In this conversation with chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee J. William Fulbright∇ (D-AR), President Johnson considers the reasons for the appointment of Henry Cabot Lodge∇ as ambassador to Vietnam and the prospects for replacing him.
At the end of a long conversation with Senator Richard Russell about the senator's upcoming recuperative holiday in Puerto Rico -- Russell had been hospitalized in February -- Johnson reveals his pessimism about the increasing difficulty of achieving U.S. objectives in Vietnam.
John S. McCain III, (1936-) currently a Republican Senator from Arizona and Republican nominee for President in the 2008 Presidential election, was a U.S. Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. In October 1967 he was shot down over North Vietnam, taken prisoner, and held captive as a prisoner of war for five and a half years. His father, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC∇) during much of the time his son was a POW.
We've compiled transcripts of the most substantive mentions of the McCain family in the LBJ and Nixon recordings. Given the time period the tapes span, most of these discussions relate to the Senator's father, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. (1911-1981), who became a four star admiral in the U.S. Navy and served during the Vietnam War as CINCPAC from 1968 to 1972. Senator McCain's grandfather, John S. McCain, Sr. (1884-1945), had also been an Admiral in the U.S. Navy.
In March 1965, several men and women in Alabama tested President Lyndon Johnson’s legendary political skills. Martin Luther King, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, John Lewis, and hundreds of other activists exposed the brutality of white supremacy in Selma, while Governor George Wallace was orchestrating his own responses in Montgomery. As the president struggled to satisfy the demonstrators’ demands for voting rights, the notoriously brutal Al Lingo of the state police and Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas County (where Selma was the county seat) and the arch-segregationist Governor Wallace made the balancing act even more difficult. In particular, over a two week period, Wallace retreated on his word, made inflammatory statements, and blamed the President for problems.
President Johnson called the Haggar clothing company to order some new pants, providing specific (and sometimes graphic) instructions on how they should be customized for him.
In this July 1964 call, about 3 weeks before the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, LBJ asks Robert Wagner, a former Democratic Senator from New York, to leak to the press that the party leaders support the President's right to choose his running mate and that a divided party is something to be avoided.
LBJ suggest that he say, "that they don't want the president to be required to sleep with anybody he doesn't want to sleep with. And he ought to have a man with vice president that he trusts and likes and can work with him. We oughtn't to have a divided ticket to start, and therefore, you expect to support the man the President selects . . . I just don't think it can do us a bit of good to have a divided thing there, a divided party."
In late 1966, Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) Director (and Kennedy brother-in-law) Sargent Shriver contemplated resigning because of differences with the President over funding levels for the War on Poverty and frustration over perceptions that his effectiveness had diminished. In this conversation with Special Assistant Bill Moyers (who had recently submitted his own resignation), President Johnson expounded on the implications of a Shriver resignation, as well as on his views of the budgetary constraints on the War on Poverty, the consequences of street protests that cast the Vietnam War and the anti-poverty effort as mutually-exclusive budget items, and his difficulties with Robert F. Kennedy and other liberal Senators who supported an expanded poverty program. Near the close of this excerpt, Johnson commented on the lack of political pragmatism and reliability that he perceived among much of Shriver's staff at OEO, particularly in the still-controversial Community Action Program (CAP).
In this conversation excerpt, President Johnson and Georgia Senator Richard Russell (R) express their shared dislike and distrust of the War on Poverty's Community Action Program.
In an effort to provide space for negotiations during the Vietnam War, Johnson ordered a cessation of air strikes against North Vietnam on December 25, 1965. After one month of failed attempts to use diplomacy to promote peace, President Johnson voiced his intentions to former President Eisenhower to proceed with offensive attacks against the North. In a telephone conversation recorded on January 25, 1966, Johnson insisted upon the impossibility of extending the bombing pause without progress in negotiations. Evoking the criticism of Senators Wayne Morse (D-OR) and J. William Fulbright∇ (D-AR) regarding his policy decisions in Southeast Asia, the President turned to Eisenhower for counsel. The General responded by labeling Johnson's critics "overeducated Senators."
Of all the congressional members on the Warren Commission, Ford∇ was the least known to President Johnson. He had been first elected to the House in 1948, the same year Johnson won his Senate seat. Ford's first and only intensive encournter with Lyndon Johnson had occurred in 1957, when both men served on a bipartisan House-Senate committee formed to draft the legislation creating NASA∇.
Just a few days after taking power, President Johnson struggled with the difficulties of inheriting a presidency without warning. In this conversation with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a leading civil rights organization, Johnson continued reaching out to all the major civil rights leaders.
Approximately 35,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean and 900 hundred miles west of Honolulu, the VIP Boeing 707 known as SAM 86972 was carrying six members of the Cabinet and Pierre Salinger to a conference in Tokyo when it received a garbled but alarming bulletin over the UPI∇ teletype. At Dean Rusk∇'s instruction, press secretary Pierre Salinger contacted the White House Situation Room to confirm the news about shots being fired at the President's motorcade in Dallas. Navy Commander Oliver Hallett took the inquiry from Salinger, who could not remember any code names but his own. Hallett struggled to deliver the blood-curdling confirmation dispassionately, though misstatements and his tone betrayed Hallett's own shock at the news.
Some 30 minutes after leaving Dallas aboard Air Force One after President Kennedy's assassination, President and Mrs. Johnson placed a telephone call to the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. The Johnsons offered their condolences to Mrs. Rose Kennedy, mother of the late President. Sergeant Joseph Ayres, the steward aboard Air Force One who initially talked with Mrs. Kennedy, would later tell William Manchester that he had to check himself from saying "President" Johnson. But Rose Kennedy used the appellation without hesitation.
During the flight aboard Air Force One from Dallas back to Washington immediately following President Kennedy's assassination, President Johnson made some calls that were routed throught the White House. Shortly after expressing their condolences to Mrs. Rose Kennedy, the Johnsons spoke to Nellie Connally∇, wife of John Connally. The Texas governor, the only other person injured in the shooting at Dealey Plaza, was one of President Johnson's closest political associates, having managed Johnson's 1960 campaign for the presidency.