By Arun Gupta (January 17, 2018)
Trump is a unique danger given everything from embracing neo-Nazis to threatening genocide, but his manners are in no way uniquely offensive for an American president.
That great American president loved by liberals, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who oversaw passage of the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, and implementation of the Great Society, makes Trump look like a neophyte in hurling racist slurs and insults. Here are some examples:
LBJ to the Greek ambassador: “Fuck your Parliament and your Constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant’s trunk, whacked good.”
LBJ after the Organization of American States protested the illegal U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965. “[The OAS] couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.”
LBJ about Vietnam: “Without superior air power America is a bound and throttled giant, impotent and easy prey to any yellow dwarf with a pocket knife.”
LBJ on Nixon: “Boy, I may not know much, but I know the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad.”
LBJ on underlings: “I want someone who will kiss my ass in Macy’s window and stand up and say, ‘Boy, wasn’t that sweet!'”
It’s well known Johnson would sit on the crapper while talking to aides, but biographer Robert Caro dug up an anecdote of LBJ pissing in his Senate office sink while dictating to a young female secretary. Johnson was notorious for groping and ogling female aides, he had long affairs with at least two women, “flings” with other female aides, and treated his wife, Lady Bird, like a servant. LBJ stole his 1948 Senate victory with manufactured votes, and him and Lady Bird came by their wealth through blatant graft and corruption.
There is so much more. Johnson would call his chauffeur, Robert Parker, “boy” or “nigger.” LBJ said of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, “Let’s face it. Our ass is in a crack. We’re gonna have to let this nigger bill pass.” When he nominated Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court, he told an aide, “Son, when I appoint a nigger to the court, I want everyone to know he’s a nigger.”
LBJ is not unique. Clinton, Nixon, Cheney were all world-class foul-mouths and racists, and Clinton is also a rapist. While I do admit to enjoying the shitshow about the Shithole-in-Chief — OK, only a little I’m not that interested in how Trump comports himself given his predecessors’ behavior. All that matters is his policies and provocations. No doubt, Trump insults like “Little Rocket Man” heighten the risk of war. But his policies of war games, sanctions, dispatching bombers and nukes and Special Forces to the Korean peninsula are the means of war. Not Twitter or Oval Office rants.
Everything else is Trump’s Live Reality TV show in which we are all imprisoned as audience members whether we like it or not. The one thing we can do is choose to direct our attention and energy elsewhere.