A President Who Really Got Things Done: A conversation with Joshua Zeitz

February 1st, 2018

download%2B%25281%2529.jpegElections do have consequences and leaders really do matter. Grassroots voices and organizing can bring attention to a problem, but it’s the job of government, of our constitutional process, to put those policies in place.

As modern history tells us, it’s no easy task. This week we watched a State of the Union speech devoid of ideas, or programs or lofty goals to lift people up, or in the parlance of our times, to solve problems.

It was a far cry from Bill Clinton’s laundry list of small ball in his ‘95 SOTU and even further from the goals once set out by Lyndon Johnson.

So much of the legislative battle today is not about, as some commentators have said, undoing the New Deal, but undoing the remarkable achievements of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. It’s a remarkable list that includes medicare, medicai

d, public radio, public television, the voting right act, federal aid to education, consumer protections, creating the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the great 1964 Civil Rights Act. All done in five years, while struggling with the disaster that was Vietnam.

Johnson did it all not through executive orders, but through the simple Article One powers of the Constitution. That’s the story that Joshua Zeitz tells in Building the Great Society: Inside Lyndon Johnson's White House

My conversation with Joshua Zeitz: