Cato, Lyndon Johnson, and the ancient art of toilet politics
Living in the 1st century BC Cato the Younger was a popular Roman senator and statesman known for his unyielding personality, iron will, and strict adherence to traditional Roman virtues and stoic philosophy. A lion of the Senate, he was the rival of such powerful figures such as Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great. In 58 BC Cato held audience with Ptolemy XII, the King of Egypt. Egypt was in chaos due to infighting over the throne and a rebellion among its citizens. The Ptolemy’s were Macedonian descendants of Ptolemy Soter, a general who served under Alexander the Great and inherited Egypt after Alexander’s death. The Romans looked down upon the Ptolemy’s, viewing them as fat, lazy, ugly, over privileged slobs whose incestuous relationships were slowly destroying the Ptolemaic line. Cato was especially critical of the Ptolemy’s, who offended his stoic lifestyle in values. Upon news of Ptolemy XII arrival, Cato took a dose of a laxative, and stipulated that he would only hold audience with Ptolemy if the business was to be conducted in Cato’s private lavatory while he was on the toilet. Negotiations between Cato and Ptolemy were conducted whilst Cato produced a number of loud, smelly bowel movements. One could only imagine poor Ptolemy, stating his case but periodically being interrupted by a noisy fart here and there. Cato’s contempt for Ptolemy was clear, he was a worthless as shit as far as Cato was concerned.
More than two thousand years later another great politician was known for using similar tactics. United States President Lyndon B. Johnson was, like Cato, known for his staunch, uncompromising, and unyielding personality. Contemporary politicians often described “The Johnson Treatment”, where he would invade a person’s personal space while talking one on one, using subtle and not so subtle intimation to manipulate people. He gave his penis the nickname, “jumbo” and when people questioned the size of his jumbo he wouldn’t hesitate to whip out his jumbo as proof. In one incident at a cabinet meeting when one of his secretaries questioned why America was becoming involved in Vietnam, LBJ immediately grabbed his jumbo and shouted, “this is why.”
Taking a cue from Cato, LBJ often held meetings and official business while on the toilet. It was reported that he wasn’t bashful about it at all, often holding his genitals, urinating in the sink, and sitting on the toilet in plain view of politicians and government officials. Many excused this practice by explaining that he was short on time, however most contemporaries believed that, like Cato, he was putting his rivals in a state of dis-ease in order to control the conversation and manipulate people. For example; National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy would stand in the farthest corner of the bathroom with his back turned to the President. Johnson, however, would beckon Bundy to come closer, especially when he had some serious points to make. Johnson remarked,
“I thought he was going to sit on my lap! Hasn’t that guy ever been in the Army?”
Awww does someone want to come round, bring me a nice ribena, pass me my How To Train Your Dragon dvd and then… Like, play with my hair or something? I ate loads of pasta, walking across the room is going to be painful xD