Fifty years ago, Lyndon Johnson and Charles Halleck were in a similar situation [AP Photos]

Fifty years ago, Lyndon Johnson and Charles Halleck were in a similar situation [AP Photos]

A toast to the bad old days

Dec 23, 2013

The Democratic president was at loggerheads with the House Republican leader after a rancorous session of Congress. A liberal White House adviser badmouthed the leader to the press, and the president had to apologize. In the end, a bipartisan Christmas spirit prevailed, and the business of governing got done.

The president was Lyndon Johnson and the House Republican was Charles Halleck, but the situation they found themselves in exactly 50 years ago on Monday, Dec. 23, 1963, has relevance for Barack Obama and John Boehner, and the annus horribilis that is now ending in Washington.

If the past few weeks in the capital have shown anything, it is that the time-honored traits and tactics that modern politics loves to demonize in fact still have much to recommend them. Just consider, in this holiday season, the utility of the backroom deal, the power of brotherhood (or sisterhood, as the case may be), and, yes, the effectiveness of strong drink. read more