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Presidential Potty Training

For The Madera Tribune

Lyndon B. Johnson.


In 1931 a 23 year-old schoolteacher from Texas came to Washington, D.C. for the first time. He was there to serve as an aide to a newly elected Congressman. Along with 75 other congressional aides he moved into the Dodge Hotel, and that’s how the political career of one of America’s most efficient political manipulators began — in the hotel bathroom!

When the young aide arrived at the hotel, he discovered that everyone on his floor had to use one bathroom at the end of the hall. Then and there he began to formulate a plan of action. He would learn the ways of Congress in the lavatory.

When the young man went to take a shower that first night, he introduced himself to others using the bathroom at the time. Then he came back an hour later to take another shower, introducing himself to another set of people. All in all, he took four showers that night and met scores of other congressional aides, most of whom possessed a great deal of knowledge about the inner workings of Congress.

The next morning the newcomer went into the bathroom five different times to brush his teeth, and while doing so, he shot questions to everyone he met. In a matter of days he had gained enough information and influence to be elected president of the “Little Congress,” a group of congressional aides who were interested in building a future in politics.

The young aide was soon demonstrating the unflagging energy that would help him master the ways of Congress and Washington. His multiple trips to the bathroom during his first week in the Capital had set him on a course that would lead him to become a congressman, a senator, and more than thirty years later, President of the United States.

You see, that young school teacher-turned politician was none other than Lyndon Baines Johnson, the most skillful parliamentarian ever to hold a seat in the United States Senate. In a crafty twist in time, this future President used the lavatory as a political laboratory for gathering information and then turned it to his best advantage. One might even go so far as to say that President Johnson’s political success was inextricably tied to his toilet training.

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