Thursday, June 2, 2011

Catch of the Day

Joseph Califano's "back in my day" op-ed about How To Handle Congress is absolutely demolished by Dylan Matthews.

I think Matthews caught just about all of the specific reasons to pretty much ignore the op-ed, but I'll add one more: it's worth noting that Lyndon Johnson's bullying style, whatever its strengths, wound up getting him exiled from Washington. Bullying, it turned out, traded short-term gains for long term disaster, for both Johnson and, then, although the style was different, Richard Nixon.

Yes, presidents should often fight hard when bargaining with Members of Congress (or the other people who they need to cut deals with). But both Johnson and Nixon found that there were severe policy and political consequences to treating themselves as the only legitimate policy makers, and treating everyone else with contempt. Johnson, in particular, found out that when you lie to and constantly humiliate everyone around you, they're not going to be particularly eager to tell you things you may not want to hear -- and they're not going to be particularly loyal to you when things go south.

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