The 5 Pettiest Abuses Of Power In Presidential History
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 ...
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
Then again, this is the man who spent several minutes explaining the concept of balls and a crotch to his male tailor.
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.
Actually, no, this is worse.
Warren G. Harding Banged Women In A White House Closet And Wrote Letters About His Dick
Harding is widely considered one of the worst Presidents ever. His brief tenure was marked by massive corruption, general ineptitude, and a vigorous desire to poke his dick into any woman with a pulse. Harding's father once told him that it was a good thing he wasn't born a woman, because "you can't say no. You would always be pregnant." And, unlike some men who might try to prove such accusatory words wrong, Harding dedicated his life to making his father's point.
"Fornicators, mount up!"
First there was his 15-year affair with Carrie Phillips, one of his wife's best friends and the wife of his own good chum. When Harding wasn't visiting Carrie's oval office, he was writing her ridiculously detailed love letters that could be as many as 40 pages long. Phrases like "I love your poise / Of perfect thighs / When they hold me in paradise" are more befitting a love-struck teenager's Tumblr than the President's correspondence, and it got weirder when he called his penis "Jerry" and Carrie's vagina "Mrs. Pouterson."
No, really. "Wish I could take you to Mount Jerry. Wonderful spot," wrote our 29th President, about his erection. Phillips made the letters known to the Republican National Committee, presumably while saying "Nice Presidential campaign you've got going. Shame if something were to ... happen to it." And so the RNC, looking to avoid embarrassment and also probably just wanting to stop learning about their candidate's erotic poetry, conveniently disappeared the Phillipses via 20 grand in cash, a trip to Japan, and a monthly "Let's not mention the 'Jerry' thing, okay?" salary.
And here's to you, Mrs. Pouterson
Jerry loves you more than you will know
Meanwhile, Harding was also banging Nan Britton, when he was nearly 50 and she was 20. Their six-year relationship began because Harding was a creep and Britton was obsessed with him to the point where she covered her bedroom walls with his campaign posters, because rock stars hadn't been invented yet. In a book Britton wrote, she described losing her virginity to Harding in a New York hotel before they began regular trysts at his office, which often took place in "A closet in the anteroom ... a space no more than five feet square." While the president was secretly getting serviced, one of his Secret Service agents, and history's most dedicated wingman, dutifully stood guard and knocked on the door if Mrs. Harding got too close.
Since birth control in the '20s was largely limited to wishful thinking and stern threats about being sent to the old country if you unexpectedly stopped menstruating, Britton got pregnant. Harding never met his daughter, but he did have Secret Service agents deliver child support payments until he suddenly died in the third year of his administration, even as the press and his fellow politicians denounced Britton as a lying, gold-digging pervert.
"Everyone knows you can't get pregnant standing up!"
And these are just the two most infamous cases. America's horniest President had a variety of other affairs and flings with his wife's friends, his secretaries, and random women who were brought to him by his underlings. He may have fathered at least two other illegitimate children, and one of his so-called "New York women" committed suicide after Harding refused to marry her. It's unclear when he found the time to actually participate in politics.
Calvin Coolidge Pulled Childish Pranks On The Secret Service
Harding's successor, Calvin Coolidge, is an exception on this list because he was by all accounts able to keep his dick in his pants. Instead, he had a weakness for practical "jokes" more befitting an unruly preschooler than a President who looks like he considered smiling a sin.
Seen here after reading one of the poems Harding accidentally left in the Oval Office's desk.
Specifically, Coolidge had a thing for crying wolf at the expense of his exasperated Secret Service agents, which is ironic considering he was so taciturn that he earned the serial killer-ish nickname Silent Cal.
For starters, the Secret Service installed a bell on the White House veranda that could be rung in case of emergency. Now, imagine that you're in charge of keeping the President alive in the days before CCTV, and your decidedly low-tech security system starts ringing. You'd rightly drop everything and haul ass to the porch ... only to find it empty and with no apparent cause for alarm. This happened on a regular basis until Coolidge's agents finally caught him giggling at them from behind a pillar, like some adolescent schoolboy who'd just pulled a ding dong ditch. The agents, realizing they'd grossly overestimated Coolidge's judgment and common sense, were forced to hide the bell. From the President of the United States.
"Sir, the President is missing! And there's a flaming bag on the floor!"
But don't worry! Coolidge had more tricks up his sleeve. He'd buzz agents to his office, then hide under his desk as they tried to find him while praying that they hadn't let him get kidnapped on their watch. He also had a habit of screwing with his staff by ringing the doorbell and then bolting as they scampered to greet him and take his coat. He was basically the President we dream of being, as opposed to being the President we should actually have.
Coolidge's shenanigans weren't well known at the time, and he himself once said, "I think the American people want a solemn ass as President, and I think I shall go along with them." At least he got it half right.
Though, given other presidents' penchant for exuberant ass, perhaps we should be grateful.
Herbert Hoover Made The White House Staff Pretend They Were Invisible
Herbert Hoover, who succeeded Coolidge to keep the White House Crazy Train rolling, is best remembered as the namesake of the giant dam that makes it possible to beam Vegas' gaudiness into space, and for being at the helm during America's slide into the Great Depression. But for the folks tasked with keeping his sheets white and his place at the dinner table set, he was known as "The guy who'll never lay eyes on you, if you know what's good for you."
Mr. and Mrs. Hoover were all about their privacy, and in the '30s that meant never having to be in the company of Negroes and poor people. As such, they devised a fun little game that the entirety of the sizeable (and largely black) White House staff were required to play. The rules were simple: When the Hoovers are coming, you hide, and you hide well, because they do not want to see you. Pretend the Hoovers are Medusas, if that makes you feel better, but they didn't even want to see a servant going about their duties.
"I SAID, I SURE AM THIRSTY! IT'D BE REALLY GREAT IF A GLASS OF ICED TEA
MAGICALLY APPEARED IN FRONT OF ME AFTER I CLOSE MY EYES FOR THE NEXT 30 SECONDS ..."
So the staff scurried around like an army of stressed-out house elves, dropping whatever they were doing to hide when they heard footsteps. They even developed an early warning system, ringing bells when a Hoover approached. Anytime a bell rang, staff members would frantically dive into closets or crouch behind bushes to avoid inconveniencing the First Family by reminding them of their existence or the harsh reality that the White House wasn't actually powered by pure freedom energy.
Even worse is the fact that, after the Hoovers were sent packing, FDR saw no need to change the tradition. It wasn't until Truman took office in 1945 and asked why the hell people kept peeking at him from behind curtains or through bushes that the staff were once again allowed to go about their duties like human beings. Then ten years later LBJ probably made them watch him shit.
Only months after JFK made them watch him fuck.
For more reasons our country is always run by giant children, check out The 4 Most Impressively Weird Sex Lives of U.S. Presidents and 4 Practical Jokes You Won't Believe U.S. Presidents Pulled.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Andrew Jackson: Most Terrifying Man Ever Elected President, and other videos you won't see on the site!
Follow us on Facebook, and let's be best friends forever.