Kennedy, Congress, Vice President Lyndon Johnson discussed on Moonrise

Moonrise
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

It was the first public announcement Kennedy made about going to the moon and already doubts were creeping in. Maybe it was a bad idea. Didn't they see his rationale. We went to the moon in the nineteen sixties for very specific geopolitical a your political purposes absent those geopolitical purposes. We probably wouldn't have done it. Kennedy didn't announce the moon goal because he thought the science sense of it was important because the dream spoke to him in some profound spiritual way no he was committing to it because he wanted to achieve something thing right here on earth. It was because of global alignment to win the hearts and minds of the public. They were competing for global influence. They were in front of an international audience. That's an essential part of what made the space race a race why we were in it in the first place. This is teasing them. Um We're harmony curator the Apollo collection of the national air and Space Museum often when people think of the space race or project Apollo they focus on the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union without asking about the nature of that competition and what they were competing for in the wake of World War Two hard power so like invading countries and conquering them into submission that had fallen out of favor in fact many countries previously under colonial rule had recently gained into their independence Algeria Nigeria Senegal Uganda India Malaysia just to name a few all these newly independent countries were choosing what kind of government they wanted to be and what allies they wanted to have. Kennedy wanted them to choose democracy and America Project Apollo is one of the prime examples of soft power. You're the United States or the Soviet. The Union and you want an empire. You want to rule the world. Don't force these countries to bend to your will entice them put on a show. The idea of sending humans to the moon was almost deliriously bold but it would prove that the united rated states had the technology the money that firepower and the determination to be a superpower the superpower the ally ally of choice and Apollo is the perfect story to support look bad idea that is if the United States could pull it off. Kennedy was already starting to wonder if he she had just totally politically miscalculated. How is he going to win over the hearts and minds of the planet if he couldn't even even get his own congress excited about it. Ted Sorensen the president's speechwriter had sat on the sidelines and watched Kennedy deliver the address to Congress and Ted Sorensen was a brilliant word Meister He's the guy who wrote ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country from Kennedy's inaugural. JFK had come off a little uncertain. Sorenson thought and plus the president usually never swerved from his script. It seemed like a sign of his doubts that Kennedy had thrown in that extra unplanned emphasis at the end about how if Congress doesn't want to do this. Just tell me now they left. Capitol Hill together on the way back to the White House after that speech to Congress. He's in the Limo with Ted Sorensen writing the two miles back to sixteen hundred Pennsylvania Avenue on this Spring Day. The weather was climbing into the eighty s but they both were full suits and ties. Sorenson had black framed glasses. Kennedy was despondent. He tells Sorenson. I think these guys are going to go for this. you know they didn't exactly we stand up and cheer when I now we're going to do this and and Sorenson says it'll be fine. Mr President Lyndon has got everybody everybody under him under control and Vice President Lyndon Johnson did have it under control. He was a master of the Senate. He knew how to he knew how to manipulate people. Before Kennedy even stepped foot on Capitol Hill Johnson had made the rounds in Congress sealing up support in advance advanced for the Moon Project. You start buttonholing the leadership and saying okay. Here's what we WANNA DO WANNA. Do you know can do we have the votes. He had it all lined up so maybe. Kennedy didn't know that her fully realize it or maybe thought they changed your mind when he was concerned that they might not support poured it but there was never a question. Johnson had an all wrapped up before they gave the speech whether Kennedy knew that or not or believed it would work or not. He arrived back at the White House that day worrying. Something had gone wrong. He was thinking about what to do something something clever that could get him out of this spot..

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