Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Senate Reception Honoring the President and Mrs. Johnson.

January 16, 1969

Mr. President pro tem, Senator Mansfield, Senator Dirksen, my former colleagues in the Senate and Members of the Senate--my friends all:

This is a very generous and thoughtful thing for you to do.

You heard me talk about commitments the other night. I made some commitments before I came up here. I assured Senator Mansfield that he would not have to listen to another State of the Union.

But I did not ask him to go out and put on another warm reception like you all had the other night. It seems to me somewhat anticlimactic after that wonderful meeting that we had in the House Chamber.

I have spent many of my most pleasant years in the Senate working with you gentlemen. We hear a lot said today about differences and the right of dissent.

I was looking over our record, and I saw that the Congress had gone along with us generally over a period of time in about 80 percent of our recommendations. I don't know any President, as I said the other night, who had a right to expect more.

But I said to Lady Bird, if we heard all we did about them going along 80 percent, think about if they had gone all the way with LBJ. We might even have lost the Senate and House, I don't know.

If you still want some of that dissent, I invite you to come down to the university. We are going to have an Institute of Public Affairs there. Senator Dirksen and Senator Mansfield have already accepted. I hope Senator Russell will come.

Come and meet our students. Come and be independent. Say what you want to. You don't need an invitation to do that. You have done that all through the years. You can't teach old dogs new tricks, and I would expect that if you accepted my invitation to come and see me down at the University of Texas or out at the ranch.

But it has been a little sad for me the last few days. I never questioned my judgment on not wanting to run for another term. I thought that commonsense dictated that if we were to ever get to a peace table, that I better not try to do it as a candidate, because our friends and our foes would all say everything I said was political.

I thought that if we were to try to cool things off in the cities, I had better not try to do it as a candidate, because it had been pretty bad in 1967, and I had trouble with every city we tried to deal with.

I knew we could not save a dollar that was under taxed. We tried to curb inflation, but we could not get a tax bill that would make the President look good as an election candidate. I tried for 2 years and was unsuccessful. The only thing I knew to do was get out of the way.

All those things I understood. But dear friends of mine who have had a lot of differences with me and expressed them very bluntly and frankly on many occasions-Barry Goldwater came down the other afternoon, and we sat there and talked about some of the times when we were not too wise.

I don't know if you treated me right or not, but 11 days before I went out of office you raised my salary $100,000. You talk about matters and people who feel that they have not been done right by, just think about a man who is going to take a $175,000 cut next Monday.

So if you think that you have a problem here in cutting out the lights in the White House and around town, you better not look to the LBJ Ranch after sundown after that, because there is going to be a lot of economizing going into effect down there that we have been unable to arrange here.

Everett takes a little pride in my grandson, and there is a little Lithuanian out here from Waukegan, Illinois, who has some Republican connections, and I am going to keep him away from there just as long as I can. But I do have to bring him up to the Senate. We have another in Wisconsin who cannot be here today.

I have had the most unusual thing happen to me today. I decorated men from the four services and gave them the Medal of Honor. There came before me today on the recommendation from the highest military authorities, two men, both recommended for the Medal of Honor.

One was a C-123 pilot in Pat's squadron, and the other a Marine major. They both come from the same little town in Georgia, with less than 15,000 population. They both won the Medal of Honor for gallantry and bravery over and above the call of duty.

I don't think that has ever happened before. I told them when I leave here tonight I am going over to tell another great Georgian goodby, who served under two Presidents--8 years--longer than any Secretary of State, I believe, except one.

I am going to decorate him, too, because although you in the Senate have not always agreed, you have not been as close to him as I have, and I think I have spent more time with him than his wife has in the last 5 years.

I don't believe either of those Georgia boys wanted to see peace come any faster or quicker or surer than his Secretary of State who comes from Cherokee County, Georgia, too.

So as we leave, we have had lots of debates on the domestic matters and the war, and that is why we have this system of checks and balances. I don't have an enemy in this Senate so far as I am concerned.

I don't feel any bitterness toward a single man. A lot of you have opposed a good many things I stood for, and I have opposed a good many things you stood for.

But I have been treated fairly and friendly, and when I look over the record of 35 other Presidents, I have been treated as well as I deserve--and better--and I am mighty grateful to every one of you.

I am particularly grateful to Senator Mansfield and Senator Dirksen for asking me, and Senator Goldwater for his good sportsmanship and long friendship. As a matter of fact, in a troubled period of our life his ham radio came in with my son-in-law--that Barry arranged. As a matter of fact, my daughter thought Barry ought to be the Commander in Chief.

Note: The President spoke at 5:45 p.m. in Room S-207 at the Capitol. In his opening words he referred to Senator Richard B. Russell of Georgia, President of the Senate pro tempore, Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana, Senate Majority Leader, and Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen of Illinois, Senate Minority Leader. During his remarks he referred to, among others, Barry Goldwater, former Senator from Arizona and Republican candidate for President in 1964, Patrick Lyndon Nugent, the President's grandson, AIC. Patrick J. Nugent, his son-in-law serving in Vietnam, and Secretary of State Dean Rusk to whom he presented the Medal of Freedom on the same day (see Item 691).

Introductory remarks by Senator Dirksen are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, p. 111).

For the Medal of Honor presentation to which the President referred, see Item 688.

For remarks of the President at a congressional reception in his honor, see Item 655.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Senate Reception Honoring the President and Mrs. Johnson. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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