Think, think, think

And there were calls to two of the “damn smart men” who had given Jack Kennedy the brilliant concepts and the brilliant words that Johnson admired. “You’re going to have to do some heavy thinking for me,” he said to Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg. “I want you to be thinking about what I ought to do … I want you to think … just think in capital letters, and think, think, think. And then – then talk to me tomorrow or the next day.

Pulled down my copy of Caro to check some details on Johnson’s November, 1963 Texas trip (I thought he’d been at the Driskill Hotel in Austin on the night of Nov. 21; incorrect, although the hotel did play a key role in Johnson’s life). Was struck by this demand. Imagine the new president of the United States calling you and demanding you “think, think, think.” (Side note: the notion of a totally apolitical Supreme Court doesn’t seem to have been the accepted wisdom in those days).

A theme of Caro’s work on Johnson is that the Senate is almost designed not to work:

The inefficiency of Congress was nothing new, of course – the only period since the Civil War that the pattern had been broken in the Senate, the principal logjam, was the six years of Lyndon Johnson’s leadership.

Caro even blunter about this in Working, which is a handy cheat guide to Caro’s work:

Not getting stuff through the Senate is nothing new!



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