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The Unitary ExecutivePresidential Power from Washington to Bush$
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Steven G. Calabresi and Christopher S. Yoo

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780300121261

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300121261.001.0001

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Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson

(p.337) 36 Lyndon B. Johnson
The Unitary Executive

Steven G. Calabresi

Christopher S. Yoo

Yale University Press

This chapter describes the legendary personality of Lyndon B. Johnson that eliminated all doubt regarding whether he would be a strong chief executive or not. Johnson ascended to the presidency under extraordinarily difficult conditions, having to succeed a charismatic leader who, after capturing the imagination of the country, died under tragic circumstances. Having sworn to continue Kennedy's vision, Johnson inherited a fully staffed executive branch to which he could not make significant changes without seeming to abandon Kennedy's legacy. Although he was respectfully slow to make significant changes to the administration, it would be a mistake to construe his reticence to change personnel as hesitancy to exert full control over the workings of the executive branch. When Adlai Stevenson complained that he really wanted to be secretary of state rather than an errand boy, Walter Lippman quipped, “If you are Lyndon Johnson's secretary of state, you'll be an errand boy.”

Keywords:   legendary personality, Lyndon B. Johnson, strong chief executive, Kennedy's legacy, Adlai Stevenson, Walter Lippman, errand boy

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