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There could be no better confirmation of the indignities of the office of vice president of the United States than those endured by Lyndon B Johnson. His tireless biographer, Robert Caro, in another instalment of his immense project, records his humiliations as John F Kennedy’s understudy: to be ignored in discussions of subjects on which he was expert; forced to lean forward to catch the president’s attention like “a schoolboy trying to win a teacher’s favour”; and to plead…

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