April 10th, 2014
10:50 AM ET
9 years ago

Inside Politics Speed Read: How Obama's legacy will stack up to LBJ's

Obama to honor LBJ’s civil rights legacy: President Barack Obama on Thursday will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. A lot of people have compared Obama with Lyndon B. Johnson recently. The LBJ people want to rescue his legacy from Vietnam. In a piece in the National Journal, George Condon argues Obama staffers don’t want their guy’s star put up next to the coarse-mouthed Texan. But you can’t argue that Johnson didn’t get a lot done in his first few years in office. Civil rights legislation, the Great Society programs and Medicare and Medicaid - these are legacy items with a more lasting imprint on American culture and society than most presidents can claim.

David Jackson puts it well in USA Today: “There was a time - a long time - when Democratic presidential candidates would not even utter the name Lyndon Baines Johnson. This week, the three Democrats elected president since Johnson traveled to Texas to honor the memory of LBJ - a president once reviled for the Vietnam War, now revered for a domestic record that includes landmark civil rights laws.”

Jackson’s piece points out that when Bill Clinton visited the LBJ library during a 1992 campaign stop, he didn’t once utter the late president’s name.

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Related: Many doubt civil rights legislation could pass today

Today, Texas is on the front lines in the debate over whether some civil rights legislation signed into law by Johnson remains necessary.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama are facing off against Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Supreme Court over key portions of the Voting Rights Act (which turns 50 next year).

Obama, speaking at a fund-raiser Wednesday in Houston, drew attention to the federal battle with Texas, which wants to reclaim full autonomy over redistricting. The Voting Rights Act forces states with a history of discrimination to clear new districts with the Justice Department.

The president called these “active efforts to deter people from voting.”

“The idea that you’d purposely try to prevent people from voting? Un-American,” he said, according to Politico. “How is it that we’re putting up with that? We don’t have to.”

Nice socks, Mr. President: Before he assailed Texas Republicans over voting, Obama was warmly greeted on the tarmac in Houston by former President George H.W. Bush, who wore American flag socks.

“When the President comes to your hometown, you show up and welcome him,” Bush said, according to a pool report.

Related: Bush 41 greets Obamas in Houston

Back in Washington, there are two important votes planned Thursday in the House of Representatives: 

1. Ryan budget: The House will vote Thursday on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. Republicans point to it as a vision for a smaller government and fiscally responsible future. Democrats plan to use it as a campaign issue. It’s unlikely the budget will become law, but it will put the GOP on the record, and it solidifies Ryan’s role as his party’s top fiscal thinker.

Related: Ryan’s budget aims to cut $5.1 trillion, reach balance in 10 years

2. Panel vote on Lerner contempt: On Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee, lawmakers will vote on whether to recommend that Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of a political targeting scandal, be cited for contempt. The full House likely won’t vote until next month.

Related: GOP asks for criminal probe of Lerner

On the campaign trail, there are two stories of scorned politicians seeking redemption:

1. Bill Clinton’s 20-year-old debt to Chelsea’s mother-in-law: There’s no way with a Democrat in the White House that Ryan’s budget will become law. But budgets do matter.

Meet Marjorie Margolies. She’s proof of that.

Today, Margolies may be better known as Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law. But before they were related by marriage, Margolies fell on her political sword for Bill Clinton, casting a difficult vote for his budget in 1993. After the decisive vote, some House Republicans chanted, “Goodbye, Marjorie,” because it was so controversial in her conservative Pennsylvania district. She lost her re-election campaign in the so-called Republican revolution of 1994. Now, 20 years later, she wants back into Congress in a suburban Philadelphia district.

The former president is scheduled to attend a fund-raiser Thursday for Margolies, potentially repaying that 20-year-old debt.

2. Hello, New Hampshire: Scott Brown, the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, will make it official Thursday that he’s running for Senate in his new home state of New Hampshire with a rally in Portsmouth. Brown, who lost a Massachusetts race for re-election to the Senate in 2012, has long owned a second home in New Hampshire. He recently moved there full time. And as he pointed out on Instagram, he spent summers there as a kid.

Related: Brown to formally jump into Senate race

Whoa! Wrong John Hancock: “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus appears on the cover of the April issue of Rolling Stone wearing nothing but the U.S. Constitution on her back and a large John Hancock a bit lower. But students of history have pointed out that Hancock didn’t sign the Constitution. He signed the Declaration of Independence.

Related: ‘Veep’ star in the buff on Rolling Stone

First on CNN: Graham opponent has impressive fund-raising haul: Could Sen. Lindsey Graham finally have a credible primary challenger in South Carolina? CNN’s Peter Hamby reports that Det Bowers, a politically connected Columbia pastor, collected more than $417,000 in the two months since he made a late entry into the GOP Senate primary in February. That sum pales in comparison with the war chest amassed by Graham, who has raised $8 million as of the last reporting period and has already run a slew of TV ads, but it's the most substantial fund-raising haul to date for any of the senator's six little-known conservative primary challengers.

Stay Inside Politics all day on Flipboard.

More from our reading list:

Vox’s Ezra Klein: The best evidence we have that Obamacare is working

Buzzfeed’s Ruby Cramer: What it’s like to actually know Hillary Clinton

The Hill: Holder says GOP treats him differently

The New York Times: Political Ties of Top Billers for Medicare

The New York Times: House Panel Rejects Plan to Aid Lawmakers With Expenses


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Inside Politics • Marjorie Margolies • Paul Ryan
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Malory Archer


    @Malory-Really? That`s absurd, read your comment and explain how saying he showed common sense and good graces is not defending him.


    I said he showed common sense and the good graces TO NOT RUN FOR REELECTION Hardly a defense babe, and more of a statement of fact. Honestly, you really need to stop copy/pasting partial statements and then attempting to spin them to mean what YOU want them to mean. You're only embarrassing yourself. Wait a minute.... maybe I really DON'T want you to stop!

    April 10, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. smith

    @Malory-Bush set the timetable for Iraq and he`s been out of office for over 5 years and were still in Afghanistan. You can combine all the conflict the US has been in the last 45 years and it still doesn`t come close to Veitnam.

    April 10, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC


    @Anonymous-The fact there is no comparison between Veitnam and Iraq. Veitnam had a draft, 11 times more KIA, over a million killed between North and South Veitnam and thousands more injured. Keep jumping on that one.
    Most of those killed were not killed by U.S. troops. They were mostly killed by the communists invading the country. The U.S. didn't start the war, which began in 1956, until it was already seven years old. The U.S. invovlement went a long way towards ending the conflict. The Tet Offensive was comparable to the Surge in Iraq. It set the stage for a seven year wind down by Nixon and Ford. LBJ was in charge of the U.S. involvement from 1963 until he left office.

    April 10, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Anonymous


    @Malory-Bush set the timetable for Iraq and he`s been out of office for over 5 years and were still in Afghanistan. You can combine all the conflict the US has been in the last 45 years and it still doesn`t come close to Veitnam.
    You're willfully ignoring the point, that being that U.S. didn't start the war. The U.S. entered the conflict to stop the massacres that you're so gravely concerned about, which to a large extent they eventually did. GWB started his conflict, LBJ was trying to end one. You're comparing apples to oranges. Millions died in the World Wars. Why don't you cite those while you're at it?

    April 10, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Marty

    Johnson will be know for passing the civil-rights act. Obama will be remembered for the resurgence of racial unrest and corruption.

    April 10, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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