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Podcast Review: In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson

An interesting podcast about Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, is In Plain Sight: Lady Bird JohnsonThis is about the life of Lady Bird Johnson and her influential role in the White House. The host is author Julia Sweig. Sweig provides background information to the audio clips of Johnson that are included in the podcasts. She also talks about little known stories and facts about Lady Bird. I listened to three of the eight episodes of this podcast so far and I was fascinated by each one.

In episode one, you learn about the education and background of Lady Bird Johnson  She was the head of a successful media company and became CEO of the radio station KTBC. Sweig talks about how Johnson kept an audio diary and recordings include her memories from the day that JFK was assassinated. She recalled Jackie Kennedy’s blood stained dress and her admiration for Jackie’s strength  following the assassination. The host additionally talks about how Lady Bird was an unofficial advisor for LBJ.

During the early days of the Johnson presidency, Lady Bird played an important role in the “War on Poverty” campaign. She visited poverty stricken areas of Appalachia and spent time with the people living there. Crowds of people were so receptive to her that an article was written about how she should be nominated for Vice President in the presidential election of 1964. LBJ questioned whether he should run for president and Lady Bird wrote an nine page memo evaluating the pros and cons of a presidential bid. Largely thanks to her influence, LBJ did run and won the election in a landslide victory. I was amazed at the huge role Lady Bird played in the White House! You will be fascinated to hear about the influence she had in LBJ’s political decisions. 

President Johnson was elected during the peak of two major historical eras: the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. Despite opposition by politicians in the Deep South, the Civil Rights Act was signed during LBJ’s presidency and he was credited for his work in making this happen. What plagued his administration was the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam. Planning events and finding speakers was made difficult by celebrities refusing to attend the White House in response to the Vietnam War. In her audio diary, you can hear Lady Bird Johnson’s dismay when reading about criticisms of the Johnson administration. Learning abut the stress of the Johnsons felt during this tumultuous time period was very insightful.

In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson sheds light on the importance of Lady Bird to the Johnson administration. I certainly did not know how influential her advice was to LBJ. One example of this was LBJ running for president in 1964-who knows how history could have been altered had he not run? This podcast makes you wonder about the role played by other First Ladies in the White House. Did they advice the President in political decisions and problems that occurred during his presidency? I think it was highly likely that they did! 

In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson can be heard on the ABC website. You can also listen to it on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcast, Spotify, and other podcast apps. Additionally reviews of the podcast can be found on the Great Pods website.

Michael Walsh

Adult Services Librarian

Will Library