The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent

Caro, Robert

Alfred A. Knopf, 2002

pp. 117, 119

p. 117 LBJ hired a succession of aides who did whatever he told them. They were always available. They never “had plans.” He seldom hired brilliant and independent types. He preferred “the more malleable, if considerably less talented” ones. Why? He wanted guys who would do what he wanted. Men who were eager to take orders from him. “While he called it ‘loyalty,’ the capacity he prized most in his subordinates was actually the capacity for subservience.” P. 119: “The hunger that gnawed at him most deeply was a hunger not for riches but for power in its most naked form; to bend others to his will. At every stage of his life, this hunger was evident: what he always sought was not merely power but the acknowledgement by others–the face to face, subservient acknowledgment–that he possessed it. “You had to ask. He insisted on it.” He wanted to dominate other people. [Part of this came, no doubt, from the residual shame from crushing ignominies and defects of his childhood.]