For Country, Party, and Self
LYNDON'S election as majority Whip in January 1951 encouraged a belief among Washington insiders that he was a rising star in the Senate and Democratic party. In the first five months of the year, articles in Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post, two mass-circulation magazines, described him as a political phenomenon, a standout in the "star-packed Freshman Class of 1948." A fellow senator called him "the most effective freshman he has seen in . . . eighteen years." One high ranking Administration official dubbed him a "man of destiny," while the magazines described him as "just about the hottest young senator in the Capitol," a lifetime senator, if he wanted to be, and a leading vicepresidential candidate in 1952 or 1956. Since Johnson had entered the Senate, the Post pointed out, "twe lve young Texans have been hopefully named Lyndon. . . . Today, like twelve smiling young apostles, their photographs hang from the senator's office wall, silent testimony to the fact that his influence already has passed into another generation."
Johnson relished the notoriety. Journalist and later Johnson biographer Alfred Steinberg remembers an interview with him in the spring of 1951 when Johnson tried to persuade him to write an article not on congressional leaders but "a whole big article on just me alone." In the lavishly furnished President's Room off the Senate floor, where Presidents since Lincoln had come when visiting the Senate, Johnson"sat with his knees pressed against mine, a hand clutching my lapel, and his nose only inches away from my nose. When he leaned forward, I leaned back at an uncomfortable angle. 'What would the pitch of an article on you be?'" Steinberg asked. "'That you might be a Vice-Presidential candidate for 1952?' . . . 'Vice President hell!' he whispered. 'Who wants