KC Johnson

Personal Issues Tapes

lynda bird.

President Johnson: Let me talk to Luci.

Lynda Bird Johnson: She’s not here, Daddy.

President Johnson: You don’t mean she’s out with a man?

Lynda Bird Johnson: Well, it’s one of her friends, Daddy.

President Johnson: My goodness, why, that girl—I don’t know where she’s—

Lynda Bird Johnson: [Unclear.]

President Johnson: OK, good night. Let me talk to Mama.

Lynda Bird Johnson: OK, here she is. You know you’re loved, now, and I’ll see you tomorrow. Sleep late and take care of yourself. Here’s Mama.

Lady Bird Johnson: Darling?

President Johnson: This little Mary Pakenham writes some mean stories in the Tribune. Do you know her?

Lady Bird Johnson: Why, yes. I know her. [Lady Bird then moves onto another topic, before Lynda returns to the line to tell the President about an acquaintance diagnosed with high blood pressure. The President appears to ignore the story and instead returns to the Packenham article, which hadn’t even been mentioned in his conversation with his daughter.]

President Johnson: Here’s what this girl says about you: “As the 19-car lady Bird Special clips down the tracks, campaign songs blaring forth, there are, too, 30 minutes of furious speechmaking. Lynda Bird Johnson, today singing ‘Hello, Lyndon,’ in her off-key, girlish soprano.”

Lynda Bird Johnson: Well, so what, Daddy? That’ll just get me the sympathy vote of all those people who can’t sing on-key.

President Johnson: You mean, you’ll get the sympathy vote of all the people who can’t sing on-key, huh?

Lynda Bird Johnson: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t think I sing off-key. But after all, if you’d been signing for as many hours as I have, I’m sure I’ve done it quite a few times off-key, and I don’t feel worried about it a bit.

President Johnson: Why don’t you learn to sing on-key? Take some lessons.

Lynda Bird Johnson: Well, in the first place, I haven’t been signing very much. [Unclear.] It’s better for her to say that than to say I—

President Johnson: She [Pakenham] says, “Helicopters circled over the train, patrol cars following, troopers armed with rifles at each stop are a reminder that the candidate himself, the President, is not popular in the South. Goldwater boosters are everywhere.”

Lynda Bird Johnson: Oh, well, Daddy, she’s just talking. If we didn’t have anybody ever looking after us, she’d say that we were just begging to get hurt. After all, Daddy, it adds up to—

President Johnson: How many people did you have in Charleston tonight?

Lynda Bird Johnson: Uh . . . [asks in the room] Someone said about 20,000. It was a good crowd.

President Johnson: It was?

Lynda Bird Johnson: We’ve had good crowds—

President Johnson: How many hecklers? How many hecklers did you have?

Lynda Bird Johnson: Oh, I don’t know—40 or 50.


Nixon and White House aides John Ehrlichman and Bob Haldeman, discussing an All in the Family episode the President had considered to be pro-gay.

Bob Haldeman: That’s a regular show. It’s on every week. And usually it’s just set in the guy’s home. It’s usually just that guy, who’s a hardhat.

President Nixon: That’s right; he’s the hardhat.

Haldeman:  And he always just looks like a slob.

President Nixon: He looks like [the comedian] Jackie Gleason . . . Arch is the guy’s name. But the point is, you can’t imagine—for example, Arch is sitting here in his sloppy clothes, and here’s his hippie son-in-law, who’s married to a screwball-looking daughter, and you know . . .

Arch is sitting, and they said, well, Freddie or somebody is coming home or John is coming home. “Oh, you can’t let him,” Arch said. “I mean, you can’t let him come in here—he’s queer.” [unclear] “He’s a flower.” And the hippie son-in-law says, “Nah, he really isn’t.” I think the son-in-law, who apparently goes both ways, despite the daughter and the rest, so .. .


President Nixon: It [a TV show with such a theme] outrages me because I don’t want to see this country go that way.

John Ehrlichman: Well, you know there are—

President Nixon:  Look at other countries . . . You ever see what happened—you know what happened to the Greeks. Homosexuality destroyed ‘em. Sure, Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates.

Ehrlichman:  But he never had the influence that television had . . .

President Nixon:  And let’s look at the strong societies—the Russians. Goddamn it, they root ‘em out, they don’t let ‘em around at all. You know what I mean? I don’t know what they do with them.

Ehrlichman:  Yeah.

President Nixon:  Dope? Do you think the Russians allow dope? Hell, no! Not if they can catch it. They send ‘em up.

You see, homosexuality, dope, immorality in general: these are the enemies of strong societies. That’s why the Communists and the left-wingers are pushing the stuff.

Ehrlichman: Sure.

President Nixon:  They’re trying to destroy us.

[Break; the trio discusses what professions are appropriate for gays.]

President Nixon: Decorators. They’ve got to do something, the rest. But goddamn it, we don’t have to glorify it.

Ehrlichman: That’s right.

President Nixon: Isn’t that what it gets down to?

Ehrlichman: Yeah.

Haldeman: That’s—yeah—

President Nixon: Fashions! You know one of the reasons that fashions have made women look so terrible is because the goddamned designers hate women. Now that’s the truth. You watch.

Now, there might be getting around now—you know, some of those, they have the flat-chested thing, those horrible-looking styles they run. That was really the designers taking it out on women. I’m sure of that! And finally the women wouldn’t buy it, and now they’re trying to get in some more sexy things coming on again.

Ehrlichman:  Hot pants.

President Nixon:  Jesus Christ. [They all laugh.]

President Nixon and Patricia Nixon, 13 March 1972

President Nixon: Hello.

Mrs. Nixon: Yeah, hi there.

President Nixon: I wanted to be sure you knew that we called Connie’s office; and I told her that, and we announced that that we announced today that the pandas would go to the Washington—

Mrs. Nixon: Yeah, I got the word.

President Nixon: space. And I think it’s fine, everybody was pleased with it and, uh—

Mrs. Nixon: Yeah.

President Nixon: —the weather’s good here, it’s not quite as cold as it probably oughta- it-it could be, but they can live in this kind of weather.

And so, it’s a good story and we said that you and I had both, that we had decided it should come here.

One thought that we’d thought is a very good one—when they get here, we don’t know when it is but around the first of April, if you’re here, it’d be awfully nice if you go out, ya know—

Mrs. Nixon: Oh, Yeah. I’d like to—

President Nixon: Well, to see whether they are in the same kind of habitat, basically, and, you know, and . . . it’ll be a—it’s gonna be a hell of a story.

Mrs. Nixon: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: When I swore in Malvina [sic] Whitman today, ya’ know, the new member of the Council of Economic Advisors, I—her two children were here and my, they were bug eyed. And I told ‘em about the pandas, they all want to go out and see the pandas. I said, “Well, they’ll be out on April first.”

So that’s a big story.

Mrs. Nixon: Yeah.

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