THIRTY-FIVE

Lyndon B. Johnson
1963-69

Lyndon B. Johnson ( 1908-73) was the first Southerner since Woodrow Wilson to become President. He was also the first "real" Texan to occupy the White House. Texas is a great, big, huge state (as a native might put it), with an enormous range of weather, terrain, flora, fauna, people, customs, attitudes, and lifestyles. Still, to most outsiders, the word "Texas" conjures up images of cowpunchers, boots, ten-gallon hats, jeans, rodeos, Texas rangers, ranches, and Alamo machismo. From this point of view, LBJ seemed like the quintessential Texan to many Americans: big, loud, brash, friendly, informal, folksy, pushy, vulgar, and combative. He was all these things, and more. He had a remarkable memory, a razor-sharp mind, great comic gifts, and a Populist bent that made him eager as President to make life better for the masses of people. "He had the quickest, most analytical mind I've ever seen," said a New Deal official who observed him at work in Congress in the 1930s. 1 "Lyndon Johnson," said John Gardner, one of his Cabinet members, "was one of the most intelligent men I have ever known."2 He was also one of the most energetic men on this planet.

Johnson's energy was enough to make even the somnolent Calvin Coolidge turn in his grave. "I don't want to be remembered as a can't-do man," LBJ once announced. 3 "Lyndon," said his friend Sam Rayburn, "behaves as if there were no tomorrow coming and he had to do everything today."4 He was always on the go. He

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