A portrayal of the Johnson presidency and its spiraling descent into the Vietnam War. Acting on often conflicting advice from his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara and other advisers, President Johnson finds his domestic policy agenda for the Great Society overtaken by an ever demanding commitment to ending the war. It also depicts his political skills as he crosses swords with political foes such as Bobby Kennedy and Governor George Wallace. Despite support and encouragement from stalwart friends such as Clark Clifford, Johnson realizes his management of the war no longer has the confidence of the American people and announces that he will not seek the nomination of the Democratic party for the the 1968 election. Written by
Gary Sinise: Gov. George Wallace. He previously played Wallace in George Wallace (1997), also directed by John Frankenheimer. The footage of Wallace on television is from Sinise's performance in that film. In the scene right after he is also shown taking a publicity shot with LBJ, then talking to LBJ then ending with a press conference. See more »
At one point Robert McNamara tells President Johnson that there are 13 US battalions in Vietnam, and goes on to say this is 51,000 troops. This would mean approximately 4,000 troops per battalion. Given that a US battalion would only have 500-800 troops he is actually talking about 13 brigades (each containing several battalions) and not 13 battalions. See more »
George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld could learn from this film. As Yogi Berra might say, our slow and unending fall into the quicksand that is Iraq is "déjà vu all over again."
John Frankenheimer's "Path to War" chronicles the series of unfortunate decisions that Lyndon B. Johnson was forced to make that led to the enormous buildup and commitment of troops, money, and destruction in Vietnam during his presidency. The film portrays LBJ in a sympathetic light almost like a flawed but essentially good Shakespearean protagonist who succumbs to bad advice, becomes trapped by it, and almost descends into complete madness from it.
I vividly remember the moment when Johnson announced he would not run again. He had become an enemy to many of us at the time, and thus the news that his term would end in less than a year gave us hope once more for the country.
What is key to this film, and what opened my eyes, was his strong objections to the war itself. At each decision point he wrestled with the morality of escalation, and ultimately was led to believe that escalation would bring an end to the fighting. Indeed, history proved otherwise.
What is regrettable is that this country is going through "déjà vu all over again," the only difference being that George W. Bush seems totally immune to the suffering and costs his war in Iraq has begotten. Do we see him agonizing over the injuries and deaths? Perhaps he does in private, but if so he keeps it repressed in public.
Whether or not you are a supporter of President Bush, this film should be required viewing for anyone who cares about America's recent history and current position in the world.
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