Lyndon Baines Johnson was…quite a guy.
In the 1960 election, John F. Kennedy knew he had his work cut out for him with Southern Democrats, or “Dixiecrats”. They were already migrating in hoards to the Republican party, and his candidacy wasn’t helping. Maybe it was because they were jealous of his cool Boston accent, but it was more likely because of his support for civil rights.
Enter Johnson, who had lost the nomination to JFK. He was a seasoned and influential politician—having served as both a member of the House and the Senate—but more importantly, he was from Texas. He’d been Southerners’ first choice. Those were votes that JFK badly needed, so he offered Johnson a place on the ticket as vice president.
Johnson accepted the consolation prize because he was one motivated mofo and no one was going to keep him away from the White House. When JFK was assassinated in 1963, Johnson stepped into the presidency that had slipped away from him 3 years earlier (but probably not before doing a little jig and victory sky-punch).
The “Johnson Treatment”
As president, LBJ finally had the means to introduce a sweeping legislative agenda. The Great Society, as he referred to it, aimed to reduce poverty, provide healthcare and welfare benefits, promote civil rights and more. It was ambitious, to say the least.
But Johnson isn’t known as one of the most tireless and invested presidents for no reason; he spent countless hours on the hill and took nearly no breaks (maybe that’s why he had to order his pants from the oval office?).
He was also an imposing man with unparalleled powers of persuasion. If you were a member of Congress who wasn’t voting for one of his bills, you got something called the “Johnson Treatment.” This was when he would corner you and make you so uncomfortable that you gave in, just to get him to leave you the hell alone. He did extensive research on every member, and knew what to say to convince them. Most famous of his techniques was the “close-talk.”
But if that didn’t work, he would take you to the bathroom with him. LBJ was known for talking to senators and representatives while he was on the toilet. He wouldn’t let them out until they finally broke and agreed to support him. If he really hated you, I’m assuming he downed a few burritos beforehand.
His ruthlessness is what secured Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and a slew of laws protecting the rights of minorities. Affirmative Action? The Civil Rights Act? The Voting Rights Act? Johnson got them through his determination and dedication.
…And his farts.