The White House: The First Lady Bird

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When German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard visited in June, Lady Bird laid on a sumptuous state dinner beneath the stars in the Rose Garden and brought in Ballerina Maria Tallchief and the National Symphony Orchestra for entertainment. She has dispensed with white tie and tails in favor of the less imposing black tie. She mixes her guest lists with a style that would make Karnak's eyes pop. At a rooftop dance for Costa Rican President Francisco Orlich, for example, guests included Evangelist Billy Graham, Comedian Jimmy Durante, Composer Richard Rodgers, Chase Manhattan Bank President David Rockefeller and Author John Dos Passes—while Lady Bird's daughter Luci danced the frug to the music of Lester Lanin's orchestra.

Even the most forbidding challenge seems like fun to Lady Bird; for example, the time last Christmas when the President popped into Lady Bird's room one morning. "Bird," said he, "let's ask Congress over this afternoon." So they had Congress over that afternoon—in fact, several hundred members dipping their cups into giant bowls of eggnog.

One of the Bills. Although daughters Luci Baines, 17, and Lynda Bird, 20, are almost adults, Lady Bird still gushes over them, possibly to make up for the many lonely nights they spent in the years when she and Lyndon campaigned or politicked with congressional cronies. "That has been one of the costs," Lady Bird says. "It is one of the bills you have to pay for the job your husband has." Yet the rapport between mother and daughters is natural, giggly and girlish. Still, she has to be mindful of the special security precautions that plague the family's every move. Instead of reminding Luci to take her sweater, as an average mother would, Lady Bird often chides her daughter, "Now Luci, don't forget to take your agent along."

The President's wife thrives on the whiplash excitement around her husband. Says Lindy Boggs: "Bird would be only half alive if she divorced herself from politics." There is not a chance that she will. Last week, when a reporter asked the President if Lady Bird would be campaigning for him this fall, Lyndon replied with relish: "She is—and will be." And she has been—and will be—able and invaluable. In 1960 she traveled 35,000 miles in 71 days for Lyndon, mostly in the South. Says Bobby Kennedy chivalrously: "Lady Bird carried Texas for us."

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