Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960

By Robert Dallek | Go to book overview

6
The New Dealer

SHORTLY after his election, Lyndon was told by a friend that "some country folks near Taylor when asked who they would vote for said, 'I tank Yonson must be a pretty good Swede--I'll vote for him.'" Johnson knew that chance and peculiar circumstance would always play a part in Texas and even national politics. But from the moment he set his sights on electoral office, he operated on the assumption that political success depended primarily on planning and hard work, actions that left as little to happenstance as possible. He believed that if he were to hold his congressional seat and ultimately win a higher office, he needed to become an influential figure in Washington and effectively serve the interests of his district, state, and region. 1

The day after his election Lyndon was eager to begin implementing his political design by answering congratulatory messages piling up at the hospital and planning the organization of his office. The campaign and his surgery, however, had left him so exhausted that he could only dictate a few conciliatory replies to defeated opponents and a thank-you note to Sam Rayburn for a "wire" that gave me a real boost." A telegram from Maury Maverick gave him one of his few happy moments during this recuperative period: "Have destroyed all copies of your picture in Austin Statesman because the general opinion is that you are lying in bed drunk. I never saw such a face. Even though you are sick you could at least wash your face or get a shave. Will be glad to furnish money for shave if you are without funds."2

After leaving the hospital on April 24, Lyndon stayed in Texas until May 11 to meet with the President. On April 11, the day after Lyndon's election, two Tenth District Democrats had wired Roosevelt that the outcome represented a victory for him: the six candidates favoring Court reform outpolled two opponents by a margin of almost three and a half to one. Johnson was "most outspoken for you." On April 20, after FDR

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