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In the 2016 TV movie All the Way, the character President Lyndon B. Johnson prominently explains (in a voice-over to the audience):

Clausewitz said “Politics is war by other means.” … Bullshit. Politics is War. Period. … You know how you win a campaign, by not losing it. I only lost one election my whole life. The son of a bitch stole it from me in the final seconds with a handful of fake votes, and I will carry the pain of that with me to my dying day. But I’ll tell you what, nobody will ever do me that way again. It’ll be some other way.

However, the Clausewitz quote is not correct. It is actually the other way round:

Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln

Carl von Clausewitz: Vom Kriege, First Part, First Book, First Chapter, Section 24

i.e.

War is merely the continuation of politics by other means

This is probably the most famous quote of Clausewitz. It seems unlikely that Lyndon B. Johnson (who was an officer during the Second World War) did not know the correct quote and its meaning.

Is the voice-over text including the misquotation based on any real words from Lyndon B. Johnson, or is it a deliberate mistake made by the filmmakers?

  • 3
    A mistake, by definition, cannot be deliberate. – Steve-O Jan 25 '17 at 0:56
  • You might want to say "deliberate change" – Panther Jan 25 '17 at 12:13
3

I think it is a deliberate move on the part of the filmmakers.

It would have been odd for him to say the line in its original German form, so the movie needed an English translation. And Johnson's version does not get the meaning wrong: the main idea -- "politics and war are different sides of the same coin" -- remains intact.

Also, from a screenwriting perspective, the way Johnson says the quote neatly sets up the delivery of the most important line, which is "Politics is war, period":

Clausewitz said “Politics is war by other means..." Bullshit. Politics is war, period.

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