“As president, he cut a grandiose figure. He was a braggart and a frequent liar. He was suspicious of other countries, frequently saying, ‘Foreigners are not like the folks I am used to.’ He had a reckless disregard for limits. He belittled and browbeat others to intimidate them and give him what he wanted. Historian Robert Dallek said that he ‘viewed criticism of his policies as personal attacks’ and opponents of his policies ‘as disloyal to him and the country.’
“He would bully and insult reporters, saying of one that he ‘always knew when he was around, because he could smell him.’ He told whoppers about voter fraud in his elections. But he did get things done, dominating the political scene for good and for ill.”
No, John Fund is not writing about Donald Trump. Rather, he is describing former president Lyndon B. Johnson–whom Mr. Fund depicts in NRO as “reckless, grandiose, and intimidating.”
After spending time at the LBJ library studying Johnson and his presidency, Mr. Fund notes the many similarities between LBJ and Donald Trump. Johnson, often referred to as an SOB, was also thought to be a “miserable person.”
I don’t know just how much of a “miserable person” Donald Trump is. I do know that many conservatives have decided that regardless of their personal feelings about him, he is now president and it’s important to work with him to push through policies that will help the country. Liberals in the 1960s knew what an SOB Johnson was, but they demanded that Republicans work with him to pass legislation. And legislate they did, passing the Civil Rights Act and achieving bipartisan support for the passage of Medicare.
I left my tour of the Johnson Library and its archives this month with a question. Sure, it was easy for people in both parties to hate Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s. It’s certainly easy for people in both parties to hate Donald Trump today. But in the 1960s, there was a sense that the legislative process and the wheels of government still had to turn. Back then, the country didn’t tolerate blind obstructionism and attempts to delegitimize the presidency.
Read more here.