Monday, February 21, 2011

The paradox of Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon Baines Johnson was no pushover. The 36th president of the United States was any estimations a hard-charging personality, content to engage in tough negotiations with lawmakers on Capitol Hill — sometimes literally cornering his opponents in invasive, lapel-grabbing conversations that took place in a space no bigger than a phone booth.

It was this style of direct, in-your-face, horse-trader politics that helped secure Johnson’s presidential legacy: creator of the Job Corps, architect of the Great Society and the War on Poverty; and a catalyst for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 — two of the landmark pillars of the civil rights era that black and minority Americans are heir to today.

His relentless pursuit of those two landmark laws have helped secure for LBJ a credible claim to being the most effective president on behalf of the civil rights agenda. ...

But throughout the public record, and according to the work of presidential scholars, it’s possible to see glimpses of the LBJ who exhibited a personal aspect at odds with the political. The man had his blind spots. ...

Read the rest at theGrio

Image credit: Johnson: Arnold Newman

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