From Hamilton to Beto, Politicians Who Shared a Little More Than We Wanted to Know

A brief (and boxers) history of political oversharing.

U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson displays the incision from his gall bladder surgery and kidney stone removal at a news conference at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Washington Oct. 20, 1965.

President Lyndon Johnson displays the incision from his gallbladder surgery in October 1965.AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi

Before Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her Instant Pot became social media sensations, a few American politicians had dared to share personal tidbits they hoped might endear them to the public. An incomplete history of political oversharing:

1797: Responding to rumors of corruption, ex-Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton publishes a tell-all pamphlet detailing his “amorous connection” with another man’s wife.

An artist’s interpretation of Alexander Hamilton getting ready to dish

Buyenlarge/Getty Images

1906: Secretary of War William Taft announces that he wants to get his weight down to 250 pounds. After three months of dieting, he reports losing 20 pounds, thanks to low-fat fare and “some exercises that make me look ridiculous.”

1942: While running for governor of California, Earl Warren grudgingly agrees to try to soften his image by publishing a photo of his family. He wins but fires his political consultants.

1952: In response to allegations of political payoffs, VP candidate Richard Nixon gives a lengthy speech about his finances and campaign gifts he’s received—including his family’s dog, Checkers.

Richard Nixon with his cocker spaniel, Checkers, in 1952.

Bettmann/Getty Images

1965: Following gallbladder surgery, President Lyndon Johnson lifts his shirt to show off his 12-inch-long scar.

1976: Presidential hopeful Jimmy Carter confesses to Playboy, “I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.”

1994: Asked about his underwear preference by a 17-year-old girl at an MTV forum, President Bill Clinton replies, “Usually briefs.”

2000: Onstage at the Democratic National Convention, Al and Tipper Gore break with tradition by displaying unbridled marital affection with, as the New York Times put it, “a full-mouthed kiss that lasted a [sic] exceptionally long time”—three seconds.

Al and Tipper Gore kiss at the the Democratic National Convention in August 2000.

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

2016: During a Republican presidential debate, Donald Trump re­assures America that his penis is not unusually small: “I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”

2017: Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, a candidate for governor, makes an unprompted disclosure on Facebook: “In the last fifty years I was sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females.”

2018: Responding to Trump’s claim that she lied about her ancestry, Sen. Elizabeth Warren reveals the results of a DNA test, which suggests she had a Native American ancestor at least six generations ago.

2019: While interviewing his dental hygienist on Instagram, Beto O’Rourke shares his teeth cleaning with the world.

Donald Trump in 2016: “He referred to my hands—if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem.”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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