Bryan Cranston’s ‘LBJ’ Steals ‘Godfather Politics’ Tag Line

I’m minding my own business, watching segments of the Breaking Bad Marathon on AMC while taking notes for several writing projects, and all of a sudden I hear something familiar.

It’s Bryan Cranston plugging his new Broadway play “All the Way1 where he plays President Lyndon Bains Johnson. Cranston has JBJ saying the following:

“It’s not personal . . . It’s politics.”

If you look just above the masthead of the Godfather Politics site you’ll see it.

If you are not familiar with the line “It’s not personal,” it comes from the first film in the Godfather trilogy:

Michael Corleone: Where does it say that you can’t kill a cop?

Tom Hagen: Come on, Mikey…

Michael Corleone: Tom, wait a minute. I’m talking about a cop that’s mixed up in drugs. I’m talking about a dishonest cop — a crooked cop who got mixed up in the rackets and got what was coming to him. That’s a terrific story. And we have newspaper people on the payroll, don’t we, Tom?

Michael Corleone: And they might like a story like that.

Tom Hagen: They might, they just might.

Michael Corleone: [to Sonny] It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.

The “It’s not personal” line occurs frequently in the three films, and has become a popular pop-culture saying.

As I’ve mentioned in an early Godfather Politics article, politics and organized crime have a lot in common, and people use both of them in the same way – to get things for themselves from other people using political muscle.

It remains to be seen how LBJ will be portrayed since there’s a lot to choose from a very long Johnson political career.

Here’s one LBJ factoid that is often missing from the history books.

As we saw in 2013, the IRS has been deeply involved in politics as it relates to dealing with conservative tax-exempt organizations. This was all LBJ’s doing. We got into this mess when in 1954 a law was rammed through Congress by then-Senator Johnson to restrict churches and other non-profit organizations from speaking freely on the topic of politics. The following is from the IRS:

“In 1954, Congress approved an amendment by Sen. Lyndon Johnson to prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations, which includes charities and churches, from engaging in any political campaign activity. To the extent Congress has revisited the ban over the years, it has in fact strengthened the ban. The most recent change came in 1987 when Congress amended the language to clarify that the prohibition also applies to statements opposing candidates.”

This so-called ban is a direct violation of the First Amendment. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law. . . .” In 1954, Congress made a law prohibiting churches from speaking out on political issues and endorsing or opposing candidates. The logic is simple. Since Congress passed the law, then Congress violated the Constitution. This makes the law null and void.

Liberals rarely follow the law and are never called on the violation.

So what else is new?

  1. The political slogan at the time was “All the Way with LBJ.” []