Don't Fence Us Out (extended version)

Updated: Apr 22

Robert Caro, the award-winning writer who has spent more time thinking about LBJ than probably even Lady Bird did, told a story about his frustration at not being able to pinpoint the essence of Johnson, to figure out what made him love Washington and politics as much as he did.

One day during his research, a Johnson congressional aide told Caro that Johnson, as a young congressman from Texas, always arrived at the Capitol from his tiny apartment out of breath. Caro, as any good journalist would, walked the same route from Johnson's apartment, but after several weeks still could not find what he was looking for - why Johnson finished his commute to work with a run up Capitol Hill.

He finally hit upon the idea of walking the same route as Johnson - at the same time of day Johnson did.


He discovered that in the early morning, sunrise struck the white marble of the Capitol Building just so and created the illusion that the entire facade of the building was ablaze - exhilarating Johnson and causing him to break into a trot.

As a former resident of Washington and someone who can still be awestruck by the magnificence of the government architecture there, I knew exactly what Caro saw and meant. Riding the bus or walking