A Tribute To Lady Bird Johnson

Robert Stein, on the departed Lady Bird Johnson:

"My mother," Lynda Bird Johnson once told me, "thinks well of everybody. She's even sure the Devil's been maligned. Just got a bad press.”

I got to know the First Lady during the time her daughter worked for me when I was editor of McCalls. She was womanly in a way that has gone out of style. Without the chic of Jacqueline Kennedy or the country-club cool of Laura Bush, Claudia Taylor Johnson devoted most of her life to herding a bull-in-the-china-shop husband from the Texas panhandle to the White House.

She will be remembered for her dedication to beautifying America with wildflowers, but Lyndon Johnson was her life’s work. She never stopped.

. . . History will have mixed feelings about a President who changed race relations in America forever by pushing through Congress against all odds the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the rallying cry of the movement, “We shall overcome,” and then damaged the country with his stubborn refusal to end a disastrous war.

But whatever he achieved would never have been possible without the loving woman who died today at 94.

RIP, Lady Bird Johnson.

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    Rick Perstein has a tribute worth reading as well (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Jul 11, 2007 at 09:13:08 PM EST
    His recounting of her whistlestop tour made me recall the time that my Dad took me to see her at the station- probably the same tour.

    It took physical courage for Lady Bird to do what she did - arrange a campaign tour for herself through eight Southern states. The original idea was to co-host a reception in the rotunda of each statehouse. the Secret Service nixed that proposal: closed circular spaces were a sniper's heaven. Hers would surely be the frst whistle-stop in history to travel with its own minesweeper: a second train engine, traveling fifteen minutes ahead of the first, to detonate any bombs placed in its path.

    Perlstein's (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by desertswine on Thu Jul 12, 2007 at 10:24:11 AM EST
    tribute is an act of love.

    I loved her. They'll tell you about the wildflowers and the crusade against unsightly billboards. They won't tell you about what a great liberal she was, what a brave warrior against racism she was - that she risked her life for these principles.

    mrs. johnson (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by cpinva on Wed Jul 11, 2007 at 10:51:47 PM EST
    was a class act. people who loathed her husband, loved her. she went out of her way to make everyone who met her feel comfortable, and projected a sense of warmth and caring that made her almost the nation's grandma. she will be missed.

    the really sad part of the johnson legacy in the white house is that, had pres. johnson received better advice, and followed his instincts, he'd have been the president that stopped the war started by eisenhower, instead of the one that escalated it.

    added to his forceful work in the civil rights and public health arenas (the "great society"), he would be hailed alongside lincoln, washington, roosevelt and kennedy, as among our greatest presidents.

    That is a great tribiute. (none / 0) (#1)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Jul 11, 2007 at 09:09:29 PM EST
    Without the chic of Jacqueline Kennedy or the country-club cool of Laura Bush, Claudia Taylor Johnson devoted most of her life to herding a bull-in-the-china-shop husband from the Texas panhandle to the White House.

    Quite the lady. (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 11, 2007 at 09:45:48 PM EST
    Even though she suffered a stoke a few years ago she still looked great and carried herself well and proud at 93.

    Here's a photo of her from last June at the University of Texas, Austin, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

    R.I.P. Mrs. Johnson.

    I've been reading "Master of the Senate" (none / 0) (#4)
    by andgarden on Wed Jul 11, 2007 at 10:14:58 PM EST
    by Caro on and off. Lady Bird comes off as the sweetest, strongest, most loyal American you could imagine. The world is a better place because of her.

    The Times has a good obit too (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Wed Jul 11, 2007 at 10:34:57 PM EST
    This jumped out:
    Her description of someone who acted without thinking was "the type who would charge hell with a bucket of water."

    Very sweet. When I think (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Thu Jul 12, 2007 at 12:08:42 AM EST
    of Lady Bird, I think of the daffodils she had planted in Potomac Park.

    A friend told me that when she was growing up in Austin, there was only one TV station--owned by Lady Bird's family, which would not permit another station there.  When my friend's family moved to Fort Worth, there were three stations, all owned by Lady Bird's family.  

    On Walter Jenkins (none / 0) (#8)
    by ding7777 on Thu Jul 12, 2007 at 05:43:54 AM EST
    On the morning after LBJ talked to Clifford, Lady Bird Johnson called her husband, who was on the campaign trail. She wanted to offer Jenkins a job with one of their family's Texas television stations, but the president said no.

    "I don't think that's right," Mrs. Johnson said. "When questioned, and I will be questioned, I'm going to say that this is incredible for a man that I have known all these years, a devout Catholic, a father of six children, a happily married husband."

    She urged the president to make a "gesture of support" and characterized Jenkins' behavior as "a small period of nervous breakdown."

    The president expressed some sympathy for making a gesture of support but said he didn't want to appear to be defending Jenkins "because we just can't win it."

    "The average farmer just can't understand your knowing it and approving it or condoning it," the president said. But Lady Bird went ahead and made her statement to the press.

    LBJ Tapes