Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lady Bird

Like First Ladies Jackie Kennedy, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, & Nancy Reagan, Lady Bird Johnson mixed the old-fashioned with newer thinking. All were intelligent, educated women of independent mind, mothers, post-World War II enlightened but pre-feminist in the sense we think of feminism now. Never less than supportive of their husbands' political careers in public, they advised & influenced those men in private. Lady Bird was probably the smartest & most politically savvy of them all. While her chosen First Lady "causes" - wildflowers & highway beautification - may not have seemed so crucially important at the time, overshadowed by the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, & "Great Society" initiatives, she had a tremendous, timely, & lasting influence, helping to bring environmentalism into the political & cultural mainstream. Let's not forget she was a Democrat.

Rick Perlstein remembers Lady Bird with an account of a risky campaign trip she took through the South on behalf of LBJ in 1964.


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