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What’s a presidency for?

May 2, 2012, 1:50 pm

Bill Clinton knows. Reviewing Caro’s new LBJ volume, Clinton writes of Johnson:

He knew what the presidency was for: to get to people — to members of Congress, often with tricks up his sleeve; to the American people, by wearing his heart on his sleeve.

This is especially peculiar, given that earlier in the piece Clinton recounts how Johnson’s advisors told him not to expend political capital on the “hopeless cause” of civil rights legislation, and Johnson responded, “Well, what the hell’s the presidency for?”

To Johnson, the presidency was for going after big bills. To Big Bill, the presidency was for manipulating people. Or so the NYT piece would have us believe.

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