Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks to the White House Telephone Operators

November 13, 1968

I wanted to come over here some time before we left and tell you what has been in my heart ever since I came here and even before I came. There are so many wonderful things about this job of being the President. You just hear about the bad ones. You never hear really about all the good things that go with it.

We live in the house where we work. We don't have the problem you have of fighting the transportation and the traffic, and getting home through the snow, and things of that kind. We have someone to make all of our meals. You have to fix yours. I can go take a nap every afternoon. All of you have to work, and so on and so forth.

And I could just relate I have a nice swimming pool right at the edge of my door. All of you don't have that blessing. And there are just lots of things, but I think the nicest thing about the White House are the White House operators.

I have had a great many periods of sunshine and happiness while I have been President; most of them have been that way. Then I have had some moments of sorrow. There has been a difference, but I have never seen much difference in the White House operators. They are the same all the time, cheerful, competent, extremely loyal; I say that in the highest sense of the word--loyal to their country first, and to their President second, and themselves way down along the line.

Your greatest champions here, I guess, have been Mr. Watson and Mr. Hopkins, but I have tried to be too. I have worked to get a pay increase for each of you every year and to kind of make it a standard operating procedure. We have tried to make the working conditions a little bit better.

I am sure that I haven't told you as often as I would like, really how much we care about you, but we do, because you care so much about this country and the man who has the responsibility of running it.

So, when we leave, we won't be calling you every morning, but we will still retain our connection with you. If you took a vote in our house, you would be surprised how many votes you have. Our two boys are gone, but that would leave six of us, two daughters and Mrs. Johnson and myself and then Lyn and Lucinda. And you would now get five solid votes, Mrs. Johnson and me and Luci, who is very fond of all of you, and Lynda and Lyn--he does more business with you than anybody. And I want to thank you for being so nice to him. When he grows up I don't know whether he will be operating a switchboard or be a mechanic, but he is going to be one or the other, because he loves the telephone. And how you can endure him, I don't know.

But all day long I hear the operators saying "Hello, there, Lyn," holding down three numbers with the telephone ringing. So, I want to thank you for that too.

When we talk to the British Prime Minister or when we go across the Pacific to Vietnam, you always give the same kind of competence.

And I think that if I could have my wish as I leave government, after 38 years, the thing I would like to have more than any other thing is to have the people who have worked with me feel that I had been as competent and I had tried as hard, and that I had been as efficient and loyal as the White House operators have been.

So, that is the way I feel about you. And that is the way Mrs. Johnson, Lynda, Luci, and Lyn feel. Now, Lucinda is not making judgments yet; when she grows up I am going to teach her that.

I heard an old fellow making a speech-who had a speech quoted one time when my father was in the legislature and I had not discovered America, I was about Lyn's age-this fellow said, "I am going to teach my children to love my friends and hate my enemies." And I have often thought of that political statement. I never teach my children to hate anyone. I don't want them to hate anybody. I think it is a disease when you hate. But I do teach them to love. I don't need to teach Lyn; he has already learned to love you and you love him. I want to teach Lucinda, too.

And wherever we are, the Johnsons are going to have a very warm spot in their hearts for what we think is the real nucleus of this operation, the mainspring of the Presidency, where every call comes and where every call leaves. I don't know who selected you; I don't know what kind of standards they use, but at the end of 8 years as Vice President and President I can't think of a single thing that I could criticize about the White House operators, not even the way they dress.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:50 p.m. in the Telephone Room at the White House. During his remarks he referred to W. Marvin Watson, Postmaster General and former Special Assistant to the President, William J. Hopkins, Executive Assistant, the President's sons-in-law, Maj. Charles S. Robb, USMC, and AIC. Patrick J. Nugent, both serving in Vietnam, his grandchildren, Patrick Lyndon Nugent and Lucinda Desha Robb, and his daughters, Luci Baines Nugent and Lynda Bird Robb.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks to the White House Telephone Operators Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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