January 3, 2017

Even the President of the United States sometimes has to stand naked and take a shower.

In "It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)," Bob Dylan sang:
While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked
I'm not sure exactly where Bob Dylan was picturing the President of the United States standing naked — literally or metaphorically — but the President at the time was Lyndon Baines Johnson. He had to stand naked to take a shower, and there's something I want to tell you about that shower, and it connects to Barack Obama, but first I have to tell you about the time LBJ didn't have to stand naked but chose to:
On a hot, sunny day in 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson had just delivered a stump speech during his campaign for the presidency. According to white House reporter Frank Cormier’s book “LBJ: the Way He Was,” once on board Air Force One, the President started taking questions about the economy from the press. In the middle of the Q&A session, Johnson took off his pants and shirt, then “shucked off his underwear… standing buck naked and waving his towel for emphasis” as he continued talking.
Now, about that shower. According to Robert A. Caro's "The Passage of Power," 2 days after he moved into the White House, LBJ told the White House Chief Usher J. B. West, "Mr. West, if you can’t get that shower of mine fixed, I’m going to have to move back to The Elms."
“He didn’t sound as if he were joking,” West was to say. And after the President explained that the water pressure was inadequate, and that he wanted the same elaborate, multi-nozzle arrangement that he had had at his former home, he repeated his threat to move out. Then, “without a smile, he turned on his heel and walked away.” A few minutes later, Mrs. Johnson asked West to come by the room she had chosen for her office, a small sitting room with one door. “I guess you’ve been told about the shower,” she said, with a smile, and repeated to West what she said to all Johnson employees.

“Anything that … needs to be done, remember this: my husband comes first, the girls second, and I will be satisfied with what’s left.” As he became acquainted with the Johnsons, West was to write, “I soon could see that had been her life’s pattern.” Nothing, he came to see, could “faze her.”
I remembered that as I was watching "State of the Nation" last Sunday. Jake Tapper was doing a segment on the process of moving a new President into the White House, and he was interviewing the current Chief Usher, Stephen Rochon.
ROCHON: One thing that we were very aware of is the new president wanted a special shower head. And so we had to scramble to make sure we had the perfect rain shower head for President Obama.
Tapper awkwardly shifted the topic to Trump. It seemed to be implied that we must think Trump will be ridiculous, demanding a White House suited to his taste. You've seen the jokes. Things like this:



But when he was asked whether he would redecorate the White House "Trump-style," Trump gave a sober answer:
No, I wouldn't. I would -- I do just want a place, honest, look it's this very special place. It's a very special building. I'm going to be working, I'm not going to be decorating.
Tapper played that clip and returned to the subject of the Obamas leaving the White House. We see Michelle Obama, saying:
I find myself choking up because we have raised our kids in the White House. We've had so many amazing experiences. We have a phenomenal staff. We live in a house with people who love us and care about us and, you know, we're going to be walking away from all of that.
They were loved. They had phenomenal staff. They had so many amazing experiences. I was going to say Trump won't be able to talk like that but I realized those sentences sound like Trump sentences. Amazing. Phenomenal. All that love.

And yet... when it comes to taking over the White House, Trump had the political wisdom to say he was going there to work. It's not his personal playground. And you won't hear about what he expects from a shower.

59 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

We see Michelle Obama, saying:
I find myself choking up because we have raised our kids in the White House. We've had so many amazing experiences.


and $85M in taxpayer funded vacations...

Sammy Finkelman said...

But now it might be illegal to fix the shower the way the presodent wants it.

Mike Sylwester said...

Ann, less than a year from now you will be embarrassed that you did not write one post critical of Bob Dylan while he was being awarded the Nobel Prize in 2016.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Sammy Finkelman said...

But now it might be illegal to fix the shower the way the president wants it.

I think we all know that Trump would have his buddy Putin fix the shower, just like he did the election...

Sammy Finkelman said...

But Donald Trump could probably get Congress to pass a law making it legal, especially if he threatened not to move into the White House, at least not full time.

It would be controversial, and not without Democratic opposition, and what would probably pass is a law that did not specifically menton the White House.

It could deal with historic buildings owned by the federal government in the District of Columbia when the renovation is requsted by the president of the United States, for instance.

khesanh0802 said...

I am convinced that we will be surprised by the actual amount of work a President Trump does. He is accustomed to the pace of the private sector and being, essentially, self employed. That condition is the opposite of Obama who was in government or academia where time and accomplishments come second (at least) to optics and posturing. The first few weeks will be the proof of the pudding.

traditionalguy said...

Ivanka will quickly arrange the Trump Resort and Townhouse as a stop over between the NYC Condo and The West palm Beach Party House.

So don't rule out solid gold shower heads. Versailles was only a Townhouse near Paris.

Nonapod said...

Nothing is more annoying when people attempt that "You're going to be so ashamed with what you said here when insert hypothetical event happens" nonsense. Trying to shame people in general is sort of a lame rhetorical tactic to begin with. But Futureshaming is so 2016!

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I'm not at all sure what safeguards are in place to ensure the president that nobody would ever dare try to get spy camera video of one of his kids relieving their tension.

wildswan said...

The White House is his office. His other places are better for fun and perfect shower heads. And, anyhow, Melania will change the White House, after awhile.

Original Mike said...

Does Nonapod not get Mike's joke?

Once written, twice... said...

Wow Ann, you are now really stretching to find ways to praise Trump.

Once written, twice... said...

And yes Ann, a year from now you will be embarrassed that you did not write one post that was critical of Trump during his rise to power in 2016.

Original Mike said...

I blame you, Mike.

Nonapod said...

Does Nonapod not get Mike's joke?

Yup

Darrell said...

and $85M in taxpayer funded vacations...

Some Canadian group said that the real cost of the Obama vacations is $1.3 billion, including security and reimbursements for local law enforcement, etc. And that didn't include the last Hawaiian vacation.

Oso Negro said...

@Once Written - She was too busy in the early days demonizing Ted Cruz.

PB said...

How does Michelle know they were loved? I think the transition will be hardest on her and she and Barack will go back to bickering as before.

Nonapod said...

As always, conveying tone in text sometimes seems like describing the color blue to a person who is blind from birth.

EDH said...

"Power, man. Power... Like Silkwood."

tim in vermont said...

Remember how she agonized over the how to vote most effectively to stop Trump in the primaries? I would find it for you if Ididn't get a laugh every time you make that nonsense statement.

As for Cardinal Cruz,I really hope he is gone from politics forever.

fivewheels said...

"We have a phenomenal staff. We live in a house with people who love us and care about us."

Normally, one would take a moment here to note that you also loved them back, or at least that the people were more than just worshipers or a nice feature of the house. But ...

rehajm said...

Making plumbing fixture choices for a new home the representative had preselected a trio of master shower fixtures- traditional shower head, large ceiling mounted rain head shower and a rail and handheld configuration. Discussion of the necessity ensues: I am assured men most prefer and call for the rain head. Women insist on the hand held configuration.

For some reason.

An opportunity to test drive all three I have concluded the rain head is no gimmic- very refreshing after a hot day. I tend to run a bit warm, anyways. I'd wager LBJ did, too, given all the impulsive stripping and all.

rightguy2 said...

Former democrat senator/TX Ralph Yarborough told a similar story about LBJ in Means of Ascent/Caro, describing Johnson as a "bankwalker". Apparently ole LBJ really was packing it.

Sebastian said...

"Sometimes must have to stand naked" Give that man a Nobel.

traditionalguy said...

Lyndon needed constant showers to feel clean from the filth of his lifestyle with whores, not to mention that damn spot of JFK's bloody brains on his hands.The 50,000 dead boys in Vietnam Nam never bothered him.

Levi Starks said...

LBJ was not a bashful man....

Mattman26 said...

"the perfect rain shower head for President Obama."

Boy, if that doesn't say it all.

Greg Hlatky said...

Trump would have to go a long way before he matched LBJ in the vulgarity department.

BudBrown said...

I wonder how much those plates are now.

Guildofcannonballs said...

https://fee.org/articles/your-shower-is-lame-you-dishwasher-doesn-t-work-and-your-clothes-are-dirty/

https://www.amazon.com/Savogran-10622-Trisodium-Phosphate-4-5lbs/dp/B000AXE7CY

Please use the Althouse portal for all your phosphate needs.

readering said...

I hope Donald and Melania change their minds and spend money to turn the White House into their home instead of a pied a terre.

alan markus said...

@ rightguy2: describing Johnson as a "bankwalker".

Thanks, you made me look that up.

A year from now Once Bitten, Twice... will be embarrassed to discover that he will never be considered a "bankwalker"

traditionalguy said...

The body , soul and spirit Trinity has to be born and live it's days in a body. But the mind part of the soul is the leader that directs the body. As for the spirit, we are in touch with that but are not in control unless we make a short term deal with the Devil.

LBJ wanted to control all three, and so he ended up as a thief and a murderer who destroyed much.



rhhardin said...

Maybe he's French and doesn't bathe at all.

walter said...

Yeah..a nice calming "rain shower"' after a vigorous workout with 3lb weights.
Any news on the new Obama abode? Will they be permanently bailing out of all things Chicago once the library is built? I mean..it can be a bit dangerous in that gun free zone. Rahmbo's kid was beat up pretty close to home.

damikesc said...

But Donald Trump could probably get Congress to pass a law making it legal, especially if he threatened not to move into the White House, at least not full time.

The irony is that the regulations don't actually help. At all.

Ann Althouse said...

@Mike Sylwester

LOL

Wilbur said...

Dylan lyrics (wistful sigh) ... is there anything they can't do?

robother said...

And those reporters went on to coin the term "johnson." Perhaps twenty years from now, young men will routinely refer to their Trumps.

tcrosse said...

So don't rule out solid gold shower heads.

Just the thing for those golden showers, eh Laslo ?

lemondog said...

I'm not sure exactly where Bob Dylan was picturing the President of the United States standing naked — literally or metaphorically....

Why not both.

Naked Trump..

Ford cancels plan for $1.6 billion plant in Mexico after Trump criticism

mockturtle said...

Loved this quote from Trump's reply to Tapper regarding how he would change the White House:

"No, I wouldn't. I would -- I do just want a place, honest, look it's this very special place. It's a very special building. I'm going to be working, I'm not going to be decorating."

Love his attitude.

Gk1 said...

With all of the libs casting about for a fainting couch 24/7 and all the hand wringing over Trumps vulgarity, I just have to laugh when I remember LBJ in office and how all that course talk, swagger and ego are all so perfectly legit when a democrat wields it.

PatHMV said...

On LBJ's first day serving as a Congressional staffer, he spent the entire morning in the communal showers used by most of the young, single staffers, solely to allow him to have casual conversations with all 30 or 40 of the new staffers. Each time, he acted as if he was coming into or leaving the shower area, and "just happened" to run into a new staffer. His ambition revealed itself very early on in li fe.

aritai said...

LBJ was a marvelous man, salt of the earth and salty. He had many of Mr. T. characteristics, but he was even more crude. He rose to president as many southern politicians of the day did. He started a teacher then football coach at one of the 1800 (or more) School districts Texas created to avoid desegregating. Something the Senate did as a gift to the Southern Senators. From teacher to football coach. To vice principal, because vice principals had to deal with physical punishment. From there to principal, from there to school board a launching point as the first elected position for more than half elected officials from the south, from there to president of the school board, from there to state legislature, from there to congressional representative from there to Senator, then as a compromise VP because of Mayor Daley's demand in return for rigging (real rigging as M. T. was objecting to) the Presidential election for JFK, as well as a sizeable amount of cash from Chicago gangland chiefs and old Joe himself. Ok, now LBJ is president, and is known by his catchphrase "Let us reason together" and whenever the person he was reasoning with was not agreeable yet, he'd invite them into the bathroom while he was taking a dump. For as long as it took for the other party to agree. Usually after prepping for the negotiation the night before with a couple of big bowls of Texas chili. Up until Mr. T. there's never been a deal maker of LBJ's quality in the oval office. Everyone else would pay with billion dollar favors to get LBJs support or knuckle under to LBJ's position. And he had no time for eggheads. Great fun, having a man that deals from the heart (as all coaches do) rather than the brain or his private parts, in that office again. One of the reason LBJ came to a bad end is he felt every death in Vietnam and try as he might he could “reason together his way out of it” and left office a broken man. A tragedy. The things we do to ourselves knowing they can only end badly. Which is also a mark of a great country. Somewhere between then and now with the party of stupid bullies calling the shots America lost it. Nixon was a fine man. Who if he’d had some of LBJ’s strengths he would have left tire tracks on Ms. C. back and the first attempt to demonize a whole party would have been stillborn.

RichardJohnson said...

GK1:
I just have to laugh when I remember LBJ in office and how all that course talk, swagger and ego are all so perfectly legit when a democrat wields it.

Agreed, but with an addition. Bobby Kennedy and friends absolutely hated LBJ, who returned the sentiment in spades. IIRC, the bad blood between the two began when Bobbie was a staffer for Joe McCarthy. [Liberals don't like to be reminded of that.]As a result, there was a fair amount of criticism of LBJ in the press, who could never measure up to the style set by Jack and Jackie. Following are some LBJ acts that got some criticism.

1) LBJ pulling his beagle [Him?] up by the ears.
2) LBJ pulling his shirt up to show the scar from his kidney [?] operation.
3) LBJ driving his Cadillac convertible at breakneck speeds around his ranch.
4) LBJ calling in people to talk to him when he was on the john.

I heard a LBJ-Bobbie story from my uncle, who was one of the commuters who took the train back and forth between home and Grand Central. One day when my uncle was entering Grand Central, he saw a limousine parked in front of Grand Central. LBJ and Bobbie were in the back of the limo. LBJ was wagging his finger at Bobbie, who was most likely not appreciative of the gesture.

tcrosse said...

Hey Hey LBJ
How many kids did you kill today ?

William said...

I hope Trump fixes the plumbing so that every time someone flushes the toilet, the shower doesn't turn scalding hot.

William said...

I read the Caro books. There was an incredible amount of sleaze surrounding LBJ that I had never heard of until I read his books. I think if Nixon had committed such sins we would have heard more about them, both at the time and afterwards. I think the only reason we know about how them now is because LBJ fell afoul of the liberals because of Vietnam........We are soon to enter into a golden age of investigative journalism.

RonF said...

Talk about LBJ and his sense of humor and attitude towards his body - Alan King had a story.

Alan King was an old-style Jewish comedian who started out in the Catskills and worked his way up to a Vegas headliner. I was watching one of his many appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when he told a story.

You may remember that President Johnson had an appendectomy during his Presidency. During a subsequent press conference he was asked if it had healed up well. LBJ proceeded to pull out his shirt, pull down (slightly) his pants and show off the scar. This was considered rather undignified and various news commentators, etc., were moved to comment. Alan King happened to be on the Tonight Show and Johnny asked him what he thought of the situation. King got a huge laugh when he said "Thank God it wasn't hemorroids!"

Fast forward to the episode of the Tonight Show that I watched. LBJ had died, and Johnny mentioned him. King related that he thought LBJ had a hell of a sense of humor. He related the above incident and then said that soon thereafter he got a letter from the White House. He said that he was taken aback and was quite worried - he thought the President of the United States was going to jump all over him. Then he opened the envelope. It turned out that there was no letter inside. There WAS, however, a Polaroid. Johnny said "You don't mean ...?" King replied "Swear to God!"

mockturtle said...

I also read the Caro books as well as several other bios of LBJ. Caro quite obviously didn't like the man. Other biographers, while acknowledging his many flaws, also saw his considerable charm. Like him or not, LBJ was an interesting personality. And Lady Bird was my favorite First Lady.

tcrosse said...

Ann, less than a year from now you will be embarrassed that you did not write one post critical of LBJ while he roasted in hell in 2016.

Michael K said...

"President Johnson had an appendectomy during his Presidency. "

It as a cholecystectomy (gallbladder) and one noteworthy aspect was that Johnson had a very well known surgeon from Mayo Clinic do the surgery instead of an army surgeon like the one who took seven hours to do Happy Rockefeller's mastectomy. Part f his showing off the scar was his pride in who did the surgery.

That was not the first presidential surgery done by famous surgeons but it was typical of Johnson to brag about it.

I heard a story by Isidor Ravdin who did Eisenhower's surgery for Crohn's Disease. Ike had been on a diet and had been eating celery at the political dinners he had to attend. He had been told to stay on a low residue diet because the the Crohn's which causes partial obstruction. When he was going into surgery, Mamie took Dr Ravdin aside and said, "I want to know if you find celery in there !" She was going to give Ike hell if that was the reason he had to have surgery.

Ravdin then said he went into the OR and Ike said, "Dr Ravdin, if you find celery in there, for god's sake don't tell Mamie !"

Ravdin said at surgery they found 3 feet of celery above the Crohn's stricture. He would never tell anyone if he told Mamie.

mockturtle said...

I can't imagine anyone eating celery on the sly.

Unknown said...

I mean, I guess at some point it's history, but I would not like to think of my doctor telling tales about my medical issues. When does doctor/patient confidentiality end?

tim in vermont said...

Funny about the "bankwalker" definition. I worked at a restaurant in college and we were all pretty good friends, and sometimes we would go skinny dipping at the reservoir, girls and guys, and there was the one guy who was, justifiably, proud of his endowment, and he used to insist on floating around in an inner tube, and it just occurred to me that it was to make sure it was always on display. He claimed it was because he was a lousy swimmer...

BudBrown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

When does doctor/patient confidentiality end?

When one is elected President.