Portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson

Portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson. [LBJ Library photo by Arnold Newman #C4442]

LBJ: The Man We Hate to Love

May 14, 2012

"I am concerned about the whole man. I am concerned about what the people, using their government as an instrument and a tool, can do toward building the whole man, which will mean a better society and a better world." - Lyndon B. Johnson

Whenever I hear someone waxing idiotic about the "radical liberalism" of a Barack Obama or a Bill Clinton or a Jimmy Carter I'm usually torn between the urge to giggle or to vomit. Show me a person who seriously believes that the aforementioned are real live, bona fide lefties and I'll show you a person seriously lacking even a remedial understanding of the history of the United States of America. Time for a history lesson. The last, truly liberal president left the White House on January 20, 1969. His name was Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Last week, like every other history junkie in the country, I was looking forward to the publication of Robert Caro's fourth volume that ponders the life of this strange and extraordinary man. The first volume was published in 1982, Volume Three came out over a decade ago - and we still have volume five to look forward to. What a long, strange trip it's been. Caro, who is in his late seventies, has said that he is not sure he will live long enough to finish this epic biography. Keep your fingers crossed and your hands folded. read more