Section One

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December 8, 1966: “Backlash”
Washington Post

The Vietnam War had its beginnings well before the tumultuous events of the mid- to late 1960s. In 1965, President Johnson started a new phase of the conflict by deploying American combat troops to the war-torn nation. By the end of the year, troop levels rose to more than 200,000, and there was no end in sight. The war was also unexpectedly expensive, and this cartoon was drawn in reaction to a Johnson administration request for an extra $9 billion.

Herblock, correctly, foresaw that appropriations for Vietnam would come from cuts to Johnson’s Great Society programs that the cartoonist supported enthusiastically. It is here that we can see the beginning of the undoing of Johnson’s domestic policy—and the Johnson presidency—from the Vietnam War. Herblock would also use the “backlash” in a Nixon cartoon.