johnson treatment

The Johnson Treatment employed a number of tactics to suit the target, and Jumbo (that’s what he called it) was one of the tools at lbj’s disposal

George, you and I shouldn’t be talking about 1964, we should be talking about 1984. We’ll both be dead and gone then. Now, you got a lot of poor people down there in Alabama, a lot of ignorant people. A lot of people need jobs, a lot of people need a future. You could do a lot for them, George. Your President will help you. Now, in 1984, George, what do you want left behind? Do you want a great big marble monument that says, ‘George Wallace: He Built’? Or do you want a little piece of scrawny pine board lying across that harsh, caliche soil that reads, 'George Wallace: He Hated’?

President Lyndon B. Johnson, imploring Alabama’s segregationist Governor George Wallace to help protect Civil Rights activists led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who planned to finish the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights which was originally interrupted by violence from law enforcement and white citizens against the non-violent protesters on Bloody Sunday in Selma.

Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, who was in the Oval Office during the meeting between President Johnson and Governor Wallace and witnessed LBJ used his famed Johnson Treatment" against the staunch opponent of civil rights later said, “That was the most amazing conversation I’ve ever been present at.”


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?”


The Johnson “Treatment”

Standing at 6 feet 4 inches tall, President Lyndon Baines Johnson used his imposing stature as one tool in his own brand of political persuasion, known as the Johnson “treatment.” LBJ used his “treatment,” shown in the photograph above, to intimidate, badger, flatter, or plead in order to achieve his political goals. 

President Johnson and Louis Martin at the reception for Democratic National Committee Delegates, April 20, 1966

(via the “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” eGuide)

This photo  is among the featured items at the “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures“ exhibit now on display at the National Archives Museum.

During the recent #Signatures tweetup for the "Making their Mark” exhibit, we coaxed exhibit curator Jennifer Johnson ® and designer Amanda Perez (l) into re-enacting the scene.  It was a little tricky for everyone to keep a straight face, but they were great sports!

bonnieblue85  asked:

I saw you mention Strom Thurmond. Didn't he have an illegitimate child? Why was he such a damned hypocrite? Also did LBJ ever give him the Johnson Treatment, and if so, is there any way I can watch or listen to it so I can hear my number one man give Strom hell?

Strom Thurmond did have an illegitimate child. I have no idea why he was a hypocrite.

I’m sure LBJ gave most people the Johnson Treatment at some point. There is only phone conversation in the archives between President Johnson and Senator Thurmond. It’s pretty short and uneventful, though. 

I should put together a list of links to the best “Johnson Treatment” calls in the archives of the LBJ Library and the Miller Center, so that everyone can listen to what that sounded like.