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The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate

Caro, Robert | Alfred A. Knopf, 2002


pp. 567 - 568

As Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate in the 1950s, LBJ had his ways of sending signals to the senators who didn’t vote as he wished them to. He would assign them small offices. He wouldn’t return their calls for days, or not at all. He would turn his back on a Senator walking into the cloakroom, and others standing with him, following his cue, would too. He would avert his eyes when meeting a disfavored Senator in the hall. He would, moderately ostentatiously, leave the Senate floor when a disfavored Senator rose to speak, and his aide Bobby Baker, would suggest to Senators in the cloak room that they not go out onto the floor when a persona non grata was talking: “Why don’t you stay in the cloakroom for a while,” he’d suggest. LBJ would also go over to Senator Paul Douglas’s desk while the Illinois senator was sitting with one of his assistants. LBJ would talk to the assistant and ignore the Senator. He would have a number of powerful senators in for a drink after the session, arms around each other’s shoulders, laughing and joking as they entered. Douglas and other disfavored senators would never be invited.