The Lady Bird Johnson recordings and what they tell us
Thursday may fourteenth. Virginia in mid may is bombed for any troubles. No silent spring here. The green archer fresh bring leaves almost met over the rutted country. Would occasionally you would see a bright. Little chipmunk perched on radio fans it's been a bad week in washington lady. Bird finds herself in the rare uncomfortable position of being the subject of some pretty scathing press. So she's fled. Dc to get out of the spotlight and come to hunt. Land and estate in middleburg virginia about an hour outside of washington. Lbj and lady. Bird had made high profile tours of appalachia. I mainly on poor whites for one of the administration's first initiatives it's war on poverty and they've quoted massive press coverage tv radio and prince. Johnson continues the president's attack on poverty as she travels to the economically depressed areas of kentucky. The forty five counties making up this area present one of the nation's worst pictures poverty several times. Mrs johnson holzer motorcade degreed local school children who have gathered along. The roadside ladybird has been a public face for this up until now the media has loved her. There's actually no vice president at the moment because lbj was the bp under kennedy and according to the constitution there's no automatic replacement for him lbj's going to announce a running mate at the convention in august at the press corps. Traveling with the first lady has started referring to her as mrs. vice president. How serious is that. i don't know not fairy. But they've clearly picked up on something real about the way. She works with lyndon in a typical piece. Editorial in the lexington herald in kentucky asks. Why not an lbj and lbj ticket. Look no farther lyneham. Your big problem of running mate for this fall is now solved. It's none other than that. Charming texan. lady. Bird johnson ladybird lasted off but all this recognition has also made her a target. Read the papers and absorb the shock. Aptitude republican congressman's visit to my tenants that i pogo county. A couple of gop congressman decided to take their own poverty. Tour to alabama where ladybird has almost four thousand acres used for cotton and timber farming that she inherited from her mother's family. The congressmen go see lady bird tenants and put out some grainy black and white photos showing their ramshackle conditions tin roof shacks with collapsing foundations. No running water basically. She's being made to look like a slum lord and those optics as they say in politics are terrible. It could have been worse. I've got to thank some way to turn it into. A constructed in ladybird been in public life for decades. And she's savvy about the press. She understands the story could deal them real political damage so her first constructive step was to avoid the press by getting out of town. That's what's brought her to hunt land back in. Washington linden's really struggling. His civil rights. Bill is stuck. In congress is war counseled dean rusk mcgeorge bundy and robert mcnamara all holdovers from kennedy are pressing him on vietnam and he has a raging toothache and i was almost asleep. A little after tway out. He called me. It was a sad happy. Talk large about the alabama tenants and about his restive desire to seek a way out of the burdens. He carries but the real source of his pain. He's actually thinking about not running. November linden is fundamentally insecure. He knows he wasn't elected that he's just there because kennedy was assassinated. He doesn't believe he has a mandate and he doesn't think he can win despite an approval rating of seventy four percent. You could argue that. This is all in his head but part of him. A big part just wants out ladybird invited. Lbj's to longtime doctors to drive out to hunt one for dinner Linden had a major heart attack at heartland almost ten years ago in nineteen fifty five. It's never really out of mind for either of them so at dinner that night with the doctors. She'd heard what they thought about his fitness. And we're going to give him a thorough medical going. The next morning and night we only talked about the psychological aspects. I don't know though that either one really understands the depth of his pain winning af faces up to the possibility of sending many thousands. American boys vietnam both ladybird linden can see the writing on the wall. Vietnam could easily derail his presidency. Their ambitions for civil rights the sweeping great society programs. He's just laid out for his doctors leave to go back. Washington bird hands them. An envelope marked personal but its contents are political to on the phone the night before linden had asked her to set out the pros and cons. I wrote at for london about a nine page analysis of what i thought he situation was. I she types out that press release. It's a bit of psychology. This is what it would feel like to announce you're not running. Then on a spiral bound steno pad ladybird writes those nine pages laying out his options This letter or what. I think is more accurately. Her strategy memo is been sitting at the lbj library forever. Pretty much overlooked by historians.