"If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: 'President Can't Swim.'"
"Hey! Hey! LBJ!President of the United States from 1963 to 1969, Lyndon Baines Johnson (aka LBJ) managed to be both incredibly good and horrendously bad. Johnson, a Texan by birth (unlike George W. Bush), after a brief time as a teacher, was elected to Congress in 1937. In World War II, he asked for a combat assignment, but didn't really see much action. He did try to improve conditions for US soldiers. On his second attempt he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948. He became Senate Majority Leader and was chosen as John F. Kennedy's running mate in 1960, after earlier trying to stop JFK's nomination, in an attempt to balance the unpopularity that the more liberal New Englander Kennedy inspired in the Democratic Party's largely conservative Southern base. Johnson is widely regarded as one of the more effective Senate Majority Leaders in recent history, in no small part due to his propensity for unapologetically bullying other Senators. He was also one of only three senators from the former Confederate States (the other two being Estes Kefauver and Albert Gore, Sr., both of Tennessee) not to sign the high-profile, pro-segregation Southern Manifesto in 1956. However, whether this was due to principle, politics (he was known to already be eyeing the White House), his role in the Senate's leadership, or some combination thereof is unclear. Johnson became Vice President and might well have been forgotten by history, had the events of November 22, 1963 not intervened. The death of Kennedy meant Johnson became President, being sworn in on Air Force One, with a Roman Catholic missal as no Bible was available. Here's where it gets rocky for Landslide Lyndon. The good was his role in the Civil Rights Laws of the 1960s, playing a bigger role than Kennedy did (as a teacher from Texas, he had seen the impact of segregation). This ended legally sanctioned racism and also altered the U.S. political landscape, effectively removing Southern whites from the New Deal coalition that had dominated U.S. politics since 1932, and adding most of the African Americans who hadn't voted for the Democrats in the last three decadesnote . This was part of Johnson's broader ideal of "The Great Society." He also amended Social Security to create Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor; he set up the Department of Housing and Urban Development; much of the work to land on the Moon was done while he was in office, though the project completed a few months into Richard Nixon's term; massively expanded federal money for education; and ended the system of racial quotas in immigration established in the 1920s. He was elected to his only full term in a landslide in 1964, with help from the infamous "Daisy Girl" ad, which painted his Republican opponent, Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, as a warmongering extremist who might well start World War III. Johnson won 44 states note and 61.1% of the popular vote, breaking America's 28-year-old record note . He is notable as the only U.S. President to attempt to end national poverty, and poverty was indeed drastically reduced during his term. The economy was also in great shape during his presidency, with unemployment getting as low as 3.4% when he left office. To compare, the lowest it has ever been since was near the end of Bill Clinton's second term when it was briefly at 3.8%. The bad was the Vietnam War, along with the persistent atmosphere of political corruption that surrounded Johnson, including accusations of voter fraud, bribery, and selling government secrets. Critics claimed that his support for Civil Rights was belied by his Senatorial votes against anti-lynching legislation, and that his poverty programs were nothing but cynical ploys to buy votes with handouts. Lyndon's administration carried over JFK's adoption of the "Whiz Kids", a group of RAND Corporation game theorists who were responsible for mind-bendingly complex flow charts and kill quotas. The massive bureaucracies LBJ put in place to administer his grandiose social projects proved to be riddled with waste and inefficiency. His increasing unpopularity, along with his ill health, ultimately led to his decision not to run for re-election in 1968. It appears that the actual independent effect of the war was not the only cause for his low ratings—with his perceived mishandling of domestic issues causing additional public distrust. On January 22, 1973, Johnson, 64 years old, died of his third heart attack, two days after he would have finished a second full term, only four weeks after another well-respected former Democratic senator who later became Vice President and President died from pneumonia. Johnson was a colorful figure, whose rough-edged Texan demeanor contrasted strongly with Kennedy's elegant image. One incident had him exposing his appendicitis scar to the public; in another he picked up his pet beagle by the ears, assuring the onlookers, "He lahks it!" He had odd eating habits, eating quickly and, if someone near him hasn't finished eating yet, taking their food to eat, as if it was nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps his oddest habit was conducting meetings on the toilet (Perhaps one of the best nonsexual examples of Coitus Uninterruptus). Satirical portrayals in media usually focused on playing up his Texan-ness to a comical degree. And here, he orders pants.
How many kids did you kill today?"
—Popular anti-Vietnam War protest chant
Lyndon Johnson provides examples of these tropes in media:
Johnson in fiction: