The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent

Caro, Robert A.

Alfred A. Knopf, 1982

pp. 400 - 401

LBJ became known in the 1950s as an unprincipled wheeler-dealer, “a manipulator, a schemer . . . a deceiver proud of his deceits.” Johnson was and he wanted people to know it. He “created and cultivated the image.” Why? He was fighting the legacy of his youth: he belonged to a family that others said lacked “common sense.” His own father was idealistic and honest, and these qualities had led him “into ruin and disgrace and the road-building gang.” LBJ spent his life trying to show people that he was practical, that he could get things done no matter how, and therefore wanted to be understood as “calculating, shrewd, tough, hard, ruthless, ‘practical’ in even the most uncomplimentary connotations of the word.”