Random Presidential Facts: Lyndon Baines Johnson

President Johnson was the only President to take Oath of Office on an airplane (Air Force One), the only President to be administered the oath by a woman (Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes), and the only President to take the oath with a woman serving as his witness (Jacqueline Kennedy). Every member of the First Family used the initials “LBJ”. Lyndon Baines Johnson **Lady Bird Johnson Lynda Bird Johnson Luci Baines Johnson **Lady Bird Johnson’s birth name was Claudia Alta Taylor, however, she used the nickname she got as an infant her entire life. She even signed her Marriage Certificate “Lady Bird Taylor”. The ring President Johnson gave Mrs. Johnson on their wedding day was purchased at Sears for $2.50. Lady Bird Johnson was the first, First Lady who was a self-made millionaire, the first to have a Press Secretary of her own, the first to deal directly with Congress in regards to her agenda, and the first to campaign solo for her husband. The Highway Beautification Act, also known as Lady Birds Bill earned Mrs. Johnson the two highest civilian awards, The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1953 at age 44 Senator Johnson became the youngest Democrat to hold the Floor Leader position when he was chosen as Senate Minority Leader. After the 1954 midterm election he became Senate Majority Leader. John and Bobby Kennedy did not like LBJ. It’s been said by many Kennedy White House staffers that there were times when Bobby openly showed disdain for the Vice President which was unusual because Bobby was a generally good guy with an even keel. President Kennedy knew he needed to keep his Vice President placated because he needed the southern conservative “Dixiecrats”. Turns out the VP who they thought would be the bridge between the northern, liberal Democrats and the southern conservative Democrats would end up being one of the most liberal and progressive Presidents we’ve ever had. It was Vice President Johnson, who after being tasked to find a space project that the US could accomplish before the Soviet Union, suggested to President Kennedy that it could be possible to put a man on the moon before the decade was over. President Johnson is to date the 2nd and last President to order the arrest and prosecution of members of the Ku Klux Klan. Ulysses S. Grant was the 1st. Lyndon Johnson not only kept his promise to make JFK’s civil rights act law, he exceeded it by beefing up the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and getting his own bill passed in 1965. President Johnson established Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and chose to lead it Robert C. Weaver, the first African-American cabinet secretary. In 1967 President Johnson made a choice that many feel sealed his legacy as the most progressive President we’ve ever had when he nominated the former civil rights attorney who successfully argued Brown v. Board of Education, Thurgood Marshall for Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court. When he signed Medicare into law, President Johnson hand delivered the first two Medicare cards to President Truman and his wife Bess. He is to date the only President to have rejected his official White House portrait. He called it ”the ugliest thing he ever saw.” LBJ was the last Democrat to win the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Alaska. In 1964 President Johnson was elected with 486 Electoral Votes. A record held until 1984 when Ronald Reagan was reelected with 525 electoral votes. Johnson still has the record for highest percentage of the popular vote won with 61%. President Johnson’s favorite soft drink was Fresca. He had a Fresca fountain installed in the Oval Office. He was the first sitting President to meet the Pope. Lyndon Johnson, despite being a man of faith, had a filthy mouth. Especially when angry. It wasn’t uncommon to hear a very loud stream of profanity coming from the Oval Office. The worst kept secret in DC during the 60s was that President Johnson had an um, pretty impressive “Johnson”, and was not in the least bit afraid to prove it. Back then “off the record” meant off the record for the White House press corps. According to former Supreme Court Justice and US Ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg, during one of these informal bull sessions with the press President Johnson, agitated because they kept pressing him to explain why we were in Vietnam, stood up, dropped his pants and said “That’s why!” A tactic he sometimes used to assure himself a position of dominance in negotiations with foreign leaders and ambassadors was to have the initial meeting take place in the White House pool while they skinny dipped.

Author: Ryan Eatmon

Son, Father, political hack, lover of the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks and the Marquette University Golden Eagles. Co-Founder and Admin of The Blue Route.

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