Christie, Nixon, and the case for retribution in politics

“No, sir, Mr. President, not really,” Eastland stammered. Roosevelt gave him the facts of life.

“We’re both good Democrats. If you want something for your state from me, come in that door over there and I’ll give you two minutes to tell me what you want and I’ll see that you get it,” said the president. “But then I’m going to spend 15 minutes telling you what I want from you and you are going to do it. Understood?”

Eastland understood. They got along just fine.

American political history is full of broken legs and bloodied noses—as well as payback, bugging, blackmail, break-ins and other dirty tricks.

The founding fathers, almost immediately, split into two factions and scrapped like wolverines over the direction of their new republic. The epitomic moment occurred when future president James Monroe (allied with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison) blackmailed Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton (a leader of the rival Federalist faction and a preeminent member of Washington’s cabinet) with proof of Hamilton’s adultery. It might have cost Hamilton the presidency.