OTHER VOICES

Memories of LBJ

Posted May 04, 2012, at 5:50 p.m.

Few political observers have compared the 42nd president of the United States with the 36th.

But what former President Bill Clinton intoned recently at West Texas A&M University well might have brought back memories of the late President Lyndon Johnson.

It is this, quite simply: Rigid ideology must not stop progress on behalf of the country.

Clinton … told a packed First United Bank Event Center that “we can do lots of stuff to grow the economy, but if we spend most of our time making ideological arguments we’re not having the right debate. We’re talking about whether to do something, instead of how to do it.”

Bingo, Mr. President.

Clinton helped craft a successful presidency from 1993 until 2001 by working with congressional Republicans who took control of Congress after the landmark 1994 mid-term election. The president’s tax policies, coupled with GOP-led spending restraints, helped bring about a balanced budget for several years running.

Does that remind anyone of LBJ? It should.

The Texan also worked well with congressional Republicans. Some of his better friends in the Senate were the likes of the late Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois, with whom he had a tremendous working relationship, owing in part to LBJ’s own time as Senate majority leader. Johnson would fight publicly with Republicans, then work privately with them on ways to reach compromise.

It’s a complicated process at times, which is the very nature of legislating.

Clinton gets it.

So did Johnson.

And so should those who serve the nation today.

Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News (May 3)

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