The President’s Pants

From 1940 until 1973, the six men who held the office of President of the United States — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Richard Nixon — secretly recorded various telephone conversations and meetings they participated in.   The most famous of these recordings, the Watergate tapes, led to an end to the recordings and of Nixon’s presidency.  On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon would resign the office of the President in part due to the content of one of the tapes.

Ten years earlier, to the day, LBJ had made his own tape — much less controversial in content.  He was ordering pants.

LBJ took to the phone, calling Joe Haggar of the Haggar Clothing company.  Calling the pants he previously received from the company “the best that I’ve had anywhere in the United States,” the President ordered six more pairs, for summer wear.  The only problem, as the President noted on the call, is that his weight varied “10 to 15 pounds a month,” so the specifications and measurements of the old pairs were no longer appropriate.

The content of the call is not all that interesting — the President needs new pants, basically — but it is a rare glimpse into the personality of a president.  LBJ was, let’s say, informal and to the point, using terms such as “bunghole,” referring to his “crotch” as “down where your nuts hang,” and at one point, audibly burping into the phone.

One can listen to the recording here.


Bonus fact: LBJ’s favorite soft drink?  Fresca.  He liked it so much, he had a special button built into his desk at the Oval Office, which when pressed, signaled to an aide to bring him one.

From the Archives: Mayor, Mock Us: Another leader with pants-related antics.

Related reading: “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream,” the source of the bonus fact above, authored by Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Four stars on 36 reviews.  Also: You can buy Fresca on Amazon, but as of this writing, it’s going to cost you a ton — $49.99 for a six-pack of two liter bottles.  (In case the price changes in the interim, check out the reviews, showing a price near $80.)