August 3, 2012

A presidential hypothetical.

Meade and I had what was to me a fascinating conversation yesterday, passing the mental time while we rode a 20-mile bike trail, so I thought you might enjoy batting this around in the comments.

Assume JFK was not assassinated. Now, beginning with the 1964 election and continuing up to 2012, name the candidates for President and Vice President in both parties and who would have won. Fill in with reasons why this happened.

I'll reveal our answers, which is mostly Meade's, after you have some time to talk about it, uninfluenced by us.

UPDATE: In 1964, JFK is reelected, with LBJ as VP. The GOP does not yet do its big shift to conservatism, and its defeated candidate is Nelson Rockefeller (whose VP choice is William Scranton). Barry Goldwater rises up in 1968, and he is successful, defeating LBJ (who has Hubert Humphrey as his VP). Goldwater's VP is William Miller (as it was, in actual history, in 1964), and Goldwater is an immensely successful President, winning the war in Vietnam, leaving civil rights issues to the states (and in the process preserving federalism values, to be used to excellent effect in succeeding years), and foreseeing and avoiding the problems of dependency on imported oil. Goldwater is reelected in 1972, defeating Hubert Humphrey (who has Scoop Jackson as his VP).

In 1976, Bobby Kennedy is the Democratic nominee (with Walter Mondale as VP), and he wins, defeating William Miller (who has Bob Dole as his VP). Bobby gets health-care reform, called "Bobbycare." But Bobbycare goes too far, and RFK goes down in 1980, crushed by Ronald Reagan (whose VP is George H.W. Bush). Reagan is reelected in 1984, defeating Walter Mondale (who has Geraldine Ferraro as his VP).

In 1988, it's Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen against George H.W. Bush and Jack Kemp, and — no big surprise — Bush and Kemp win. But they're in for only one term. Blamed for the economy — stupid! — they lose, in 1992, to Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Clinton and Gore are reelected in 1992 (facing Jack Kemp and his VP choice Tommy Thompson).

In 2000, it's Gore (with Lieberman) against George W. Bush (with Cheney), and Bush wins. In 2004, John Kerry (with John Edwards) lose to Bush and Cheney. In 2008, it's John Edwards against Mitt Romney, and Mitt Romney wins. (We won't worry about their VPs right now.) Challenged by Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney is reelected in 2012. And we don't get our first woman President. But the Romney terms come to a close. Now it's 2012, and Hillary goes for it again, only to be defeated in the primaries by another "first," the possible first black President, this fascinating upstart with the funny name Barack Hussein Obama. (But America, having avoided dependence on foreign oil, thanks to Barry Goldwater, never got dragged into crazy interactions with those Middle East countries, and there was never a 9/11 terrorist attack or an Iraq war, or any of those things that would make "Hussein" seem truly odd.)

Speaking of firsts, there's a first coming up on the GOP side, a woman! It's the hyper-competent and stunningly beautiful Sarah Palin. With 8 years as Governor of Alaska, her executive experience and record of accomplishment wow America. (She was term-limited in 2014, and spent the next 2 years running for President.) And so in 2016, we have our big first, the first woman President: Sarah Palin!


Guildofcannonballs said...

Actually JFK started a nuclear war, drugged up, and there were no more presidents, or USA, or Earth as we knew (know) it, after JFK's election in 1964.

Interestingly enough, he fired LBJ and ran with his brother as V.P. in the historic 1964 election.

mikee said...

1964 Goldwater/Nixon
1968 Goldwater/Nixon
1972 Nixon/Agnew
1976 Carter/Mondale
1980 Reagan/Bush
1984 Reagan/Bush
1988 Bush/Quayle

I believe history is fairly self-correcting.

Goldwater might have finished Vietnam in 1967 or so, leaving Hanoi a radioactive crater and the Brezhnev Doctrine stillborn, but otherwise the world continues to turn and the sun comes up every morning.

Nixon anywhere near the presidency was a doomed venture, as was Carter.

Reagan anywhere near the presidency was a sure success. And so the Soviet Union falls around the same time, and we find ourselves right about where we are now.

gerry said...

National Lampoon already did this.

Kennedy adopted the nickname "The Skipper", led and won a campaign to repeal the 22nd Amendment with ratification with lightning speed, and created a governance cult. He was never defeated, and "served" five or ten terms.

Haiku Guy said...

1964 Kennedy/Johnson wins over Nixon/Goldwater. The Kennedy tax cuts would have led to strong economic performance, leading to a Democrat re-election. Nixon, having come so close in 1960, would have been given another chance, but come up short. Goldwater would have been the ideological heart of the ticket.

1968 - Johnson/RFKennedy defeats George Romney/Reagan. The Vietnam War would not have been such a train wreck, and continued strong economic performance would have led to a continuation of Democrat dominance. Romney would have won the Republican nomination based on a populist appeal, and Reagan would be the intellectual heart of the Republican party.

1972 Reagan/Rockerfeller defeats Johnson/RFKennedy - The explosion of government and the sudden Vietnam collapse under Johnson/RFK would leave the door open for a geographically balanced Reagan/Rockerfeller ticket. Nixon, having had two chances, is retired.

1976 Reagan/Rockerfeller defeats Ted Kennedy/Scoop Jackson. The Democrats try to return to the Kennedy well one too many times, and the Great Communicator smokes 'em. The Soviet Union falls early, and the Islamic Revolution in Iran never happens. The Democrats maintain their control of the South.

1980 Mo Udall/George Wallace defeat Bob Dole/John Anderson. The Democrat Southern Strategy brings this political odd couple to the White House. Dole and Anderson never click, and Anderson's lack of discipline on taxes cost the Republicans a winnable election.

Fprawl said...

1964 JFK Abraham Ribicoff VP JFK wouldn’t overdo it in Vietnam, Ribicoff placeholder for Ted
1968 Ted Kennedy (With Vietnam low key, RFK is still Att Gen, Chappaquidick was in 1969, wouldn’t happen) Hubert Humphrey VP, to shut him up
1972 Howard Baker (Teddy did something stupid with a woman anyway,) John Tower, VP

Anonymous said...

Haiku Guy,

The Vietnam War would not have been such a train wreck

Why do you say this? JFK seemed like he was out of his league in foreign matters, with stare downs he had with the Soviets and communists. The Bay of Pigs was a disaster. The Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in the strategic loss of having nuclear missiles in Turkey.

Listening to much of JFK's speeches he came across as a strong cold warrior, but his actions led to defeats. It's not at all clear that he would NOT have escalated the Vietnam War and handled it at least as badly as Johnson in an effort to match his actions to his words, but waffling the same way Johnson did and the same way that JFK did in the Bay of Pigs.

It, also, looks like Johnson won in 1964 by riding the wave of grief of JFK's assassination. Using a willing press corp he pressed the lie that the right created a culture of fear resulting in the assassination, despite the overwhelming evidence that Oswald was a left wing extremist.

Ironclad said...

Kennedy would have dropped Johnson in 1964. The Bobby Baker inquiry (the larger part) and Life magazine's investigation of LBJ's personal financial dealings were literally slammed closed the day Kennedy was shot. If they had gone ahead, Johnson would have lost his place on the ticket - RFK hated him too, and LHB could no longer deliver the South to Kennedy (like he did in 1960). Kennedy would have chosen someone from California or other big vote state for reelection.

I think Nixon / Rockefeller would have been the winning ticket in 1968 - the riots would have still happened and Vietnam would have been an issue too, so people would have wanted a change.

Nixon reelected in 1972.

I see RFK/Ribacoff elected in 1976 and a disaster follows like Carter - he was much too unstable and Hoover hated him

Reagan / Bush in 1980-1984.

Bush Senior in 1988, with anyone else but Quayle.

AustinRoth said...

@Haiku Guy - The US would never vote in a man named "Mo" as President!


Bob Ellison said...

I predict that the Professor will find it difficult to avoid informing/adjusting her answers and Meade's without first analyzing the commentary here.

wyo sis said...

Very difficult. After a second Kennedy administration there's no way of knowing who would have been politically strong enough to even run.
Probably Nixion would have been in there and the Kennedy clan would have had another shot at the presidency.
We might have never even heard of Carter. Without Carter there may not have been a Reagan presidency, but if there had been mikee probably has the right idea of history being self-correcting.
Probably the country would have gone center left eventually no matter who was president. It might have been a much slower slide without Johnson.

Mitch H. said...

Haiku Guy: No way Kennedy passes the "Kennedy" tax cuts on his own. Reading Caro's latest volume of his endless LBJ biography, it's clear that the Kennedy crowd was utterly incapable of actually getting anything through Congress on their own. In practice, LBJ got those cuts through as part of his wizard co-opting of Senator Harry Byrd, Kennedy and his boys by their lonesome would never have gotten past the doctrinaire deficit-hawk from Virginia.

The assassination has left us with a lot of starry-eyed misconceptions of the JFK. The historical JFK nearly turned the segregation cold war into a shooting war, sparked a small handful of Third-World coups, nearly got the country nuked, failed to get anything of substance through Congress, and sidelined his era's greatest legislative genius in a no-work, no-point make-work job babysitting NASA. The Kennedy "Best and the Brightest" in practice were startlingly incapable of actual, you know, accomplishment.

Johnson and his bastards accomplished a hell of a lot, regardless of what you think of those accomplishments.

Ironclad's right about LBJ being dropped because of the Baker thing. He was damn close to getting Agnew'd when the assassination happened.

But Ribicoff? Nah, he was a first-term Jewish senator from New England, it would have lost them the South for good. More likely they'd have replaced LBJ with George Smathers, John Sparkman or Stuart Symington. *Maybe* Kefauver, although a lot of the bloom was off Kefauver and Symington by 1964.

Bill said...

The really interesting question is this: Would civil rights have seen the same advancement it did under LBJ if JFK hadn't been assassinated?

If Goldwater is elected, blacks suffer monstrous setbacks. JFK, who knows. LBJ did a great job, though...too bad the bad stuff overshadows the good.

Clinton clearly beats out Bush and Dole, again.

Bush I clearly over Dukakis. Reagan wins again, too.

With Bush II, though? Things get foggy.

Quaestor said...

The chief reason JFK enjoys his iconic status is because of the assassination. The mantle of saint and martyr descended rapidly on his dead shoulders, thus making his actual record no-go territory in the subsequent election. Lyndon Johnson (one of our worst presidents, IMAO) had been in office less than a year and had no record to speak of. A living Kennedy in 1964 would have faced a greater challenge than LBJ actually did. Since the Republicans had little chance against the successor of the “martyred saint” their convention was much more ideological than practical. In the counter-historical scenario the GOP would have been competitive and the convention would have resulted in more compromise and greater unity, thus it would have been Kennedy/Johnson vs. Goldwater/Scranton.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was not happy with the Kennedys. When JFK considered dumping Johnson as his running mate for 1964, Hoover blackmailed him into keeping LBJ on the ticket. In this scenario there’s no reason why Hoover would not give damaging material to Goldwater in return for the same considerations he wrung from Johnson, i.e. directorship for life. The press was very protective of Kennedy, yet a detailed revelation in a major conservative newspaper like the Miami Herald, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch or the Atlanta Constitution of Kennedy’s serial adulteries would have been impossible to ignore for long, and would have damaged him in his core constituencies. Another vulnerability, one Goldwater would have attacked relentlessly would have been the Cuban Missile Crisis. This is seen as a considerable victory for JFK from the conventional perspective; however one could argue that the whole affair arose from Kennedy’s abandonment of the anti-Castro rebels at the Bay of Pigs. If they had gotten the air support they had been promised by Eisenhower then the result may have been different. Even if the rebels had only gained a “zone of control” for their movement the situation in Cuba would have been much too unstable for the Khrushchev to consider placing nuclear weapons there. Furthermore, the Cuban Missile Crisis represents a considerable intelligence failure; the missile sites were only discovered days before they became operational. If JKF had paid more attention to the problems at CIA this might have been different (The problems in and around CIA were legion, not least of which was Kim Philby and his gang of traitors who exposed and murdered many top intelligence agents in Russia who could have given us timely warning; not JFK’s fault really, but his responsibility nevertheless.)
Thus between restlessness in the Democratic Party over Kennedy’s de-segregation policies, the morals charges in the matter of the mistresses, and the charge of dereliction in the matter of Cuba JKF/LBJ falls to Goldwater/Scranton narrowly.
From here on the alternate history of Presidency gets much more fantastic than speculative. I’ll give it a try later in the day as I have time.

shiloh said...

No JFK assassination, no Vietnam escalation, no Chicago convention riots, no Nixon ever again.

Re: no 22nd Amendment, Clinton would still be president driving Althouse cons crazy, much like Obama so not much of a change, eh.

btw, if Nixon hadn't resigned in disgrace for constitutional violations, Dutch probably would have never got away w/his many constitutional violations.


Again, interesting former Dem presidents are all front and center, whereas Bush41/Bush43 are in the witness protection program lol. Go figure!

bagoh20 said...

This is incredibly difficult. The person who becomes President is often relatively unknown and unlikely to be a big player without the unexpected convergence of events that brings them quickly to the top. I suspect nobody is talking at all about the person who will win in 2020, and maybe even 2016.

Quaestor said...

I've noticed that many here have paired Goldwater/Nixon or Nixon/Goldwater in 1964. I see no plausible justification for this assumption, nor have any of you even attempted to explain why Nixon was viable in 1964. He didn't even run in the primaries in 1964.

Lucius said...

1964: JFK/LBJ beats Rockefeller/Lodge Jr.

Vietnam progresses. First photodocumented presidential sex scandals, 1967.

1968: Nixon/Agnew defeats Johnson/Humphrey

1972: Nixon/Agnew (narrowly) defeats RFK/McGovern

1976: Muskie/Mondale defeats Vice-President Ford/Reagan

Muskie fulfills Nixon's promise of a guaranteed living wage, but the economy stagflates.

1980: Reagan/Bush defeats Muskie/Mondale

1984: Reagan/Bush defeats Mondale/Ted Kennedy

Kennedy dynasty's last bid for relevance: Mondale armtwisted to accept Teddy; RFK out of commission since he took up with Margeaux Hemingway in '79 cocaine scandal

1988: Bush/Quayle defeats Bentsen/Dukakis

Cold War ends on schedule. Gulf War triumph.

1992: Bush/Powell defeats Clinton/Gore

Stunned by Flowers revelations and muzzled by Powell nom, Bush is reelected, coasts through 90s prosperity with 75% approval. Two-state peace deal in Israel. Air campaign in Iraq in '94 forces complete acquiescence to UN weapons inspections.

1996: Cuomo/Feinstein defeats Powell/Kemp

Eloquent elder statesman of Dem party appeals successfully to "time for change"

Diffident aging president retires after one term.

2000: Feinstein/Kerry defeats McCain/Schwarzkopf

[I don't know. Who the hell wants to run with McCain?]

Glamorous first female president scratches women's itch over aging warriors in a time of peace

2004: Giuliani/Jeb Bush defeat Kerry/Wes Clark

9-11 massacre and unsteady war in Afghanistan turn the public to coolheaded mayor and son of the most beloved postwar President

2008: Bill Clinton/John Edwards defeat Giuliani/Jeb

Comeback kid (remember him?) finally comes back, with the ultimate Southern sex appeal ticket

But one of them gets caught with his pants down, so . . .

2012: Clinton/ new Vice-President Bill Richardson face Sen. Charlie Crist with (sop to the right) 2nd term AK Gov. Sarah Palin

Quaestor said...

btw, if Nixon hadn't resigned in disgrace for constitutional violations

Care to name even one, citing the clause violated?

Lyssa said...

Bill said: The really interesting question is this: Would civil rights have seen the same advancement it did under LBJ if JFK hadn't been assassinated?

Almost certainly, the wheels were already well turning for that.

The more interesting question is, without Johnson, would we have seen the "great society" programs and the related decimation of the poor (and particularly black) family?

I'll posit that if we had not had that, and had not so strongly incentivized broken homes, we would have virtual economic parity between the races today.

Lucius said...

--But I agree with Mitch H. Depriving the country of an LBJ term is sortof like depriving us of the America we know, for better or for worse.

Without LBJ's legislation, it's very difficult to know what that America would be like.

I think Nixon would have implemented some sort of Great Society-lite on his own initiative, but it's much harder to know what that looks like, without LBJ going first.

A Muskie administration (hardly unthinkable) might well have done more than Carter, too; but I can't sweat too much filling in those blanks.

Quaestor said...

I also notice that most here, (all?) make the fundamental mistake of letting their knowledge of actual history as it unfolded unduly influence their alternate scenarios for the subsequent 49 years that follow the Kennedy assassination.

Steven said...

Let's see . . .

Howard W. Smith keeps the Civil Rights Act bottled up in committee, while LBJ refuses to do anything to push it forward—LBJ needs southern support for his attempt to replace Kennedy as the Democratic nominee.

The Bay of Pigs and a Johnson-backed leak of the fact that Kennedy traded missiles in Turkey to get rid of the missiles in Cuba seriously wounds the incumbent, who is also criticized over non-responsiveness over something equivalent to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Symington is brought on the ticket to buff up the national security credentials.

Goldwater wins the Republican nomination for the same reasons as historically, and probably brings in Henry Cabot Lodge as his VP.

The reaction to the Civil Rights Act-proposing Kennedy and the won't-speak-to-segregated-audiences Symington is a revolt in the South, and several delegations walk out of the convention and hold their own. George Wallace probably is nominated by the rebels, with, say, Strom Thurmond as VP. (There's no segregationist-to-Goldwater move because Goldwater never votes against a civil rights bill that he thinks goes too far Constitutionally, because it never gets on the floor.)

Goldwater/Lodge wins the same states as 1960's Nixon/Lodge, and picks up Texas and West Virginia, for 259 EVs, short of the 268 needed to win (DC has no EVs at this time); they also get a true popular majority. Wallace/Thurmond wins Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina, for 25 EVs, and Kennedy/Symington accordingly wins the other 251. The election goes to the House of Representatives and the Senate . . . and based on delegations for the previous Congress and even assuming the Democrats are somewhat hurt, Kennedy and Symington wind up elected by Congress.

At which point, really, anything more is pure guesswork. But there's no Kennedy Mystique that allows RFK or Teddy to ever get anywhere without the assassination halo around JFK.

Captain Ned said...

Why is everyone assuming RFK was not assassinated in 1968?

Anonymous said...


No JFK assassination, no Vietnam escalation

Pure fantasy.

Anonymous said...


Again, interesting former Dem presidents are all front and center, whereas Bush41/Bush43 are in the witness protection program lol.

Because Bush 41 and 43 have the good graces to know they are no longer president. Their time is over. Carter is busy trying to convince everyone he wasn't the disaster that he actually was (which will ultimately be Obama's fate). Clinton is a power hungry sociopaths that everyone wants to go away. Not sure why you think these two hanging around is a good thing.

Leo said...

There was a Red Dwarf episode about this

Mitch H. said...

I don't feel comfortable extrapolating further than four years out from a major change like "JFK doesn't get killed". The butterfly effect makes hash of what we think we know at the granular level too quickly.

What were the true trends of the era? The inevitable collapse of the Niebuhr/Graham neo-orthodox/middlebrow cultural consensus, for one. The culture was on a course, and the lack of a Camelot-ending killing wouldn't have shifted that. The collapse of social order would have continued as before. Hmm.

Here's a theory: Kennedy and a less-clever, less-intelligent Southern VP candidate lose against a Northern Republican liberal with a Midwestern Republican stick of a conservative as his VP. Rockefeller/Dirksen or Scranton/Dirksen? They drive the country into a ditch, no mid-Sixties economic boom, but also, no serious involvement in Vietnam, either. The Sixties represent a long American collapse of military influence, as the liberal Republican administration slides into a sort of neo-isolationism. Goldwater and Reagan mount a serious back-bencher rebellion, and the Republican 1968 convention sees a walk-out and a strong third-party effort by Goldwater/Reagan which throws the presidential election to the Democrats with a bare plurality - God only knows who, maybe Humphrey/Wallace, or Connolly/Jackson?

Say it's Humphrey and Wallace in '69. The cities burn almost on schedule, and Wallace pulls a Calhoun, going rogue. The Turkey/Greece Cyprus crisis and the East Pakistan crisis both go terribly out of control, resulting in seriously nasty instability, and a third Berlin Crisis. Chile goes full-commie, South Vietnam falls in 1969, and China and Russia quarreling over the spoils in Southeast Asia, clash along the Mongolian border to the point where nukes actually fly in 1972. It turns into an early version of the Afghan War, on steroids. The only reason it doesn't turn into World War III is because NATO forts up and refuses to get involved. A hundred million Chinese die in fighting and from fallout, and another hundred million die of starvation and social disorder. The Soviets are badly bloodied by their victory and destroyed by the aftermath, as every man and every rouble is tied up in trying to make order of imploded Maoist China. This lasts throughout the Seventies.

Probably we'd see a new conservative law-and-order party - Constitutional or Libertarian? - riven by conflict over economic issues, form in 1972, but Wallace/Reagan lose again to Humphrey/Carter, and the liberal rump Republican Linsday/Javits ticket take a few states in the Northeast. They beat Carter/Udall in 1976. Wallace is killed in an assassination at his inaugural by a Chinese radical splinter hit team - hoping to drag the West into the decade-long Communist Civil War - and the Reagans are wounded. Lord only knows what happens next.

Quaestor said...

Why is everyone assuming RFK was not assassinated in 1968?

Good point. Real history turns on tiny details as well as grand patterns. The patterns are somewhat predictable: That the Central Powers would fight a general war with France, Russia and Great Britain -- predictable and was seen as such at the time. That the trigger would be the assassination of the Hapsburg heir by a Serbian nationalist -- not predictable. That the Romanov dynasty would fall under the pressure of a losing war -- predictable as it had nearly happened 12 years earlier. That autocracy would be replaced by communism -- not predicable. That November 1918 would lead directly to September 1939 -- predictable, and was seen as such by many contemporary observers. That a resurgent Germany would be lead by an Austrian hobo -- decidedly not predictable. And on and on....

Steve M. Galbraith said...

Kennedy got his tax cuts through. It was his civil rights legislation that had been bottled up.

As to Vietnam: Remember that LBJ kept JFK's national security team - McNamara et al. - on board after the assassination. He was mostly listening to them when he escalated the war.

Would JFK had ignored his top advisers and left Vietnam? Doubtful.

Let's assume that he abandoned Vietnam. The communists take over and start slaughtering the Vietnamese people. Would JFK had done nothing? The pressure would have been enormous to do something.

JFK was certainly an anti-communist. If he saw Vietnam as a Cold War battle and not as a post-colonial one, I don't think he would have just let the people be killed by the communists.

More than 500,000 troops? No. But he wouldn't have walked away.

La Pasionaria said...

No Kennedy assassination -> no LBJ presidency -> no Great Society -> no Reagan presidency -> a more cautious, consensual expansion of the welfare state?

cubanbob said...

JFK wasn't as popular as the myth makes it out to be while he was alive. In 1964 Kennedy running for reelection may well have lost to Goldwater. Going forward from there is really a fantasy fest. Whether Goldwater would have fought in Vietnam all the way to win is one possibility or he may have not fought at all if he felt there was no national consensus on going all the way for victory. As for civil rights? Who knows? Goldwater was ultimately more of a libertarian than a conservative, he may well have passed a libertarian version of the civil rights act. As for the Great Society, not a chance and we wouldn't be facing fiscal Armageddon today had he won.

bagoh20 said...

Think of the nation today if every "reasonable" leftist (centralized welfare state) promoted policy had been passed. McGovern, wins and all the rest like him thereafter.

Now imagine if none of them were, but every "reasonable" conservative reform(reduced regulation, taxes, smaller government) were advanced instead. Goldwater wins, and all those like him afterward.

When I do this I see some serious problems pop up that would need some creative solutions either way, but I can't imagine the leftist success resulting in anything short of total collapse as in Greece but faster and harder with the entire world brought down with it. Lower standards of living worldwide. The U.S. might still even be in a position of superiority but with everyone at a much lower level, with widespread global poverty.

Then Romney is hired to fix it and the Constitution is amended to make Mormonism the national religion.

FleetUSA said...

In a way too many variables to consider over too long a time span.

Let's just say Kennedy is re-elected and Vietnam continues to stagnate. Goldwater would probably be the standard bearer against JFK and lose.

In 1968 Nixon or Rockefeller might try to win against LBJ and might win as we would be tired of Vietnam.

Beyond that....Reagan, Clinton, Bushes,

But without the Great Society programs we would be a much more homogeneous nation. Those and Vietnam did a lot to split us.

shiloh said...

"Because Bush 41 and 43 have the good graces to know they are no longer president."

Most of Althouse's con flock are delusion, but Ken seems to be running for president ;) of said flock lol.

David said...

This is too hard Mommie.

But I'm thinking about.


1. Johnson is off the Democratic ticket in 1964. This is because Oswald barely missed, killing Governor Connelly and wounding Jackie. LBJ goes off to be governor of Texas, believing this is his best path to the Presidency in 1968.

2. With Johnson leaving the fold, JFK has to pick another white southerner as a VP candidate in 1964. Who?

3. The Civil Rights acts never make it out of Committee. There is no LBJ to push this. He is playing a different game. There is no national convulsion to create a legislative memorial to JFK.

4. JFL concludes that Oswald was a Cuban agent and plots revenge. Castro is assassinated and during the turmoil Kennedy reinforces Guantanamo with ground troops, tanks, paratroopers. America becomes involved in a guerrilla was in Cuba and Vietnam is put on a low priority.

5. The Russians, sensing weakness and distraction, institute a second Berlin blockade. For the second time in two years, Russia and the US appear to be approaching a nuclear confrontation. The American position is not nearly as strong as in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

6. The Berlin issue flares when the US destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy collide in the Baltic Sea while taking evasive action to avoid alleged torpedoes from a Russian submarine. Maddox sinks with great loss of life and Turner Joy limps to a port in Latvia, where its captain and crew are interned by the Russians.

7. Kennedy takes no action other than diplomatic protest. Goldwater asks the senate for the "Gulf of Finland Resolution" directing the President to take all necessary action to free the hostages and protect American ships. The resolution fails by a narrow margin on a partisan vote.

8. The New York Times reports that CIA veteran E. Howard Hunt planned supervised the Castro assassination by an American civilian paramilitary team. Bobby Kennedy is also implicated in the planning. Hunt is mobbed by reporters at his apartment at the Watergate in Washington, D.C. when it comes out that he visited RFK at Hickory Hill three times in the weeks before the Castro assassination.

9. On the eve of the Republican convention, two Cuban gunmen somehow get inside the wires at Gitmo and wound sixteen Americans before being killed. A young American Marine Lt., Oliver North, is severely hurt and near death.

10. Republicans nominate Goldwater. In a stunning move, he selects Attorney General Edward Brooke of Massachusetts to be his running mate. Brooke will be the first black man to run for vice president on a major party ticket. Brooke tells Civil Rights leaders "We need a change of heart more than we need legislation" and contrasts his record with that of segregationist J. William Fulbright, who Kennedy has already anointed as his running mate to shore up southern support and buttress his badly tarnished foreign policy credentials.

11. In late August, with the Turner Joy hostages still in Leningrad and Russian troops rolling into East Germany, the polls show Goldwater and Kennedy running dead even.

Mitch H. said...

That the Romanov dynasty would fall under the pressure of a losing war -- predictable as it had nearly happened 12 years earlier. That autocracy would be replaced by communism -- not predicable.

By Bolsheviks, yes, that was not predicable, they were a successful radical conspiracy. But replaced by some sort of group the West would perceive as communist or anarchist? No, that was very predicable. Capitalism, civil society, and liberal governance were fairly alien notions to the general Russian polity.

Russia at the granular level was 94% traditional-communal peasantry, with no history of property ownership by any but the nobility and the state. Land was parceled out by headmen to individual peasant heads-of-family as they formed families, for the life of the paterfamilias. If the Bolshies hadn't thrown their coup and out-manuvered everyone else, Russia would have eventually formed into some sort of tyranny run by whatever evolved out of the SR, or Social Revolutionary Party. They had the support of the peasantry, and probably would have been less... combative than the Bolsheviks turned out to be.

Fen said...

You can't include the Clintons if Nixon is not driven from office. That's where they cut their teeth.

No Nixon resignation. No Clintons.

Instead, Bill opens a strip club chain. Hillary heads up Emily's List.

Joe said...

Two factors missing:

1) JFK has serious medical problems that may well have left him dying in office had he been reelected. (One theory is that he had "autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2" which has symptoms similar to Addison's disease. Regardless, he was much more sick than people realized or admitted.)

2) JFK was a terrible president and not nearly as popular as people pretend. Like with Obama, most reporters saw what they wanted to see, but his objective track record, especially with foreign policy, was terrible.

JFK barely won in 1960. Given his failures, I think it highly questionable whether he would have won in 1964. If he did, I believe he would have escalated the Vietnam war even faster than Johnson BUT wouldn't have micromanaged it like Johnson.

(Don't forget, that the CIA backed the coup d’état of Ngô Đình Diệm in 1963 was was authorized by JFK.

Listening to JFK's recording of the describing the coup was disconcerting in that even in "private" he played the part of an observer, placing the responsibility on everyone else. He acted as though he was some minor State Department analyst. He was also completely uncritical of McNamara, which suggests the latter would have stayed in his post and pushed for the escalation of conflict.)

Thus, were I to guess, I'd guess that by 1968 the situation would have been comparable and Nixon elected.

rcocean said...

Actually I don't think it would've been much difference. JFK would've been re-elected in '64 (without LBJ). You would have had our involvement in Vietnam, the Civil Rights bill, and resulting riots and social disturbances.

Despite LBJ's massive unpopularity, the '68 election was still close, so a JFK successor (RFK?) probably would've won but then gone down in flames in '72 when the 70s stagflation started and people tired of the Democrats.

And did you RIDE 20 miles? Or were you just ON a 20 mile trail?

Chef Mojo said...

Fun game! Kudos.

Part 1

JFK drops LBJ in '64 and pursues Western strategy, picking California Governor Pat Brown as his VP.

1964 - JFK/Brown def. Rockefeller/Reagan

Vietnam turns into a quagmire anyway, simply because the Soviets NEED it to be a quagmire. Too many provocations by Viet Cong/NVA lead to escalation. Kennedy doesn't want it, but that's the way it's shaking out. He's never been good at dealing with the Soviets. Meanwhile, JFK is losing the South. Texas Governor John Connally bolts the Democratic Party, becoming the first Republican Governor in the state's history. Nixon is waltzing through the primaries on a Peace In Our Time strategy, and taps Connelly for a "reconciliation ticket" to help mend the nation's wounds -Nixon's reasoning; go figure, but it works - after the assassinations of MLK and RFK - sorry, but a Kennedy has to die... Meanwhile, Pat Brown is getting pummeled within his own party. Walter Mondale is foisted upon him.

1968 - Nixon/Connelly def. Brown/Mondale.

Nixon proceeds to rapidly deescalate the Vietnam War. Goes makes a surprise and unprecedented visit to China in 1970, which is hailed as amazing and historical, sealing Nixon's place in history. China is now an effective counterweight to the Soviets. Watergate never happens because it doesn't need to. Mondale leads a demoralized and weakened Democrat Party to the convention with a slight lead after a knock-down drag-out primary season against Ted Kennedy. Convention fight as delegations flip like gaffed fish. Kennedy wins. Scoop Jackson is VP to lend balance and much needed gravitas.

1972 - Nixon/Connolly crush Kennedy/Jackson.

With the Vietnam War ended, the country must deal with the so-called Peace Dividend. It doesn't deal well. Recession hits in late '74, just in time for the election. Connolly glides to the nomination, tapping third term California Governor Ronald Reagan as his VP, earning the moniker, "The Cowboy Ticket." The Dems, having sickened themselves on Kennedys, Go with Mondale, who taps a little known Southern governor, Georgia's Jimmy Carter. It's a hard fight, but in the end?

1976 - Mondale/Carter def. Connolly/Reagan.

The economy continues to sour under Mondale, and there are foreign policy disasters left and right. The Soviets have gone hard case, and are consolidating their frontiers. Afghanistan is annexed. Iran collapses as the next domino, but not before a bunch of crazed mullahs from Qom invade the US Embassy in Tehran, hold the staff hostage. Iranian and Russian troops surround the Embassy, exacerbating the standoff. Mondale stages a rescue attempt that fails at the Embassy, leading to the wholesale slaughter of the hostages as well as the deaths of Russian troops. The Soviet Union and United States are on the brink of war. Time to take a second look at Reagan, the folks back home think... He taps Jack Kemp as his VP.

Chef Mojo said...

Part 2

1980 - Reagan/Kemp def. Mondale/Carter.

Reagan turns his attentions to the economy, putting people back to work in dormant defense industries, while seemingly to placate the Soviets. In reality, he's funneling money and arms through third and fourth parties into Afghan and Iran to support anti-Soviet "activities." The Soviets are beginning realize they're hopelessly extended. Border clashes between Iran and Iraq are becoming commonplace, leading eventually to an all out war, with the Russians feeding their own troops into a hopeless meat grinder. Reagan is proving to be popular at home, as the economy improves. The Dems go with another Californian, Governor Jerry Brown, who taps Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis to run with him.

1984 - Reagan/Kemp def. Brown/Dukakis.

The Iran-Iraq war and the Afghan resistance are draining the Soviets. The Soviet Union collapses inward in in 1986. Civil War followed by military/KGB dictatorship. US stays VERY neutral. The Dems have another rough primary season, and Tennessee Senator Al Gore emerges as the winner, with Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton as the VP. But Clinton gets hit with scandalous bimbo eruptions, and resigns from the ticket. Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen is hurriedly plugged in. Jack Kemp glides to the Republican nomination and picks a recently elected first term Senator from North Carolina, Elizabeth Hanford, Secretary of Transportation in the Reagan Administration.

1988 - Kemp/Hanford def. Gore/Bentsen.

With the former Soviet Union in it's continued death throes, China begins a series of economic reforms, leading to a global economic boom. Kemp/Hanford is rubber-stamped by the Republicans, while the Democrats flail away and nominate a ticket made up of with the Old Lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy who chooses a fellow Senator, Charles Robb of Virginia.

1992 - Kemp/Hanford def. Kennedy/Robb.

Ok. The Narrative is defeating me, so here's the rest.

1996 - Hanford/Jeb Bush def. Robb/Lieberman

2000 - Hanford/Jeb Bush def. Kerry/Richards (TX)

2004 - Martinez (FL)/Feinstein (CA) def. Jeb Bush/ Campbell (CO)

2008 - Jeb Bush/Campbell def. Martinez/Feinstein.

Anonymous said...


BUT wouldn't have micromanaged it like Johnson.

There is evidence that Johnson did not micromanage the war. Cohen makes a solid case that Johnson rubber stamped much of the military high command's strategy and tactics. I am no Johnson apologizer, but most of the blame for the failed strategy and tactics lies at the feet of the top military brass.

David R. Graham said...

Indeterminate, shooting clouds.

Amexpat said...

1964 - Kennedy/Johnson: JFK was ambitious, a great campaigner and in step with the times. I can't see him losing to Goldwater

1968 - Nixon beats LBJ: By now the Kennedy charm has worn thin and Viet Nam is a mess, although probably less of a mess than with LBJ. RFK wants to be president, but wisely sits this cycle out, giving LBJ a poisoned chalice.

1972 - RFK beats Nixon: RFK was the most ambitious of the Kennedys and would do what it took to win. This guy went from being a counsel for Joe McCarthy to the darling of the liberals. Also, the Kennedys had Nixon's number and Nixon knew it. Nixon would not have run well against RFK

1976 - RFK beats Reagan: Reagan almost defeated Ford for the nomination this year, so it's reasonable to expect he would get the nomination. RFK is no Jimmy Carter and would win, though most closer than the Liberal media expected setting Reagan up in 1980.

1980 & 1984 - Reagan beats whoever the Dems nominate: Liberalism has run its course in US politics and Reagan would be the natural choice to be the instrument of this change. Too speculative to guess who the Dems would nominate - most likely someone from the liberal wing as it would take a few election cycles for the message to get through that the country has changed direction.

1988 - GOP wins: The Reagan presidency is viewed as a success and the Dems put up another wimpy liberal. It's unlikely that Bush senior would be the nominee. He only got it because he was Reagan's VP and Reagan most likely would have chosen someone else if he were in a stronger political position in 1980.

1992- Bill Clinton beats GOP president: Time for change again and Bill is the most talented politician of his generation. He would position himself to get nominated and then elected.

1996 - Clinton gets re-elected: If he was able to recover from the mistakes in the real world to get re-elected, he'll be able to in this hypothetical world.

2000 - GOP wins: Time for change again, but it won't be George W. Bush because, in this scenario, senior never was president.

2004-2012: Way too speculative now, though Hillary might have had a better chance in 2008 if things were different.

Jim S. said...

I saw in a book a poster someone had made in 1966 or 67 or early 68 that foresaw RFK as a two-term president starting in the 1972 election. It even gave the exact dates of office, from January 1973 to January 1981. It made me very sad to see it. A projection that the man would be president into the 1980s and he didn't even make it out of the 1960s.

Pastafarian said...

Here's my uneducated opinion:

64: Goldwater/Miller (R) defeat Kennedy/Johnson (D)

(There's no reason to think anyone other than Goldwater would be nominated for the Rs, and Kennedy was over-rated as a president merely because he was assassinated.)

68: McGovern/Young (D) defeat Goldwater/Miller (R)

By now, people are sick of Rs, they've held POTUS 12 of 16 years; for the Ds, there would be no RFK or Teddy as national players without the assassination.

72: McGovern/Young (D) defeat Nixon/Reagan (R)

76: Reagan/Ashbrook (R) defeat Jerry Brown/Byrd (D)

80: Reagan/Bush (R) defeat Mondale/Moynihan (D)

(Ashbrook resigns in ill health)

84: Bush/Kemp (R) defeat Hart/Jackson (D)

88: Jackson/Glenn (D) defeat Bush/Kemp (R)

And fatigue with Rs, and all that boring prosperity and peace, lead people to vote in the first black president, Jesse fucking Jackson (Obama on crack. Literally on crack, not like "to the extreme").

92: Kemp/Dole (R) over Jackson/Glenn(D)

96: Clinton/Gore (D) over Kemp/Dole (R)

2000: Bush (Jeb)/Giuliani (R) over Clinton/Gore (D)

Clinton missed the dotcom bubble this time.

2004: Bush/Giuliani (R) over Dean/Edwards (D)

2008: Kerry/Clinton (Hillary) (D) over McCain/Huckabee (R)

and that leads us to:

2012: Romney/Portman (R) over Clinton/Obama (D)

(Kerry died in his bed 2 years into his term, inexplicably, leaving the door open for Hillary to take over.)

Fprawl said...

Why is everyone assuming RFK was not assassinated in 1968?

I postulated that since RFK was Atty General, Teddy could take the Potus and Bobby would have never been campaigning for Potus, thus never assassinated.

Quaestor said...

Chief Mojo wrote:
Watergate never happens because it doesn't need to.

The real Watergate didn't need to happen either, yet it did. I think you ought to explain this notion in more detail.

Mitch H. said...

1964 - JFK/Brown def. Rockefeller/Reagan

Reagan didn't have enough national exposure in 1964 to be a viable candidate in that year. Brown is semi-plausable as a replacement, but before LBJ blew out their southern standing and made it irrelevant, the Democrats *had* to play to the South to maintain viability. That either means a southern candidate, or one who sells to southern sensibilities. (1944, Truman; 1948 Barkley; 1952 Sparkman; 1956 Kefauver; 1960 Johnson) In 1964, with LBJ out of the picture, it would have been Smathers or Symington.

Anyways, Reagan made his national debut at the 1964 convention with an old-fashioned stemwinder. Also, no way in hell Reagan runs on a ticket with Nelson Rockefeller.

1968 - Nixon/Connally def. Brown/Mondale.

The Connally idea is interesting, but too soon. Although to be honest, I don't know enough about the Tower era in Texas politics to speak too much to the subject... Connally's bio suggests that only a seriously dovish approach to foreign and military policy would have taken him out of the party prior to the '68 convention. Mondale, on the other hand, was a first-term senator of no particular distinction in 1968. Proxmire was a more interesting and prominent character from that part of the country. Also, without Humphrey on the national ticket in 1964, Mondale doesn't become senator, at least not in 1964. He might still be an attorney general or if he was lucky, have beaten LeVander for the governorship in '66. Not likely, though.

1972 - Nixon/Connolly crush Kennedy/Jackson.

Ted Kennedy is a leader in the Democratic Party only with both of his brothers dead. Maybe JFK could be "politically" dead for that to work, but a disgraced-but-alive JFK kills the Camalot mythos dead. And Teddy would never have been able to claim family power without his Puritanical bastard of a brother Bobbie dead. You're assuming Robert Kennedy has been killed on schedule? It's not implausible - there were a metric tonload of political assassination attempts in the postwar period - people just get excited about JFK because of the people who loved him, and the fact that he died. Assassination attempts against Ford, Reagan, and Truman, and likewise against Walker, Wallace, Martin Luther King and small fry like Milk - there was a distinct atmosphere of political violence.

68: McGovern/Young (D) defeat Goldwater/Miller (R)

Young who? Senator Steven Young of Ohio? No, sorry. He was a classic "Favorite Son" of the sort used by state party bosses to "hold" their delegations until they could shop them to the highest bidder at the convention. In his case, he was a surrogate for Humphrey in the real-world '68 campaign (Along with Smathers, ironically enough. But Smathers at least gives them a Southern face on the ticket, nobody was winning Presidential races by balancing their ticket with somebody from Ohio in 1968. Especially not with someone from the Upper Midwest heading the ticket. Of course, in real life, Muskie didn't exactly balance Humphrey either. Large part of why they lost.) And McGovern hadn't made the national scene in 1968, Eugene McCarthy was occupying his ecological niche at the time.

Joe said...

Ken, you can expose history only so much; the fact remains that Johnson was deciding targets in the White House. Don't get me wrong; Johnson was not well served by his generals, but I'm not sure he cared. Moreover, the true driving force for Vietnam was Robert McNamara, who exploited JFKs distrust of Russia and Johnson's hatred of it to fight a futile proxy war.

(I believe the real fault lies with Truman for allowing de Gaulle to reclaim Vietnam as a French territory. Truman then later agreed to supply arms to the French. Eisenhower made the mistake of continuing this and supported the corrupt regime of Diem. Incidentally, the CIA backed coup in Iran in 1953 was another major error--another Truman mistake. Truman didn't understand foreign policy and understood the military even less.)

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I put my long answer on my own blog. In 2012 it comes down to Snowe/Obama(R) v. Clinton/Biden(D).

Nichevo said...

That's a little freakish, Joe. I don't think letting Mossadegh take Iran over to the Soviets was such a great idea. What we should have done was back the Shah/whack Khomeini/hold the Embassy/at least mount a decent rescue attempt. You can stop playing the Great Game but that doesn't mean others will.

Nichevo said...

And where history really went off the rails was 1992. Bush should have had a second term to anchor and consolidate our post-Cold War supremacy.w

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

I don't know.

Simply running history again from November 23, 1963 would produce different results even if Kennedy was shot. It's impossible for billions of people to act the exact same way twice.

The only election we can speculate about would be 1964, which likely would have had JFK as the Democratic nominee. I think Barry Goldwater was an unlikely Republican nominee, and he probably happened because of LBJ's civil rights activism. JFK probably would not have pushed civil rights as hard as LBJ did, because LBJ had an enormous amount of political capital gained from Kennedy's assassination.

So, probably a different Republican nominee, like Nixon or Rockefeller. Who wins? You got me.

After that, it becomes impossible to predict. Essentially the past becomes the future. Perhaps the big players, like Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, might be the same, but maybe not. Maybe Nixon gets assassinated because presidential security remained lax. A million things could have happened.

For instance, no one, no one, could have predicted President Barack Obama 20 years ago.

Steven said...

Actually, I was wrong; DC did have EVs in 1964. And on deeper consideration, JFK probably doesn't carry Illinois, which was a squeaker in 1960.

So, Goldwater/Lodge wins the same states as 1960's Nixon/Lodge, and picks up Illinois, Texas and West Virginia, for 285 EVs and an outright win. Wallace/Thurmond wins Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina, for 25 EVs, and the Kennedy/Symington ticket accordingly wins the other 228.

Mitch H. said...

Weren't we going to get the Professor and Meade's counterfactual after we coughed up ours?

Michael K said...

I prefer the scenario of William Rogers stopping the election fraud in Chicago and Texas that elected Kennedy. Khrushchev would never have dared put missiles in Cuba with Nixon president. Nixon would have served two terms and Vietnam would have been kept a low level special forces conflict like the Congo which nobody has ever heard of.

After Nixon, we might have had Romney, then Reagan after one or two terms in California. From there, it gets too complicated. No Vietnam war or Cuban missile crisis. No inflation because no Watergate Congress in 1974.

A peaceful half century.

frank said...

Speaking of 'alternate histories' Ann, when Sens Johnson and Thompson have President Romney nominate you for the 7th Circuit as a very competent UW Con Law Prof, will you/Meade give up Madison and move to Chicago?