Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Obama In Context: Some Data on LBJ

Is Obama blowing his big lead? My friend Ivan passes on some contextual data from the Lyndon Johnson years.

First: Johnson came out of the 1964 election with far bigger Congressional majorities than Obama brought home in 2008--a full two thirds in the Senate (the last time that happened)--also two thirds of the seats in the House, achieved via a stupendous pickup of 36 seats. Ivan reports:
In 1965 the first session of the Eighty-ninth Congress created the core of the Great Society. The Johnson Administration submitted eighty-seven bills to Congress, and Johnson signed eighty-four, or 96%, arguably the most successful legislative agenda in U.S. Congressional history.
But it didn't last. In 1966, the Dems followed up on their 36-seat gain with a 48-seat loss. They retained a majority in the House, but greatly depleted. Remarkably, they lost only three seats in the Senate and retained a 64-36 seat edge. And for what it is worth: the three Republican newcomers were Mark Hatfield of Oregon, Charles Percy of Illinois and Howard Baker of Tennessee--any one of who would probably qualify as a bomb-throwing lefty revolutionary by the standards of today's GOP.

Ivan adds: "if you are going to lose big anyway, isn't it better to have given America the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Head Start, food stamps, NEA, PBS, the Wilderness Act?"

1 comment:

elrojo said...

actually, my son ben sent me that data on lbj as part of an exchange with him over supposition that obama could do like lbj. i didn't make clear that the info was not mine. i worked in congress in the day of powerful chairmen, and i worked for one, Carl Perkins, ed and labor. once, i was with carl, when he was before Rules getting the rule he wanted on a black lung bill. Sitting behind me was Rep. john ehrlenborn, ctte Republican, who hated the bill. I heard ehrlenborn whisper to another republican, about carl, "listen to the son of a bitch. he cant even pronounce pneumoconiosis right, but he's going to get his damn no amendments allowed rule."