Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President

By Robert Dallek | Go to book overview

3
THE SENATOR

Forty years of age when he entered the U.S. Senate in January 1949, Johnson was a well-known figure among Washington insiders. He had lived in the capital for fifteen of the last seventeen years and was more at home in Washington than in Texas. Moreover, his election to the Senate gave him an ideal locus for his interests and talents. Prominent Federal officials, past and present, who knew Johnson well, expected his presence in the “Club,” as many called the 96-member upper house, to benefit both Texas and the nation. Yet opinion about Johnson at the start of his Senate term was not uniformly enthusiastic. As was the case throughout his life, Johnson appealed greatly to some people and offended others. All agreed on one thing, however: He was a memorable character. At six feet three and a half inches, with long arms, big ears, a prominent nose, and outsized personality to match, Johnson left a lasting impression on everyone he met. Interviews about him done twenty, thirty, and even forty years after 1949 are fresh and vivid, as if people were describing yesterday's events. Bryce Harlow, a counsel to the House Armed Services Committee and a Special Assistant to President Dwight Eisenhower, remembers encounters with Lyndon as memorable: “They were searing; they were big; they were tough; they were exciting; they were out of the ordinary, because he was bigger than life.”

Part of the legend Johnson created for himself revolved around his work habits. Work was a huge part of his life: It was as essential to him as breathing; he was a workaholic, an addict who needed a regular fix. And like everything he did, he tried to be the best at it and use it to impress people with his uniqueness. “My husband was always a taut, driving perfectionist who lived with constant tension,” Mrs. Johnson said. Hubert Humphrey,

-72-

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Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface ix
  • Lyndon B. Johnson *
  • 1 - The Making of a Politician 1
  • 2 - The Congressman 36
  • 3 - The Senator 72
  • 4 - The Vice President 112
  • 5 - From JFK to LBJ 145
  • 6 - Landslide Lyndon 171
  • 7 - King of the Hill 190
  • 8 - Foreign Policy Dilemmas 208
  • 9 - Retreat from the Great Society 227
  • 10 - Lyndon Johnson''s War 251
  • 11 - A Sea of Troubles 272
  • 12 - Stalemate 295
  • 13 - Last Hurrahs 318
  • 14 - Unfinished Business 343
  • 15 - After the Fall 362
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 379
  • Index 382
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