We want our politicians to act like LBJ. But not really.

What we really need, I guess, is an executive in the mold of a Chris Christie or an Andrew Cuomo or a Rick Perry, all of whom are more extroverted and more brazen about wielding their power as governors than Obama is — and all of whom, not incidentally, are now fending off prosecutors and investigations while scrambling to keep their national ambitions afloat.

And this illustrates an interesting paradox of modern politics: We love this idea of the ruthless and effective political operator, right up until the moment we’re confronted by the reality…

You want the kind of elected executive who’s going to make the machine work the way he wants it to, even if he has to grab a sledgehammer and bang a few parts into place? Well, this is what it looks like. It’s not especially ennobling, and it never was.

Lately there’s a lot of admiration for Johnson, who’s often portrayed, in this age of entrenched dysfunction and colorless politicians, as a charismatic, needy rogue who knew how to make Washington work. The truth is that the things Johnson did for the purpose of amassing power would make Rick Perry quiver like a little girl.