Folks...it's positively fascinating! More after the flip.
For instance, I had no idea that Johnson was the individual who essentially created for the Democrats, the DCCC. It existed but it was moribund. However, during the waning days of the 1940 election, the Dems turned to Johnson (who was relatively unknown but garnering power behind the scenes). The Dems were in a bad way and the conventional wisdom was that they were going to lose their New Deal majority. Johnson had about eight weeks to right things (he was made an informal liason to the DCCC) and promptly created a massive political machine that studied each and every representative election, targetted who should get the money and, by election day, had totally turned things around.
Johnson did it by this strange alchymical marriage of immense practicality...he knew that big money wanted to keep certain reps with seniority because they kept the money rolling in...tapping new sources of big money (the wildcatters o fhte Texas oil fields) and shadowy power-brokers who were, by in large, reactionary conservatives but knew that the New Deal meant mucho dinero.
By opening up the spigots of cash, scientifically evaluating races, etc. Johnson managed to create a whole new day in Dem funding and electoral politics.
As well, it is a gripping account of electoral politics. Unblemished skullduggery. Shadowy bag-men. Political fixers. Out and out bribery. Election box tampering. On and on and on. And guess what? It's the same as it ever was. Caro's description of Johnson's first Senate race is extremely instructive in placing Bush's electoral rise in context. While I bitterly hate the result, in all honesty, the 2000 election was definately NOTHING new...if anything it was an amibitious extension of the same governing principles of stealing elections that has made this country what it (gulp) is today. I'm neither lauding nor condoning. Just saying that ANYONE with a political jones will find this a page-turning primer in what really goes on behind the scenes.
I add that it is at once exhilerating to read of the past and quite sobering to extrapolate to the present day forces at play. Johnson's primary source of money, legal and otherwise, was Brown and Root. I believe that Brown and Root has been absorbed into Halliburton (I think...if not, they are still a major, MAJOR player). Of course, oil played a major role...as did the media barons. At the time, they knew that their bread was buttered by the New Deal and supported those who could keep bringing in money but at heart they were reactionaries. Currently, of course, they would have little impetus to do anything but contribute, legally and otherwise, to the reactionaries who not only harmonize with their view of government and regulation BUT are also bringing them money like never before. Money, unfortunately begets money. Honesty, fairplay and truth have nothing to do with it. For as much as I want a sea change, it is hard to see how that will happen with the deck stacked with aces for the people who have thrown open the bank vaults for these interests. While I coulda submitted this to an open thread, I think that there is stuff to discuss. So feel free to contribute, comment, remonstrate or,WTF, hijack the diary.
Over and out.