March 16, 2013

LBJ wanted to show up at the 1968 Democratic Convention and ask for the nomination.

Newly declassified tapes reveal. This plan arose during the convention, while the big "whole world is watching" protests raged.
[LBJ] planned to leave Texas and fly into Chicago. He would then enter the convention and announce he was putting his name forward as a candidate for a second term....

[Chicago Mayor Richard] Daley assured him enough delegates would support his nomination but the plan was shelved after the Secret Service warned the president they could not guarantee his safety.
Also at that link, LBJ "orders the Nixon campaign to be placed under FBI surveillance and demands to know if Nixon is personally involved" in some dealings involving Vietnam peace talks.

30 comments:

edutcher said...

Typical.

Those classy heroes of the antiwar movement.

And antiwar is only one kind of movement.

Andrew said...

Only the brain dead would believe we were on the verge of peace in 1968.

YoungHegelian said...

Once in office he escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia, with the loss of an additional 22,000 American lives, before finally settling for a peace agreement in 1973 that was within grasp in 1968.

This historical counterfactual is stated at the end of the article as if it was an obvious fact. It is not.

When the Paris Peace talks finally started under Nixon, they dragged on for years, with both sides haggling over minutiae. The North Vietnamese wanted reunification, and were willing to sacrifice millions of them own to get it. Their Chinese & Soviet suppliers were in it with them for the long haul. The NVA has admitted many times since that attrition & political exhaustion were two of their chief strategic weapons against the Americans.

The idea that the NV regime would have agreed to a Korea-like armistice that preserved the status quo ante in 1968 is wishful thinking bordering on errant nonsense.

ironrailsironweights said...

If Johnson had run for President in 1968, and won, he would have had the shortest post-presidency in history. He would have died one day after his successor would have been inaugurated.

Peter

cubanbob said...

If Johnson would have let the military kick the NVA's ass all the way to Hanoi after Tet he would have had serious peace talks. He didn't and thus blew the perfect military moment to have done so.

Ed and Andrew are spot on.

Revenant said...

The funny thing is that the Nixon administration was just the first one to get *caught* illegally monitoring the opposition.

But most people think he was uniquely crooked.

Jake said...

Uh oh. Robert Caro is going to have to write another book.

edutcher said...

"Once in office he escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia" because Charlie had been using those countries as sanctuaries for years.

That they still have to lie about it tells you even they know they were on the wrong side.

wyo sis said...

Oh that LBJ wasn't he the little dickin's?

Amexpat said...

Uh oh. Robert Caro is going to have to write another book.

Actually he's in the process of writing it now. The recent penultimate volume, "Passage of Power", ended in 1964 - before this incident. I hope he lives long enough to complete it.

William said...

The article is more revelatory of the BBC's biases than it is of Nixon's treason.....Hell of a thing, though, if a sitting American President could not attend his own party's convention because of security reasons. At any rate those who think we're on the verge of collapse should reflect that America has been in far more precarious predicaments.

Ann Althouse said...

"Hell of a thing, though, if a sitting American President could not attend his own party's convention because of security reasons."

Remember it was less than 3 months after Bobby Kennedy's assassination and less than 5 months after Martin Luther Kings assassination.

There were thousands of people in the convention and crazy riots going on outside. How is the President supposed to show up?

I agree it was a hell of a thing, but not because the Secret Service couldn't guarantee security. It was too insecure for that grandiose political stunt.

Ann Althouse said...

And it wasn't planned in advance. It was supposed to be a sudden surprise.

William said...

The two most unlikeable men to hold the Presidency in my lifetime were Johnson and Nixon. It's hard to measure gradations in these things, but I believe that the left actually directed more malice at Johnson. The left expected Nixon to behave like Nixon, but they felt that Johnson had betrayed the cause of being anti the anti-Communists. They interpreted going anywhere and paying any price to mean joining the Peace Corps and risking malaria, not joining the Marines.

Rob said...

It's difficult to imagine that Johnson was so cowardly that he would let the Secret Service's concerns prevent him from pursuing his plan, if he was really serious about wresting the nomination from Humphrey. My suspicion is that he wasn't willing to make the gesture unless he had a guarantee that it would work, and it was doubt on that score that kept him out of the fray.

St. George said...

Boy, read the Caro biographies of LBJ.

The guy was a total pathetic wreck when he was vice-president, moping around, openly talking about wanting to cut RFK's throat. (At the same time, RFK comes across as a creepy bully.)

And what a crook...The week before JFK was killed, Life Magazine (then a huge force in national journalism) ran the first part of a multi-part series on how LBJ had used his office to enrich himself to the tune of tens and tens of thousands of dollars. And more.

A closed-door hearing was being held on his corrupt practices in Congress the day JFK was killed.

Immediately thereafter, Life killed the rest of its series, and Congress cancelled its investigation.

For more fun, listen to historian Michael Beschloss's excerpts of LBJ's secret White House recordings. The most outrageous one is a conversation between LBJ and Georgia Senator Richard Russell, probably around 1964 or 1965. Russell had just returned from a fact-finding trip to Vietnam. LBJ asked him "What should we do?" Russell replies, "I have no idea. It's a total mess." LBJ then says, "I agree. I have no idea what to do or how to win. Let's continue escalating." Madness.

Kansas City said...

This is fascinating, but I am a bit skeptical, considering the source and the fact that they provided links to very short excerpts from the audio tapes. It is interesting that Johnson was the most powerful man in the world back then, recorded his words for posterity, and now hardly anyone cares. Helps to show how fleeting and fickle history/focus can be.

Rob sounds right in expressing skepticism that vague security concerns would prevent Johnson from going if he was serious about it. More likely he was not serious or he did not think he would win.

There also was some recent publicity about a young aid reporting that Johnson had decided not to run even prior to his state of the union address. I am skeptical of that as well. Sounded more like identifying options.

Kansas City said...

I read the first Caro book and thought it was excellent. Are the next two good as well? Have his "facts" held up, particularly with the audio tapes coming out (although I guess he has not yet published on that period of time).

kentuckyliz said...

Sounds like he hadn't mastered community organizing and sneer.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

Hell of a thing, though, if a sitting American President could not attend his own party's convention because of security reasons.

Remember it was less than 3 months after Bobby Kennedy's assassination and less than 5 months after Martin Luther Kings assassination.

There were thousands of people in the convention and crazy riots going on outside. How is the President supposed to show up?

I agree it was a hell of a thing, but not because the Secret Service couldn't guarantee security. It was too insecure for that grandiose political stunt.


All because of those proponents of peace and love, the hippies.

Douglas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim maguire said...

We like to talk about having the worst political class ever, and in terms of ineffectual weakness, that's probably right. But for pure thuggish criminality, the Obama crowd's got nothing on Johnson and Nixon.

It might be amusing to check out The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Christopher Hitchen's (well supported) Vietnam thesis is that peace was in hand in 1968 and Nixon undermined the deal to help his election campaign. That the final peace treaty in 1973 looked very much like the one the South Vietnamese walked away from in 1968 serves as cause enough to blame Nixon for most of the deaths that happened under his watch along with such collateral effects as the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge.

(When I couldn't come up with Hitchen's name, I Googled "dead bombastic writer" and one of his Vanity Fair articles was the first real hit.)

David Davenport said...

"Once in office he escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia" because Charlie had been using those countries as sanctuaries for years.

That they still have to lie about it tells you even they know they were on the wrong side.


Parts of the Ho Chi Minh trail went through Laos and Camodia to South Viet Nam.

Ho Vhi Minh trail maps:


Christopher Hitchen's (well supported) Vietnam thesis

Please show us some support for your assertion of Hitchen's well suported-ness.

David Davenport said...

... a conversation between LBJ and Georgia Senator Richard Russell, probably around 1964 or 1965. Russell had just returned from a fact-finding trip to Vietnam. LBJ asked him "What should we do?" Russell replies, "I have no idea. It's a total mess."

So what what of Sen. Russell said that? Russell was no expert on Southeast Asia or on miltary matters. LBJ had several generals and Sate Dept. people tell him the war was winnable.

Neither did the advice of these experts prove that the war was a good idea or winnable. My point is that Lyndon johnson got lots of different advice about Viet Nam. Merely somebody's opinion does not prove or disprove anything about the ultimate win-ability of that war.

LBJ then says, "I agree. I have no idea what to do or how to win. Let's continue escalating."

LBJ may indeed have had no idea about what to do. But Johnson's lack of an idea does not prove that the war could not be won.

David Davenport said...

I suppose all you old hippies endorse this other opinion Democrat Senator Richard Russell held in 1964:

June 10 1964 Civil Rights Filibuster Ended


1964-Present
June 10, 1964
Civil Rights Filibuster Ended

At 9:51 on the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Robert C. Byrd completed an address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier. The subject was the pending Civil Rights Act of 1964, a measure that occupied the Senate for 60 working days, including seven Saturdays. A day earlier, Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey, the bill's manager, concluded he had the 67 votes required at that time to end the debate.

The Civil Rights Act provided protection of voting rights; banned discrimination in public facilities—including private businesses offering public services—such as lunch counters, hotels, and theaters; and established equal employment opportunity as the law of the land.

As Senator Byrd took his seat, House members, former senators, and others—150 of them—vied for limited standing space at the back of the chamber. With all gallery seats taken, hundreds waited outside in hopelessly extended lines.
Georgia Democrat Richard Russell offered the final arguments in opposition. Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, who had enlisted the Republican votes that made cloture a realistic option, spoke for the proponents with his customary eloquence. Noting that the day marked the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's nomination to a second term, the Illinois Republican proclaimed, in the words of Victor Hugo, "Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come." He continued, "The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing in government, in education, and in employment. It will not be stayed or denied. It is here!" ...

rcocean said...

LBJ would never gotten re-elected, most people outside the South, hated him. He managed in 4 years to alienate almost everyone except blue-dog democrats, and people who loved war AND welfare. Young people thought he was weird ugly old man, Liberal thought he was a war-monger, Conservatives thought he was big-spending social liberal, Hawks thought he was an incompetent who couldn't win the war. Blacks thought he was closet racist, Rednecks thought he was turncoat. Everyone knew he was a liar and unlikable egomaniac.

Methadras said...

LBJ was a scumbag. Fuck him and his legacy of indentured poverty.

David said...

I love how the BBC turns this into a hit piece on Nixon. Suffice to say that if there had been any real evidence that Nixon scuttled the Paris "peace process" it would have been used by the Democrats.

The idea that Nixon escalated the war is also incorrect. He certainly did not withdraw, which some would have liked, but he cut American troops and American casualties quickly.

Plus Johnson was just blowing smoke, as he often did. There was no way his plan to reenter the fray for the nomination would have succeeded. You can bet that Daley told him that, no matter what Johnson told people Daley had said.

LBJ arrives in Chicago in 1968 and the whole country would have gone up for grabs. You can count on it.

RecChief said...

a president acting like a tin pot dictator by using the FBI to spy on a political rival? do tell

RecChief said...

a president acting like a tin pot dictator by using the FBI to spy on a political rival? do tell