I may have mentioned that I’m reading my way through The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro’s (currently) four-volume biography of our 36th president. The fifth and final volume, which will deal with LBJ’s actual presidency, is apparently in the works, with 600 typed manuscript pages completed as of January of this year.
In an era in which purity reigns supreme—when ignorant thugs are toppling statues of famous people who once had Bad Thoughts—we would do well to recall that Johnson, a lying, cheating, opportunistic dirtbag who apparently believed that the end justifies the means, rammed through some of the most important and effective civil rights legislation ever enacted in this country. And he had to go against his own party to do it.
All this is not to say that politicians are corrupt—they are, obviously—but that people are complex, and that the motives of even the worst of us can sometimes be honorable. Something worth remembering.