Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 11:15 AM

Lady Bird Johnson is dead

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

When I read about the death of Lady Bird Johnson – the long-surviving widow of Lyndon B Johnson, the thirty-sixth president of the United States (1963-1969) who died in 1973 – I had second thoughts about paying tribute to her. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m sure those thoughts stemmed from critical e-mails I received over the years whenever I commented on the death of a well-known political figure.

Their consistent tone was one of incredulity, bordering on indignation, which questioned what interest or standing I had in paying such tributes. But where I never even felt inclined to acknowledge those e-mails until yesterday, today I hope to bury them, and disabuse readers of any inclination to send more, by paying unqualified respects to Lady Bird.

Reports are that she died yesterday at her home in Austin, Texas of natural causes. She was 94….

But as I normally do on these occasions, I shall refer you to America’s newspaper of record for political affairs, The Washington Post, for Lady Bird’s proper obituary.

I shall note, however, that amongst all of her commendable life achievements, she will undoubtedly be eulogized for her campaign to beautify America and its national parks, which led to the enactment of the quixotic Highway Beautification Act.

Nevertheless, my interest in commenting on her death derives from the fact that I am a student of American history and politics. And as such, I have a profound appreciation for the role Lady Bird played in providing her husband calm in the middle, and refuge from, the twin firestorms of civil rights and anti-war protests that nearly incinerated his presidency.

Of course, my standing in this respect derives from the fact that – but for President Johnson’s ability to weather these firestorms – the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, which made it possible for people like me to enjoy the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, would have been long-delayed, if not denied.

Therefore, in light of my informed view that behind this brave man stood an even braver woman, I pay this modest tribute to Lady Bird Johnson, unreservedly.

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Coretta Scott King is dead
National farewell to Coretta Scott King

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