LBJ’s Power Broker Legacy Began While He Was in College

I read an interview today in the WSJ with Robert Caro, the historian famous for his super sized collection of books about Lydon Baines Johnson. He told Brian Bolduc a story that revealed a lot about the man who would be president, then decide not to run again.

When LBJ was in college, said Caro, he convinced the college president to let him assist him in picking which students got campus jobs. In the book, he writes “the wages from a campus job were often a student’s only hope of paying for tuition. ” The young LBJ decided his criteria for giving a job out came down to this…they had to ask him personally for his assistance.

It was a foreshadowing of the days to come when he would be a congressman from Texas who lined up votes and was the ultimate power broker. He was a deal maker and nobody else ever had such an iron grasp on fellow members.

Later after college, Johnson taught Mexican-American students English. But he turned out to be a terror–if he caught them speaking Spanish, he would spank the boys and really yell at the girls, Caro related. He even taught the janitor some English.
While it may have seemed draconian, the point Caro made was that few teachers ever really care if their students speak English or not. But he truly did.