Oral history transcript, Lawrence F. O'Brien, interview 6 (VI), 2/11/1986, by Michael L. Gillette


Oral history transcript, Lawrence F. O'Brien, interview 6 (VI), 2/11/1986, by Michael L. Gillette

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John F. Kennedy's (JFK) effort as a young politician to become a better communicator; how Lyndon Johnson's (LBJ) legislative power shifted when he became vice president and then president; JFK's and LBJ's different styles in dealing with members of Congress; LBJ's long work days and Lady Bird Johnson's efforts to get him to stop working so he would eat or sleep; JFK's practice of delegating authority compared to LBJ's desire to be personally involved at all levels; JFK's and LBJ's relationships with the Congress, their leadership styles, and how that affected O'Brien's work; JFK's and LBJ's reactions to public criticism and the press; the emergence of television as an important communication medium; how JFK and LBJ differed in intellect, background, and political experience; how the JFK staff viewed LBJ; the 1963 civil rights bill; 1963 foreign aid bill; Dwight Eisenhower's and JFK's frustration with Otto Passman; 1963 test ban treaty; 1963 education bills; LBJ's view of vocational education; the naming of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; the Manpower Training and Development Act; the difference between standing and teller votes; the proposal of a domestic national service corps; a student loan program for medical education; how to get education legislation passed more easily; the passage of the Medicare bill; Wilbur Mills' involvement in 1963 legislation; Wayne Morse; extension of the temporary feed grain program; John Gronouski replacing Edward Day as U.S. postmaster general; how Henry Cabot Lodge became ambassador to South Vietnam; Homer Thornberry's appointment to a judgeship; Carl Rowan as ambassador to Finland; Chester Bowles' and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.'s appointments; White House responses to opposition from civilians as opposed to military officials; Bobby Baker's career and O'Brien's relationship with Baker; a November 1963 meeting to discuss the 1964 campaign; LBJ as vice president and the likelihood that he would remain JFK's running mate in 1964; concern regarding Vietnam following the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem and Ngo Dinh Nhu; JFK's attitude toward Vietnam and O'Brien's opinion of what JFK might have done if he had lived; LBJ's decision to ride on Air Force One from Dallas to Washington D.C. after JFK's assassination; the decision to have the oath of office administered in Dallas; JFK's staff's eagerness to leave Dallas quickly; Jacqueline Kennedy's behavior immediately following the assassination; JFK staff's opinion of LBJ as JFK's successor; O'Brien's and Kenneth O'Donnell's involvement in choosing JFK's casket and helping with funeral and living arrangements for Jacqueline Kennedy; assassination conspiracy theories; O'Brien's, O'Donnell's, and Dave Powers' decision to continue to work for LBJ until after the 1964 election and the end of the congressional session; O'Brien's relationship with Jacqueline Kennedy in the years after JFK's death; criticism from Kennedy loyalists directed at O'Brien and Claude Desautels for staying on LBJ's staff; the transition to a staff chosen by LBJ; O'Brien's salary; the nature and importance of White House staff work.


O'Brien, Lawrence F. (Lawrence Francis), 1917-1990


LBJ Library Oral Histories

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Lawrence F. O'Brien


Michael L. Gillette

Specific Item Type:

Oral history









Time Period:

Post-Presidential (Jan. 21, 1969-)