ble existence. By now, the major traits of Lyndon’s personality are formed. He craves attention. He flatters people. He has to have his way. He will do anything for money for a nickel he’ll even let Harold Withers pull his ears until he cries \(“Because he wanted that nickel,” recalls Hill Country, to hate its poverty, its hopelessness, its shame. By high school, he is desperate to get out. You can’t be anybody here, he realizes. And he wants to be somebody, has to be somebody. He escapes to Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos. There, known as “Bull Shit” Johnson, he ingratiates himself with the college president, “sucks up” to professors, and eventually takes over a secret social group called the White Stars, which he uses to control the student council and newspaper. Before he leaves, he enjoys unprecedented power over the college’s destitute students, to whom he parcels out jobs. Yet such power does not change Caro’s Johnson as it might other men. The fire of his “terrible youth” in the Hill Country has forged him into such intractable steel that he will never change. Later, as a congressional aide in Washington, Caro’s Johnson repeats the patterns established at San Marcos. He subjects people to the Johnson “treatment” sticking his face in theirs, cajoling, intimidating them. In the office, he enslaves his fellow aides, one of Lady Bird, who surely must know, endures with stoic reticence. Marsh never finds out, of course, because of Johnson’s talent for secrecy. Meanwhile he is already scheming for the Senate, the next rung in his ladder to the presidency. In 1940, he assumes control of still another dying organization this time the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and raises Texas oil money for hardrunning candidates. And more of them are reelected than Roosevelt or anybody else expects. The President himself is taken with this bright and brash young congressman, who has become his man in Texas. On the Hill, Johnson is a force to be reckoned with. At about this time, Charles Marsh, in the company of George Brown, offers to sell Johnson his share in some fabulous Texas oil enterprises without a down payment. When Johnson firmly refuses, Marsh is astonished. Why would a man like Johnson reject a chance to make nearly a million dollars, without having to invest a nickel of his own? Almost in tears, Johnson says it would kill him politically. Only now does George Brown realize what Johnson really wants, and how badly he wants it. In 1941, Caro’s Johnson makes his bid for the Senate, with banners in Texas screaming “FRANKLIN D AND LYNDON B!” Financed by Brown and Root, he spends more money than any other candidate in Texas political history. In the end, Johnson loses the primary because conservative business lobbyists, alarmed by O’Daniel’s populist rhetoric, have East Texas votes switched to O’Daniel to get him out of the state. One scene in this zany campaign, Caro suggests, reveals Johnson for what he really is. Trying to imitate FDR’s celebrated wave, Johnson gives a gesture “so rigid,” says Caro, “as to be more Hitlerian than Rooseveltian.” Defeated but not deterred, Caro’s Johnson remains in good standing with Roosevelt, who, at Johnson’s urging, interferes in an IRS investigation of Brown & Root’s illegal campaign contributions. The charges are scaled down, nobody at Brown & Root goes to jail, and Johnson’s career is saved. But as the curtain falls, the diabolical Johnson is already renouncing the New Deal. Before the paint has faded on billboards proclaiming his loyalty to Roosevelt, Caro’s Johnson has turned against him. To find out what happens next, we have to await the sequel. Caro’s work may be “good box-office journalism,” as historian Joe B. Frantz has described it, but it is not good biography. Indeed, for all its wealth of detail, The Path to Power \(like Dugger’s Robert Caro whom has to take dictation while Johnson sits noisily on the commode. He takes over the Little Congress, a moribund organization like the student council back at San Marcos, then revives and uses it to expand his growing influence on Capitol Hill. He befriends Rayburn, a lonely bachelor who becomes the main foundation in Johnson’s drive toward the presidency, that secret objective which an otherwise garrulous Johnson will never talk about. He becomes associated with Texas politico and businessman Alvin Wirtz, and through him with Brown & Root, whose money helps him win a congressional seat as “a complete Roosevelt man.” Caro’s Johnson has now reached the first rung in the ladder to the White House. The freshman congressman makes himself the center of a cadre of idealistic young New Dealers and exploits them for his devious purposes. Oh, they don’t know they are being used later they will vehemently deny it but Johnson is using them all right. Thanks to his clout and connections, Caro’s Johnson secures fat government contracts for Brown & Root. He transforms the hated Hill Country by bringing it electricity, paved roads, and conservation programs that restore the grass. Meanwhile he marries Lady Bird and later purchases an Austin radio station with her money \(it is the nucleus of what eventually becomes a Johnson 1930s he takes “a hell of a risk” that could imperil his plans. He has an affair with a lovely woman named Alice Glass. Never mind that she lives with newspaper tycoon Charles A. Marsh, supposedly Johnson’s friend \(Caro’s Johnson has no more scruples in his private than in his him with advice and affection, Johnson makes clandestine love to Alice, and shy MAXIMILLIANS FISH BOWL HAMBURGERS FRIED CATFISH 9 AM TILL 4 PM 135 EAST COMMERCE ACROSS FROM THE ALAMO NATIONAL BANK SAN ANTONIO 225-0231 VISIT OUR FISHBOWL 22 JUNE 3, 1983
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