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The BBC has a good piece on the '68 elections, Nixon's torpedoing of the Vietnamese peace talks that Johnson had underway at the time, and the call by Humphrey to not make this public, because...

Humphrey had been told by his pollsters that he had the election won.  Of course he didn't, and Nixon as Prez went on to continue the war for five more years.  All this is detailed in the recently released Johnson tapes.  

In addition to the craziness of Nixon's interference in the negotiations with the North and South Vietnamese, and the resulting deaths of tens of thousands of Cambodians, Laotians, Vietnamese and Americans, is the tantalizing notion that Humphrey, perhaps with better polling, might have won the election.  One of the most interesting paragraphs of the article reads:
"The president [Johnson] did let Humphrey know and gave him enough information to sink his opponent. But by then, a few days from the election, Humphrey had been told he had closed the gap with Nixon and would win the presidency. So Humphrey decided it would be too disruptive to the country to accuse the Republicans of treason, if the Democrats were going to win anyway."

The article also details a number of one-step-away-from-happening political events, like Johnson's almost appearance at the Chicago Democratic Convention, avoiding the demonstrators (including me) by landing on the roof of the convention hotel.  Wild stuff.  And horrible lost opportunities to have the world be a better place.

11:39 AM PT: Composting's piece on Rethinking Watergate points to this business as a precursor to Watergate.  Great piece.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hartmann Occasionally Plays the Tape Segment (4+ / 0-)

    of Johnson talking with Dirksen describing Nixon's behavior as "treason" and we hear Dirksen agree.

    What I don't know is when that occurred; Johnson was trying to get Republicans to pressure Nixon to knock it off. He tells Dirksen that we know who Nixon's talking to and what he's saying to them.

    It leads me to believe this was some time in advance of the election, and it sounds like LBJ is reluctant for the public to learn of it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 11:38:02 AM PDT

  •  Why are Democrats so afraid of disruption? (5+ / 0-)

    Al Gore seemed a bit too willing to run away from conflict in 2000, too.  Why are Democrats so afraid of making civil disruption part of their strategy?

    •  Liberal populism is hard to control (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bluezen

      It means the people asserting power and taking it away from political and economic leaders. A politician can try to reap the whirlwind, but it's a whirlwind.

      I'm all for it.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 02:36:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In this case it was the wire tap (6+ / 0-)

      They caught a call from Anna Chennault, a know adviser to Nixon, talking to the South Vietnamese Embassy telling them to wait on the peace agreement until after the election and they will get a better deal, while Nixon is campaigning on the bombing of the North and the peace talks. They know in their hearts that Nixon is behind it, but they can't prove it

      L.B.J. was wire tapping the South Vietnam Embassy. L.B.J. did not want to be like McCarthy, is what he said. Dean Rusk tells the president that they can't release the info, because of the source. He mentions all of the malfeasance of the Senators they know about too that they can't release because of the source. Wire taps.

      What is sad is Reagan, and more so Bush, did the exact same thing with Iran in the election against Carter. They made a deal with the enemy not to release America hostages until after the election when they could get a better deal.

      The Republicans are all for patriotism until it comes time for elections. Then treason is just another dirty trick to win the election. I distrust them now more than ever.

      It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

      by se portland on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 02:53:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reagan's treachery was blatantly obvious (5+ / 0-)
        They made a deal with the enemy not to release American hostages until after the election when they could get a better deal.
        I've always wondered how and why Reagan was allowed to get away with it.  At the time, it was so glaringly, damnably obvious.  And, in essence, no one said a word.

        America's mainstream media has so damned often been complicit in Republican dirty dealings.

        To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men. -Abraham Lincoln

        by Eyesbright on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:05:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  they are true patriots? (0+ / 0-)

      right or wrong Gore for example, I've ?read, didn't want to challenge the US Supreme Court.
      He was well aware of what it would mean to our country if we lost trust in the SC.
      I wish they fought too but I take it that they are thinking of the country. Like Humphrey.

      He was especially mistaken. Because we all know anything can happen with elections. This country wouldn't want a President who'd torpedo a peace process and if HH had won the fact that the looser was disgraced wouldn't feel too bad to the people...because he'd be the looser.

  •  There are reasons to remember why the Democrats (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, Musial, bluezen, native

    lost the election in 1968 because they're still relevant.

    It was a three-way contest and the electoral vote tally was:
    Nixon - 301
    Humphrey - 191
    Wallace - 46

    The Democrats were challenged on the right by southern conservatives in their own party.  They wouldn't have voted for Johnson, Humphrey, or any Democratic candidate.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed with Pres. Johnson's strong support and any Democrat for President was objectionable in the South.  George Wallace ran as a third party candidate and the bitterness of racism was so potent that he was able to carry enough southern states to give him 46 electoral votes.  

    On the left, there was bitterness, too.  The anti-war candidate, Eugene McCarthy was running successfully in primaries against Johnson.  Robert Kennedy would have been acceptable to the left, too, and he was also running successfully, but was assassinated.  By the results of the primaries, the Democrats should have awarded the nomination to McCarthy, but the delegate rules were different in those days.  Delegates weren't allocated to a candidate in proportion to the primary election results.  Instead, the delegates could nominate anyone in an undemocratic process conducted in "smoke-filled rooms."

    That's why protest demostrations were held outside the convention in Chicago.  The delegates inside chose Humphrey, who was Johnson's Vice President, even though he never ran in a primary.  His selection represented a likely continuation of Johnson's foreign policy, the War in Vietnam, which was unacceptable to the left.  It's possible that the left sat out the election and its participation may have made a difference.  

    There was no expectation that peace talks would lead to peace at that point.  Anything Nixon did to interfere wouldn't have changed the election result if it was known at the time.  His deeds eventually caught up with him.  

    If the election results were gamed out with a different Democratic Party candidate who had the support of the anti-war movement, like McCarthy, California's 40 electoral votes might have flipped.  The electoral vote tally would have been:

    Nixon - 261
    McCarthy - 231
    Wallace - 46

    No one would have had the 270 needed to win.  

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 01:52:55 PM PDT

    •  very complex dynamics that year, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      se portland, bluezen, native

      Hubert had been placed under house arrest by MacBird for several years and was antiwar but LBJ would dry up funding. Hubert finally ran as a peace candidate. LBJ on the phone to LA on 6/5/68 "Is he dead yet?" Caro won't touch this, but the Kennedy oral history records two deaths for which Johnson could have been named in a wrongful death action. You have MLK family history and a court judgment implicating persons next to him on the balcony as accomplices. Hubert blunders in picking Muskie not Harris. LBJ is determined to suppress what he believes is the beginning of WWIII in Grant Park. Clean Gene's duped following were clueless about the dynamics and Gene was untroubled by his failure to support Hubert thereby throwing the election to Nixon. Something at least MacBird backed off on when Hubert called his bluff in October. Into this scene enters Dealey Plaza's Nixon and his future rival Agnew who would be replaced by a trusted Warren Commission member. Nixon would hire E.H. Hunt to fix his problem finding LBJ's tapes or other leaks from the conspiracy. No wonder Hubert's health eventually failed after he returned to the Senate.

      •  1968 was... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Musial, native

        total turmoil.

        Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed. I was a little kid in elementary school in Austin Texas, but I remember they wheeled a cart with a T.V. into our class room. The janitor, a middle aged African American, sat in the back of the room crying.

        I was at home alone watching T.V. when the news broke to live coverage of some kitchen in California showing me people huddled around a person on the floor. The person on the floor was Robert Kennedy.

        Earlier in the year the Viet Cong launched the Tet offensive, and by summer the Soviet's had rolled tanks into Czechoslovakia.

        There were riots at the Democratic National Convention. I can't embed this video from the History Chanel, but it is worth watching. Violence Batters 1968 Democratic Convention

        Some are mathematicians, some are truck driver's wives...but I thinking I am starting to know how it got started.

        It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

        by se portland on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:24:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  90% or more of the Wallace vote would have (0+ / 0-)

    gone to Nixon if Wallace wasn't in the race. Therefore, Nixon who beat Humphrey by about 1% of the vote with a total of about 43% would have actually received close to about 53-55% of the vote if there was no third party candidacy. Wallace got about 13% of the vote.  It seems the democrats didn't even have a chance that year.

  •  i know lbj's revered by many d's for his social (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Musial, native, jplanner

    achievements like medicare & the civil rights act but he could be a real asshole, too. i remember hearing he believed he would be drafted by the convention even tho he said he wouldn't accept the nomination & i thought, wow, what a pompous ass. now, it seems like he was going to force himself on the party anyway.

    does anyone know if the kennedy assassination docs that were supposed to be kept secret until 2038 are still being withheld from public disclosure? i understand some have been released but not all.

    i always find it ironic when the decision is made that the american public can't be trusted with our own history. glad these tapes were made available. better late than never, as they say.

  •  Not the reason Humphrey didn't disclose it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    se portland, MrLiberal, Musial

    No one in his camp thought he had it won.  Disclosure would have revealed the administration's bugging of the South Vietnam embassy as well as it's use of the FBI to tap some in the Nixon campaign.  It could have backfired as much as it could have sink Nixon.

    www.buonoforgovernor.com

    by Paleo on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:34:57 PM PDT

    •  I hope you did not post that from (0+ / 0-)

      your smart phone.

      I have been listening to the tapes, thanks to this diary. It shouldn't have surprised me, but it did

      Today, every click on your remote is tracked. Your phone is pinging cell towers as you drive down the street. Computers are fast enough now that one, if they were so inclined, could build a profile of you. Not that there would be anything to gain from that.

      I am fifty something years old, and I am curious about flax seeds. I am not as young as I use to be, and I worry about my health. I guess what I am tying to say here is, you can try to be as anonymous as you want, but there are algorithms,  and matrix reductions, and stuff ... that can find patterns and relationships from seemingly unrelated data.

      What was that Police song?

      Every breath you take every move you make,
      Every bond you break every step you take,
      I'll be watching you.

      Every single day every word you say,
      Every game you play every night you stay,
      I'll be watching you.

      Oh, can't you see you belong to me.
      How my poor heart aches with every step you take.
      Every move you make every vow you break,
      Every smile you fake every claim you stake,
      I'll be watching you.

      Since you've gone I been lost without a trace,
      I dream at night I can only see your face.
      I look around but it's you I can't replace,
      I feel so cold and I long for your embrace.
      I keep crying baby, baby, please.

      Oh, can't you see you belong to me.
      How my poor heart aches with every step you take.
      Every move you make every vow you break,
      Every smile you fake every claim you stake,

      I'll be watching you.
      Every move you make.
      Every step you take.
      I'll be watching you.
      I'll be watching you.

      Every move you make.
      Every step you take.
      I'll be watching you.
      I'll be watching you.

      Every move you make.
      Every step you take.
      I'll be watching you.

      It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

      by se portland on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:14:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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