No. 8 Lyndon Johnson - Vietnam
Date: December 23, 1967 President Johnson took office after the assassination of President Kennedy and immediately, he escalated America's involvement in the Vietnam conflict. But another assassination, with JFK's tacit approval and just three weeks before his own death, that may have preordained a failed enterprise. After the capture and summary execution of Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem, the situation in Vietnam deteriorated rapidly. When Johnson took office, there were 16,000 American troops in Vietnam. In four years, that number would grow to over half a million. By the fall of 1967, however, Johnson had all but decided that the war was unwinnable and his pre-Christmas trip to Cam Ranh Bay - his second and final to Vietnam - did little to change his mind. Despite a heroic effort by the U.S. and South Vietnamese troops to beat back the Tet Offensive in January 1968, public opinion in the U.S. had sharply turned against the war and the fate of the Republic of Vietnam - and the Johnson presidency - was doomed. "... all the challenges have been met. The enemy is not beaten, but he knows that he has met his master in the field."