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Fdr And Lbj

March 2023
1min read

I would have enjoyed witnessing the private conversations between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the young congressman from Texas, Lyndon Johnson.

There were a considerable number of these informal talks, and not merely because Roosevelt was fond of Johnson. In explaining the frequency with which the President would invite Johnson for breakfast chats (with the President sitting up in bed with a blue Navy cape around his shoulders) and to the Oval Office (Johnson had already set his sights on the White House, and one can only imagine his feelings during those conversations in that bright, sunny room in which he longed to sit in his own right), Roosevelt’s aide James H. Rowe said: “You’ve got to remember that these were two great political geniuses,” and that FDR could talk to LBJ on a level on which he could talk to few men. “A most remarkable young man,” the President said shortly after he first met the twenty-eight-year-old congressman from the remote Texas hill country, and familiarity reinforced that opinion. Roosevelt not only told Harold Ickes that Johnson was “the kind of uninhibited young pro he would have liked to have been as a young man” (and might have been “if he hadn’t gone to Harvard”), but added that “this boy could well be the first Southern President.” To anyone interested as I am in the inner workings of politics, these talks between the President who was already such a master of the subject and the young man who was already known as “the wonder kid of politics” would have been fascinating. Lady Bird Johnson says that “every time” her husband came back from the White House, “he was on a sort of high. ” Listening to those conversations would have given me a high, too.

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