The Presidency: Learning How to Build a Barn

The Presidency

For the moment the spirit of Lyndon Johnson and his frequent counselor, the prophet Isaiah ("Come now, and let us reason together"), are back in style.

At the White House and on the Hill, the leaders have even dusted off the Ball Rule of Power, named after former Under Secretary of State George Ball, who understood that getting close to a President relieved many frustrations of a policymaker. Said Ball: "Nothing propinks like propinquity."

The ghost of the old Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn, has also risen and spoken: "Any jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a...

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