The scene was still eerie: the gloom, the heat, the whispering, the low, insistent whine of the jet engine, the mass of dim faces crowded so close together. But one element had vanished: the confusion. Watching Lyndon Johnson arrange the crowd, give orders, deal with [Kennedy aides Ken] O'Donnell and [Larry] O'Brien, [Johnson aide] Liz Carpenter, dazed by the rush of events, realized that there was at least one person in the room who wasn't dazed, who was, however hectic the situation might be, in complete command of it.In the agony of the moment, Johnson encountered resistance from Kennedy aides, some of whom didn't like him and didn't think having the ceremony in Dallas was necessary. Johnson had become president the moment Kennedy died; wasn't that enough? But Johnson understood the stricken country needed to witness the continuity of authority, and there was no better way than to conduct this sacred ritual. His left hand rested not on a Bible but a pocket-sized Roman Catholic missal.
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