In the 1960’s, President Lyndon B. Johnson was under immense pressures. Not only was he thrust into the presidency after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but he was facing a war in Vietnam (that he felt obligated to dive into), which he helped turn into a horrendous loss pretty much any way you look at it.
At the same time, Johnson had a robust domestic policy he wanted to see enacted, which was being drowned out by Vietnam. And with everyone pretty much pissed off at him at every turn, it’s hard to fault Johnson for just wanting to be surrounded by some sycophants and yes men who wouldn’t always be on his case.
Johnson is famous for saying, “I want people around me who would kiss my ass on a hot summer’s day and say it smells like roses.” Which begs the question: when the president of the United States wants you to lay your lips on his sweaty buttcheeks, you do it, right? I have to admit, the very thought of being in a president’s inner circle is incredibly enticing, and I can already feel myself willing to do whatever it takes to get to that point. To be privy to immense national secrets, to have the president’s ear and to have the potential to enact actual change, and all it takes is kissing a powerful person’s ass and telling a little white lie about its scent? Sign me up, man.
On the other side of the coin, when you’re the president of the United States, with so much power bestowed upon you, the temptation to force an underling desperate for your approval to do something so utterly demeaning would be much too great. And when you make your desires known publicly, just imagine what you’re truly feeling inside. Johnson no doubt demanded some real, maybe even passionate, ass-smooching.
So with that in mind, I think it’s safe to say some people kissed Lyndon Johnson’s ass. Maybe during a Cabinet meeting. Maybe secretly and intimately in the Rose Garden. All we know for sure is that it was hot. It was sweaty. And in most cases, it was probably done for the good of the country. That’s something we should all honor and respect.