The one thing I would add is that while some of Caro’s rhetoric in The Passage of Power can get a little green lanterny in his description of the mechanics he’s still pretty clear that Congress was in the driver’s seat. If Harry Byrd’s top priority was still to oppose civil rights, he could have kept the bill bottled up for as long as he wanted. At any rate, the Civil Rights Act is an excellent example of the fundamental truth that the White House is where campaigns for political change end, not where they begin. A president can make some changes marginally more likely and can certainly obstruct change, but they don’t effect change by imposing their will on Congress. That’s not what LBJ did and it’s not what FDR did either.
None of this changes the obvious fact that Obama totally could have gotten single payer with some speeches, some threats to primary people who aren’t running for anything, stuff like that there.
There’s a little FOX News in all of us.