You know Chris Christie is in trouble when New Jersey golden boy Bruce Springsteen joins in the stone-throwing

Usborne in the USA: Nevertheless, I hope the Governor survives this

Share

You can guess what the fate of Lyndon Johnson would have been today. Just flip through Robert Caro’s masterful trilogy about the Texas behemoth – the final instalment, Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson Volume 3 came out last summer – and you will see why he would probably have been quite unelectable.

As a senator, he would bend his more milquetoast peers to his purpose through sheer intimidation.

“Reporters in the press gallery above would see Johnson bending closer and talking in a very low voice – and they would see the other senator’s face change, as the threat was pounded in, along with Johnson’s determination to carry it out,” Caro writes. He was a serial fondler of women, peed in his office basin and bossed his aides while sitting on the toilet.

A one-time aide, George Reedy, said in a book of his own, Lyndon B Johnson: A Memoir (1982): “There was no sense in which he could be described as a pleasant man. His manners were atrocious – not just slovenly... He was a bully who would exercise merciless sarcasm on people who could not fight back but could only take it.”

Scandal-ensnared Chris Christie has none of those coarser attributes. Yet it is because he too is now being called a bully that his own White House hopes are suddenly in jeopardy. Just watch those clips of him humiliating voters in town hall meetings or calling one reporter an “idiot”. But today LBJ is a revered figure because of all he accomplished particularly on civil rights for blacks and tackling poverty.

It makes you wonder: should being a blowhard with sharp elbows and a loud mouth disqualify you from the highest office in the land or the other way about?

Brit Hume, political commentator for Fox News, had an interesting take on Christie’s current troubles, born of the revelation last week that two lanes from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge were deliberately throttled last September to punish its Democrat mayor because he had refused to endorse the Governor for re-election. Politics, he said, had gone all girly.

“In this sort of feminised atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct, kind of old-fashioned tough guys, run some risk,” he offered. “This guy is very much an old fashioned masculine, muscular guy.”

Fox-haters pounced. When was feminised ever a bad thing? Wasn’t it the women of the US Senate who corralled the menfolk into a truce that ended the stand-off that forced a government shut-down last October?

Hume surely wasn’t suggesting political women can’t be tough. Think Thatcher’s handbag. Nancy Pelosi hasn’t survived as Minority Leader by being a soft touch.

But perhaps there is something wimpy about America’s current crop of political leaders. John Boehner, the leader of the House Republicans, blubs at the slightest provocation while his record of keeping his Tea Party wing in line is, shall we say, patchy. That he is no Frank Urquhart, the scheming House speaker in The House Cards, is a good thing of course. It’s best to stay legal. And yet.

Unfavourably comparing Barack Obama to LBJ is in some ways be facile, precisely because today is not fifty years ago. When he found himself in the White House, Johnson had the luxury of large Democrat majorities in both chambers of Congress and was propelled by a national mood of solidarity after JFK’s assassination.  But many have gone there anyway griping that Mr Obama has shown himself reluctant to sully himself in the sewage of Washington politicking, grinding his foes into submission with calibrated doses of flattery and arm-twisting. This is a man who famously finds schmoozing distasteful and is deeply reluctant to fire people when they mess up. How many White House heads have rolled since the spectacular meltdown of his new healthcare web site? None yet.

You know Christie is struggling when even one of New Jersey’s best loved sons joins the stone-throwing. This was Bruce Springsteen alongside comedian Jimmy Fallon on his late night show on Tuesday with a cruelly rejigged version of his classic Born to Run. “Governor let me in, I want to be your friend, there’ll be no partisan divisions,” Springsteen sang. “Let me wrap my legs ’round your mighty ribs, relieve your stressful condition... Man I really gotta take a leak, but I can’t…I’m stuck in Governor Chris Christie’s Fort Lee, New Jersey traffic jam.”

The bridge stunt was stupid, but it arose from an attempt by Christie to gather as many endorsements for re-election as he could to ensure himself the most convincing margin of victory possible last November. His methods may on occasion have been crude, even LBJ-like, but that’s what politicians do. And in an age when America is more ungovernable than ever – and his party more fractured - might they not be just what’s needed right now?

I hope he survives this. Even if you don’t buy that he would be right for the top job just consider the sport we will have in 2016 if he wins the Republican nomination, especially if his Democrat rival turns out to be that other person who knows a thing or two about accumulating and wielding power (and happens to be a woman), Hillary Clinton.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth