, the waste, is just staggering.”

Of course, you can’t ask a political question these days without asking about Donald Trump:

“We have a long history of demagogues in this country—Huey Long, Senator Joseph McCarthy. And of course, Lyndon wrestled for a long time with Governor George Wallace, who was the first demagogue to successfully transfer the covert, entrenched Southern racism into a language that would resonate with blue-collar workers in the Midwest and the Northeast. It’s all a nod and a wink, but Trump’s really playing on one of the sad, enduring notes of the American character. I think LBJ would have regarded Trump as a formidable competitor—he was much too shrewd to have underestimated someone like that—but I also think he would have looked forward to taking him apart.”

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  • WUSRPH

    Too bad LBJ isn’t here today to take Trump apart…..None of the current generation of “leaders” (sic) seems to be up to the job.

    • Rules of Blazon

      Hillary is going to clean up what’s left of Trump when/if Liz Warren gets bored of pounding him into dogmeat.

      • WUSRPH

        The problem is that the people who pay attention to Warren are not those who would consider voting for Trump. The audiences for various kinds of speakers have become so limited that most only listen to the ones with whom they already agree. You cannot reached closed minds with the truth unless it is their version of the “Truth”. Facts, figures, studies, the experience of thousands means nothing unless it agrees with their fixed opinions. JJ is a good example of this….

        This, unfortunately, is true of both ends of the political spectrum as many of the Bernie supporters are just as bad as the Trumpites. My view of the world or nothing..

        • John Johnson

          But you aren’t narrow minded and biased. You are smarter than all of us commonbreds. You are are the product of establishment politics and a career flunky. That makes you some sort of expert…in your mind. What a screwed up world it would be if we were all like you…or me. You think I live under a rock? That I’m not educated? Don’t read, watch and listen? You are simply a self declared intellectual elitest. I think you are just part of the establishment bourgeois.

          • WUSRPH

            Nope. I have biases but I recognize them and try to outcome for them in my thoughts. I am also open to change and information I don’t want to agree with. You are not. It is that simple….

          • John Johnson

            Over the years, I know of few regulars posting here who have said, “I changed my mind, you’re right”, or switched their thinking about party and candidates based on what they’re reading and watching. I have. You are entrenched. In your mind, everyone else posting here is your student and you have nothing to learn from them. I had professors like you.

          • WUSRPH

            If you had had professors like me you would have been taught to question, question, question and not accept what I or anyone else said or wrote until you had exhausted all the sources of evidence. If there is one lesson I would have taught that would have been it…just as my professor did when he made us challenge every fact presented in a “recognized” text—the one he was using……I have plenty to learn from many who post here…and I do all the time…but I will not allow what I can determine to be false to stand (unless it is the stuff the Troll spews since correcting him would take too many hours every day.)

          • John Johnson

            Not once, in all these years, have you ever stated, “After consideration, you are right.” You only agree with those who agree with your original position. You are immovable because you are entrenched. You think you are smarter than everyone else, even if you are not even aware of it.
            People love the insight you bring to political history. I do. What I do like is your “I wouldn’t expect you to understand something you don’t know anything about…let me tell you again” attitude. It grows old, and it has diminished your following. You treat this site like it was your own.

          • WUSRPH

            You must not have been following very closely. I have had different positions on a number of subjects…..Even said a good word or two about Dan Patrick….As to how smart I am….I guess I am fairly smart in IQ terms….but there are many, many people smarter than me…I am smart enough to know that. My sister-in-law, for example, makes me look like a simpleton. I guess my greatest mistake is a naïve hope that some people can learn when presented with evidence that disagrees with their fixed views. But, unfortunately, that appears not to be the case. So I guess I will stop trying. You will believe what you believe no matter what the evidence.

          • John Johnson

            Physician, cure thyself.

          • IndianaPearl

            Adaway treats this site like it was his own. “Fair and balanced,” right?

          • Charlie Adaway

            You’re just saying that because its true….

          • IndianaPearl

            Short timer . . .

        • IndianaPearl

          But Warren appeals to the Berners who might not otherwise vote for Hillary . . .

          Did you see the article in the Statesman this morning about potential VP candidates?

          • WUSRPH

            Have not finished reading the paper…been busy getting ready for our (possible) trip…Will get to it later tonight.
            As to Warren appealing to the Berners, she can appeal to those who are not so wrapped up in their “purity”….But the ones who are most likely to sit out the election or waste their vote on a “Green” will not listen to her because to them she is already a sell-out for not endorsing Bernie.

          • IndianaPearl

            We shall see.

            Seems the DNC can co-opt the Latino vote with Castro or the Berner/feminist vote with Warren.

            Watch what happens if/when the Supremes announce the decision on HB2. If the Texas law is upheld, all hell will break loose.

          • WUSRPH

            I think you overestimate the impact of a decision upholding HB 2. The people who are concerned about that are already not voting for Trump. Few additional voters will be affected. There will be a lot of uproar….just as there was the night of the Great Filibuster but with the same result–nothing changed.

          • IndianaPearl

            Women view this issue differently than men.

    • John Johnson

      LBJ wouldn’t stand a chance against Trump. Especially what we know now about LBJ.

      • IndianaPearl

        Trump has yet to be exposed. Hold on to your Stetson!

        • John Johnson

          Standing by. It’s going to be fun to watch. Tell me what you expect to see.

          • IndianaPearl

            Chaos.

  • Charlie Adaway

    LBJ style politics has taken DC to where it is today. Our system was corrupted by this man and dems love him for it. A petty thief, a womanizer, a racist, corrupted morally in every manner possible.
    “Robert A. Caro examines the roots of the Johnson broadcasting fortune in the second volume of his biography of LBJ, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent. Although Lyndon Johnson always protested that Lady Bird bought the station on her own and that he applied no political pressure to help her, Caro easily proves him a liar.

    In 1943, the year Lady Bird Johnson purchased KTBC, the Federal Communications Commission, which reviewed all broadcast-license transfers, was close to being abolished, Caro writes. Lyndon Johnson used his political influence in both Congress and the White House to prevent that from happening. The FCC was among the most politicized agencies in the government, Caro asserts, and it knew who its friends were.

    Johnson socialized with FCC Commissioner Clifford Durr at the time, “sometimes at Durr’s home, sometimes at his own,” although Durr says Johnson never mentioned Lady Bird’s application for KTBC’s license. Lady Bird, however, directly approached Durr about the station, and Lyndon phoned James Barr of the FCC’s Standard Broadcast Division. “He wanted to get a radio station, and what I remember is, he wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Caro quotes Barr.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/press_box/2007/07/the_honest_graft_of_lady_bird_johnson.html

    Honest graft its the dem way…..from Tammany Hall to the Clinton Initiative…

    • IndianaPearl
      • Charlie Adaway
        • IndianaPearl

          Is this the best you’ve got?

          • Charlie Adaway

            What do you think dummy?

          • IndianaPearl

            Thinking’s hard. Go fry a Twinkie.

          • Charlie Adaway

            Yes I suspect thinking is hard for you, dummy.
            You prefer idiot or dummy?

          • IndianaPearl

            Oh, I prefer “Your Majesty.”

            Now go get yourself a case of Tidy Bowl and get to work. There are trans people to harrass.

          • Charlie Adaway

            I suspect you see yourself as royalty…most dems do.

          • IndianaPearl

            No. Dems are the representatives of the ordinary folks. You fancy yourself a member of the business titans.

          • John Johnson

            You keep denying the 13 min composition of her lies…heck, they are in here own words. Do you think they dubbed the words she is speaking? Do you not think that is her sashaying off the chopper in Bosnia? A old father of a dead Benghazi hero wrote down the explanation Clinton gave to him and other families about what transpired and what had initiated the conflict. She is now saying she did not tell them that. Who do you believe? Quit telling the rest of us we are delusional. Show me 13 minutes of outrageous lies Trump has spit out that reach the level Hillary has told. Please do it. We can put them up side by side.

          • IndianaPearl

            Why waste my time? Those PP videos were a hatchet job and this video is too.

            Reliable sources, JJ . . .

          • John Johnson

            How do you consider the YouTube vid that is going viral a “hatchet job”? You think it has been altered? That it is taken out of context? Tell me.

          • IndianaPearl

            I urged you to watch the PP videos. You said, “I don’t need to.”

            Talk about “omniscience”!

          • IndianaPearl

            Ask yourself every time you get one of those forwarded e-mails Republicans love so much:

            1. Is this true?
            2. Can I really know this is true?
            3. How do I treat others and myself when I hold onto this belief?
            4. Is there one reason that is not stressful to hold onto this belief?
            5. Who would I be without this belief?

  • John Johnson

    WUSRPH, I hope others will go back to the previous thread and see how you responded to my comments. I want to expand this conversation about your perceived omniscience.

    • WUSRPH

      According to the Christian religion, there is only one “omniscient” being and it sure ain’t me.

  • IndianaPearl
  • Charlie Adaway

    Dems call it honest graft….LBJ bagmen John Connelly and crew would pick up paper bags of cash each month from biddnessmen wanting to buy ads on his wife’s radio and tv stations that just fell in their laps. 40% went to LBJ, 40% went his campaign and 20% went to Brazos-Tenth Trust.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=ZkkEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=LBJ%27s+Brazos+Trust&source=bl&ots=ZH6SA0dhwZ&sig=K80Z8cuktTVxFnycKtHA_Yno_B0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiq2erolvDMAhUDFVIKHR8mAewQ6AEIKDAC#v=onepage&q=LBJ's%20Brazos%20Trust&f=false

    Why is Hillary known as “Crooked Hillary?”
    “in just the two years from April 2013 to March 2015, the former first lady, senator and secretary of state collected $21,667,000 in “speaking fees,” not to mention the cool $5 mil she corralled as an advance for her 2014 flop book, “Hard Choices.”
    Throw in the additional $26,630,000 her ex-president husband hoovered up in personal-appearance “honoraria,” and the nation can breathe a collective sigh of relief that the former first couple — who, according to Hillary, were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001 with some of the furniture in tow — can finally make ends meet.”
    http://nypost.com/2016/05/22/how-corporate-america-bought-hillary-clinton-for-21m/

    Payola or honest graft?

  • Charlie Adaway

    More from my series on democrats and their honest graft….
    “Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity unit, U.S. officials briefed on the probe say.As part of the probe, the officials said, investigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a vehicle of the charitable foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton.”
    http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/23/politics/terry-mcauliffe-fbi-doj-federal-investigation-campaign-contributions/index.html

    Dems love pay to play…..with our tax dollars.

    • IndianaPearl

      “My series” . . .

      • John Johnson

        Seems you guys have it to yourselves. The Professor is out of town. This blog site has sunk to total insignificance. This is what TM is planning on. Erica has told Brian Sweany she is not going to do it anymore. Her cerebral, lengthy threads about the political giants she has come to know personally, have not garnered her the “you are right” responses we all like to receive. She has picked back to back losers.

        Burkablog is doomed.

        • Charlie Adaway

          Good time to assess. On the other thread the paid democrat has a string of consecutive off topic posts vs the succinct on topic comments by me, with a few loony inane comments by the Debbie Wassermann Schultz of Burqa blog.

          • IndianaPearl

            “Succinct”? The most disordered mind in Ft, Bend County?

          • Charlie Adaway

            Debbie Wassup Scheisskopf and her words of wisdom….

          • IndianaPearl

            You’re an Arab.

        • IndianaPearl

          Do you know Erica has said this? Or are you hypothesizing?

          I will say “good riddance” if it stifles Adaway. He’s been banned from every publication in east Texas.

  • Charlie Adaway

    How deep does the “Clinton Fraud” go?
    A Deep Dive into How the Clinton Foundation Operates Illegally and in Haiti
    “Understanding illegal activities of the Clinton Foundation requires grasping state, federal, and foreign laws that bar public charities from being run for private gain, and that govern solicitations using the mail, telephones, and digital media.
    What possesses powerful, wealthy, and educated persons to prey upon the most desperately poor humans on earth, while simultaneously trying to take credit for “philanthropy”?”
    http://charlesortel.com/

    Apparently anyone can do the work for the msm but they can’t?

    • IndianaPearl

      Tell us about Ken Starr.

  • Charlie Adaway

    Just a casual observation, when the paid democrat poster is absent the comments go down by about 400%.

    • IndianaPearl

      Don’t you count your own posts, Einstein?

  • Charlie Adaway

    Yanno how dems have been telling us pot is good for you…..
    “Smoking cannabis can alter a person’s DNA, causing mutations that expose a user to serious illnesses, experts have warned.
    Furthermore, the heightened risk is not exclusive to the marijuana user, a study has shown.
    The disease-causing mutations are passed on to their children, and several future generations, it has emerged.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3607444/Smoking-cannabis-ALTERS-DNA-causing-mutations-trigger-illness-including-cancer.html#ixzz49d7ksA9V

    I’ve observed dems DNAs being altered here for several years………

    • Gunslinger

      You’ve observed people smoke pot on a blog? That’s weird.

      • Charlie Adaway

        No you’re weird, and an example of a pot smoker.

        • IndianaPearl

          Nada, Einstein. I don’t smoke.

        • Gunslinger

          Charlee, have you ever smoked pot?

          • Charlie Adaway

            I’ve always wondered what made you so stupid, how much do you smoke a day?

      • IndianaPearl

        He also sees them having sex under oath. Dirty mind.

  • IndianaPearl

    “A small, insecure money grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt . . .”

    — Eliz. Warren commenting on Trump

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/elizabeth-warren-donald-trump_us_5744dc38e4b03ede441335ca

  • Charlie Adaway

    In case you weren’t aware just how loony the left is…..listen to this caller.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0y6HJ2sBXU

    • IndianaPearl

      Try harder, Einstein. Your post reflects the lack of ideas from the GOP:

      “Republican hopes for an Obama scandal crash and burn”:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-hopes-for-an-obama-scandal-crash-and-burn/2016/05/24/d041b8a6-21ee-11e6-9e7f-57890b612299_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_opinions

      • Charlie Adaway

        settle down Bozo and listen to the call…..it will show you how arrogant government workers are.

        • IndianaPearl

          I never open your attachments.

          • Charlie Adaway

            yes I’ve seen the closed minds of liberals.

          • IndianaPearl

            Tell us what they look like.

          • Charlie Adaway

            You can look right up Henry Waxman’s nose and see there is nothing there….

          • IndianaPearl

            I enjoy needling you so that you make a fool of yourself before the officer class of the Texas GOP. They laugh at you.

          • Charlie Adaway

            No you’re just dumb….I know hard for you to admit.

          • IndianaPearl

            They laugh at you. Does MQS pay you to write the drivel you post?

          • WUSRPH

            MQS has higher standards than that….very, very low ones, but higher that that.

          • Charlie Adaway

            really what do dems know about standards?

          • IndianaPearl

            Laughing . . .

  • Charlie Adaway

    In case you weren’t aware just how loony the left is…..check out Judge Oldner’s antics are……
    “Like the prosecutions of Tom DeLay and Rick Perry, the case against Paxton depends on novel interpretations of state law.
    The indictments against Paxton and the media circus they created resulted from unusual circumstances that must be investigated.
    The public record is very clear that Collin County state District Judge Chris Oldner manipulated the selection of the grand jury and engaged in a process that is in violation of legislative mandates.
    Oldner suddenly recused himself from involvement in the case the day after the grand jury under his supervision produced the indictments in question.
    http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/other-voices/article79406437.html#storylink=cpy

    ex-Judge Olsner currently finds hisself un-electable…..

  • Charlie Adaway

    A willful disregard for the rules?
    “Clinton’s inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/clintons-inexcusable-willful-disregard-for-the-rules/2016/05/25/0089e942-22ae-11e6-9e7f-57890b612299_story.html

    Hillary wrote her senior thesis at Wellesley on Saul Alinsky, the author of Rules for Radicals.
    Alinsky’s Rule #4 is “Force your opponents to live up to their rules and values.”

    Is Clinton being alinskied by Trump? How funny…..

    • IndianaPearl

      Trump has no values to live up to.

  • Charlie Adaway

    Obama hangs Hillary out to dry….
    ” “She violated the official records act according to her own State Department IG appointed by President Obama. What you have shown just now, Mika, it completely undercuts the argument she’s been making for more than a year just as she’s trying to persuade voters she’s untrustworthy.”
    http://www.breitbart.com/video/2016/05/26/andrea-mitchell-hillary-email-ig-report-devastating/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

    Dem party going down in flames……

    • IndianaPearl

      Breitbart? What a rag!

  • Charlie Adaway

    Who knew the Clintons were crooked…..
    “Back in February, Democrat pollster Pat Caddell proclaimed as much, arguing that the Clintons “were selling out the national interests of the United States directly to adversaries and others for money.” That assertion is the core of Clinton Cash, which makes clear that the “selling out” was actively facilitated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while she held that esteemed title.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/435864/clinton-cash-movie-hillary-clinton-unfit-for-presidency

    Besides me?

  • Charlie Adaway

    Prez Obama is a golfer so all my golfing is tax deductible…
    “Because if the PHIT Act passes as currently constituted it would, along with several other physical-fitness expenses, make golf camps and clinics, lessons and training aids, green fees and driving-range fees, tournament fees and, wait for it . . . golf balls and golf clubs tax deductible up to $1,000 for an individual or $2,000 for a head of household or family. Yes, really.”
    http://www.golfdigest.com/story/heres-why-your-golf-purchases-could-become-tax-deductible

    Thats right liberals pay for my golfing….