Sunday, May 4, 2014

LBJ in Love and Wandering Through the Night

Robert Morrow forwards these two snippets.

From Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter's Account of the Civil Rights Movement by Simeon Booker:

Gerri [Whittington]’s last trip to the Texas White House would be on the weekend of July 4, 1964. Lyndon was always so casual and relaxed at the ranch, which, much more than the real White House, he considered his own space, where he could do as he pleased. According to his aides in earlier years, this included nocturnal wanderings with a flashlight into staff bedrooms. What happened behind those doors is known only to those staff members whose rooms he entered, but it was certain that others would know he was there. There was little likelihood that the president of the United States could wander about in the night - even in his own home - without someone hearing him and drawing his or her own conclusion. Regardless of his motive, this kind of behavior would be highly offensive to someone like Gerri, who valued her reputation as much as anything in life. This was something Lyndon apparently didn’t understand…. So he probably gave it little thought before he showed up at Gerri’s room one night after everyone had retired. Gerri thought  she handled it quite well. Without waiting to learn why he was there, she told LBJ she wasn’t feeling well, and although it was nothing serious, just her time of the month, she had to get to sleep. With that, she nixed the possibility of anything from chitchat to- well, Lyndon did have a reputation, although with Gerri he had always acted appropriately. He left, and that’s the way it was. Mulling it over later, she thought perhaps he just wanted to talk. But this was not the right time or place. She realized, however, that her calm and quiet brush-off did not assure it would not happen again, and she wanted to make sure it didn’t. When the president and entourage returned to Washington after the holiday weekend, Gerri avoided the president while she thought it over. She told me she had considered resigning, but hoped it wouldn’t come to that….At the end of the week, when she finally came face to face with the president in the secretaries’ office, he commented (with some exaggeration and maybe a little sarcasm), “Did you decide to come to work - haven’t seen you over here in a week or so?” The secretary keeping the president’s diary that day noted the comment, as well as some good-natured banter with the other secretaries.Gerri felt she may have made her pointby her absence.

And from Politico:
On a quiet summer evening in 1964, Mary McGrory’s phone rang. The caller identified himself as a Secret Service agent and said that President Johnson wanted to stop by her apartment in 15 minutes. “Oh, really,” McGrory replied drolly, sure that the caller was a fellow reporter pulling her leg, but the man on the line insisted he was serious.
She went out into the hallway of her apartment building, a drab modern brick affair a few miles up Connecticut Avenue from the White House, and found several Secret Service agents standing near the elevator. Realizing that the leader of the free world was, indeed, on his way, she ran back inside and frantically tidied up. Several minutes later, the president appeared at her door.
At age 45, Mary McGrory was already one of the most influential political columnists in the country, a veteran of three presidential campaigns whose four-times-a-week musings in the Evening Star were an absolute must-read for everyone from political pros to the most casual observers. A Bostonian ever proud of her Irish roots, McGrory had adored President John F. Kennedy, and she had been a constant behind-the-scenes presence during the Camelot years. So she was no stranger to power, but the impromptu nature of Johnson’s visit was unnerving.
McGrory invited him in and offered the president a drink. They engaged in some friendly small talk until Johnson, tumbler of scotch in his large hand, finally put his cards on the table. “Mary, I am crazy about you,” he confessed. He wanted to sleep with her.
Then, in what has to be one of the most awkward and unromantic propositions in presidential history, Johnson tried to make the case that since McGrory had always admired Kennedy, she should now transfer her affections to him. “He wanted to have a reporter who had been their favorite reporter,” says Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist and McGrory protégée who heard about the encounter from McGrory and attributed it to LBJ’s perpetual rivalry with the Kennedys. “It wasn’t so much him pouncing on her as him competing with JFK.” In LBJ’s mind, sleeping with McGrory, like raising the height of the toilets in the White House, was just another way to one-up the late president. As McGrory’s friend Phil Gailey put it to me, “He assumed, I guess, that the only reason she loved the Kennedys was because they had power. What a klutz.”
Listening to Johnson’s declaration, McGrory later told her friends, she felt flattered, startled and mortified at the same time. She took a deep breath and said, “I admire you, Mr. President, and I always will. And I think you are doing a terrific job, and that is where it stops—right there.”
President Johnson finished his drink and said, “I just wanted you to know.”
“Now I know,” she replied. “Thank you.”
And with that, the president and his Secret Service detail left.


  1. It's clear that the president didn't read the "Mystery Method." No game. It's a shame.

  2. Not content with figuratively screwing the country, LBJ thought he'd literally do so to the female staff. Nice.

    No normal human being would want to be president, leaving the door open to society's control freaks and psychopaths.