How do you see that situation of 1968 when all of American politics seemed to be undifferentiated and intertwined?Most countries separate the roles of Leader of State from Leader of Politics;...



  How do you see that situation of 1968 when all of American politics seemed to be undifferentiated and intertwined?

Most countries separate the roles of Leader of State from Leader of Politics; thus there will be a President or King who is the Head of State and a Prime Minister who is Head of Government and how that works in any of the parliamentary democracies or constitutional monarchies – Great Britain is a fine example. Parliamentary countries always separate the role of the Head of State (President or King) from the Head of Government (Prime Minister).

And then there is the United States of America where the President is both Head of State and Head of Government. Who can bear up to that load?

For the purposes of this discussion, we have this very unusual situation in which our international affairs and our domestic politics intertwine. With the arrival of Clark Clifford as Secretary of Defense came the ability to measure the situation with clear eyes and clean hands.

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The original question had to be edited down a bit.  I think that Clark Clifford held a unique place in the mind of President Johnson.  His overall purpose served as adviser to the President, in general.  This made his role as one in which his advice was solicited on both policy levels.  Clifford advised the President on both foreign and domestic levels, ensuring that the President's perception and legacy was kept in mind on both fronts.  Vietnam became an issue that initially resided in the foreign policy realm and quickly morphed into domestic policy.  As the war increased in magnitude and scope, it became a domestic issue, handicapping the President's ability to pass legislation.  It is here where Clifford's entry into the administration indicated that foreign and domestic policies were undifferentiated.  Clifford's administration entry indicated how entangled the President was becoming in the Vietnam War.  The President needed Clifford's advice to reside in both domestic and foreign policy because Vietnam was an issue that handicapped the President on both realms.  In order for the President to gain political freedom on a domestic level, the President needed to develop a clear plan for victory in the war or risk the political alienation at home.  Clifford's entry and role in the administration represents how domestic and foreign policy was undifferentiated.  It represents this because Vietnam had begun to impact President Johnson on both levels, impossible to keep one separate from the other.

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