Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power

By Rowland Evans; Robert Novak | Go to book overview

Chapter XXV ADVERSITY

Well-rested and strengthened by pulse-feeling back home, the Congress returns to Washington far less docile and far more doubtful than when it left. . . .

-- Time, January 14, 1966

Seldom bad a Washington secret been so closely held on a matter not affecting the national security. When Lyndon Johnson drove up Pennsylvania Avenue the evening of Wednesday, January 12, 1966, to address a joint session of Congress, only four other people in the government knew that his State of the Union Address would propose a constitutional amendment to change the term of House members from two years to four years.

The President was bound and determined to keep it a complete surprise--or else! He warned Attorney General Nicholas de B. Katzenbach, who both drafted the constitutional amendment and would be in charge of guiding it through Congress, to maintain perfect security. If word leaked into the newspapers ahead of time, Johnson warned Katzenbach, he would drop the proposal from his speech and from his program.

Returning to the White House immediately after the speech, Johnson hurried to the wire-service tickers to examine the congressional reaction to his address. To his dismay, be quickly discovered that the four-year House term was under attack from a powerful figure: Representative Emanuel Celler of New York, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee which had life-and-death power over all proposed changes in the Constitution. Mightily annoyed by Celler's opposition, the President telephoned Katzenbach at home late at night. Why didn't you do your homework? he demanded of Katzenbach. Why didn't you bring Manny Celler into camp? Katzenbach patiently replied that the President's insistence on secrecy foreclosed all advance lobbying and this very foreclosure contributed to Celler's opposition. Irritated over not receiving advance notification, Celler felt no compunction about expressing his genuine opposition. His was the first of a fatal series of attacks on the four-year term.

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Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Chapter I - The President 1
  • Chapter II - The Road to the Senate 5
  • Chapter III - Freshman Senator 26
  • Chapter IV - The Leader 50
  • Chapter V - Lbj's Balancing Act 71
  • Chapter VI - The Johnson System 88
  • Chapter VII - The Miracle of '57 119
  • Chapter VIII - The Legislator 141
  • Chapter IX - Lbj Vs. Ike 168
  • Chapter X - Too Many Democrats 195
  • Chapter XI - Love That Lyndon 225
  • Chapter XII - Comedy of Errors 243
  • Chapter XIII - Defeat-- and Emancipation 268
  • Chapter XIV - Campaigning for Kennedy 289
  • Chapter XV - The Vice- President 305
  • Chapter XVI - Let Us Continue 335
  • Chapter XVII - Taming the Congress 360
  • Chapter XVIII - Chief Diplomat 383
  • Chapter XIX - The Great Society 407
  • Chapter XX - Picking a Vice-President 435
  • Chapter XXI - In Search of a Record 464
  • Chapter XXII - Stockpiling Adversity 484
  • Chapter XXIII - The Dominican Intervention 510
  • Chapter XXIV - Vietnam 530
  • Chapter XXV - Adversity 557
  • Source Notes 575
  • Index 578
  • About the Authors 598
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