George Parr. Who or what was he? Think of Boss Hogg, a character out of the TV series ‘Dukes of Hazzard’. Substitute Duval County for Hazard County and – viola! – you would know Boss George Parr who robbed county and school district funds for his own use. The people of Duval County would say, for every ten dollars taken in by George Parr, he returned at least four dollars.
Lyndon Johnson faced certain defeat by former Texas Governor Coke Stevenson. A loss for Johnson in that 1948 senate race would have been the end of his political career.
Lyndon was determined to win whatever the cost. The political boss system working in south Texas counties picked winners and losers. In this case, they picked a loser for a winner. Sorry, Lyndon. Someone has to say it.
The boss system was complex, but suffice it to say the boss controlled the Hispanic vote. Out of a sense of self preservation, Hispanics would vote the way they were told by the boss. So it was that the Duke of Duval County, Boss Parr, told his constituents to vote for Lyndon B. Johnson. They did. He won. And, as they say, the rest is history.
“On December 20,1907, Duval County tax assessor and Democratic leader John Cleary was killed by a shotgun blast while sitting in a San Diego restaurant. His assassin escaped as local lawmen were enjoying a fiesta, which they claimed had drowned out the sound of the shooting. Texas Rangers later arrested three men in connection with the assassination, but they were never convicted. Cleary’s assassination came shortly after he had engineered a sweeping guarache triumph over the bota faction in the county elections, and opened the Duval County Democratic leadership to Archer Parr, thereby beginning perhaps the most remarkable and notorious political dynasty in Texas. Under the firm control of Archer Parr and his son George, the “Duke of Duval,” the county gained a reputation for political corruption that peaked with Lyndon B. Johnson’s election to the United States Senate in 1948, in which George Parr almost certainly directed the manipulation of returns that gave Johnson his eighty-seven-vote victory.” TSHA online
If Coke Stevenson had been victor, how would the Vietnam War have turned out differently? We can’t say for sure, but we know for fact LBJ was intent on stamping out poverty in Texas. His ‘war on poverty’ garnered most of his attention. From time to time, he relished in his role as the most powerful man on earth. I suppose in his mind, he was either next to God or maybe on par with Him.
Johnson once called Vietnam that “raggedy-ass little fourth-rate country.” His ego became so enlarged, he failed to see the significance of Vietnam’s place in history. Some historians say he micromanaged the war. Others say he was grossly irresponsible in the prosecution of the war. Still others say he basically ignored it pretty much altogether. I can agree with all three viewpoints. Johnson was the master manipulator. Everything he did involved secret political deals.
Johnson was the consummate progressive liberal who worked only with theories and his feelings, wholly ignoring historical precedent. It could be said his war on poverty was a total failure, because to day we have more poor people than any time in history. Barack Obama is often compared to Jimmy Carter. In most respects, Obama more closely follows Johnson. Cheat, lie, blackmail – you name it and they both used it to their political advantage. But, at what cost to our children and grandchildren?
If not for 87 questionable votes, LBJ Freeway would have a different name.