In Lady Bird Johnson’s Secret Diary, a despair president and a skilled spouse

Washington – He became president for only two years, but he had enough on that night of 1965. Lyndon b. Johnson had spiraled into depression, and after gallbladder surgery from his hospital bed, he spoke of throwing it away and making his way back home to Texas.

Approaching a Supreme Court juror, he set ideas for a statement announcing that he would be changing his duties indefinitely to Vice President Hubert Humphrey while recovering from fatigue. “I want to go to the farm. I don’t want Hubert to be able to call me either, ”he told his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. He said that I can resign. They may also want to impeach me. “

Eventually, Mrs. Johnson endured her in a period of doubt and despair that enabled her to complete the final three years of her term. The episode was hidden from the public, and although Mrs Johnson recorded it in her diary, she ordered the entry kept secret for years after her death. But a new book reveals the full scope of those once-cut diaries that throw fresh light on the former first lady and her partnership with the 36th president.

The diary shows how Mrs. Johnson was in her husband’s presidency. She not only provided the emotional ballast of the spouse, but also worked as an unmatched counselor who helped persuade her to remain in office at crucial times, advising her to achieve her mutual goals in the office. How to use, guided and helped him through the most difficult moments. Chart their decision to relinquish power after years.

Although she is largely remembered as a political wife and businessman promoting “beautification” efforts with impeccable manners, an easy laugh, a soft Texas quilt and a quintessential First-Ladies-like White House portfolio Hai, the diary makes it clear that the scene behind Mrs. Johnson was also a canny political operator and judge of the people.

“The pre-existing image is one of two-dimensional and rigid-upper-lips and does not leave hair out of place,” said Julia Sweig, who spent five years researching the diary for the biography “Lady Bird Johnson: Plain Hidden in the site, “is set to be published on Tuesday.” But when you come across this material, you see that he is a round, multidimensional human being. “

Mrs. Johnson by John F. Started her diary soon after Kennedy’s assassination, sending her husband to the presidency in November 1963, and she carefully kept it until the end of her time in the White House in January 1969. A book in 1970 titled “A White House Diary”, but excerpts remained sealed for a long time Death in 2007 At the age of 94 years.

Ms. Swig, a longtime Washington scholar, knew about the diaries from a friend and was thrilled when she started visiting the Johnson President’s Museum in Austin, Texas, and stepped into an exhibition that featured tapes The diary made was to describe Mrs. Johnson’s voice. The assassination of Kennedy. The first woman’s voice was activated by a motion detector, so Ms. Sweig repeatedly stepped in and out of the museum room to hear the diary’s entrance repeatedly.

Then he started a project examining all 123 hours of tapes and tapes, the last of which was not released until 2017, with biographies and other research to produce an eight-part podcast, “In Plain Sight “Lady Bird Johnson,” produced by ABC News, which features Mrs. Johnson’s voice for her time in the White House. (The fourth episode will air on Monday.)

“It is very unusual to find such a vague and contemporary record of such a recent period of history that we thought we knew and knew of a presidency that we thought we knew And understand, ”Ms. Swig said.

Johnson scholars said that Ms. Swig’s examination of diaries was a popular understanding of that era. “He fills the picture that we now have of the Johnson Presidency,” said historian Robert Dalek, who spent 14 years researching two books on Lyndon Johnson.

Born in a small town in Texas, Claudia Alta Taylor, Mrs. Johnson was a force in her husband’s political career in Congress from the White House. He mentored them through the Civil Rights Movement, the Great Society Program and the Vietnam War enactment, and he helped to figure out how to deal with the arrest of a close ally and to promote the environmental and social justice agenda Used its beautification program for.

Perhaps as a result of most, she pushed her husband forward through her inner turmoil. In early May 1964, six months after assuming office, he contemplated his departure by not running for election in his fall. Mrs Johnson released a seven-page strategy memorandum as well as a draft letter stating what the election would be like. But she told her diary, “I hope he doesn’t use it,” and encouraged her to stay the course, which she did.

At the same time, his strategy memo outlined his final course, suggesting he run for election, but served only a full term, then announced in March 1968 that he would not run again.

There were moments when he almost planned, such as in October 1965, after his gallbladder surgery. There were no specific incidents, and he was arguably at the height of his presidency, passed major civil rights legislation, while not in the worst of the Vietnam War. Indeed, he signed 13 domestic policy bills from his bed during his two-week sentence at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Yet whatever the reason, he was overwhelmed one night by the stress of his job as Abe Fortas, a longtime colleague whom he had just appointed to the Supreme Court, sat on his bed. The distressed president told his wife and justice that he could handle “not another piece of paper, not another problem”, and he set out ideas on how he could escape the burden of Fortas’ presidency. Wrote them for a long time.

“He was like a man upon whom an avalanche had suddenly fallen,” Mrs. Johnson recorded. She knew that her fast mood was better than anyone, but she missed it. “So here is the black beast of depression in our lives,” she told in her diary that she was “closed for 10 years, and then reviewed”.

The diary entry reinforced how important it was to keep her husband focused. Lyndon b. Mark K., president of the Johnson Foundation and author of “Indomitable Will”. Johnson Presidency. “He not only used her as a sounding board, but revealed his subconscious to him, including expressing his deepest thoughts through which he was trying to work. He helped them work – or make them desolate. “

Mrs. Johnson helped topple him, but by 1968, he too felt that it might be time for him to move on. He had a secret end drafted for his state address in January announcing that he would not run for re-election, but he was unsure whether he would deliver it. Before she left for the Capitol, Mrs. Johnson noticed that she had left the secret draft behind, so she ran to tuck into her suit pocket.

He then watched from the gallery of the House when he made his speech, not knowing for himself whether he would use the secret end. he did not. But then, when the time came for an address for the nation announcing the bombing of North Vietnam, it finally issued the surprise declaration. That was in March 1968 – exactly according to the timetable Mrs. Johnson outlined four years earlier.

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