March 12th, 2014 | History | Posted by Stephen Losey
We’ve all been chewed out by our bosses at one time or another, but I’d wager none of us have ever been on the receiving end of a profane tirade from the President of the United States over pricey maternity furniture.
That’s exactly what Air Force Gen. Godfrey McHugh got from President Kennedy on July 25, 1963. The Washington Post had just reported that Otis Air Force Base spent $5,000 — or $40,000 in today’s dollars — to refurbish a room into a maternity suite for the very pregnant Jackie Kennedy. President Kennedy was not happy, as you can hear in the video below (which contains NSFW language including an f-bomb, if you or your co-workers are sensitive to that sort of thing).
While giving the general an earful about the waste of taxpayer money and telling him he just doomed the Air Force to budget cuts, the supremely pissed-off Kennedy expresses particular ire for an unnamed Air Force official photographed in the spruced-up room. Kennedy calls him a “silly bastard” three times, and in a withering put-down, said, “I wouldn’t have him running a cathouse.”
A Scottish filmmaker named Scott Calonico has made a short documentary, called “The Silly Bastard Next to the Bed,” about the dustup, which he dubs “one of the funniest calls ever made from the Oval Office.” He’s trying to raise $1,500 on Indiegogo to help premiere it at film festivals in the United States, such as the Full Frame Film Festival in Durham, N.C., next month. Donations will go to pay for posters, buttons, shipping, handling and other expenses, Calonico said.
Calonico’s documentary promises to unveil the identity of the true “silly bastard” that so irked JFK. And Calonico says it’s not Bill Dupuy, who was an Air Force second lieutenant at the time and has previously identified himself as the subject of Kennedy’s wrath. (Dupuy was the assistant to the real silly bastard, Calonico claims.)
Some things will never change when it comes to military spending. We could use a lot more of these kinds of phone calls.