Sometimes I blame this obsession on a cold. I was home from work convalescing on the couch and I decided to watch LBJ American Experience. As I drifted into and out of shallow sickness sleep, this movie about President Johnson played on. When I woke up, I was intensely interested in LBJ. I’ve been interested in him ever since.
You can tell, based on the titles of LBJ biographies that LBJ was a force. A dynamo? He’s been described as not only a “whirlwind,” or a “tornado” but as, also “a steam engine in pants.” It seemed to be a challenge to avoid being swept up by him, by his energy.
(This is the part where you just have to imagine the noise that I made, either that, or you need to pretend that I never, ever said that.)
Lyndon Johnson believed that the president should be evaluated separately in the categories of domestic policy and on foreign policy. This makes sense. He knew that Vietnam would be the shadow cast over every domestic achievement for which he worked. He understood what motivated people, what made them tick. He also understood how his legacy would play out.
LBJ was portrayed as heartless at times. “Hey, hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today?” He always knew the answer to that question. Each night he woke up to find out the casualty numbers. He knew. He cared. He just couldn’t see a way out.
He did, however, see that the government could help people. He had vision, and secured civil rights advances that shaped the direction of opportunity for years to come. He had seen poverty up close as a boy in Texas Hill Country. He never forgot it, and dug in to make change. He understood the impact that poverty had on people’s lives. He understood how powerful education could be as a force for advancement in someone’s life, and he used the presidency to move forward in those areas.
It’s arguable that a Lyndon Johnson could not have had the successes that he had in his brightest days now. In the age of continuous documentation of every element of our lives, more so for the famous and the leaders, there are many techniques and characteristics that Lyndon Johnson exhibited that would make him very unpopular today. A man, though, can not be erased from his times.
He can, however, be remembered for his energy.
This cupcake features pecans because Johnson’s native state, Texas, is one of the biggest pecan producers in the United States. This cupcake features pecans both in the filling, which is pecan pie filling, and in the frosting in the form of chopped nuts. The cupcake itself is more basic. It is a whiskey-scented cupcake. The buttercream frosting, too, is kissed with whiskey, though not Cutty Sark, LBJ’s favorite. Finally, because this is a cupcake that is celebrating the power, the strength of LBJ’s personality, the flavors needed to be over-the-top, too. That is why this richly filled cupcake is drizzled with chocolate.