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Was JFK going to drop LBJ from the ticket in ’64?


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#1 Len Colby

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 09:25 PM

I saw that claim made in a book without any citation. It doesn’t sound right to me, he barely won Texas in 1960 and since then had pushed for civil rights. I can’t imagine he’d want to risk losing the 3rd most populous state in the country.

#2 Stephen Turner

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 09:54 PM

I saw that claim made in a book without any citation. It doesn’t sound right to me, he barely won Texas in 1960 and since then had pushed for civil rights. I can’t imagine he’d want to risk losing the 3rd most populous state in the country.


Len, rumours were abounding thoughout Washington that this was indeed the case. If so, it may have had to do with the financial scandals swirling around LBJ at the time. Serve-u corp, General dynamics kick-backs, Baker forced to resign as LBJ's secretary, Fred Korth forced to resign over the TFX contract, and the Bobby Baker $100'000 suitcase scandal. Perhaps Kennedy was simply thinking of protecting his own ass during a second term.

FWIW, Steve.

#3 Tim Carroll

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 10:23 PM

I saw that claim made in a book without any citation. It doesn’t sound right to me, he barely won Texas in 1960 and since then had pushed for civil rights. I can’t imagine he’d want to risk losing the 3rd most populous state in the country.

Len, rumours were abounding thoughout Washington that this was indeed the case. If so, it may have had to do with the financial scandals swirling around LBJ at the time. Serve-u corp, General dynamics kick-backs, Baker forced to resign as LBJ's secretary, Fred Korth forced to resign over the TFX contract, and the Bobby Baker $100'000 suitcase scandal. Perhaps Kennedy was simply thinking of protecting his own ass during a second term.

There were many people close to JFK who had different understandings about which way the president was leaning on the issue of keeping LBJ on the ticket in 1964. JFK's secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, asserted that Terry Sanford, a moderate southerner, would be the choice. Ken O'Donnell wrote that there was no question but that LBJ was to be kept on the ticket. In Bobby's oral history interviews, not disclosed for decades, he is also clear that LBJ was to be retained:

"There was never any intention of dropping him. There was, you know, discussion about his personality."

At another point, Bobby said:

"Subsequently, there were a lot of stories that my brother and I were interested in dumping Lyndon Johnson and that I'd started the Bobby Baker case in order to give us a handle to dump Lyndon Johnson. Well, number one, there was no plan to dump Lyndon Johnson. That didn't make any sense. Number two, I hadn't gotten really involved in the Bobby Baker case until after a good number of newspaper stories had appeared about it."

And it's not as though he was cleaning up his words for public consumption. Here is what he said about LBJ:

"Johnson is - as President Kennedy said Thursday night, November 21, [1963] - incapable of telling the truth. I mean, I had a conversation with him at the White House in 1962, at one of those dances after a dinner, at which he said he never tried to beat the President, he never ran for President, he was never interested in being President, he was just interested in helping John Kennedy - there were people he couldn't dissuade right away, but he never lifted a finger himself - and that he never heard of anybody saying anything bad about President Kennedy, that he never knew about John Connally saying anything bad. And my experience with him since then is that he lies all the time. I'm telling you, he just lies continuously, about everything. In every conversation I have with him, he lies. As I've said, he lies even when he doesn't have to."

Bobby also said:

"As I described here, this man is not.... He's mean, bitter, vicious - an animal in many ways."

I take it from these last comments that Bobby wasn't varnishing the truth when he said that there were no plans to dump LBJ from the ticket in 1964.

Tim

#4 J. Raymond Carroll

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 10:45 PM

I take it from these last comments that Bobby wasn't varnishing the truth when he said that there were no plans to dump LBJ from the ticket in 1964.

Tim


Of course, as LBJ well knew, JFK was a man who liked to keep his options open. As Tim Carroll's quotes from RFK demonstrate, if I was LBJ I would be worried.

#5 Len Colby

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 11:06 PM

Are there any indications he suspected he might be dropped?

#6 Pat Speer

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 11:15 PM



I take it from these last comments that Bobby wasn't varnishing the truth when he said that there were no plans to dump LBJ from the ticket in 1964.

Tim


Of course, as LBJ well knew, JFK was a man who liked to keep his options open. As Tim Carroll's quotes from RFK demonstrate, if I was LBJ I would be worried.


LBJ was VERY worried about the Baker scandal. While digging up some info on Tommy The Cork for John's thread, I took a look back though Baker's Whealing and Dealing. He says that Bobby Kennedy called him at Corcoran's office to tell him he'd looked through the files and that he shouldn't be worried. This was at a time when Johnson was so scared of his connections to Baker that he was using Lady Bird as an intermediary. Since Baker doesn't give an exact date, perhaps this was before RFK came to realize just how much there was on Baker. Anyhow, Life Magazine's cover story when Kennedy was killed was on the Baker scandal and how it was reaching the point where it could force LBJ off the ticket. I've read it, and it's very damaging, and very long, particularly for an article in a photo magazine. My guess is that LBJ would have been forced off the ticket should the Baker scandal been allowed its normal course, but that JFK was gonna wait a bit longer before deciding. I suspect he told Lincoln what she wanted to hear, because she HATED Hoover and Johnson. She eventually accused them of Kennedy's murder.

Edited by Pat Speer, 18 January 2006 - 11:16 PM.


#7 J. Raymond Carroll

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 11:18 PM

Are there any indications he suspected he might be dropped?


It will take a better man nor I, Gungha Din, to answer your question. I can only wait for the final volume of Caro's bio.

#8 Tim Carroll

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 11:21 PM

Of course, as LBJ well knew, JFK was a man who liked to keep his options open.

It is a fundamental truth that "JFK was a man who liked to keep his options open." Researchers and historians do well to be mindful of this, whether the topic is Cuba or Vietnam or LBJ. The introduction of Richard Reeves' biography of President Kennedy says it well:

"The Kennedy I found certainly did not know what he was doing at the beginning, and in some ways never changed at all, particularly in a certain love for chaos, the kind that kept other men off-balance.

The man at the center was a gifted professional politician reacting to events he often neither forsaw nor understood, handling some well, others badly, but always ready with plausible explanations. He was intelligent, detached, curious, candid if not always honest, and he was careless and dangerously disorganized. He was also very impatient, addicted to excitement, living his life as if it were a race against boredom. He was a man of soaring charm who believed that one-on-one he would always prevail - a notion that betrayed him when he first confronted the premier of the Soviet Union.

Kennedy was decisive, though he never made a decision until he had to, and then invariably he chose the most moderate of available options. His most consistent mistake in governing, as opposed to politics, was thinking that power could be hoarded for use at the right moment - but moments and conditions defied reason. He had little ideology beyond anti-Communism and faith in active, pragmatic government. And he had less emotion. What he had was an attitude, a way of taking on the world, substituting intelligence for ideas or idealism, questions for answers. What convictions he did have, on nuclear proliferation or civil rights or the use of military power, he was often willing to suspend, particularly if that avoided confrontation with Congress or the risk of being called soft. If some would call that cynicism, he would see it as irony. 'Life is unfair,' he said, in the way the French said, C'est la vie. Irony was as close as he came to a view of life: things are never what they seem.

'No one ever knew John Kennedy, not all of him,' said Charlie Bartlett.

That was obviously the way Kennedy wanted it. All his relationships were bilateral. He was a compartmentalized man with much to hide, comfortable with secrets and lies. He needed them because that was part of the stimulation: things were rarely what they seemed. He called people when he wanted them, for what he wanted then. His children came at the clap of his hands and were swooped up and taken away at a nod to a nanny. After his election, he said his White House organization would look like a wheel with many spokes and himself at what he called 'the vital center.'

'It was instinctive at first,' he said. 'I had different identities, and this was a useful way of expressing each without compromising the others.'"


Wouldn't it be great to have pragmatic, non-ideological governance today? Bill Clinton, upon leaving office, was asked what was the most important quality in a president. He answered: "curiosity." There is a vitality in the asking of questions that cannot be approached by those with smug answers. Kennedy was the first postmodern president.

T.C.

#9 Len Colby

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 12:07 AM

Life Magazine's cover story when Kennedy was killed was on the Baker scandal and how it was reaching the point where it could force LBJ off the ticket. I've read it, and it's very damaging, and very long, particularly for an article in a photo magazine.


If it's available in digital form could you post or a link to it?

#10 Pat Speer

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 01:24 AM

Life Magazine's cover story when Kennedy was killed was on the Baker scandal and how it was reaching the point where it could force LBJ off the ticket. I've read it, and it's very damaging, and very long, particularly for an article in a photo magazine.


If it's available in digital form could you post or a link to it?


I don't think there is one. I dug out the magazine and took a look back through it and have to acknowledge some mistakes in my previous post. The Bobby Baker cover story was not the issue of November 22. The November 22 issue had Elizabeth Ashley on the cover and a six-page article on the Baker scandal. While it never says Johnson is in danger it can only be inferred from reading the article. The title alone implies something big is about to happen: "Scandal Grows and Grows in Washington" by Keith Wheeler.

Some examples:
"In a very real sense the present Establishment is the personal creation of Lyndon Baines Johnson who, from the day he took over as majority leader until he went to the Vice-Presidency, ruled it like an absolute monarch."
"Bobby Baker grew up in the Senate and eventually became a power in his own right by insinuating himself into the service and the favor of the Establishment's mighty men--first Johnson, then Kerr."
"A man who knows Johnson well said recently, "He even tried to be Johnson. When he came into the Senate Chamber, he'd take the Johnson stance..."
"Bobby Baker was Lyndon's bluntest instrument in running the show the way he wanted it. He'd go around the country putting the arm on those oil men in the Southwest and then he'd hand out the money where it would do the most good--for them."
"It is frequently customary when campaign contributions are made for the donor to earmark part or all of his gift for a specific candidate. But under the operations of the Johnson-Baker axis the earmarking did not always stay put."


It then gets into the shenanigans surrounding the Carousel Club and Serv-U Corporation. It details how one of Baker's partners, Alfred Novak, was found dead in his car from carbon monoxide poisoning. (Does that sound familiar?) It notes that Johnson was guest of honor when the Carousel Club finally opened. Amidst the list of Baker's other financial interests is one I find very interesting:

"a real estate venture in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, where seven members of a syndicate put up a mere $540 each and borrowed a whopping $105,000 from Jimmy Hoffa's Teamsters to promote a motel and shopping center that has never been built..."

No doubt Bobby Kennedy found this interesting as well.

If left to its course, the Baker scandal would almost certainly have destroyed Johnson. He was way too close to Baker.

Edited by Pat Speer, 19 January 2006 - 01:37 AM.


#11 John Dolva

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 01:25 AM

Of course, as LBJ well knew, JFK was a man who liked to keep his options open.

It is a fundamental truth that "JFK was a man who liked to keep his options open." Researchers and historians do well to be mindful of this, whether the topic is Cuba or Vietnam or LBJ. The introduction of Richard Reeves' biography of President Kennedy says it well:

"The Kennedy I found certainly did not know what he was doing at the beginning, and in some ways never changed at all, particularly in a certain love for chaos, the kind that kept other men off-balance.

The man at the center was a gifted professional politician reacting to events he often neither forsaw nor understood, handling some well, others badly, but always ready with plausible explanations. He was intelligent, detached, curious, candid if not always honest, and he was careless and dangerously disorganized. He was also very impatient, addicted to excitement, living his life as if it were a race against boredom. He was a man of soaring charm who believed that one-on-one he would always prevail - a notion that betrayed him when he first confronted the premier of the Soviet Union.

Kennedy was decisive, though he never made a decision until he had to, and then invariably he chose the most moderate of available options. His most consistent mistake in governing, as opposed to politics, was thinking that power could be hoarded for use at the right moment - but moments and conditions defied reason. He had little ideology beyond anti-Communism and faith in active, pragmatic government. And he had less emotion. What he had was an attitude, a way of taking on the world, substituting intelligence for ideas or idealism, questions for answers. What convictions he did have, on nuclear proliferation or civil rights or the use of military power, he was often willing to suspend, particularly if that avoided confrontation with Congress or the risk of being called soft. If some would call that cynicism, he would see it as irony. 'Life is unfair,' he said, in the way the French said, C'est la vie. Irony was as close as he came to a view of life: things are never what they seem.

'No one ever knew John Kennedy, not all of him,' said Charlie Bartlett.

That was obviously the way Kennedy wanted it. All his relationships were bilateral. He was a compartmentalized man with much to hide, comfortable with secrets and lies. He needed them because that was part of the stimulation: things were rarely what they seemed. He called people when he wanted them, for what he wanted then. His children came at the clap of his hands and were swooped up and taken away at a nod to a nanny. After his election, he said his White House organization would look like a wheel with many spokes and himself at what he called 'the vital center.'

'It was instinctive at first,' he said. 'I had different identities, and this was a useful way of expressing each without compromising the others.'"


Wouldn't it be great to have pragmatic, non-ideological governance today? Bill Clinton, upon leaving office, was asked what was the most important quality in a president. He answered: "curiosity." There is a vitality in the asking of questions that cannot be approached by those with smug answers. Kennedy was the first postmodern president.

T.C.


Very astute IMO. Though I'd emphasise (and possibly it's attended to in other parts of the biography) that Kennedy was also very able to turn that critical eye on himself if necessary. Fidel had initially a very personal critique of Kennedy describing him as an unbearded boy, and offering him instructions on what to do, such as 'sack Dulles'. Kennedy seems to have maintained and developed an equanimous relationship with the world in spite of this sort of thing. And his grip on his ego allowed him to choose for himself what to do. This characteristic ,I'd argue, seems to be a recognition of a 'higher good' and a courage from prioritising life itself. (what I mean is: for example he could say 'in the greater scheme of things, how important is my life?'). This is often a characteristic of a genuine 'believer'. This reordering of the 'normal' set of priorities that many people have can make him seen as 'chaotic', however there was a reason there. So an analysis of Kennedy must address his christianity.

Also when speaking of Kennedy it must be born in mind that one is really often speaking of the 'two Kennedys'. Bobby, perhaps less politically experienced but more street smart, and possibly greater intellectual, certainly Kennedys equal, had unquestionably the ear of the Man. They worked, thought and fought in tandem on many important issues. Jackie no doubt also was part of this 'greater Kennedy'.

#12 Tim Carroll

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 02:06 AM

Of course, as LBJ well knew, JFK was a man who liked to keep his options open.

It is a fundamental truth that "JFK was a man who liked to keep his options open." Researchers and historians do well to be mindful of this, whether the topic is Cuba or Vietnam or LBJ. The introduction of Richard Reeves' biography of President Kennedy says it well:

"He had little ideology beyond anti-Communism and faith in active, pragmatic government. And he had less emotion. What he had was an attitude, a way of taking on the world, substituting intelligence for ideas or idealism, questions for answers. What convictions he did have, on nuclear proliferation or civil rights or the use of military power, he was often willing to suspend, particularly if that avoided confrontation with Congress or the risk of being called soft. If some would call that cynicism, he would see it as irony. 'Life is unfair,' he said, in the way the French said, C'est la vie. Irony was as close as he came to a view of life: things are never what they seem."

Kennedy seems to have maintained and developed an equanimous relationship with the world in spite of this sort of thing. And his grip on his ego allowed him to choose for himself what to do. This characteristic ,I'd argue, seems to be a recognition of a 'higher good' and a courage from prioritising life itself. (what I mean is: for example he could say 'in the greater scheme of things, how important is my life?'). This is often a characteristic of a genuine 'believer'. This reordering of the 'normal' set of priorities that many people have can make him seen as 'chaotic', however there was a reason there. So an analysis of Kennedy must address his christianity.

Once before when John Dolva emphasized JFK's Christianity, I responded with a quote from Jackie lamenting the electoral opposition to Kennedy's presidential candidacy on the basis of his Catholicism, when she said, "But he's such a bad Catholic." That comment wasn't received in contextual fashion, so I don't expect much in that regard now. But the idea of President Kennedy as a truebelieveroonie ("genuine believer") is completely contrary to the JFK I understand.

While being a practicing Christian (although modern fundamentalist Christians don't consider Catholicism to be Christian), he admitted in private that he supported a woman's right to choose (but couldn't publicly admit it) and opposed school prayer. The bottom line is that he was skeptical of everything, and it was this trait which allowed him to second-guess the so-called experts.

Bobby noted, as JFK had, that his fulfillment came from having "influence." Bobby said, "It's the Greek definition of happiness: exercise of vital powers along the lines of excellence, and a life affording them scope." A "genuine 'believer,'" as John charaterized Kennedy, would never be able to exert the zest for life (hedonism even) and the critical reason that personified JFK.

T.C.

#13 John Dolva

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 02:24 AM

ah, that's interesting Tim. I remember that exchange. I can't remember exactly what I said. Probaly something that could be characterised by 'he was no saint'. But then who is.

I don't equate a genuine believer with this concept of the 'true believer', it seems you may be talking about the conservative christian. I don't see christ as a conservative. He is very inclusive and non judgemental in many ways. Kennedy was a human being.

What I'm getting at here is that Kennedy had a sense of higher priorities, and was guided by that sense. He dealt with reality to the best of his ability in a context of an understanding of who/what christ is. That is a sign of someone who does believe. Not of, for example, a tightass bigot.

#14 Tim Carroll

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 02:41 AM

I don't equate a genuine believer with this concept of the 'true believer', it seems you may be talking about the conservative christian. I don't see christ as a conservative. He is very inclusive and non judgemental in many ways. Kennedy was a human being. What I'm getting at here is that Kennedy had a sense of higher priorities, and was guided by that sense. He dealt with reality to the best of his ability in a context of an understanding of who/what christ is. That is a sign of someone who does believe. Not of, for example, a tightass bigot.

I appreciate the clarification. I do perceive that Kennedy had a sense of a higher power ("God"), whose works on earth "must surely be our own." That is a beautiful characterization of politics. This goes directly to an almost political statement attributed to Christ: "Love thy neighbor as thyself." It is through implementation of right-minded public policy that we can manifest this tenet.

T.C.

#15 Len Colby

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 02:59 AM

The same author claimed he was going to fire Hoover after the election. I remember reading he thought about it but have never heard that he had definately decided to do so.




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