In two hours, the smooth new president, about whom Johnson pronounced himself “satisfied,” was going to address Congress. I asked Johnson what he would say if Barack Obama sought his advice.
“I'm now going to lecture you about things you refuse to know,” Johnson said, channeling the imaginary conversation.
“I'm going to lecture you about history. History tells us there's no such thing as a successful democracy and also a successful empire. You can be one or the other – but you can't be both. If you are a successful empire, it will destroy your democracy. That's essentially why Britain gave up at the end of World War II. They concluded that just after defeating the Nazis, they couldn't continue to use Nazi methods. It wasn't well done, but they preserved their democracy.”
Though dismantling the military may be political suicide, a third-rail far more electrifying than Social Security, Obama will have to face that task someday, Johnson said.