Why he had to appear tough

In the years immediately before World War II, the Democrats gained the reputation of being the strongest party on national security. But postwar accusations that the Democrats had let Russia steal our nuclear secrets, that the Democrats “lost China” to the communists, and that Kennedy had proved spineless during the Bay of Pigs, all combined to make Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and, I suspect, every subsequent Democratic president worry excessively about appearing tough enough on national security.

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Charles Peters

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.