PRESIDENTS”R”US

remembering history the way they wished it had been

Archive for the ‘LYNDON JOHNSON’ Category

Office Space of the Gods

Posted by Mr. President on August 17, 2007

johnson-austin-office.jpg

Presidential site preservation comes up against the banal reality of a proposed site in Austin Texas.

The“Austin American Statesman” reports that a former Lyndon Johnson office suite in the Austin federal building has survived relatively intact since the heroic LBJ era.

Local GSA Administrator Steve Rutledge was honest with the Statesman about the office’s charms:

“You kind of have to be a certain age to care, to be honest. If you’re over 40, like I am, you’re kind of interested. If you’re under 40, it’s like, ‘Who’s LBJ?’ “

Book your tour today: steve.rutledge@gsa.gov

 

 

 

 

COMMENTARY: W. GARDNER SELBY

LBJ’s old pad in federal building is looking a little dated

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


AMERICAN STATESMAN STAFF
Thursday, August 09, 2007

What may be the corniest shrine to Lyndon Johnson sits on East Eighth Street in Austin south of the Capitol. It’s so unquestionably fixed-in-time drab, it might be wonderful — assuming no one messes with it.

The LBJ Suite on the ninth floor of the J.J. “Jake” Pickle Federal Building, built in 1965, gave LBJ a place for occasional meetings with aides as president and in the years before completion of his presidential library and museum. It’s lately been the site of retirement receptions for federal workers. President Bush and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, used it before being sworn in to their offices.

 

Jay Janner
AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The condition of the carpet and furniture in the LBJ Suite bears witness to the scores of meetings and parties that have been hosted there by Lyndon Johnson, Jake Pickle, President Bush and others.

 

MORE W. GARDNER SELBY

W. GARDNER SELBY

 

 

MORE ON THIS STORY

MOST POPULAR STORIES

Share This Story

del.icio.us

digg

Newsvine

reddit

Yahoo!

Facebook

What’s this?

The 11-story building has been deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because of the 2,100-square-foot suite. I decided to take a look after U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, mentioned her work to preserve the office in a July statement lauding Lady Bird Johnson. In his time, Pickle (who held an annual party in the suite) likewise insisted on keeping the space as is.

The suite has a locked entrance next to the elevators below the roof where President Johnson once arrived by helicopter. I tiptoed in through another door, fully expecting everything to be pretty and perfect, in keeping with the typically buffed presentation of venerated leaders in their home states.

That view neatly crumbled: It was obvious that the space has been preserved but not restored.

In the dining room just past the entrance, I blinked at an undramatic small oval wooden table, around which Johnson conversed with aides. I was quickly distracted by the carpet, originally gold-green but now running toward rusty brown with ample stains — signs of wear and tear and, it’s been reported, a fire sprinkler incident.

The carpet extends into the living room, which has a copper-covered fireplace and an array of chairs and two small couches, one of them colored as though someone had pressed Key limes and avocados through a sieve. A sitting chair has the same look.

Graying drapes, hemmed by what look like heavy-duty staples, cover the windows. Peeling them back, I saw the view looking south through bulletproof glass: spectacular.

Huge, aged TV consoles still work, warming up slowly. On the dining room wall, I punched thumb-sized buttons marked with the call letters of area TV and radio stations — plus one marked “MUZAK” and another (forever available) stating “SPARE.”

A small kitchen holds a monstrous iron stove, a scary-looking broiler and a refrigerator that was still clunking, though it had nothing inside and the front-door temperature gauge looked broken.

A separate small sitting room opened into a bathroom with a shower sporting four shower heads; Johnson liked a powerful spray. Water no longer flows through them.

The suite appeared to be on the verge of falling apart, with a missing ceiling tile leaving overhead wires and an air conditioning duct visible.

Still, I was grateful to see a space frozen in time, like Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland, if mustier. In an era when politicians liken themselves to giants of history — sometimes before they win an election — it’s a comfort to be reminded of how hard, and unrealistic, it is to proclaim connections.

Steve Rutledge, senior property manager for the General Services Administration in Austin, offered perspective on the space:

“It’s not like a bunch of the public is clamoring to see it. You kind of have to be a certain age to care, to be honest. If you’re over 40, like I am, you’re kind of interested. If you’re under 40, it’s like, ‘Who’s LBJ?’ ”

wgselby@statesman.com; 445-3644

To visit the LBJ Suite, write steve.rutledge@gsa.gov

Posted in LYNDON JOHNSON, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY, PRESIDENTIAL SITES, US PRESIDENTS | Leave a Comment »

The Right To Be Lazy

Posted by Mr. President on August 16, 2007

walsh2.jpgChronicler of US Presidents’ vacation getaways rises to defend Bush “working vacations,” fingers LBJ as spending more time off on the ranch.

right-to-be-lazy.gif

Posted in GEORGE W. BUSH, LYNDON JOHNSON, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY, PRESIDENTIAL SITES, US PRESIDENTS | Leave a Comment »

The Flame Yet Burns

Posted by Mr. President on July 30, 2007

nixon-watergate-exhibit.jpgNixon Foundation Executive Director John H. Taylor continues to lash out in exile, now that the Nixon Museum is in federal hands.

He’s emitted another cry for help, a “Letter From Yorba Linda” titled “Don’t Mention Bella,” which explains that “It supercedes “Letter from Yorba Linda #63, entitled “Lies.”

Taylor begins by painting a sad portrait of a Nixon Museum in tatters. “Its Watergate exhibit is closed, the long, narrow hallway stripped to the bare walls as our new government director plans a strictly neutral alternative to the Nixon Library’s old exhibition on the epic scandal.”

Then the cryptic title is [sort of] explained. The document should be read in it’s entirety to capture the tone of barely contained rage.

Short version: historian who slammed the old exhibit tells Taylor, according to Taylor, that what he objected to especially was a claim that Bella Abzug* and other House members tried to block Gerald Ford’s confirmation as Vice President. The hope was that with Nixon’s looming impeachment they could leave the post vacant and the Democratic House Speaker would assume the Presidency. Taylor quotes others calling it a coup attempt and implies the demolished exhibit did as well.

Then he sort of defends the old Watergate hall, while implying he’s moved on, while ratting out other Presidential Libraries for their crimes of omission.

“Since President Nixon resigned before being impeached, it can be hard to argue, as the old gallery did, that his Watergate misdeeds were overblown and many of his opponents politically motivated. But as far as some scholars were concerned, it was a crime to try. They have graded other Presidential museums less strictly. The Bill Clinton museum reveals that his impeachment was a right-wing plot. The Lyndon Johnson museum opened in the early 1970s without much on Vietnam, and today the Ronald Reagan museum has little if anything on Iran-Contra. All three are operated with taxpayers’ funds. But don’t dare murmur “Bella Abzug” at the Nixon.”

*Youngsters may not recall, but Abzug in her day was sort of an all purpose boogywoman to the right – lefty, Jewish, New Yorkish, loud. She left Congress when she and Ramsey Clark split the left vote and let Daniel Patrick Moynihan win the 1976 Democratic primary for Senate. The moles at Wikipedia push the coup line too, quoting the same source as Taylor, who in turn attribute the coup line to “some historians.” Case Closed!nixon-letter-from-yorba-linda-abzug.jpg

Posted in BILL CLINTON, GERALD FORD, LYNDON JOHNSON, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY, PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY, RICHARD NIXON, RONALD REAGAN | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Mr. President on May 12, 2007

Part Of The Way With LBJ

c311-7-64.jpg

Remember “framing,” the magic talking cure that would build Democratic bodies twelve different ways and let them triumph over those smooth talkin’ GOPS?

Interest cooled, the Republicans lost the election, and we’ve all moved on. But Democrats remain supplicants, as witness n the struggle to name the Education Department building after Lyndon Johnson. The name finally went though, but at the price of naming a Missouri post office after Rush Linbaugh’s grandfather. Presidents come and go, but fathead talkers are forever?

Posted in LYNDON JOHNSON | Leave a Comment »