Every election cycle prompts a debate about what sort of behavior is "presidential." It's generally accepted that America's leaders should carry themselves with gravitas, or at least not act like a teenager who's just had their first wine cooler. But before you start harshly judging contemporary candidates against the dignified leaders of the good old days, you should keep in mind that ...
5 JFK Made The Secret Service Get His Nude Photos Framed
JFK's tragic assassination overshadows the fact that he represents a time when the physical embodiment of the American man's libido was elected President. During his reign the White House doubled as the Playboy Mansion, with one former Secret Service agent commenting, "The sheer number of Kennedy's sexual partners, and the recklessness of his use of them, escalated throughout his presidency." Kennedy achieved peak bro by inviting high-class prostitutes -- sometimes several at a time -- to the Lincoln Bedroom to be "entertained." And he liked to snap photos of their, uh, grassy knolls.
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"Ask not what my dong can do for you ..."
Now, when you're leading the free world through the 1960s, you can't just slink off down to the local Walgreens with your thumb drive and print off some glossies to hide under the bed. You can, however, get your longsuffering Secret Service agents to take your nude photos to an art gallery and have them framed ... so that's exactly what JFK did. No, seriously.
As you can imagine, confidentiality was of the utmost concern, so back-alley frame jobs simply wouldn't do. No, these photos were taken to Mickelson's Fine Picture Framing and Gallery, a well-known and highly respected shop that also handled the White House's PG-13 framing. It was the very same shop that Jacqueline Kennedy -- the very woman JFK was cheating on -- employed to help her with the residence's painstaking restoration. Are you imagining how awkward that was for the people working behind the counter?
We're imagining a sitcom moment where a White House employee is in a cold-sweat, holding two packages both marked "J. Kennedy"
The whole procedure was a veritable cloak-and-dagger affair. A Secret Service agent showed up before business hours to have the owner, Sidney Mickelson, measure the picture (Mickelson, for his part, was "troubled" by the photographs, but what was he going to do, tell the President to take his porn to a rival gallery?) Then the agent left, taking the photo with him, and brought it back after hours so the picture could be moun -- put into its shiny new frame.
According to Mickelson the agents, who presumably dreamed of foiling assassination plots when they took their jobs, never let the photos out of their sight. Did we mention that some of the photos included the President himself, naked except for a mask? You know, to maintain the mystery of what man could possibly be naked in the Lincoln Bedroom with a bunch of hookers.
That love seat was blue before his tenure.
Sadly for internet comedy, but thankfully for maintaining the illusion that our nation's history is a dignified one, we'll probably never know what Kennedy did with an entire art gallery's worth of elaborately framed softcore President porn once it made its secretive way back to him. Our best guess is that RFK found the photos hidden in a closet, then had them all burned while trying not to make direct eye contact.
4 Lyndon Johnson Made People Watch Him Go To The Bathroom
We've told you before that the prophetically named Lyndon Johnson was obsessed with showing off his penis, but that was just the, uh, tip of his fixation with bodily functions. Doris Goodwin, one of Johnson's staff members, recounts having a number of conversations with Johnson that ended in the bathroom and Johnson was infamous for calling his aides into the bathroom to give them orders from the throne.
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"Gimme the national security briefing. I've already read the Sports Illustrated that's in there."
On one occasion, McGeorge Bundy, Johnson's National Security Advisor and one of America's most influential and strangely named foreign policy intellectuals, was so embarrassed by the scenario that he stood in the corner of the bathroom and faced the wall, having the reasonable desire to not want to witness the President of the United States take a shit. So Johnson yelled at Bundy to come closer, and Bundy nearly backed into Johnson's naked lap. That's slapstick more befitting a Three Stooges routine than two men who decided to escalate the Vietnam War.
Possible explanations for Johnson's behavior abound, none of which are especially satisfactory if you were one of the saps who had to take instructions while their boss slowly filled the room with the stench of his presidential feces. Johnson was ruthlessly efficient when it came to his time -- he also had phones installed in his bathrooms, because there's no sense in wasting perfectly good pooping time when you could also be dictating government policy.
But he also might have just been a complete goddamn lunatic. Case in point: While working from his Texas ranch, Johnson had a habit of loading a cooler of beer into his Lincoln and driving around aimlessly while having a few drinks, because there's a fine line between being the President and being a bachelor who can't move past his old frat lifestyle. This forced panicked Secret Service agents to chase him, and they'd catch up when he took a pit stop to drain his proverbial radiator.
During one of these stops, a gust of wind blew Johnson's urine onto the leg of a Secret Service agent, who said, "Sir, you're pissing on my leg." Johnson merely replied, "I know. That's my prerogative." The increasingly moist agent then presumably choked down an equally sarcastic response by reminding himself that at least he wasn't on a porn framing run.
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Actually, no, this is worse.