Isn’t That What Most Wars Are About, Anyway?

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Amusing anecdote from Shawn Macomber’s interview with Gene Healy over at The American Spectator:

TAS: I learned so much reading The Cult of the Presidency, which seeds a very good history of the office with a slew of beautiful, strange and at times frightening anecdotes — a humble President Cleveland answering the White House phone personally, LBJ having a hydraulic throne installed in Air Force One “he could raise or lower to achieve the appropriate level of intimacy or intimidation,” the various uses and misuses of the CIA and FBI. Were there any stories or factoids that particularly shocked you during your research?

Gene Healy: The anecdotes I prefer are the polar opposite of the Wise, Compassionate Leader parables you often hear on Sunday morning talk shows. I prefer stories like the one (from Robert Dallek’s biography of LBJ, Flawed Giant), where in a private oval office meeting in 1967, asked by a reporter why America was in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson unzipped his fly, wagged the presidential member at his audience, and exclaimed “This is why!” I find that little story hilarious, horrifying, and, er, revealing: The president as Great Ape atop the world’s most important primate hierarchy. It tells you something about how the office magnifies the personality flaws of the bizarre people who are willing to do what it takes to get there, with the result that you too often end up governed by a Narcissist with Nukes.

Buy Gene’s book here.

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8 Responses to “Isn’t That What Most Wars Are About, Anyway?”

  1. #1 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    George Carlin has talked about the “Bigger Dick Foreign Policy”:

    “What, they have bigger dicks?? BOMB THEM!”

  2. #2 |  Brian C. | 

    The story Healy relates is exactly the one in the book that made me think, “Okay, this is obviously a bullshit story.” It just sounds like someone figured out what kind of story would make it into the book and told him something crazy. I just don’t believe it.

  3. #3 |  Sydney Carton | 

    President Johnson was arguably the second worst president in modern American history, apart from Jimmy Carter.

  4. #4 |  Against Stupidity | 

    Has anyone ever rated presidents from best to worst using what they did during their presidency to create a rating?

  5. #5 |  Swimmy | 

    I agree with Brian C. I’d need some pretty convincing evidence to believe this story.

  6. #6 |  onleyone | 

    maybe i’m a sucker for believing it without seeing the evidence, but i thought it was well known that LBJ went out of his way to cow, humiliate, embarrass, or otherwise express his disdain for his “lessers”. didn’t he also hold audience from the john, just to make people uncomfortable?

  7. #7 |  Gene Healy | 

    Rather than cry bullshit, you could look it up. The freaking book is cited in the article. Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973, Oxford University Press 1998, paperback edition, page 491. I’m looking at it right now. Dallek’s a liberal, by the way.

  8. #8 |  daddysteve | 

    I think Nixon and our current president rank on the “worst” list.