Thursday, January 22, 2015



Stonewall, Texas (JFK+50) 42 years ago today, January 22, 1973, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, passed away at the LBJ Ranch.

The former president's death came two days after the end of his successor's first term, Richard M. Nixon.  President Johnson had decided not to run for "another term as your president" in March 1968.

Lyndon Baines Johnson
August 1972
LBJ Library Photo

About a decade after LBJ's death, George Reedy*, "long time Johnson aide," wrote "Lyndon B. Johnson: A Memoir."

Mr. Reedy had resigned as LBJ's press secretary in 1965.  In the memoir, Reedy describes his former boss as "a magnificent, inspiring leader (and) an insufferable bastard."

Since Reedy was not a part of Mr. Johnson's post presidential years, he does not write about them or LBJ's last days on earth.  He does, however, give us an insight into "the two faces of Lyndon B. Johnson."

George Reedy writes...

"At his best, (LBJ) possessed the finest quality of a politician.  It was a sense of the direction of political power--the forces that were sweeping the masses.  He did not merely content himself by getting ahead of those forces. He mastered the art of directing them.  

He could ride currents of public opinion as could few other men (and) tried to ride them in the direction of uplift for the poor and downtrodden."

Reedy goes on to say that his former boss's most important quality was that he knew "how to make our form of government work." On the negative side, however, George Reedy writes that President Johnson..."used (his) talent to take us into the most disastrous war in our history."

Despite the positive qualities Reedy gave, he was "glad to get (LBJ) out of (his) life at last," adding that it was his opinion that "no one could be happy around him for any length of time."

*George Edward Reedy (1917-1999) was born in East Chicago, IN and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1938.  GER served as a UPI reporter before joining the senate staff of LBJ in 1951.  He was aide to LBJ in the 1960 campaign and during his tenure as VP.  

GER replaced Pierre Salinger as press secretary in August 1964 but resigned the following year.  Mr. Reedy was Professor and Dean of Journalism at Marquette University 1972-1976 and Professor of Journalism 1977-1990, Professor Emeritus 1991-1996.

George E. Reedy
Press Secretary
LBJ Library Photo


"Lyndon B. Johnson: A Memoir," by George Reedy, Andrews and McMeel, Inc, New York, 1982.