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Lady Bird Johnson has died at 94. Former First Ladies generally lived very long times.

A very long time ago, I was reading an article on the Secret Service. Apparently, if a SS agent had done something to piss off a superior once too many times, he was sent to Independence , Missuri in order to guard Bess Truman, who was very old and had Alzheimer's syndrome. Few people knew she was still alive and of those, no one wished her harm, so the job was unrelievdly boring. I thought of this when I read in the Daily News that Former First Lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson had died at the age of 94 yesterday.

What was remarkable about Mrs. Johnson was that, until she became First Lady at the murder of JFK, she had a day job. This was in 1963, and most rich married women spent their lives just being decorous. Not Lady Bird, she was a media mogul.

Back when her husband was a lowely congressman, she used her inheritance to by a moribund radio station. Robert Caro denounces the way LBJ managed to get the broadcast licence (he denounces everything LBJ did in that book), but while he was doing his thing in Washington, she actually ran the radio station, and turned it into one of the most profitable in Texas. By the time LBJ became Vice President, the Johnsons were filthy rich, and it wasn't (primarily) due to influence peddling, it was due to Lady Bird's business savvy. She wound up owning radio and TV stations throughout the southwest.

She was also an enviornmentalist, and her "Beautify America" campaign was the first time since the Teddy Roosevelt administration over a half century before that saving the natural beauty of the United States and fighting polution became a true priortiy. People tend to forget that the Johnson administration was the most progressive one, vis a vis domestic policy, of all time, with the possible exception of FDR's. That was partly due to Lady Bird's influence.

Generally, former first ladies vanish into oblivion. True, there are exceptions, Jackie O was tabloid fodder for the rest of her life, that is after her second marriage, but in general, they want to get as far away from "the life" as possible. Mrs. Johnson, like Mrs. Polk and Mrs. Cleveland before her (Benjamin Harrison's trophy wife doesn't really cound), outlived her spouse by decades and decades and decades, pretty much only showing up for the opening of Presidential Libraries and getting on with her life.

She won't be missed except for her family, her mark on history was too long ago. She died very rich and very old. Somthing we all should do.

Originally posted to YoursTruly on Thu Jul 12, 2007 at 05:52 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for the diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When I started to write mine, there had been no mention of Lady Bird's death, so I slowly put one together. Your very good diary popped up before mine.
    Lady Bird was a very careful, genteel woman who hated to speak in public. In other words, she didn't like to toot her own horn. This is why, I think, so many do not remember or even know of some of the amazing things she did as First Lady.

    I think, today, she deserves two diaries.

  •  tip jar. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  She won't be missed?? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caldonia, jayden, tcdup

    She won't be missed except for family?  I can't say how off-base and distasteful that comment is.  Her mark on history thrives every time you see a damn flower by the side of the highway, for one thing.  Her mark on history will be a lasting one.  Many of us miss her already.

    Even if it were true, it's a really offensive thing to say the day after someone dies.  

    If that was just an unintentional slip of the pen, you might consider editing your diary.

    That's what this is for the Democrats, isn't it? Their "Neville Chamberlain moment" before the Second World War. --Keith Olbermann, 5/23/07

    by rocketito on Thu Jul 12, 2007 at 06:20:13 AM PDT

  •  I invite you to visit the Lady Bird Johnson (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Wildflower Center here in Austin before you claim "she won't be missed except for her family..."
    Her mark on our beautiful city isn't just noticed in the spring when the wildflowers are in full glorious bloom. Her legacy touches us every day.

    She will most definitely be missed.

    American Christians are becoming less of either

    by jayden on Thu Jul 12, 2007 at 07:24:23 AM PDT

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