Five Notes for Watching 'All the Way'
LBJ's first year as president offers a window into the political future

Brian Cranston, as LBJ, signing the Civil Rights Act. (Courtesy of HBO)

The movie adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play “All the Way ,” which premiered Saturday on HBO, may be just the televised tonic required for people within the congressional orbit already suffering election- year burnout.  

The film chronicles the first year that Lyndon B. Johnson (played by Bryan Cranston) served as president. Half a century later, in this surreal season of toxic campaigning that’s not leavened at all by substantive legislating, the story illustrates how accomplished politicking can be harnessed in the service of ambitious policy-making.  

LBJ Civil Rights Gambit Set Stage for Modern Maneuver
Play shows how a key legislative move helped pass the Civil Right Act

Jack Willis as LBJ and Bowman Wright as Martin Luther King in "All the Way." (Photo courtesy of Arena Stage)

It was a moment in history, a moment when President Lyndon B. Johnson needed to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 past a segregationist committee chairman and onto a more receptive Senate floor.  

The solution he came up within 1964 has become one of the most common maneuvers in the Senate chamber, invoking a rule that allows the majority leader to bypass committee consideration.  

John Dingell, Carl Levin to Be Honored With LBJ Award

Dingell, left, will be honored along with longtime colleague Levin. (Bill Clark/ CQ Roll Call)

Fifty years ago, Rep. John D. Dingell stood next to President Lyndon B. Johnson as he signed the Civil Rights Act. He had already clocked in nearly a decade in the House at that point.  

On Tuesday, Dingell and his longtime Michigan colleague, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, will be honored with the LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award from the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation for years of public service in the name of the Texas POTUS' legacy of civil rights.