LBJ and FDR were renowned for their skill in navigating a hostile Congress, particularly the Senate. Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama not so much.
Here’s Luther Gulick’s indelible account of a meeting with his boss President Roosevelt in 1937, as Gulick was working on the Brownlow Committee to reorganize the executive branch — a momentous effort that, not incidentally, would prove critical to the Allied victory in World War II. It comes from Gulick’s insightful look back at the lessons of WWII, in a slender volume he published in 1948, collecting his series of postwar lectures.
Gulick found Roosevelt poring over a biography of Wilson. “You know,” he told Gulick, “Wilson made just one mistake: he failed to do the things that were required to bring the Senate along.”
Lyndon Johnson, another Roosevelt protege, learned that lesson well — perhaps the last President who did.