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All The Way, HBO’s new movie about the passage and aftermath of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is a messy and curiously double-minded affair. Like Selma, it wants to show that the shopworn narrative of white men grappling with fate in smoky rooms was never the whole story. But All The Way doesn’t give Martin Luther King’s movement enough screen time to live again as the complex entity it was. Instead it’s portrayed as one of the many blocks Johnson has to shift around to secure passage of the bill.

But if All the Way reduces itself to the story of Johnson’s break with Southern whites then, however unintentionally, it does succeed in making one point very clearly: Nostalgia for the Johnson presidency is misplaced, thanks to forces set in motion by the man himself. More… “They’re Not Coming Back”

Greg Waldmann is a native New Yorker living in Boston with a degree in international affairs. He writes at Open Letters Monthly, where he is Editor-in-Chief.

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Still, Obama is not George Bush on a practical as well as a policy level, and he spends a lot of time in the Oval Office. Given that he is prone to more substantive talk than his predecessor, things like couches and chairs seem important accessories. The taupes and beiges of the new décor, moreover, are in keeping with his style: Let all those commentators asking for more passion look at the room and acknowledge that the man doesn’t work in primary colors; he likes the muted and the neutral. It’s who he is.

Obama also has young children, not to mention a puppy. You’ll say that the Oval Office ought to be off limits to children and animals, but the barn door was opened ever since the world saw the photo of John-John under the Oval Office desk — a tradition, I might add, that continued with the entertainment… More…