I Miss You, Lyndon.
My big brother Billy lives about 90 miles north of me, and when I drive up to visit him the highway I take goes the route to the LBJ ranch and crosses his beloved Pedernales River.
I am forever reminded what a great president he was, and I need to explain why I think so.
After John F. Kennedy was assassinated, he left several major, controversial projects on his desk in the Oval Office.
Johnson, who most people outside of Texas considered an oafish, redneck clown, went all-in and forced the passage of Medicare and civil rights legislation that forever changed the fates of elderly people and minorities for the better.
And by "forced the passage," I mean he literally approached defiant Senators and threatened to ruin them and their careers if they didn't vote his way. And by God, LBJ had the clout to do it.
As an example of LBJ's style, have you ever heard of Pat Nugent? No? Here's why. Pat Nugent had the nerve to marry LBJ's youngest daughter, Luci Baines, and he was promptly given a well-paid management job with KLBJ, the radio station Lady Bird owned. Once Nugent had done Lucy Baines wrong and they divorced, LBJ fired him and he was banished from any seeking any gainful employment in the United States from then on. He's now self-publishing some little two-bit, obscure directory in Austin.
LBJ's courage in forcing through civil rights and Medicare cost him and his beloved Texas dearly.
Moderate and conservative Texas Democrats with racist tendencies defected to the Republican party and turned Texas from a blue state to a red state, and it's remained red ever since.
Besides civil rights and Medicare legislation, Johnson also had the pressing matter of the Vietnam war weighing heavily on him.
People like me took to the streets to protest the war by the tens of thousands, and we hated Johnson for his hawkish stance.
In fact, when it was time to run for re-election, a weary, long haired LBJ politely declined the opportunity and stepped away from politics forever.
In his heart, I believe Johnson wanted to end the war. But he had thrown his helmet over the fence and he had no choice but to retrieve it.
Oh, how I wish we had Johnson in office today.
The Republican bullies and teabaggers of today would have been tamed like Pit Bull puppies by Johnson, through diplomacy, threats or whatever means required to shut them the fuck up.
Johnson was a mean, calculated bastard when it came to getting his way.
But outside of his unpopular stance on the Vietnam war, his way was often the right way for the American people who deserved a strong advocate in the White House.
Unlike Obama, Johnson would never have dreamed of entering office with an aim to Kumbaya the Republicans. He hated Republicans because they stood for the same kind of shit they stand for now.
If LBJ was president now, crooks like Tom DeLay would be dancing with the convicts. Bill Frist would be working as a volunteer at some free clinic in the boondocks. Newt Gingrich would be a castrati singing in a boy's choir. As for Sarah Palin, first Johnson would have fucked her on the Oval Office desk, then exiled her to Wasilla for life.
For all his backwoods oafishness, Lyndon Johnson was a brilliant politician who knew exactly how the game was played, and how to work the odds to his favor.
As a Democrat, I am adamant in saying we need another strong Democratic bastard or bitch in the White House, who wants to serve the people and not the Republicans, the military industrial complex or the corporate suits whose greed is insatiable.
I think the closest thing we have to an LBJ type today is Hillary Clinton.
I wanted her to be our next president in 2008 because I sensed her hawkishness was a necessary ploy to appeal to the bloodthirsty among us. As a woman, she had to amplify her willingness to wage war, and anyone who doesn't get that is naive.
Hillary has backbone. Hillary is feared. Hillary, simply put, has the same sized balls as LBJ, and we need that right now.
I think LBJ would have liked Hillary. I think they would have been kindred spirits.
And if we can't have LBJ, we can and should have Hillary as our next Commander in Chief.
She's been a loyal soldier to Obama. But she's not Secretary of State to serve him, she's there to serve us. And she would serve us well as our next president.