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

By Robert Dallek | Go to book overview

16
The Making of a Vice President

FROM the fall of 1958 to the Democratic convention in July 1960 the struggle for the party's presidential nomination was front-page news. At the beginning of 1959, political pundits agreed that Senators Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, and Stuart Symington, New York governor Averell Harriman, and Adlai Stevenson were the front runners. The start of the year was a crucial time in the fight for the nomination. Jim Rowe urged Lyndon to launch a campaign at once. Lyndon said he couldn't get the nomination and wouldn't run. Rowe didn't believe him, or at least thought he was ambivalent. "He wanted the thing. I think he wanted it so much his tongue was hanging out. Then this other part of him said, 'This is impossible. Why get my hopes up? I'm not going to try. If I don't try, I won't fail.'" For several months Rowe had refused to take no for an answer. He told Lyndon that he was "preeminently qualified" to be President, compared him to FDR, and described his reluctance to run as a disservice to the country and himself. But Lyndon wouldn't budge, and in January 1959, Rowe gave up and joined the Humphrey campaign. 1

Lady Bird believed that Lyndon had decided against running. "If he had really yearned for the presidency, he would have been working for it two years ahead of time," she said in July 1963. "He couldn't work for it and be Majority Leader . . . that is absolutely a full-time thing." Yet she also acknowledged that Lyndon's intentions remained something of a mystery to her. "And how do you plumb the depths of anybody's heart, really, even your own husband's," she asked. 2

Doubts about winning gave Lyndon some hesitation. But he had been in the race since 1956. His refusal to mount an organized public cam-

-544-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Introduction LBJ in History 3
  • Part One - The Making of a Politician 1908-1937 11
  • 1 - The Heritage 13
  • 2 - Childhood 31
  • 3 - Student and Teacher 62
  • 4 - Kleberg's Secretary 93
  • 5 - The Making of a Congressman 125
  • Part Two - The Congressman 1937-1948 157
  • 6 - The New Dealer 159
  • 7 - National Politics 185
  • 8 - Politics, Patriotism, and Personal Gain 225
  • 9 - The Liberal as Conservative 268
  • 10 - Texas Elects a Senator 298
  • Part Three - The Senator 1949-1954 349
  • 11 - The Best Possible Senator for . . . Texas 351
  • 12 - For Country, Party, and Self 392
  • 13 - Bipartisan Politics 426
  • Part Four - The Majority Leader 1955-1960 465
  • 14 - The Making of a Majority Leader 467
  • 15 - The Liberal Nationalist 509
  • 16 - The Making of a Vice President 544
  • Sources 593
  • Abbreviations in the Notes 611
  • Notes 613
  • Index 701
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