TRANSCRIPTS this week; please read them and print them out.
Bobby Baker scandal, farm bill, managing Congress
President Johnson and B. Everett Jordan, with Walter Jenkins, 5:34 PM
President Johnson: Hi, Everett! How you doing, my friend?
Jordan: Fine, Mr. President.
President Johnson: Good to hear you.
Jordan: Well, Iím mighty glad to be able to call you, "Mr. President."
President Johnson: Well, you did your part, my friend. Youíve done everything in the world a human could, and Iíll never forget you and that sweet wife of yours. All the times weíve ever needed you. Iím sitting here with Lady Bird right now and she sends her love.
Jordan: Well, bless her soul.
President Johnson: She just came down to the office to try to get me away. Iíve been staying hereó
Jordan: Well, Iíll tell you one thing. Iím going to join with her in helping her get you away from that place, too. Damn your hide! I donít want you to get killed in office, now, just by work.
President Johnson: Iím not. Iím not. Iím not.
Jordan: [jovially] There are two ways to die: work yourself to death and let you somebody shoot you. But I donít want anything to happen to you.
President Johnson: Well . . .
Jordan: By all means. Well, tell Lady Bird hello for both of us.
President Johnson: Fine. I sure will.
Jordan: Mr. President, you know about the cotton bill.
President Johnson: Yes.
Jordan: You know a lot about the cotton bill. You helped get it through the House. And itís just absolutely imperative that this bill get through the Senate and get through here quick. And Iíll tell you why. Youíve been in business a long time and know as much about it as anybody in business. When it looked like this bill was going to pass, and when it did get through the House, the big buyers just quit buying cotton textiles. They figured, well itís going to go down nowówhich it will if we can get this 8.5 cents equalizer [tax], or a good portion of it.
Well, J.C. Penneyónow, now this is just confidentialó
President Johnson: Yes.
Jordan: [continuing] J.C. Penney is the largest buyer of cotton textiles in the United States. He buys more menís underwear, pajamas, everythingóand socksóthan any of them. I know his figures. Well, theyíve just put out an order, which I know from one of the biggestówell, the biggestósupplier of menís underwear, that theyíre going to work on a ten-day basis until this settled. Well, when you cut all the mills down to ten days, they just almost stop.
Now, this can be put through the Senate all right. Itís the best billóitís the only bill thatís been offered thatís got the support of everybody. I attended every one of the hearings in the Senate here, and the farmers, the warehousemen, the ginners, the cotton merchants, the seed crushers, the manufacturers have all agreed to this bill. Now, thatís the first time weíve ever had them all to agree to anything.
President Johnson: Yes.
Jordan: [continuing] Thatís your big ones in California and Arizona and Texas and the Carolinas and Mississippi and all of them. They all were here. And they donít have anything against the [Herman] Talmadge bill. Neither do I. Except thereís nobody thatíll tell you they can pass that bill.
President Johnson: Uh-huh.
Jordan: And they canít go back to pass it through the House to save their necks.
President Johnson: Why donít you just get, try to get your bill out? Whatís [Allen] Ellender going to do about it? Is he going to hold hearings or . . .
Jordan: Well, we donít need to hold any hearings. We held the hearings this spring, three or four months ago.
President Johnson: Well, why donít he take a vote on it and try to get it on out?
Jordan: Well, he needs some prodding or some help from . . . Now, you know, Ellender is not sold on this bill. Heís not sold on any kind of cotton bill.
President Johnson: Yes.
Jordan: He says it costs too much money. Well, the figures on it now is about 118 billion the first year and about 75 the next, and itíll cut our export subsidy down. Well, itíll cut it 2.5 cents a pound, which is a devil of a lot of money. If youíd get a hold of Ellender and three or four people on that committee, we can get that . . . It ought to be gotten out of here next week.
President Johnson: Iíll check into it the first thing in the morning.
Jordan: Will you help us on it?
President Johnson: Yes, Iíll get my boys and get them to look right into it and tell them to do everything they can.
[The tape then briefly interrupts.]
Jordan: . . . Go down there, and put that old charm on him.
President Johnson: Well, Iíll talk to . . . Let me talk to the secretary [Orville Freeman] and see what he says, and then let me talk to my legislative boys and see what they say, and then Iíll get back in touch with you.
Jordan: All right. Now, is George [Reedy] around anywhere?
President Johnson: No, I can transfer you.
Jordan: Well, I want a little information.
President Johnson: Let me transfer you right now.
Jordan: Wait. Let me ask you one other thing.
President Johnson: All right.
Jordan: Senator Ervinó
President Johnson: Walter is here in the next office, if you want to talk to him.
President Johnson: Walter Jenkins.
Jordan: Oh, yes, I want to speak to Walter.
President Johnson: All right. [aside:] Sixty in here and getó
Jordan: All right, but let me tell you one thing. Have you got time to?
President Johnson: Yes. Yes.
Jordan: Sam Ervin and I on the 1st of November recommended a young man.
Jenkins: Yes, sir.
Jordan: [continuing] For a federal judge in North Carolina, and we havenít heard bee from bullfoot about it. Would you sort of look into that thing?
President Johnson: I sure will. I sure will.
Jordan: Eugene Gordon. Heís taking the place, we hope, of the federal judgeóthatís Judge [Richardson] Preyeró that Kennedy turned down with [Terry] Sanfordís directionówouldnít appoint him, and when we went home for the recess or adjourned last year, he put Judge Preyer in there as a recess appointment. Of course, he was confirmed when we came back. Now this Judge Preyer, heís pulled out, and given up is federal judgeship and running for governoróTerryís running boy down there. And . . .
President Johnson: Hm. Weíll check right into that and get back to you.
Jordan: And we need to get this boy appointed to get him going.
President Johnson: All right.
Jordan: Let me speak to Walter.
Jenkins: Iím on the line now, sir. Iíve just been making notes on what you said on Eugene Gordon.
President Johnson: I think the best thing to do, though, if you donít mind . . . Why donít you get Bill Whitley to call Larry OíBrien and tell him you want to check and get a report for you on it. Walter, then you follow up on it and get a copy of the report.
Jenkins: I will, sir.
President Johnson: Get Bill to call him, too, first. Because we havenít settled down Bobby [Kennedy] yet. If I go to inquiring, why, we may tip our hand. Just let Bill ask Larry OíBrien to get him a report, and you tell Larry that youíve had a call on it too, and you want a copy of it when he gets it.
Jenkins: All right, sir.
President Johnson: All right, goodbye.
Jordan: Thank you so much, Mr. President!
Jenkins: How you doing, Senator?
Jordan: Walterófine. Clark Mollenhoffóyou know him?
Jenkins: Yes, sir.
Jordan: [continuing] Was in here yesterday afternoon, and he was prodding and bearing down on Bill and me both, about all the stuff he knows, what he knows . . . everything. Heís been talking to this damned fellow . . .
Jenkins: [Don] Reynolds?
Jordan: Reynolds. And he said, "Hell, that insurance was bought by the LBJ Company. It was $200,000." I said, "I donít know. We havenít made any inquiries into that thing. I donít know who bought it. I just heard he bought some one time, a long time ago. Thatís all I know about it."
He said, "Well, you know . . ." Heís been talking to this fellow, Reynolds. That damn Reynolds is nuts! I donít know what all he hasnít told, or who he hasnít talked to. But I didnít tell you before because I didnít know.
Jenkins: No. But whatís wrong with the LBJ Company buying it? Of course, as you know, thatís what happened, as I told you the other night.
Jordan: Well, I thought he . . . I thought Leonard [Marks] did. I didnít know thereís anything. I didnít know there was anything wrong with it.
Jordan: [stuttering] But I didnít know that you . . . I thought that . . . I understood before that Lyndon had bought it and youíd arranged for the details with Reynolds, whatever it was . . .
Jenkins: No. As I told you, I just put him in touch with the people at the LBJ Company who bought it.
Jordan: Yes. Well, whatever it was. Now, that was the additional information.
What theyíre trying to set up there [is] that there was a conflict of interest, that he was using his . . . See, he [Johnson] was in the Senate then.
Jordan: I guess thatís right. Thatís what he said.
Jenkins: Thatís right.
Jordan: And theyíre asking me . . . Well, he also asked me the other dayóyesterdayó"You all said you made a statement that you didnít discuss two senators in there." I said, "Thatís exactly right. I told you the truth. [John] Williams did not mention any senators." He said, "Did he mention any former senators?" I said, "Not that I know of. What are you talking about?" He said, "Thereís a former senator who now is President of the United States. Did he mention him?" I said, "Well, I have no recollection of him mentioning him."
He was really bearing down. He said, "Going back to this conflict of interest, he was using his office to pressure people into buying radio time and television time and all of this stuff." I said, "I havenít the slightest idea about that. I donít know anything about it. But I do know people that buy radio time and they sell it. Thatís what they got the station for. And I didnít know there was anything wrong with it."
But I just wanted you to have that extra information on it.
Jordan: [continuing] If itís worth anything.
Jenkins: Yes, I think I ought to know about it.
Jordan: Now, when I came out of thisówe had a hearing today in the Rules [Committee], with this Melpar outfit out here.
Jenkins: Yes, sir.
Jordan: We had the president and the executive vice president in for a long [meeting], about three or four hours. Of course, that was where Bobby [Baker] got these things in and so forth. When I came out, gee, they got the television onó[theyíre] standing in line. That whole place was just covered up with radio people and television people.
He wanted to know [whether] since Lyndon had become President, was he putting the pressure on to hush this thing up? I said, "Absolutely not." "Have you talked to the President?" I said, "I have not spoken to the President since he became President of the United States. I wanted to make that positive statement. I have not talked to him."
Soóthat was at 2:30 today.
Jordan: So they keep boring in, and they ainít going to get anything out of Everett, I can tell you that!
Jenkins: Well, thatís good. All right. Then what do you . . . Are you through with those people, now, that are there today?
Jordan: The Melpar?
Jordan: No. We got three or two more Monday. I beg your pardon, yes and no. Weíve got the crowd that got thrown outóyou know about this suit?
Jenkins: Yes, I read about it.
Jordan: And another crowd in thereóweíre hearing the other side of this thing Monday.
Jenkins: All right, sir. I sure thank you. Can you think of anything else I ought to know?
Jordan: Well, I believe not. I want you to help me push this thing on this cotton, because thatís the most imperative thing facing this country right now that I know of. It affects every segment of the textile industry from the cotton grower right on up to the store counters. And without the bossís help on it, itís going to die right here in the Senate. And next year, itís going to wreck this textile industry.
Jenkins: All right.
Jordan: If you run the store, Walter, you wouldnít put a damn pound of cotton goods on the shelf if you thought it was going to be five cents a yard cheaper next month, would you?
Jordan: And nobody else will. And thatís exactly what theyíre doing it right now. They just quit as soon as the House passed it, and theyíre just buying enough to . . .
Well, one man told me that one of the big Penney stores ordered six dozen. He said about six dozen. And theyíre just buying every three days and have them shipped by mail. Said, "Weíre not going to get caught with an inventory of socks, or anything else."
Jordan: So weíve got to move on this thing.
Jenkins: All right. I heard the President already tell you heíd get some people to work on it.
Jenkins: Now, let me be sure that I go over just briefly again what I told you the other night, so thereíd be no question about it. They were looking for this insuranceóthis company was. They were going to buy it on him, so that if something happened to him, Mrs. Johnson wouldnít be in real serious trouble and have to give up everything she had to pay the taxes that would be due on his death. They found this one company that was particularly interested in doing that kind of business. This fellow [Reynolds] had it, and Bobby brought him to me, and I put him in touch with the people that wanted to buy the insurance, and they bought it from him. And thatís just about it. I donít think thereís any serious problem with it, and, as you indicated to me the other night, that you didnít think so, either.
Jordan: No. I donít see anything wrong with it. Nothing.
Jordan: But what theyíre trying to do with it . . . I donít know what this fellow Reynolds, what he has told Williams and a lot of other folks. Of course, that stinking hi-fi set in thereótheyíve got the darned invoice on that, and theyíre trying to make something out of that. And Bobby got a lot of money out of it. And itís one thing or another.
Jenkins: Iím sure, as I told you, that as far as we were concerned, that was something between us and Bobby, and we didnít know the other fellow had anything in the world to do with it.
Jordan: Yes. Thatís between Reynolds and Bobby. What Reynolds wanted to give Bobby, that wasnít none of your business. I donít presume it was.
Jenkins: Thatís right. We didnít know he was involved in it at all.
Jordan: Well, Iíve told you all that Iíve heard, so youíre all pitched on your end of it.
Jenkins: Howíd it look today? Was itó
Jordan: It didnít get around toó
Jordan: Bobbyís all fouled up in this vending machine business. Thereís ainít no question about that.
Jordan: I donít know whether . . . Now, this fellow said that he didnít pay Bobby any money, but he got the contract. They gave it to him on Bobbyís say-so. That Bobby was just disinterested as a friend. But the other fellow said he paid him so much a month to keep it in there, and then he took it away from him. So I . . . Iím afraid Bobbyís . . . I donít know that he did anything criminal in thatóI donít think he did.
Jordan: But it certainly looks like a lot of influence peddling.
Jenkins: [sourly] Yes. [Pauses.] All right, weíll be back in touch with you on this other thingó
Jordan: Of course, Iím trying to keep the Bobby thing from spreading, too.
Jenkins: I know you are.
Jordan: Because, hell, I donít want to see it spread either. It might spread to a place we donít want to see it spread. I donít want it to spread at all, but it may be a place we canít stop it from spreading.
Jordan: Mighty hard to put a fire out when it gets out of control.
Jenkins: Thatís right.
Jordan: But, thank you, Walter.
Jenkins: Thank you, sir.
Jordan: All right.
Jenkins: I appreciate it very much.
Jordan: Youíre welcome.
Jenkins: And weíll be reporting back to you on the cotton thing.
Jordan: OK. Fine.
Jenkins: Thank you, Senator.
foreign aid; LBJ-Ford
President Johnson and Gerald Ford, 4:08 PM
President Johnson: Jerry, Iíve got in the middle of a waspís nest down here with our friend Otto [Passman] and the day I talked to you. I wanted to tell you about it, and see if thereís not some way of extricating ourselves.
Ford: I sure hope we can.
President Johnson: I have in front of me what Otto promised me. I guess he thought that I could prevail on you.
He told me that if we would go to 2.8 [billion] and let him roll us in the House, that we could roll him on the billóthat he would go to not 2.8 [billion] in conference, but if we could get the Senate to pass a higher bill, that he would go up to as much as 3.2 [billion], if Iíd get you to go with him. I asked him if you would go with him, and he said he thought you would go with him, and that if you didnít go with him, heíd go as much as 300 [million] in a supplemental.
Now, I donít think that this means that much to the people of Louisiana or the countryówhether itís 100 [million] or 200 million. We had 3.9 [billion] last year, and Iím taking over a job where the world is in worse shape now than it was last year.
President Johnson: [continuing] And I just think itís cruel to give us that little pocketbook. Now, I donít care whether I get it supplemental or how I get itóIím not trying to play the galleriesóI just want to get something that can function. And I had on my desk the other morning $130 million that they wanted me to act on immediately, and I said, "I just canít do it. I donít know what weíre going to have."
But every report we get is bad, and I never saw a place where we needed help more. Now, I told the Senate boys that I was going to try to get Otto to keep his agreement with meógo to $3.2 [billion], plus the 209 [million]óif I could get you to go along with him. They sad he wouldnít dare go that far; you had to have a pretty even split regardless of what he said to meóand Iíve got it typed out on the Speakerís own stationery; the Speaker brought him down here.
Now, isnít there some way that you could join him and ask him to keep his commitment to me, and go to the 3.2 [billion]?
Ford: Sir, could I take just a minuteó
President Johnson: Yes.
Ford: [continuing] To tell you what my agreements are with . . . My agreements first are with the Republicans.
President Johnson: Yes, I knew that. You told me that the other day.
Ford: [continuing] But Otto agreedóand heís told me 1,000 times since thenówe wonít go above 3 billion. I said, "Well, this is what we understood." He said that 1,000 times.
President Johnson: Well, now. Do you want me to read you what weíve got down with John McCormackówhat he agreed to with me and John McCormack, just asó
Ford: Let me just take a second here. Iím more anxious to get dollars. I mean, Iím for the program, and you know that.
Now, in the meantime, this damn wheat thing has come up. Mr. President, this is a cause celťbrť with a hell of a lot of Republicans. I voted for the motion to recommit, as did John Rhodes, and, I guess, four out of the five conferees did on the House side.
Now, I would go to 3.2 [billion] this minute, and I would guarantee [Republican support], but Iíve got to have something on that wheat deal.
President Johnson: Now, Jerry, weíd rather not have any bill than to get in a war with Russia. We just think that when you say youíre going to discriminate against them . . . Theyíre not going to use the Export-Import Bank. You havenít got any money in this bill for the Export-Import Bank.
President Johnson: The amendmentís not worth a damn. Itís just a play to the galleries, because youíre prohibiting something youíve got no money in there for to prohibit.
Ford: Iíve read that about five times, and, as a lawyer, that language is full of loopholes.
President Johnson: [forcefully] Of course it is.
Ford: I agree with you.
President Johnson: Now, all it does is hit Russia right in the face at the time weíve got them split with the Chinese Communists. Thatís all it does.
Now, I wouldnít have a bit of hesitancy in doing away with the bill rather than take that amendment. The Secretary of State feels the same way about it. He just told me. He said, "Iíd rather have no bill than to have that kind of amendment."
Because here we are, everything that weíve done is undone in one amendment with the Congress. [Itís] a new administration, and it puts President Johnson in the position of saying that he puts Russia in the same class as the Chinese Communists, that heíll discriminate against them, and not discriminate against anybody else in the world.
Now, why donít you do this? Why donít you go in there and give them a 3.2 [billion], and the 209 [million] carryover? Thatís what Otto promised meólet me read you what he promised me. "Iíll report out of the House [Foreign Operations Sub]committee 2.8 billion, plus a carryover of 209 million, and any other items in the bill where unobligated balance may go out on a point of order. In conference, Iíll go to 3 billion, plus the carryover of 209 million minimum.
"If Jerry Ford will go with me to 3.2 billion, I will go. If the conferees agree on 3 billion plus the 209 [million] carryover and Jerry Ford will not go with me for the 200 extra million as set forth in paragraph three"ówhich I just readó"then I will go to 300 million in a supplemental where a case can be made out for either military or economic or both, as much as 200 [million] of it to be economic aid if needed. But of a total of 300 [million], going up to 200 million as needed on either item. And if any one item doesnít go to 200 million, up the balance of 300 million on the other item.
"In other words, if the conferees bring in more than 3 billion, outside of the 209 million carryover, the difference between that and 3.3 billion will be taken care of in a supplemental."
Now, thatís all I want done. If youíll give me 3.2 billion, and, if I have to, come back in a supplemental for the 100 [million], thatís fine.
Now, on the wheat amendment, what I think you ought to do there . . . Your prohibiting language does no good. And I think you can put me on the spot there, and make it affirmative, where you donít throw a red flag.
Theyíre not going to use it. Theyíre going to pay cash for it if it goes through. What weíre arguing about now is the bottoms that we ship it in, and the $3/ton, which is less that 7 million, that theyíre arguing about. But theyíre going to pay cashóthey paid cash to Canadaówe think. They just donít want to be discriminated against.
But you can say that the Export-Import Bank is permitted to give any assistance that the President may find is required by the national interest. In other words, instead of a prohibition socking them in the face, put the load on me and let me make the decision, if I have to make itówhich I donít think I ever will have to do.
Ford: Let me ask you this, sir.
President Johnson: Yes.
Ford: If I went that far, could I have the best assurance you can give me that youíll make them pay on the barrel?
President Johnson: Iíll do everything that a human being can.
Ford: [Unpersuaded.] Well . . .
President Johnson: The odds hereóthey tell me the odds are 90 percent that they donít even want the Export-Import Bank, because the interest rate is higher than they have to have. One of the reasons is that they donít want to pay that interest. They paid Canada straight cash. They think theyíll pay us straight cash. They think whatís thing thatís holding up the dealóand the only thing thatís holding it upóis theyíre trying to chisel out of 7 or 8 million dollars on the shipping charges.
President Johnson: Now, weíre just letting them argue it out. Weíre not taking part. Thatís between the private grain dealers and them.
President Johnson: But I will not let them use the Export-Import Bank unless I take a positive certification that the national interest requires this.
Ford: Well, let meó
President Johnson: And then you can beat me over the head [in] every community in Michigan that you want to for saying that Iím communist.
Ford: Well, noó
President Johnson: But I donít mind doing it. Iím going to make them pay cash if thereís any way in the world of making them do it. And I donít think we ought to get into an international row over this thing. I think our relationship is better with them right now than theyíve ever been. Theyíre dropping their budget military-wise.
Ford: Mm-hmm. Mr. President, let me sit downóIíve got to talk with John Rhodes.
President Johnson: Yes.
Ford: [continuing] Because I donít break agreements with people, and I donító
President Johnson: I know you donít. I know you donít. Jerry, you try to do this for us. Otto has promised us this if I could get you to go along. Now, you know that you oughtnít to have given Kennedy 3.9 billion last year and give me 3.1 billion this year. So give me 3.2 billion and let me try to make it work. If I have to, Iíll come back not to exceed 100 [million]. Thatís what heís told me.
Now, on the wheat amendment: change the wheat amendment around where you make the President find that the national interest requires it.
Ford: Let me talkó
President Johnson: Then youíre off your hook there, arenít you?
Ford: [skeptically] Well, it helps. It helps. Whether or not itís going to satisfy some of these other people that are real hot on this thing is another question, but . . .
President Johnson: Well, weíd rather give anything in terms of money than that, because we just donít want to provoke these folks into another Cuba deal. We just donít want to do it.
Ford: Let me ask you this: is it vitally important that we get this thing done before we reconvene?
President Johnson: I would like to, for two or three reasons. Youíve got the McGregor Burnses and the rest of them that says that the Congress has done nothing. One hundred of them out of town nowóeverybodyís calling us all day.
President Johnson: And I think weíre just as close to an agreement as you can ever get. I think you can wind it up in five minutes if you just go in there and say, "Let me rewrite this wheat amendment, and provide that Ďhowever, if the President certifies the national interest, the Export-Import Bank can act accordingly.í"
Ford: Let me check with our people, Mr. President. I canít make any commitment to you, because Iíve got to talk to them.
President Johnson: I know that. I know that.
Ford: [continuing] But I do understand your viewpoint. I will be as helpful as I can, bearing in mind my other arrangements.
President Johnson: [pleading] Do that, Jerry, and try to get back to me with something, wonít you?
Ford: Iíll do what I can.
President Johnson: Thank you. Call me. Call me.
Ford: All right, bye.
[Thomas comes to the line.]
Thomas: Mr. President, donít be upset over that language, now. That language donít mean a blessed thing. Iíve worked with it for two or three years. You know what you can do under that thing? It says all youíve got to do is notify them. It donít mean you have to wait three minutesó
President Johnson: No. Every time you notify them, though, Albert, they write a story that youíre pro-Russian. Thatís what our experience has been.
Thomas: Mr. President, you can notify them and put it in the mail. Thatís notificationówhether they do it or not.
President Johnson: Thatís right. And then they get itó
Thomas: And then you can sign the contract in two minutes.
President Johnson: Thatís right. And then they say that youíre yielding to the Soviet Union, and H.L. Hunt puts out a news releaseó
Thomas: You mean the committee does?
President Johnson: I mean that they do, every time you do it. Thatís what the boys here tell me, that all that notification means is a little publicity to make the Russians mad when youíre trying to get along with them.
Thomas: I donít know, Mr. President. It hasnít been my experience. I donít think youíll hear anything about it, because under the language theyíve got no right to come back at you. Itís just purely a question of telling them what youíre doing.
President Johnson: I donít want to debate itó
Thomas: Youíre not inviting their opinion: you donít care what it is. Just look at your language, now. You donít have to wait three minutes after you tell them what youíve done.
President Johnson: [softly] Thatís right. I donít want to debate it with you, my friend. I love you. But you know goddamn well that when I ask them not to make me notify them publicly so it wouldnít be in the papers . . .
Thomas: Well . . .
President Johnson: You know I know what Iím doing.
President Johnson: You know, and we screwed it up. This damn fool Humphrey put that paragraph on.
Thomas: Thatís rightó
President Johnson: I told [Carl] Albert to get it off, cut it off.
Thomas: I think itís your partners over on the Senate side. Old Otto played ball. He told me he was going to do his damnedest to take it out. Have you got the language in front of you?
President Johnson: Yes, sir, Iíve got it front of me. And it oughtnít to be in there. Itís just a damnó
Thomas: [hurriedly reading] "Agency or nation in connection with the purchase [etc.]."
President Johnson: Thatís right.
Thomas: [continuing] "Or national except when the President determines that such guarantees would be in the national interest."
President Johnson: Thatís all rightóperiod.
Thomas: [continuing] "And reports eachó
President Johnson: No! No! Period after "national interest."
Thomas: I know, but read your language further. "And reports each determination."
President Johnson: [loudly] Why should I want to report to everybody that I screwed a girl? You screwed one last night, but you donít want to report it.
Thomas: [slyly] I wish I did.
President Johnson: You know what Iím talking about. That made it come home to you, didnít it?
Thomas: It ainít going toó
President Johnson: Well, donít you think Iím a damned idiot, now.
Thomas: Now, now, now, now. Of course not. But I donít think itís going to hamstring you a bit onó
President Johnson: It doesnít hamstring me. It just publicizes that Iím pro-Russian right when Nixon is running against me. Thatís all it does.
Thomas: Well, he ainít going to run, because he ainít going toó[Both talk simultaneously.]
President Johnson: Listen, Albert. Listen, Albert. You and I are buddies now. You understand politics, and I do, too. Iím telling you that weíre working with the Republicans up there 100 percent.
Thomas: Well, Iím on your side.
President Johnson: All right. You just donít ever agree thatís a good clause, because you know goddamn well it ainít. Donít try to shit me, because I know better.
Thomas: Hereís the Speaker. Well, Iíve worked with it in theó
President Johnson: Yes, youíve worked with it, but youíve been working with it under Republican Presidents, not under Democrats. When a Democratic President has to report that he makes a determination that itís in his interest to go with Russia, itís not good when youíre running for office. Now, you know that, donít you?
Thomas: Oh, now I think youíre . . .
President Johnson: Well . . .
Thomas: [continuing] Letting your imagination run wild.
President Johnson: Now, Albert, donít you demagogue in there with your audience!
Thomas: Iím not going to ever kid you.
President Johnson: Youíre kidding me there with that audience.
Thomas: No, Iím not. No, Iím not.
President Johnson: You know damn well that itís notóhow do you think it is to Nacogdoches, [Texas]? Now ask Lera. Ask Lera if you think itís smart in Nacogdoches for me to certify that Iím strong for the Negroesó
Thomas: [forcefully] You donít have to certify. All you have to do is notify themóand if they donít like it, it comes under the heading of too bad. Youíve already done your dutyó
President Johnson: I see now I canít reason with you. I ainít going to try to argue with you.
Thomas: [in a friendly tone] Wait a minute. Hereís the Speaker. Hereís the Speaker.
Frank Erwin, 1:25 PM
President Johnson: Now, if I ever knew anything in my life, I know it that we oughtnít to have a contest this summer. Johnís not physically able to have one, oughtnít to have one, and oughtnít to go through with one. I canít take one. I canít win 49 states if theyíre fighting at home. Weíre always fighting. Thatís what theyíve stirred up down thereóthatís not anything to be desired.
Hell, I donít know why theyíre always so interested in what the votes up here are. If I can get along with the senator from Texas, it looks like you-all could. Heís insulted me more than he has anybody else. And if I can endure his program, if I can take Charlie Herring, it looks like you-all could. If I can get along with Ralph Yarborough, I donít know why you-all have to run the Washington end of the deal. You all go on and run Austin.
Erwin: Mr. President, I think that this "you-all" you speak of has got everybody else in the same shape I am. I mean, a lot of people love you and John both, and arenít taking sides between you and John, but are just in the middle, being pulled both ways, and thatís . . . itís a disaster for everybody.
President Johnson: Yes.
Erwin: I understand that. If I knew what to do about it, I would. The reason that I felt like that if you and John could talk and maybe get whatever it is that each one of you is upset about out of the way, maybe you-all could sit down and work something out.
President Johnson: I donít have Johnís confidence. He doesnít call me and ask me any of these things. He goes off with Shivers and plans these things. And Shivers has been an anti-Johnson man that got defeated at my hands.
Erwin: [quietly] Yes, sir.
President Johnson: John doesnít show me respect enough to say, "Now, I know youíre going to be running for President, and I donít want to do anything but help you, and I donít want to embarrass you." He goes off to Sid Richardsonís island, and the paper comes out that he and Shivers and Joe Kilgore have met and plotted.
I canít do anything about that, but maybe some of you that talk to him, that he does trust, can. He doesnít trust me to that extent. He never has called me and asked me "what should I do" about anything. When he was in private life, I called him and asked him what I should do about everything. But heís sensitive about being independent, and he . . . [Long pause.] Just after he announced and got in that thing, why, he thought he could have all my friends, and be awfully clear that . . .
Now, the Houston Chronicle called this morning and said the rumors are widespread and will be printed in Houston that Joe Kilgore had 500,000 [dollars] pledged and this has been cut off by the President in phone calls to Texas. Now, I havenít called a human about that. Thatís what John said, and what you said the other night. I havenít called a person about Joe Kilgore. I havenít talked to one human. Youíre the first one that Iíve talked to about Joe Kilgore, except Joe Kilgore. They ought to quit puttingó
Erwin: I want to correct you in one little item. I didnít say this. I was simply reporting [what was said]. All Iíve tried to do is to be a conduit through John, because apparently there wasnít another line of communication open.
President Johnson: Yes. I think thatís good.
Erwin: I was just hopeful that maybe if we could establish some kind of communication, we could resolve this problem.
President Johnson: Well, I think that Shivers wouldnít give a damn what happened to me. I think heís going to be supporting the Republican ticket. And I just hate to see him get my friends sucked into this thing. Now, the Chronicle is going to say that Kilgore is now meeting with Shivers in Austin, and if Kilgore doesnít announce, Shivers will. And Iíd let Shivers announce. Because we ainít going to have a Republican senator. They ainít going to turn me down to elect a Republican senator.
Erwin: No, sir. I donít think they are, either.
President Johnson: And Iíd just quit messing with Shivers. Shivers ainít got a goddamned bit of strength that you-all havenít got anyway. Why do we want to let him to take over the direction of our party? And why do we want to publicly do it?
Here, Johnís got a good image here with Negroes and the Mexicans and with being a pretty moderate fellow. And now, by God, he starts meeting with the [Dallas] Citizens Council. And heís off with Joe Kilgore, whoís one of 25 voting against the President on his first votesófrom his own state. And heís off meeting with Shivers, on how to do what? Start a hell of a fight in Texas that canít do anything but embarrass the President.
Now, I donít know what you can do about it. Maybe you canít do anything. But Jack [Valenti] said you had called, and I told Jack that I thought I ought to tell you how we felt and what weíre willing to do. I think we can and will and should try to get this boy [Don Yarborough] out of the race. I donít think John ought to have a race. I told him that when I saw him. And he said, "Well, whoís going to be built up?" Iíd build up somebody, whoever he wantsóI donít care. I donít want to tell you who to be as governor. You all pick out the governor. But I donít want you saying up here that youíre going to send a man thatís an enemy to me into the Senate. Thatís a fair deal, isnít it?
Erwin: Yes, sir. Now, let me tell youó
President Johnson: And I think what we ought to do is make every effort we can over the weekend, Sundayóthis Don Yarborough hasnít paid his filing feeóto get these fellows to tell him that come up here and go around over the country for the National Committee or something else in the election or the labor groups that we will not have any opposition for Ralph Yarborough. If we can do that. And I think thatís what you ought to ask the governor to try to do.
If the governor is just hell-bent on having opposition, well, then we canít help it. Weíve done our best. Now we just have to say to him that we canít do it, we canít deliver. But I begged them all to do this for me, and I think everybody is willing to do it, if the governor is willing to do it for me. If he hates so bitter, and heís so vindictive, that heís just got to have a man up here to pull out this fellow thatís voting with me, then I canít help it. But you do your best to get him to do otherwise, and still be as loyal as you can to him and to me.
Erwin: I donít have any trouble being loyal to both of you.
President Johnson: I know that.
Erwin: It just made me sick to see here when everything ought to be at the very zenith of everybodyís career, that we have this kind of problem.
President Johnson: Itís unthinkable. Itís unthinkable that a boy that would work for me for 20 years would do this without ever talking to me, and run off with Shivers. It would be just exactly like if I came down there, and went off with Price Daniel and took in after John. I just canít understand it.
Erwin: The problem is that when a statement is made like that to the governor, heís got his version of the thing, and he just comes back with his version. Thatís the reasonó
President Johnson: [sharply] Now, what is his version? His version is that heís gone off with Shivers, who is a bitter political enemy of mine that he fought himself, and who has joined the Republicans and bolted to them in every election, including mine, and opposed me for Vice President. And heís gone off with him to knock out a man whoís voting with me.
Erwin: Well, sir, his answer to that, Iím confident, would be that youíve turned your back on your friends and gone off with Ralph Yarborough, whoís been your lifelong enemy.
President Johnson: Ralph Yarborough has voted for me every time my nameís been on the ticket. So I wouldnít say heís my lifelong enemy. Iíve never asked his office that he hasnít voted for me. And I havenít turned my back on my friends, because Mr. Shivers wasnít my friend. He ran against me.
Erwin: Well now, please understand. What Iím saying is, so that you can understand the problem that everybodyís got unless you and the governor can find some way to sit down and talk this thing out because--
President Johnson: [forcefully] Iím ready to talk to the governor anytime the governor feels like talking.
Erwin: I donít know that he does feel like talking.
President Johnson: Well, thatís right. I just canító
Erwin: I have done everything I know how to do to get him to call you. He says, "Thereís nothing to talk about. The President knows my views, and I know the Presidentís views, and thereís nothing to talk about."
President Johnson: Well, then, thereís not--I think thereís a good deal to talk about, and Iím willing to talk about them. And want to. And I just donít want to talk to somebody that doesnít want to talk, you see.
Erwin: I understand that, sir.
President Johnson: Well, Iím going to be reasonable and Iím not going to be revengeful or vindictive of anyone. But when they go to talking about Yarborough being a lifelong enemyóheís been a lifelong friend. Heís supported me in every race I ever made, and heís never cast a vote against me. And thatís more than Mr. Shivers can say. He tried to keep me from being chairman of the delegation [in 1944]. He tried to keep me from being senator. He tried to keep me from being Vice President. And he went on television and said so.
And now, for my so-called protťgť to go off and meet with him and say, "Weíre going to knock off a man thatís supporting the President, and weíre not only going to run the state and everything in it, but weíre going to run Washington as well," I think, by God, they might be getting a little bit fast. "And if we canít have it, weíre going to take our marbles and go home and quit and ainít even going to run."
Iíve worked with John a long, long time, and I think I know him, and I think I love him more than any other white man. I think I know him better, and I think sometimes he gets pretty adamant on these things. Iíve heard him pretty adamant on the Negro question. Iíve heard him pretty adamant on the labor question. Iíve heard him pretty adamant on the Eisenhower-Republican question. I know his tendencies, and I think thatís why he needs some folks around him that will say to him what Iím saying to you now. Letís just donít take off the whole goddamned thing in one bite: on what kind of meat have we been feeding?
Now, Iím not trying to tell him who to elect in his State Senate to support his program. Why in the hell is he trying to tell me who to elect to support my program? He ought to be happy that heís governor. I ought to be happy Iím President. We ought to be able to work together, and meet together, and talk. And Iím anxious to. All the talking thatís been done, Iíve initiated. I have called Texas, I think the record will show, since the assassination, Iíve called 15 times to talk to him or his family. I donít think thereís ever been one call originated there. I think everything heís ever asked here heís gotten, forthwithóperiod.
I donít think weíve ever asked anything thereóexcept we did suggest that Jimmy Turman, that he told me that he wanted me to help him get a job. I got him one. Then he said heíd like to see president of this college, and I told him I sure would love to see it, because I might want to be president someday, myself. And [I asked John] to get his three men, and we went out and got about two or three of ours, and his, all three, voted against [Turman], because he hadnít been talked toóJosť Marin or MartŪn or whatever his name is [San MartŪn] in San Antonio, and the rest of them.
So Iím willing to talk, walk, scoopónothing proud about me. But I think that John is taking off a pretty big dish when heís . . . I never did understand why he had to do what he did on public accommodations. I didnít think he helped himself. I didnít think it was necessary any more than it was for me to come out against going to Floresville on the weekend. I didnít think that was a state matteróthat heíd already legislated plenty in that field in the state of Texas. But he did, and that got some national publicity, and I think it temporarily improved his position with a few people in Texas, and cut me a little bit. But I took it like a man, and smiled and didnít do anything about it.
[The connection was then was cut off.]
President Johnson: Yes?
Erwin: Yes, sir.
President Johnson: [resuming] So if you canít do it, I donít know who can, because, as you know, from your intimate association, he has not required my judgment on anything. And I have been reasonably anxious for him to succeed, and I still am. But Iím not anxious to the extent of him sending a Republican up here to beat me. I think thatís what will happen. And I think the Republicans are in this so damned deep that heís never recognized it. I think theyíre in on it on Don Yarboroughís side and I think theyíre in on it on the Ralph Yarborough deal. And I think theyíre determined to get Don Yarborough to run against John to keep that fury going, and theyíre determined to get John to get somebody to run against Ralph, and I think Shiversóitís the hand of the Republicans and the voice of Shivers.
I just cringed this morning when I read the story about my governor, my friend, my protťgť going off and meeting with Allan Shivers in the dark of the night and talking about how heís going to have to beat senator up here in Washington and never having even discussed the thing with me.
So I just hope that what you can say to him is that it would be better for all of us if we didnít have an opponent. Weíll try to get Yarborough out if heíll try to keep his people out. If he canít do that, then he can run his best man and weíll just do the best we can. Weíre going to try to keep them from having somebody here to vote against us. If theyíre going to come in and kill our wife, weíre going to bar the door and try to defend ourselves the best we can. And if theyíre going to start a plan to send somebody up here that will gut meóand Iíve seen nobody suggest that it wonít . . . There are 25 men voted against me on the first vote I had in the House, and one of them was Kilgore.
Erwin: What vote was that?
President Johnson: That was the vote on the wheat billóforeign aid. Had to call them back here Christmas, my first test of strength, and the Republicans were determined to defeat me on a foreign policy decision. He didnít; he couldnít even leave. We asked him not to vote, but he had to stand in and vote against me. How in the hell can I ever explain to anybody that Iím supporting a man that cast his first vote against me?
How can I ever explain to a man that Iím for Shivers against a fellow thatís always voted for me and voting for me every day now, 100 percent of the time, on every measure Iíve got? And just because weíve got little piques, Little Boy Blue personalities, get mad about something. Hell, I didnít like for him to say he wouldnít ride with me. But, hell, John and Nellie had said they wouldnít ride with him [Yarborough] and they wouldnít ride in the same car with him, so I guess he got mad, too.
Of course, both of them (I laughed, I thought it was little boy stuff) and both of them wound up together riding with each other. Nellie was in the car. We just talked big, but when the nut-cutting was down, why, we got in the car and bowed nice. I didnít think it hurt me a damned bit to ride with Yarborough. And I thought that both, Nellie and Yarborough both, had to come a good deal to get in the car after theyíd said what they did. But theyíve said it now, and . . .
I just want to see my friend elected without an opponent, and Iíll do all I can to get him out. If you-all do all you can to get the other fellows out. Thatís the way it ought to be, then you can spend your next two years getting ready to elect whoever you want to as governor. I donít make any recommendations. If you want Waggoner Carr, Iíll support him. If you want whoever you want.
Erwin: I have great doubts that thereís going to be an opponent for Yarborough, not becauseó
President Johnson: Well, thatís all the more reason, though, why we ought to spend all of our time on getting Don Yarborough out. And I think we can if we know it. So you try to get us some information, and some word. Now, weíll do whatever we need to take care of Joe Kilgore. Weíll do whatever we need to take care of Don Yarborough. Weíll do whatever we need to support the governor. We need him out speaking for us, though, instead of staying at home and fighting with Don Yarborough.
Erwin: Iím just very much afraid that the governor ainít going to run for re-election. I donít think heís bluffing.
President Johnson: Well, I think that would be the best thing that could happen to him, and to all of us, if he didnít. If heís sick and doesnít feel like it, Iíd just let Waggoner Carr run. If heís not happy and doesnít want to do it, [is] not feeling good, that would suit me fine. I wouldnít beg him a minute. I think itís a terrible imposition. I wish I didnít have to run for this jobóI may not run for it. I donít know how to get out of it. If I did, I would. If it was as easy for me as it is for him, I wouldnít be running.
Because you can imagine how, if I spend this much time on Texas, how Iím handling the world. Iíve got right at this moment a press conference at 3:00. Iíve got Zanzibar. Iíve got Cyprus. Iíve got Panama. Iíve got a plane shot down in Berlin. Iíve got all of these things, and Iím talking to my best friend, begging him please not to get an opponent for a man thatís supporting me. Thatís a hell of a thing to have to do, isnít it?
Erwin: [quietly] Yes, sir.
President Johnson: I just donít know whatís happened to the boy, so maybe it would be better if he didnít run. Encourage him not to. Just let him say that heís not going to run.
Erwin: I havenít heard that heíll run.
President Johnson: If heís sick, the last thing I want to do is to kill him. I want to do everything I can to help him, including getting rid of his opponent. But you please get Jack [Valenti] some kind of information as to what we can do, because Iíve got every force that I know in this town working on that man not to run and they always come back and say, "All right, what are you going to do about Ralph?" You follow me?
Erwin: Yes, sir. I follow you. I understand exactly what youíre saying.
President Johnson: OK, partner.
Erwin: Thank you, sir.
President Johnson and John Knight, 5:54 PM
President Johnson: Jack?
Knight: Yes, Mr. President?
President Johnson: How you doing?
Knight: Pretty good, thank you.
President Johnson: You quit pretty early down there. They said you was on your way home. My gosh, weíre just starting to work up here.
Knight: [Laughs.] I have one excuse: I stayed in the office for lunch.
President Johnson: Well, thatís good. I just wanted to call you and tell you I was talking to old Houston Harte, and he called my attention to a column youíd written. I got a copy of it in the Detroit Free Press of January 26, about Johnson and the Bobby Baker case. I thought it was a damn good column. I sure appreciate it. I thought it was very fair and just, and I think the facts will bear you out when allís said and done.
Knight: Thank you, sir.
President Johnson: How else are things going?
Knight: Pretty good. George Smathers is a little irritable about all of this, but I pointed out to him that when youíre in public life, why, stories do happen. [Chuckles.] George is always very sensitive.
President Johnson: Well, you have to do that. My daddy said one time, "You donít want to get on the firing line if you donít expect to get shot at."
Knight: Right. I wrote something last Sunday on Panama that I hope youíll see.
President Johnson: I didnít. Tell me about it.
Knight: Well, out of a background, some knowledge down there, and things I read by John OíRourke of the Washington News, whoís a very good friend of mine . . . This anti-American spirit has been going on there for some time, organized by many people. The Arias family and the newspapers are very anti-U.S. I just expressed the hope that youíd be damn firm about it.
President Johnson: We are going to be. Thatís what we have been.
Knight: No unwillingness to talk, but no retreat, either.
President Johnson: We called him [Roberto Chiari] the moment it happened, and told him weíd talk about anything anywhere, anytime, and do what was fair and just, but we wouldnít have a pistol at our temple, and wouldnít negotiate when there was violence, and we wouldnít have them telling us we had to rewrite treaties in advance, and so forth.
Weíve leaned over backwards to be fair and just, and to tell them that we would look at anything, and do anything that was right, but that we werenít going to be intimidated. But they have insisted that we agree to rewrite treaties before they even resume relations with us. And we just said weíre not going to do that.
Knight: Well, I stated most of that, but there are some of these sobbing columnists now.
President Johnson: And we got the New York Times and the Washington Post that are raising hell.
Knight: Yes, well. Anyhow, you know, every time, you can be just, but when we get soft with those people (I know something about them) they kind of think thatís a victory. We lose face.
President Johnson: We havenít done that, though, Jack.
Knight: I know we havenít.
President Johnson: And weíre not going to. I think itís sad that they feel they wonít even talk to us, but thatís their hard luck.
Knight: Well, they have an election coming up. Theyíre all whooping it up, and creating all the confusion.
President Johnson: Weíll watch it, and weíve got problems.
What do you think we ought to do in Vietnam?
Knight: Well, of course, Iíve had a record on that for about ten years. Itís a little late, now, but I never thought we belonged there. Thatís a real tough one now, and I think President Kennedy thought at one time that we were overcommitted in that area. Andó
President Johnson: Well, I opposed it in Ď54. But weíre there now, and thereís one of three things you can do.
One is run and let the dominoes start falling over. And God Almighty, what they said about us leaving China would just be warming up, compared to what theyíd say now. I see Nixon is raising hell about it today. Goldwater too.
You can run, or you can fight, as we are doing, or you can sit down and agree to neutralize all of it. But nobody is going to neutralize North Vietnam, so thatís totally impractical.
So it really boils down to one of two decisions: getting out or getting in.
Knight: You know, at the time of SEATO, when that was organized, these other nations were supposed to be a party to these problems, but France, none of themó
President Johnson: None. They just want to create problems. France does.
Knight: [The British are] worried about Malaysia. Well, I just felt badly about Laos, at that time, because that was no place to fight a war.
President Johnson: No.
Knight: The place down here is that way, too. I just hope we donít get involved in anything thatís full-scale. I donít know. See, I donít have all the facts. But Iíve worried about that thing for ten years.
President Johnson: I agree. I agree.
Knight: Itís very, very difficult.
President Johnson: I sat down with Eisenhower in Ď54 when we had all the problem. But we canít abandon it to them, as I see it. And we canít get them to agree to neutralize North Vietnam. So I think old man [Charles] De Gaulle is puffing through his hat.
Knight: Long range over there, the odds are certainly against us.
President Johnson: Yes, there is no question about that. Anytime you got that many people against you that far away from your home base, itís bad.
Knight: The big question is how far you can commit over the globe with the resources you have. Itís a pretty difficult problem, and I have the greatest sympathy for you in it. Itís not something to which one can give an easy answer.
President Johnson: Let me hear from you, Jack.
Knight: Thank you very much.
President Johnson: Bye.
President Johnson and Mike Mansfield, 11:30 AM
President Johnson: These people in State and Defense met during the evening on this GuantŠnamo thing. Weíre going to meet again after lunch. Theyíre trying to find out exactly what has happened. I wanted to get any reactions you might have to it, before I went back to meet with them again.
Mansfield: Well, evidently it appears that they violated not international law, but a state law. It is my understanding that water is being rationed on a three-hour-a-day basis there, and that Castro has allowed the water to flow from the river for an hour each day. So we ought to have plenty. But hereís a statement that I made this morning, if you have a minute or so?
President Johnson: [unenthusiastically] Yes.
Mansfield: [reading] "Mr. President, no matter how the Cuban government may act, the Cuban fishermen are entitled to, and will receive, the same justice, the same impartial protection of domestic and international law, as any other alien persons in similar circumstances. The fact that they are Cubans or that Cuba retaliates for their arrest is irrelevant insofar as the judicial processes of this nation are concerned. However the Cuban government may regard the matter, there will not be any mixing of justice and water on our part.
"Insofar as the water supply is concerned, if the pretext of the arrest of the Cuban fishermen had not sufficed, the Havana government would have had no difficulty in creating another. It is obvious that Castro wants us out of GuantŠnamo, and it is obvious that he is not going to make it easier for us to stay. It is equally obvious that we have no intention of being pressured out.
"At this time, the need is for cool water at the GuantŠnamo base. Hot words on the floors of the Congress will not supply it. We have the technical means to supply the water for as long as it takes, and in whatever quantities it takes. I have every confidence that the President will see to it that we are not parched out of GuantŠnamo."
And then Tommy Kuchel came in and supported it in effect.
President Johnson: Thatís good. Thatís a good statement.
What I thinkó
Mansfield: [Unclear] arenít you? This will save you $14,000 a month, I understand, which you wonít have to pay to Mr. Castroís government.
President Johnson: Yeah. Heís got a good many people working there, too, and we probably ought to make, if heís not going to allow us to have water, we probably ought to try to make the whole base independent of him, and secure. Weíre going to think about that today, and probably issue a pretty strong statement later in the day that, namely, that heís breached a contract, thatís his choice.
President Johnson: Thatís a bad way to do it, but heís done it, and, therefore, weíre going to supply our own water and supply our own personnel, and operate our own base.
Mansfield: You mean all the Cubans, all of them would be off?
President Johnson: Except those that live on the base.
President Johnson: We could do that. We havenít decided to do it; thatís a possibility. Just declare complete independence of it. We could do that. Now, I donít know what else we can do. You got any other thoughts?
Mansfield: I would think that one thing which might be worth consideringóthis would call for a great deal of handlingówould be for the Florida courts just to release these people with an admonishment and send them home. We could afford to be big-hearted. But thatís a state matter, and that could get you into trouble because of the feeling down there.
President Johnson: And it may look like weíre being awfully soft.
Mansfield: Or being awfully big.
President Johnson: I think it ought to follow its normal course, whatever they do to them. I think most of the time they fine a captain. It looks like, from the information we have, that this is deliberate.
Mansfield: I see. If I get any ideas on the basis of what you said, or any other, Iíll pass them onó
President Johnson: Now, you going to finish your [tax] bill today?
Mansfield: Yes, sir. We ought to finish it around 3:00 or 4:00, and then we ought to go on Monday resolutions. Then Iíve got to get together with Hubert [Humphrey] and a few others and decide what our policy will be on the civil rights bill.
President Johnson: All right. Thatís something I sure want to talk to you about.
Mansfield: Yes, sir.
President Johnson: You may want to intercept that thing at the door, so you donít have a motion to take it up, and then let the conference report, get this bill in conference. Tell our boys to agree just as quickly as they can, so they can get ahead of it if they can. If they canít, we may just, we might even decide to let it stay behind for a few days.
Mansfield: That would be far better because, evidently, Harry Byrd, who I understand youíre going to see shortly, figures they canít take it to conference till a week from Monday.
President Johnson: Oh-h-h, God, no. Why canít we do that?
Mansfield: Well, they can do it tomorrow, and Monday and Tuesday.
President Johnson: Yeah.
Mansfield: And there isnít so much in the way of differences that they canít reconcile what they are.
President Johnson: Of course. Does he want to wait until a week from Monday to take it up?
President Johnson: Why?
Mansfield: Well, I suppose, because the Republicans are going away, but I think you can prevail upon him. The conferees will be [George] Smathers and Russell Long and Byrd and [John] Williams and [Frank] Carlson, I believe. I think theyíd be willing to go ahead if the House would.
President Johnson: You just tell him that weíve just got to do it. You just tell them that. And you tell [John] McCormack too. Iíll talk to Wilbur Mills, but, God almighty, we want to get this thing adopted before that civil rights [bill].
Mansfield: Thatís right. Will you talk to Harry Byrd?
President Johnson: I sure will. OK.
Mansfield: OK, Mr. President.
President Johnson and Richard Russell, 4:30 PM
President Johnson: Dick, weíre going to meet again at 4:30.
Russell: Thatís right now.
President Johnson: Yeah. I wanted to talk to you before I went into the meeting. Theyíre meeting downstairs. Now hereís the [situation].
Nobody wants to do much. They think that in the first place these fishermen oughtnít to even have been picked up, that it was a mistake, that they were over the limits, but we ought to have told them to get on back home and not make a big incident out of it, because thereís not anything to be gained from it. We ought to let [Castro] show his hand, whether this is in concert with Khrushchev, and what all it means, before we act irrational.
Thereís an opposing viewpointóthatís pretty well the viewpoint of Rusk and McCone, and, I would say, Bobby Kennedy. He wants to turn everybody loose and let them go on home. McNamara feels like the sentiment in this country is such that weíve got to do more than that, and that even though we would stand acquitted in the eyes of the world and maybe some of the liberal papers in this country, that we probably ought to do two things: declare the independence of that base by saying, "Weíre going to furnish our own water, and we donít want your damn water, and to hell with you"; and, number two, tell the people that are on there that they can pledge allegiance to us and live thereóthe 600óand the other 2,500 to go on back, and weíre going to quit financing [Cubans]. Weíre going to operate the base independently, so our country can be secure, and so we can operate it independently. Itís going to hurt you more by this action than it hurts us, and we just donít need your people.
Now, thatís his feeling. Heís about the only one that feels that way. Thatís my feeling. I think we ought to rap them.
Russell: Thatís mine.
President Johnson: [continuing] I think theyíll say weíre cruel, and these people have been loyal to us for two or three generations, been working there. Weíre just firing them outright without anything on their part, because Castro did this. USIA thinks it will get a good deal of sympathy from the rest of the nations, and . . .
Russell: Well, thatís their professional attitude. These nations ainít as silly as we attribute them to be, as we seem to think they are. And while theyíre envious as hell of us, when they get down to where their self-interest is involvedóand when we get hurt, their self-interest is injuredótheyíre not nearly as bad as everybody makes out like they are.
This Panama thing will demonstrate that beyond any doubt. If our people will just sit tight, give them the facts, say, "Here it is now. Youíve got a stake in this." Same thing is true here in Cuba. They donít want Castro to prosperónone of the leaders do. There are thousands of the little people who are Communist that do.
Theyíre not going to raise any hell about it. Khrushchev will blow up like hell. Comrade Mao Tse-tung will come in with a prolific of some kind. But the world as a whole will say, "Well, thatís very logical position to take. You got to know that you can protect this."
If Khrushchev pulled them out all at once, which he could do, if heíd stopped them all one morning, and you hadnít even had an hourís notice, you would need them. But now youíre giving yourself the hourís notice, and youíre preparing against the probability that he will do another asinine thing by declaring that no Cuban national can enter on the base. Youíve got to be ready for that. But I knowó
President Johnson: What do you think? I donít like to see them so split and so dividedóState, Defense, and CIA. What do you think the attitude of the country is? The Senate? Are they indignant about cutting this water off? I donít guess many of them feel as strongly as Goldwater does, but I guess a good many of them feeló
Russell: No. No, they donít. But a great many of them, they donít know exactly what they want done, Mr. President, because they donít know what can be done. But they want something done.
President Johnson: Thatís right. There ainít much you can do, but this.
Russell: Thatís right. They donít know just exactly what to do. Theyíre not in favor of any war, I donít think. I donít believe 10 percent of them would vote for that right now, under these circumstances. But theyíre just tired of Castro urinating on us and getting away with it. They donít like the smell of it any longer, and they just want to sort of show that we are taking such steps as are within our power without involving the shedding of a lot of blood. Thatís my analysis of the sentiment in Congress. And, I think, in the country.
President Johnson: [softly] Mm.
Russell: Of course, it would be mighty easy to whip them up to where theyíd be ready to go to war over it if you to cut loose, and fanned it up, instead of playing it in low key like is being done. But I approve of the low-key play. But I think thereís a latent feeling there, and it may not explode right now, but one of these days, they are going to say, "Well, weíve just been a bunch of asses in this country to continually just back down and give away and say excuse me every time we come in collision with one of these little countries, because theyíre smallóand particularly these Communist countries." And when that there blows, now, somebody is going to get hurt, and nobody will know just when the boiler is ready to give on it. But thereís a slowly increasing feeling in this country that weíre not being as positive and as firm in our foreign relations as we should be, and that we just lean over backwards, that we worry more about our image than we are about our substance, and that weíre backing down.
Now, that feeling is in the country. Just how far itís gotten, I donít know. A demagogue with any strength could blow it up. I donít know of anyone whoís got enough strength to do it. The people donít trust Goldwaterís judgment. A lot of them like his independence, and his . . .
President Johnson: You think a lot of people are going to think youíre hotheaded when you just fire a bunch of innocent Cubans?
Russell: I donít think so. I donít believe that even the Times and the Post could stir up 5 percent of the people about this. I would make it perfectly clear that this is regrettable, that our association with these people has been pleasant and mutually profitable over a period of years. But they were within the power of Castro, and not in our power, and that we have to make this base independent, and we hope that in happier days, our pleasant relations with them could be renewed.
Iíd sure throw that in there. You get one of them, why, heíd be a potential assassin of Castro. Yes, Iíd certainly put it in there that way: that our relations with these people have been mutually pleasant and profitable. Castro has control of them, he could stop them any morning, and not a one of them could come, and we couldnít afford to be placed in that uncertain position, if we had to rely on our own resources.
President Johnson: If he is going to cut off our water, tomorrow he can cut off our people.
President Johnson: If today he can cut off our water, tomorrow he can cut off our people.
Russell: Sure, sure, sure. He can stop them at the gate, where not one could come in without a momentís notice. We just canít operate that important establishment in that uncertain atmosphere. And as regrettable as it is, weíll have to make other arrangements for the time being, and hope that in better days when the Cuban people and the American people are permitted to fraternize as they have in the past, and as we are anxious to do today, that we hope to be able to renew this.
President Johnson: I had planned . . . I think Iím going to make some kind of a statement on it, at least authorize the press to, after we have our meeting this afternoon, because I think theyíll want to hear something after working all day.
Russell: I think youíre going to have to say something.
President Johnson: Then I think Iím going home for the weekend. Do you see any reason why I shouldnít?
Russell: No, I do not.
President Johnson: I think thereís every reason to kind of ignore him, go on and make your statement, and then go on, not hang around.
Russell: I agree. I donít think thereís any reason why you shouldnít.
President Johnson: OK. Goodbye.
President Johnson and Richard Russell, 6:30 PM
President Johnson: [in background, to aides:] Weíve got a war going on in the administration.
[Russell then comes to the line.]
President Johnson: I hate to bother you so much, but Iím getting ready to leave, and Iíll be gone a day or two. We may have a lot of themóU-2 shot down tomorrow, and we may have people marching the gate. Weíve got a good deal of division in our government, and I wanted youó
Russell: Itís a shame when the President of the United States makes up his mind and speaks . . .
President Johnson: Well, it is, because it happens here every day. Youíve got them out talking to the columnists. Youíll see the [Rowland] Evans column this morningóevery day it does it. Weíre not bothered about that. I wanted you to know so that you would be somewhat prepared for what happened. It was about the line the three of us hadóyou and McNamara and me versus Bundy and Bobby and McCone. Bobby and McCone were very much together.
So we are putting out this statement. This is my statement that my boys wrote; they amended it a little bit, but they had their alternative and weóIórejected it. "The United States is determined to guarantee the security of the GuantŠnamo Naval Base." Wait a minuteówe changed these paragraphs. "When the Cuban government shut off the water supply to GuantŠnamo, it deliberately broke a contract made in 1938, reasserted in 1947, and supported by Fi-del Castro in 1958." Thatís paragraph one.
"The United States government is determined to guarantee the security of the GuantŠnamo Naval Base and does not intend to submit that security or the welfare of the servicemen and their families who live there to irresponsible activities by the Cuban government."
Do you agree with that statement?
Russell: Yes, sir. Thatís all right.
President Johnson: "Therefore, the President has instructed the Department of Defense to make the GuantŠnamo base wholly self-sufficient. In response, the Secretary of Defense has issued instructions to: one, assure the base control over its own water supply, both by conversion of sea water to fresh water and by the transportation of water by ship; two, to reduce the employment of Cuban personnel under the control of the Castro government."
Russell: Put the word "living under the control."
President Johnson: No. "Reduce the employment of Cuban personnel who are subject to the controló
Russell: Subject. Thatís all right.
President Johnson: [continuing] "Of the Cuban government and whose wages contribute to its foreign exchange. The Cuban government remains a constant threat to the peace of this hemisphere. The consequences of further provocation of the United States by Castro should be carefully weighed by all nations. These matters are being called to the attention of the members of the OAS for consideration in connection with charges now pending against Cuba in that organization. They will be discussed by the members of NATO in order that those governments can take them into account in connection with their determination of their own policies toward the threats to the security of the Western Hemisphere posed by the Castro regime."
Russell: [disappointed] Youíre not going to say anything about Khrushchev?
President Johnson: Well, we said all nations and weíve already notified the Soviet ambassador this afternoon that what I told you about we agreed upon. This is an irrational man.
Hereís what they wanted to do. They want to say, "The United States is determined to protect the security of the GuantŠnamo Naval Base. When the Cuban government shut off the water supply to GuantŠnamo it broke an agreement. The President has instructed the Department of Defense to make the GuantŠnamo Naval Base wholly self-sufficient with fresh water, and to prepare to take such other measures as may become necessary to ensure that the base shall be wholly secure against any further harassment by the Cuban government." But to do nothing about it, you seeójust prepare to take such other [measures].
Russell: I much prefer the first one.
President Johnson: All right.
Russell: [continuing] I think that the people will too. I havenít had any response to it. I was just looking over my mail here tonight. Thereís four or five letters saying, "Well, weíre absolutely dead. Weíre just going to let everybody kick us over, including Castro here. Now, weíve yielded to him." So Iím glad that youíre going to take some affirmative action.
President Johnson: Now, Mann thinks that anybody that wants to live on this base, they can live on it, and we ought to do it. Or anybody that wants to live off of it, we can operate it without the Cubans and leave his money on it, but we oughtnít to be financing.
Russell: Thatís exactly right.
President Johnson: [continuing] We oughtnít to be financing Cuba, and he thinks that the rest of the hemisphere is just watching us and that this ties right into Panama, and if we get soft with them, weíll be soft with Panama. And that everybody else will start kicking us in the pants, because theyíll think they can.
Russell: I couldnít agree with him more. I couldnít agree with him more.
President Johnson: Well, I hope, then, that youíll help me formulate some opinion, because this crowd hereó
Russell: I will do all I can. Iím going to Georgia tomorrow night myself.
President Johnson: Thatís good. What are you, going to stay a few days?
Russell: Yes. Iím going to speak to the legislature down there the next . . .
President Johnson: You must be running for office.
Russell: No. I get out, I try to make at least 30 speeches in the state every year, always have. Havenít made but two this year. Going to make this one; this will be three. Iíll have 27 more.
President Johnson: I may have to call you. Hate to bother you, but I need to talk to you every once in a while.
Russell: All right, sir. For whatever itís worth.
President Johnson: Well, you think, then, that weíve done the right thing?
Russell: Yes, sir, I do.
President Johnson: OK.
Russell: I know that is better than the other one. No question in my mind in comparison. Have a good visit to the ranch.
President Johnson: Bye.
President Johnson and Robert McNamara, 11:45 AM
President Johnson: Bob, I hate to modify your speech any, because itís been a good one, but I just wondered if we shouldnít tonight still give our relative strengths and still give a very brief summary. I wouldnít go into the anti-defense and stuff.
President Johnson: But a very brief summary of what youíve cut in the budget. Iíd go into that a good deal. You could say that weíre notóthey asked for $10 billion more than we gave them, so whenever anybody says that weíre giving something to everybody, why, weíre giving them a billion less than theyíd like to use. But find two minutes in there for Vietnam.
McNamara: [Pauses.] Yeah, but the problem is what to say about it.
President Johnson: All rightóIíll tell you what I would say about it. I would say that we have a commitment to Vietnamese freedom. Now, we could pull out of there, the dominoes would fall, and that part of the world would go to the Communists. We could send our Marines in there, and we could get tied down in a third world war or another Korean action.
The other alternative is to advise them and hope that they stand up and fight. Now, we think that by training them and advising them in the period of three years, we can have them trained. And we removed some there who were guarding the establishments that didnít need to be guarded any more, absolutely no need. Weíd put in 10,000 more if they could be useful and if we needed them for training, but this 1,000 we didnít need, because they were guarding whatever they were guarding, and thatís why we pulled them out.
Now, we estimate that with the 15,000 weíve got left, that all the rest of this year and a large part of next year, that we can just train anybody in that period of time, and for that reason, weíve said that we can reduce that number after theyíre trained. Now, this nation has made no commitment to go in there to fight, as yet. Weíre in there to train them and advise them. And thatís what weíre doing.
Nobody really understands what it is out there. They donít know, and theyíre getting to where theyíre confused, and theyíre asking questions, and theyíre saying why donít we do more. Well, I think this: you can have more war or you can have more appeasement. We donít want more of either. And itís their war and itís their men, and weíre willing to train them. We have found that over a period of time that we kept the Communists from spreading.
We did it in Greece and Turkey with the Truman Doctrine, by sending them men. We did it in Western Europe by NATO. Weíve done it there by advice. We havenít done it by going out and dropping bombs, and we havenít done it by going out and sending men to fight. We have no such commitment there.
But we do have a commitment to help the Vietnamese defend themselves. Weíre there for training and thatís what weíre doing. They say that the war is not going good. Well, there are days when we win, and there are days when we lose, but our purpose is to train these people. Our training is going good, and weíre trying to train them.
McNamara: All right, sir. Iíll get right onó
President Johnson: I donít know if Iíve said anything there that I shouldnít say.
McNamara: No, no. I think thatísó
President Johnson: But thatís the way you said it to me, and it appealed to me when I say why in the hell . . . I always thought it was foolish for you to make any statements about withdrawing. I thought it was bad psychologically. But you and the President thought otherwise, and I just sat silent. Now, youíve made them, and I asked you for your explanation, and you give me a good explanation. Thereís not a damn bit of use of having 1,000 people sitting around guarding something that they donít need to guard.
McNamara: No question about that, Mr. President. The problem isó
President Johnson: All right, then the next question that comes is how in the hell does McNamara think that when heís losing the war that he can pull men out of it? Well, McNamaraís not fighting a war. Heís training men to fight a war. When heís got them through high school, they will have graduated from high school, and will have 12 grades behind them next year, and he hasnít taken on any agreement to keep them for the rest of their life. Heís just made a commitment to train them to fight. And if he trains them to fight and they wonít fight, he canít do anything about it. Then heís got to choose whether he wants to fight, or let them have it.
McNamara: This is the problem exactly. And what I fear is that weíre right at that point. Well, anyhow, Iíll get this out to you.
President Johnson: Now, weíve got to decide who goes with you, because they tell me that everybody in town is wanting to go, and I sure wouldnít haul anybody out there that I just didnít have to have.
McNamara: I feel exactly that way.
President Johnson: One man that I want to suggestóand Iím sure you can cut him right back, right quick, and I wonít hesitate and if you donít mention him any more Iíll just know that you havenít used himóbut from the psychological standpoint, and from a political standpoint, thereís one man that I would have on that plane with meóand thatís [David] Shoup. I would put a stop to [Mike] Mansfieldís speaking up there on it every day, and Shoup would put a stop to it.
Iíd have Shoup just go out there, and sit in on these meetings with [Maxwell] Taylor, just kind of ex officio. Heís out, he hasnít got anything to do, and heís got that medal on his breast, and Mansfield is just worshipping the Marines, and the rest of them that are raising hell do the same thing. Then Iíd use Shoup to go up and tell these boys some things. Heís worth a dozen Averell Harrimans to you.
Thatís my judgment, but Iím not any expert on it. I think that heís quiet enough and humble enough that heís not going to be bossing around and threatening any. He can sit in the back row. You donít have to mess with him. But when he gets back here, he can take the McNamara line and sit down with Mansfield and sit down with the rest of them, and say, "Now, hereís the story." We can get him invited to come and see them. You give a little thought to that.
McNamara: I sure will.
President Johnson: All right.
McNamara: All right, sir. Thank you.
President Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover, 8:53 PM
President Johnson: Edgar, I donít hear you well. Whatís the matter? You got this phone tapped?
Hoover: [Chuckles nervously.] No. I should say not. I can hear you perfectly, sir.
President Johnson: All right. Did they talk to you about this statement down here tonight?
Hoover: No, they have not.
President Johnson: Well, they talked to somebody over in your shop.
Hoover: I think they talked to [Nicholas] Katzenbach.
President Johnson: I wanted to talk to you before I say it. Hereís what I was going to say. They had this bombing this afternoon. Have you got any leads on that at all?
Hoover: No. We have been working on that case very intensively ever since these bombings got started down there. Weíve had special men. We have three offices in Floridaóin Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miamióand I ordered this afternoon one of the inspectors of the Bureau to proceed to Florida and coordinate the entire operation.
President Johnson: One of who?
Hoover: One of my chief inspectors, to coordinate the entire operation of the three offices. In other words, we have been going all out on it.
President Johnson: How much can I say about that?
Hoover: You can certainly say that the FBI is giving top priority to these various bombings that have taken place.
President Johnson: Why canít I say that I talked to Mr. Hoover, and he tells me that the FBI has its full force investigating the bombing, and some of his top men are on the spot now?
Hoover: Thatís correct. You can say that.
President Johnson: OK. All right. Thatís all I wanted to know. I didnít want to get into your Bureau without talking to you.
Hereís what Iím going to say. You listen to this now. Forget the FBI, and just listen to it as my adviser.
President Johnson: I donít want to say anything wrong that hurts the decent union movement, and I donít want to say anything that does that, but at the same time Iím not going to tolerate blowing up people with bombsówhether itís the business people or the unions or who. And I donít think a good union ought to want to.
Hoover: No, they ought not to.
President Johnson: And it may be business. We donít know whoís doing it.
"The continued violence against the Florida East Coast Railroad is appalling."
Hoover: It certainly is.
President Johnson: [continuing] "Without regard to who is right and who is wrong in this labor dispute, this criminal action has got to stop"ó
Hoover: Exactly right.
President Johnson: [continuing] "We donít settle things in this way in this country."
President Johnson: [continuing] "I talked to Mr. Hoover tonight, and he informed me that one of his chief men is en route to Florida now, and the FBI has thrown its full force into investigating this bombing. In the meantime, I urge the parties to renew their efforts to find a way of settling this dispute. Iím asking the Secretary of Labor to confer with Governor [Farris] Bryant immediately, and give me their recommendations promptly."
President Johnson: Is that all right?
Hoover: Thatís all right with me, Mr. President.
President Johnson: OK.
Lady Bird Johnson, 4:10 PM
[Unclear office conversation precedes the call.]
President Johnson: Yes?
Lady Bird Johnson: You want to listen for about one minute toó
President Johnson: Yes, maíam.
Lady Bird Johnson: ómy critique or would you rather wait until tonight?
President Johnson: Yes, maíam. Iím willing now.
Lady Bird Johnson: I thought that you looked strong, firm, and like a reliable guy. Your looks were splendid. The close-ups were much better than the distance ones.
President Johnson: Well, you canít get them to do it.
Lady Bird Johnson: Well, I will say this: there were more close-ups than there were distance ones.
During the statement, you were a little breathless and there was too much looking down. I think it was a little too fast. Not enough change of pace, dropping voice at the end of sentence. There was a considerable pickup in drama and interest when the questioning began. Your voice was noticeably better and your facial expressions noticeably better.
The mechanics of the room were not too good, because although I heard you well throughout every bit of it, I did not hear your questioners clearly.
President Johnson: Well, the questioners wonít talkó
Lady Bird Johnson: Some of them you could hear, but in general you could not hear them very well. Every now and then you need a good crisp answer for change of pace. Therefore I was very glad when you answered one man, "The answer is no to both of your questions."
I thought your answer on [Henry Cabot] Lodge was good. I thought your answer on Vietnam was good. I really didnít like the answer on [Charles] de Gaulle, because I think Iíve heard you say, and I believe you actually have said out loud, that you donít believe you ought to go out of the country this year, so I donít think you can very well say that youíll meet him any time that is convenient for both people.
President Johnson: Well, when it can be arranged. Iím not going out of this country. I didnít say where Iíd go. [to aides] I didnít say Iíd go out of the country at all, did I?
Lady Bird Johnson: No, I guessó
President Johnson: Press says I reaffirmed that I wouldnít go.
Lady Bird Johnson: I see, uh-huh. Well, then I just didnít get the meaning of it that everybody else did.
I think the outstanding things were that the close-ups were excellent. You need to learn . . . When youíre going to have a prepared text, you need to have the opportunity to study it a little bit more, and to read it with a little more conviction and interest and change of pace, becauseó
President Johnson: [with the First Lady assenting] Well, the trouble is they criticize you for taking so much time. They want to use it all for questions. Then their questions donít produce any news, and if you donít give them news, you catch hell.
So my problem was trying to get through before ten minutes, and I still ran ten minutes today. And I took a third of it for the questions. Now, I could have taken, if I had read it like I wanted to, 15 minutesó
Lady Bird Johnson: Mm-hmm.
President Johnson: But I didnít know what to cut out. Maybe I ought to have cut out [unclear], but I thought that every place one of those names was dropped theyíd call up the fellow and ask him about it and heíd get his name in the paper and then theyíd publicize it good, and it would help the committee.
Lady Bird Johnson: Mm-hmm. I believe if Iíd had that choice I would have said use 13 minutes or 14 for the statement. In general, Iíd say it was a good B+. How do you feel about it?
President Johnson: [quickly] I thought it was much better than last week.
Lady Bird Johnson: [Unconvinced.] Well, I heard last week, see, and didnít see it, and didnít hear all of it.
At any rate, I felt sort of on safe ground. I mean, like you had sort of gotten over a hump psychologically and in other ways. It will be interesting to hear everybody elseís reaction.
Well, the [Homer] Thornberrys, anyhow, are awaiting a reasonably early dinner with us and Iíve got my 10:00 date. You do anything you want to about getting another couple or two to eat with us, and let me know. I love you very much.
President Johnson: OK. Bye.
Lady Bird Johnson: Bye.
LBJ as effective lobbyist of Congress
George Grant, 5:50 PM
President Johnson: George?
George Grant: Yes, sir.
President Johnson: Can I talk to you in confidence?
Grant: You certainly can, and I know youíre working 28 hours a day, because I read it in the papers, but I believe that you sure can.
President Johnson: Iíve got a problem with all my Southern friends that areó
Grant: I know it.
President Johnson: óup against troubles in the Senate. Theyíre over there fighting for their livesó
Grant: Thatís right.
President Johnson: óbut most of them called me and urged me to try to do something on this agriculture [matter].
I can pass this cotton/wheat bill if I can get the wheat bill reported by the full committee. They tell me I can get it reported if I can get one or two or three of you to vote to report it, even though you oppose it on the floor. It never will be taken up as a separate bill on the floor. Theyíre just going trying to get a rule.
Iíll save $400 million out of my budget next year, more than Iím going to have to pay if it goes like it is. And Iíll have every cotton man Iíve got.
Grant: Say, is that in addition to cutting the lights out? [Chuckles.]
President Johnson: Thatís in addition to cutting the lights out.
Grant: Listen, I wouldnít be kidding you if I wasnít going to do it. Sure, I will.
President Johnson: If youíll just vote to report that wheat bill that old Graham Purcell [introduced]ó
Grant: Iíll do it.
President Johnson: óthen weíll say, "Well, the committee has reported it: letís take it up."
Grant: I sure will.
President Johnson: You reckon thereís any chance I can get Tom Abernethy to do that?
Grant: I donít know if you ought to. Iíll talk to Tom.
President Johnson: Do it. Hereís what it does for me. It saves a little over 300 million [dollars] on wheatónearly $400 millionóout of a budget that Iím trying to appeal to my conservative Southerners with, to show them Iím not a spendthrift, and it permits me to give my cotton boys a little bit of help.
Grant: Yes. Yes. Let me tell you, Mr. President, [unclear] the thing about this wheat thing, they have some basis on it, because the wheat fellows turned it down.
President Johnson: Yes.
Grant: Of course, itís too late to argue about that.
President Johnson: Yes, thatís right.
Grant: Weíre making them take government money when they said they didnít want it.
President Johnson: We donító
Grant: Iím not arguing. Iím going along.
President Johnson: Thatís right. Well, if youíll help me report it that will be fine.
Now, they donít have to. This has changed from one they turned down. This is voluntary. They donít have to if you donít want to.
President Johnson: Thatís a whole lot different between compulsion and voluntary, you know.
You talk to Tom for me. And listen, let me tell you this. Let me tell you this: I want to get through with this fight, and then Iím going to help the Mississippi boys because theyíre my friendsó
Grant: We all realize that. We alló
President Johnson: óand theyíve been mistreated and I know how theyíve been embarrassed and mistreated. [pleading] But you tell Tom to please help me a little bit.
Grant: I will.
President Johnson: I want to get old Graham Purcellís bill reported tomorrow if I can. Thatís it.
Grant: Iíll do it. Iíll help.
President Johnson: Thank you, George.
Grant: Sure will.
President Johnson: I appreciate thisóand give my love to Merilee.
Grant: Sure will.
President Johnson: Bye.
Grant: Thank you. Bye-bye.
Robert McNamara, 1:07 PM
Robert McNamara: Hello?
President Johnson: Bob?
McNamara: Bob McNamara, Mr. President.
President Johnson: How you getting along?
McNamara: Very well, sir. I called to say that, you may remember, Dean Rusk and you and I talked briefly about the need for a Vietnam speech. Weíve prepared such a speech, and Dean and I have discussed the desirability of my giving it next Thursday night. I have to make a speech here in Washington at that time. I sent a draft over to your office last night to Mike Forrestal, who is going to give it to you.
President Johnson: He hasnít given it to me. Iíll get it from him and read it over the weekend. I think itís good. I think, if you could, that you ought to go up and sit down with [Ernest] Gruening and [Wayne] Morse.
McNamara: Well, I think I should, and I think Iílló
President Johnson: What Iíd do is ask [Mike] Mansfield, just say, "Now, I donít want to debate. I donít want to argue. I donít want to convince anybody, but I would like for them to know my viewpoint. Iím going to make this speech, and the President asked me to ask you if youíd get Morse and Gruening in your office and let me visit with them a little bit about it."
McNamara: Very good. Iíll do that. Iíve got to make a speech Thursday night, and Iíll do that before I do it Thursday.
President Johnson: Iíll get it over the weekend. You going to be at home this weekend?
McNamara: Yes, sir, I will. I think I can take a lot of the heat off of you on this Vietnam issue, Mr. President. Thereís just a lot of misunderstanding on it in this countryó
President Johnson: All right. All right.
McNamara: And thatís the real purpose for it.
President Johnson: Now what are we going to do? Are we going to do more of the same, except we going to firm it up and strengthen it, and what else?
McNamara: [hesitating] Well, itís reallyó
President Johnson: What is a one-sentence statement of what our policy is out there?
McNamara: Our policy is to help [Nguyen] Khanh . . .
President Johnson: Yes?
McNamara: Provide the physical security and the economic and social progress for his people that he needs in order to gain their support.
President Johnson: All right, well, thatís what weíve been doing.
McNamara: Well, we havenít done it very effectively and neither have they.
President Johnson: [quizzically] Why arenít the Russians as interested in this as we are? Why arenít the French and the English? Why do they want the Commies to take over all Southeast Asia?
McNamara: Well, I think the French are obviously pursuing their own national aims, and they think that weíre going to lose out there anyhow, and they might as well advance their national strength and prestige while weíre losing.
President Johnson: Looks like to me that the Russians would be more interested in saving Vietnam than we are.
McNamara: You canít be sure what their position is. I thinkó
President Johnson: Doesnít it seem logical to you? If theyíre in the war with them and they got a civil war going on between 800 million Chinese and the Russians . . . Why do they want to see the Chinese Communists envelop Southeast Asia?
McNamara: I think the reason that they canít take a strong position against the Chinese Communists here is that to do so will lose them the support of communist parties elsewhere in the world. It would make the Sovietsó
President Johnson: I thought they just thought we had an umbrella over them, like de Gaulle does, and thought weíd do it and they didnít need to do itó
McNamara: No, sir, I donít think so. I think they are in a very sensitive position for control of communist parties worldwide, and if they appear to be soft in opposing us in Vietnam, theyíll be charged with that and lose control.
In any event, Iíve tried to prepare a strong statement here of what weíre doing and why weíre doing it and what the prospects are.
President Johnson: All right. What can I say to the press? Theyíre going to come in after a while and just visit with me. [Pauses.] Havenít you got something startling over in your shop?
McNamara: No, I was just trying to think. If you want to, you might say that youíve continued to emphasize, particularly to the Defense Department, which has such a high percentage of the federal budget, the need for increasing our strength and while doing so to reduce costs by increasing efficiency, and that you understand that we will have some further announcements to make on that subject in the next couple of weeks.
It looks as though, Mr. President, we could bring to you a package of base closings, which donít appear to be too difficult politically, that would bring in savings of something on the order of 60 to 70 million [dollars] a year. And I hope within two weeks to be able to bring that to your attention.
President Johnson: I asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff when I talked to them to keep riding herd over and above what youíre doing in your cost-consciousness program, and the Air Force made a report, Bozo McKee did, where heíd save a few million here and there.
McNamara: Itís just crap. Itís just gamesmanship.
President Johnson: Doesnít amount to much, does it?
McNamara: But I think we can pick up $60 to $70 million in this set of actions, that are really notó
President Johnson: Where are you closing them?
McNamara: Well, there are a lot of procurement offices scattered all over the country that have anywhere from, say, 100 to 200 people in them. We can consolidate a lot of these and save about 18 million [dollars] a year there, and this is not difficult politically.
Then we have 14 bases overseas that I think we can close and save some there. Then weíve got a handful of fairly tough ones in this country, four or five. One is in Ohio, if I remember correctly, and there are a few other places around the country.
President Johnson: [softly] Many in Texas?
McNamara: But overseasó
President Johnson: Got many in Texas?
McNamara: No, sir. I donít remember any one at this moment.
President Johnson: Got any in Kansas or Iowa or Nebraska?
McNamara: Thereís not enough in Kansas, apart from these bomber bases, which we canít move on at the moment, to do very much with. Thatís our problem there.
But Iíll bring this list to your attention in a couple of weeks, and I think youíd be safe in saying that youíve put the pressure on us to do something, and we think weíll be able to do it, and then announce it in two or three weeks. That will still leave you room to maneuver in whatever you donít want to do.
President Johnson: See the Navy is giving out figures about how many theyíre going to cost jobs in various places? Did you see those?
McNamara: I saw thatóthe shipyards. I donít know how in the hell that got out.
President Johnson: I donít think they ought to do that.
McNamara: No, neither do I. I completely agree with you. I donít know how it got out, either.
President Johnson: Can you think of anything else?
McNamara: No, sir, I canít.
President Johnson: OK. Iíll talk to you.
McNamara: Thank you.
Dean Rusk, 8:35 PM
Dean Rusk: . . . Tom Mann and a group here, including CIA, on this Brazilian situation. The crisis is coming to a head in the next day or two, perhaps even overnight.
Thereís a snowballing of resistance to [Joao] Goulart, and therefore the thing may break at any moment. The armed forces, the governors, particularly in the populated states of the east coast, seem to be building up real resistance there.
I would like to send a message to Linc Gordon, and Iíd like to read it to you if I may, and then also indicate that Iíve asked Bob McNamara to get some tankers ready for some POL supplies, things of that sort.
"U.S. policy toward Brazil is based upon our determination to support in every possible way the maintenance of representative and constitutional government in Brazil, free from the continuing threat of dictatorship from the left erected through a Goulart-Brizola manipulation. It is of great importance that there be a preemption of the position of legitimacy by those who will oppose the communist and other extremist influences.
"It is highly desirable, therefore, that if action is taken by the armed forces, such action be preceded or accompanied by a clear demonstration of unconstitutional actions on the part of Goulart or his colleagues, or that legitimacy be confirmed by acts of the Congress, if it is free to act, or by expressions of the key governors, or by some other means which gives substantial claims to legitimacy.
"With respect to U.S. support capabilities, we could act promptly on financial and economic measures. With regard to military assistance, logistic factors are important. Surface vessels loaded with arms and ammunition could not reach southern Brazil before at least 10 days. Airlifts could be provided promptly if an intermediate field at Recife or other airfields in northeast Brazil, capable of handling large jet transports, is secure and made available. In an ambiguous situation, it may be difficult for us to obtain permission for intermediate stops from other countries, such as Peru.
"In a fast-moving situation, weíre asking all of our posts in Brazil to feed Washington a continual flow of information on significant developments in their areas and to stay on 24-hour alert. At this particular moment, it is important that U.S. Government not put itself in position which would be deeply embarrassing if Goulart and Mazzilióhe is the next in line of successionócongressional leaders, and the armed forces leadership reach an accommodation in the next few hours which would leave us branded with an awkward attempt at intervention.
"However, every disposition here is to support those elements which would move to prevent Brazil from falling under an authentic dictatorship of the left heavily infiltrated or controlled by the communists. Obviously, in a country of over 75 million people, larger than the continental United States, this is not a job for a handful of United States Marines. A major determination by the leadership of Brazil, and a preemption of the position of legitimacy, are of the greatest possible importance.
"We will not, however, be paralyzed by theoretical niceties if the options are clearly between the genuinely democratic forces of Brazil and a communist-dominated dictatorship. As we see the problem tonight, the greatest danger may well be that Goulart will be able to pull back enough within the next day or two to confuse the situation, blunt the edge of key conservative military action, and gain more time to paralyze those elements who would resist a communist-infiltrated authoritarian regime.
"Fragmentary reports reaching here tonight suggest that anti-Goulart forces may be developing a certain momentum. Our big problem is to determine whether this presents an opportunity which might be repeated. In this case, we wish to make a major decision as to whether and by what means we might give additional impetus to forces now in motion consistent with what Iíve said above."
Now, the situation is tható
President Johnson: Now, youíre through with the message?
President Johnson: What youó
Rusk: The situation basically is that there is a very substantial buildup of resistance to Goulart. Now, if the governors of the key states of the east coast, such as Minas Gerais, and Sao Paolo, and all those heavily populated states of the east coast, who are anti-Goulart, should join together with the armed forces who are stationed in those key states, then I think this may be something that weíll have to go along with, and get in touch with.
And we need to get Linc Gordonís fundamental judgment. Iíll tell him that this is the principal judgment heís got to make for which he will earn his pay. Heís got to tell us his best judgment as to whether this is an opportunity which will not be repeated, and which, if not taken now, will give Goulart a chance to undermine his opposition and take Brazil down the road to a communist dictatorship.
This message that Iíve read to you does not commit you in any way. Itís simply, basically, asking him for information and giving him a certain atmosphere of our attitude here.
President Johnson: In effect, though, what it says is, "Get somebody legitimate and get them substantial and donít let it go communist."
Rusk: Thatís right. And Iíve talked to Bob McNamara to lay on some takers to get some POL supplies and other things on the way, and also General OíMeara has been ordered by Bob McNamara to come to Washington tonight to talk about contingency plans that might be needed in this situation.
President Johnson: Hm.
Rusk: So I would like just to send off this, in effect, advisory telegram to Linc Gordon, our ambassador, to see whether by morning, or during the day tomorrow, we might want to make a decision here as to how we move in this situation.
President Johnson: Sure.
Rusk: All right?
President Johnson: That sounds good. Thatís fine. Yes.
Rusk: Now, I have alsoówe had an unfortunate accident today. The House Foreign Affairs committee put out a report that included some references to Brazil, a report that was prepared last January, that included a reference to the fact that we did not expect an early communist takeover in Brazil.
President Johnson: Was it prepared [in] January í64?
Rusk: Thatís right. Now, I backgrounded some press people tonight to have them say that a high State Department official said that the situation in Brazil had deteriorated in the meantime, since that report was issued, that we are deeply concerned about the prospects for representative and constitutional democracy in Brazil. Because if this report goes down to Brazil without some sort of a correction, Goulart might take this as a blessing for the things heís trying to do.
So without any direct quote of you or me, I did do some backgrounding to try to counteract one or two sentences in this report because of its impact in Brazil tomorrow morning.
President Johnson: Mm-hmm. All right.
Now, I had a cable from Mac [Bundy], a wire, on Panama that heís suggesting that [Ellsworth] Bunker propose tomorrow that he said had yours and [Thomas] Mannís approval. Are you familiar with it?
Rusk: Yes. Yes, I saw that, the text of tható
President Johnson: Yes. I
think thatís what weíve been saying all the time.
President Johnson: Yes.
Rusk: I donít think the Panamanians will buy it at the momentó
President Johnson: No.
Rusk: Ėpartly because of Bill Fulbrightís speech.
President Johnson: Yes.
Rusk: But, nevertheless, I think we ought to try it out. And if we donít do that, then I think we can simply state our position to the OAS and let them take it up from there.
President Johnson: Fine. Well, tell Mac and Mann to go ahead on that basis.
Rusk: Oh, fine. Fine. Iím delighted.
President Johnson: I havenít talked to them, but . . .
Rusk: Right. Now, except for this Brazilian matter, I can call you early in the morningóthereís nothing here other than Brazil that would pull you back to Washington tomorrow rather than Wednesday. But I think this Brazilian matter just could blow overnight, and Iíll be in touch with you about itó
President Johnson: Fine.
Rusk: Ėso you can make your plans.
President Johnson: Call me. If not, Iíll be coming back Wednesday, but Iíll come anytime I need to.
Rusk: Oh, fine. Thank you, Mr. President.
President Johnson: All right.
March 31, 1964
Conference call with Thomas Mann and George Ball, 2:38 PM
President Johnson: Hello?
George Ball: Hello? Oh, Mr. President, this is George Ball.
President Johnson: Yes, George?
Ball: Tom Mann is on with me.
President Johnson: Hi, Tom.
Thomas Mann: Hi.
Ball: A quick rundown of the situation in Brazil. We had a meeting this morning with Bob McNamara and Max Taylor and General  OíMeara, whoís come up overnight, and we decided, on the basis of the information that had come in this morning, to go ahead and start a naval task force out, but with no commitment, so that it will be steaming down in that direction. It couldnít get into the area before April 10th; in the meantime, we can watch the developments and see whether it should go on or not. But it can be done in a way that doesnít create any kind of public stir.
The second thing is we have located some Navy tankers in Aruba, and the big thing that theyíre going to need if they have a successful revolt down there at some point, probably, is some gasoline, both for motor vehicles and for the aviation. The tankers are going to be loaded, but, again, they canít be down there until around April the 8th to the 13th. But this is a precautionary move that weíre taking.
Third is theyíre getting together a shipment of ammunition, but this will have to wait before we start moving it, because it will probably have to be moved by plane, and that can only be done after the situation is clarified and we have clearly decided to make a commitment in the situation.
Now, what is actually happening on the field is very confused. Weíve just had a teletype conversation with Linc Gordon in Rio. It seems clear that the state just north of Rio, which is Minas Gerais, is in revolt. Both the army and the civilian authorities of the state seem to be acting together, and the army has apparently moved in and blocked the road from Rio, so that the 1st Army in Rio couldnít move up and stop the revolt.
Weíre waiting for some clarification of the situation in Sao Paolo, which is the key to the matter. There has apparently been no movement in Sao Paolo, but thereís some expected at almost any moment, and we should know within the next few hours whatís happening.
The hope there would be that the 2nd Army would moveó
President Johnson: [whispering, to aide] Find out where Gordon is.
Ball: --and block the roads from Rio down and isolate Rio. In the meantime, they have drafted an impeachment, in congressional circles, of an impeachment against Goulart, but thereís been no action taken on it. But theyíve listed all the offenses against the constitution which they allege, and thereís a lot of bickering around to see what could be done, presumably, in the way of forming some kind of a rump civilian government which would have a claim to legitimacy.
The anti-Goulart governors are apparently going to meet Wednesday, and, on the basis of the information that Gordon has, thereís a significant number of the governors who are prepared to move against Goulartóabout nine of them altogether, which is a very impressive number.
President Johnson: How many do they have?
Ball: The total number of states there is about . . . [to Mann] How many altogether?
President Johnson: Twenty?
Ball: No, twenty-one, they tell me.
President Johnson: Yes.
Ball: But these are the big ones. These are the important states.
Now, we have instructed Gordon not to take any more contact with the Brazilians until we see how the situation develops. I think there has to be some more movement in Sao Paolo to make sure that this thing is going to move. We donít want to get ourselves committed before we know how the thing is going to come out.
He feels that on the basis of the momentum thatís been started so far, it can wait for 12 hours before anything has to beóor overnightóbefore we have to take any decision on whether we should or shouldnít move. And I think that we can see the developments and then make a judgment on it.
I gather youíre planning on coming back to Washington tonight.
President Johnson: Yes, Iíll be in there about 8:30.
Ball: All right. Well, we may have another meeting this afternoon with McNamara. In any event, weíll be changing this situation, but I did want you to know that this wasó
President Johnson: I think we ought to take every step that we can. Be prepared to do everything that we need to, just as we were in Panama, if that is at all feasible.
Ball: Right. Weíre canvassing all the possibilities, to make sure weíre notó
President Johnson: Iíd put everybody that had any imagination or ingenuity in Gordonís outfit, or [John] McConeís, or you-allís, or McNamaraís. We just canít take this one. And Iíd get right on top of it, and stick my neck out a little.
Ball: Right. Well, this is just our own feeling about it, and weíve gotten this well organized, I think, now, [unclear].
President Johnson: Fine. Now, anything further on Panama?
President Johnson: You present that this morningó
Mann: Thereís no word. I thinkóIíve been working on this all dayóbut [unclear] talk again with [unclear]ó
President Johnson: Well, tell Bundy that that thing he sent me is all right to present.
Mann: Yes. Well, I got that word last night from the Secretary.
President Johnson: All right. OK. Iíll see you tonight, then.
President Johnson: Thank you, George.
LBJ and Horace Busby, 11:11 AM
President Johnson: . . . Did he write this one, too?
Valenti: Thatís Busbyís. He wrote that also.
[Busby then comes to the line.]
President Johnson: Buzz, I want to try to work out some rule that I donít make any statement unless Iíve got something to say in it besides just saying, "Youíre welcome. Iím glad youíre here. Itís a great pleasure to see you, and weíre always friends." I just think we oughtnít to do it. I think we have to copy [Henry] Luceís speeches or copy someone elseís and say, "Now, we spent this generation preserving civilization. We fought two wars to save it. Now, weíve got to spend the rest of the time developing it, teaching people to read and write, giving them clothes on their back." Something socially conscious.
I think weíve got to have some thought in some welcoming ceremony, and in our toasts, or I just donít want to make them. Iíd just rather go out there and just hit from the hip on something. With these State Department things that are coming in, theyíre just too rambling and general and saying absolutely not one damn thing.
President Johnson: [contemptuously] Now, the President of the United States is bound to be able to hire somebody that can say something that a reporter can take a note of if heís talking. If he oughtnít to, he ought to be like Coolidge, and not talk.
President Johnson: And I want short sentences and short words. Now, youíve been writing for me for 20 years. Now, just very frankly, on the TelePrompTer the other night out here, before I got to the end of the sentence, I forgot what the first part of it was, and it didnít make sense at all.
President Johnson: Youíve got to count those sentences, and just cut them down. And I donít give a shit what you like; I ant to tell you what I like. Iím the guy whoís delivering the speech. So youíve got to bear that in mind.
Youíve got to cut your cloth to fit my size. Iím 6í3íí, and I just canít wear a four foot, eight [inches] cloth. Or vice versa: I canít wear an elephant coat if itís three time too big for me, and these long sentences, and these long paragraphs that just [unclear]. I just canít say them.
I like punchy, direct things, and weíve got to find a lead if we have to find a history book and quote Plato. Weíve just got to do it on these things.
Now, all of them are too general. Iíve got two statements here this morningóCommissioner HernCK and the welcoming statement. And to me, Iíd just prefer to say nothing. I donít know how I can walk out there and say nothing. But if I have to, like I did for the American ambassadors yesterday, I can do itójust shoot from the hip. Itís dangerous; itís Goldwaterism. But I we canít plan them better and develop them better and get something even out of the book, or quote somebody elseís speeches.
Now, I think that Henry Luceís speech on our great society is a hell of a good speechóto Harvard. I talked at good length to this fellowóoh, that ran the Marshall Plan, Paul Hoffman. But I think we could take our MI speech or Luceís speech and just copy some stuff. And say to Malaysia, "Weíve stood shoulder to shoulder here to defend the Western world and preserve civilization. And now weíre prepared to preserve it, and weíre going to defend it. We donít seek any aggression, and weíre not going to perpetuate any, and weíre going to defend ourselves from any guerrillas that try to rape us in the night, either at home or abroad. But what good does it do if we donít develop it, and if we donít teach more people to read, and if we donít teach more doctors to care for the sick, and if we doní do some of these things that we believe in?"
President Johnson: I think weíve got to say some of these thingsóuse them as forums. Or else thereís no use in me just having all these damn dances every day with everybody, and they canít find a word of it. Now, I want these kids to be quoting something. I need newspapers that follow me around to really say something about it. I thought we had a fairly good speech over there, but it didnít have anything real newsworthy yesterday. I read the Chicago Tribune this morning. They didnít quote one sentence of what I said. I donít know whether any of the other papers did or not.
But, anyway, letís concentrate number one on making our speeches real short. I donít care what you allís personal preference [is]óyou, [Jack] Valenti, [Bill] Moyers, or [George] Reedy. I donít ant nay of these speeches over fur or five minutes. When they get more, I tell you, they get restless.
President Johnson: These little welcoming things. People just donít want them. And Iíd just keep them between three and four hundred words. Therefore, I wouldnít take 100 words of it to say, "Iím so glad t see youíre here."
President Johnson: [increasingly agitated] Iíd start off a toast and say, "Herein this house we meet as civilization faces its greatest challenge." I wouldnít use 20 words to say, "Weíre very lad to welcome you to this house, and in this house youíre always welcome, and we always love you," and all that crap. Iíd get right into what Iím saying. And Iíd have ten words a sentence, get some short sentences, and have at least three or four points I wanted to make. Think about it before you write it, and then give them, and then look at some newspaperman and say, "Whatís my lead?"
President Johnson: Because the stuff weíre getting is just not doing that now. If you need some help on doing it, get [Eric] Goldman to do it. If Goldman canít help you, get Dick Goodwin to do it. If he canít help you, get some of these fellows in the departments to do it. If they canít help you, God knows, just say so, and say, "We canít deliver it. Our departmentís not set up to give you any thought, or not to give you short sentences." But letís donít go more like Iíve got here this morning here with Hern or Malaysia.
Busby: Iíll do that toast over, then. Weíveó
lbj I think youíve got to get somebody over in the State Department. [Walt] Rostow can give you some originality. I think that he thinks a toast is beneath him, maybe. But I know heís got some originality. I donít know who else can do it.
But there ought to be a real thought for a country.
President Johnson: Every one of them. Because weíre not seeing but 25 a year, and there ought to be 25 thoughts that we express to them.
Busby: All right.
President Johnson: But letís keep them as short as we can.
LBJ and McGeorge Bundy, 2:30 PM
Bundy: I know youíve got people for lunch, but he [Kennedy] stopped by here on his way out, and I wondered if you had any feeling as to how we could or should follow up, or whether itís all settled. He talked to me as if heíd simply accepted the decision.
President Johnson: He did to me, and was very fine, very warm. He said that he understood before he came over here that this is what it might be. I said, "Well, now, thereís nobody that knows youíre even coming except Jack Valenti and Mac Bundy, and neither one of them, Iím sure, knew what I was going to say or had anything to do with it, and . . .
Bundy: He and Ióhe told me he thought this was it last night. And thatís what heís talking about.
President Johnson: Well, I said, firstóIíll give it you longer after lunch, but Iíll give this rundown. I said, "I want you to know that Iíve been concerned about a matter thatís been of interest to you and to me. Iíve given a lot of thought since the convention and Goldwaterís nomination. Iíve put myself in your place and assumed you were in my place, and figured how would I want this handled if our positions were reversed. Iíve concluded that you should hear it from me, directófirst.
"Iíve reached the decision that it would be inadvisable for you to be a candidate for the number two spot this year. My reasons for it are as follows: in light of Goldwaterís nomination, I think that battle ground is going to be the border statesóthe states of Oklahoma, and MD, and KYóand the Midwestern states. I have talked to all the leaders in every state either through myself or through intimate staff members. Iíve gotten their views. I feel like this is not the time for you if you have ambitions of lead the country to go after this spot.
"President Kennedy always wondered how I could endure it. He said, ĎIt must be very frustrating.í I told him I wanted more or less to retire from the Senate. I certainly did. And I felt like I ought to do what was good for my country and good for my party and good for my state, and I thought a Democrat was much more preferable than Nixon and thatís why I did it.
"I donít think that youíd be very happy thereóalthough Iím not in charge of your happinessópresiding over a situation in the Senate you couldnít do a damn thing about. Now, I want you to be happy and do what you want to do. Our objective is the same: carrying out President Kennedyís program. Iím going to pass 25 of his 35 major bills the first year. Next year, Iím going to pass the other 10, if Iím here, and extend them.
"Iíve got his people carrying on just like he was here. I only have three peopleóGeorge reedy and Bill Moyers and Jack Valenti and Walter Jenkins. Four of them. The other departments. Bundy runs his shop even more than he did when Kennedy was here. [Larry] OíBrien does the same. [Myer] Feldman does the same. [Ralph] Dungan does the same. And weíll continue that way.
"I want you to direct the campaign. I want you to do anything else youíd like to do in appointing regional men, working out your relationship with them, or carrying out where you are, or going to any foreign spot that you would like to, or taking any place in the government thatís available. I donít mean I would throw a cabinet officer out, but I would try to work it out. I want to get along better with your staff. I need your help. I think youíre brilliant. I think youíre dedicated. I think that youíre good for the country. I think youíd be good for me. We need it."
He said, "I want to help any way I can the rest of the campaign. I donít know what Iíll do after that. I donít guess I could do it from where I am, because I donít guess any precedent. I havenít thought the attorney general ought to be in politics. Theyíd say that I ought to be handling racial matters, not here running the campaign.
"But how are we going to announce this?" I said, "Any way you want to." He said, "Well, Iíll have to think that over." I said, "All right. You can say that youíre not interested in doing this, or you can say that I thought because of the circumstances that developed, the areas of the country where the battleground is going to be, that I ought to give some attention there."
He said, "Have you decided who itís going to be?" I said, "No, Iíve decided several that I donít think will fit in, and I havenít decided the ultimate, the one. I donít think that ought to be done until we get to the convention. I think that ought to be done kind of like President Kennedy did. That would be very desirableóif you could say it at 4:30 that afternoon. Thatís what he did.
"I donít want to have any more problems than Iíve already got. I wish youíd be thinking about ken OíDonnell and Larry OíBrien and Jim Rowe and these folks, what you can put them to doing. You can call in John Connally.
He said, "Who have you thought of succeeding me?" I said, "I donít have anybody, but . . ." He said, "Iíd like for you to give consideration to [Nick] Katzenbach." I said, "I would be glad to do that."
He got up and walked to the door, and got to the door, turned around, and said, "If youíd asked my opinion, I would have told you that I could have been a hell of a lot of help to you."
President Johnson: Meaning if he had gone on the ticket, I assume. It looked that way. I said, "Well, you are going to be a hell of a lot of help to me."
President Johnson: [continuing] "The way Iíve outlined it." Then I hesitated a moment, and he smiled, and I smiled, and then I said, "And a hell of a lot of help to yourself."
Bundy: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
President Johnson: Meaning that I would notóI told him, "Iím not making any commitment. I donít want any deals, I donít want any trades. But I have no envy and no jealousies, and I want to make you look as good as you can. And I think you can be much better understood and get a broad experience, and I think this will be good for you in getting that. I think a lot of people that donít understand you at all now will be strong for you a short time down the road."
I donít know, really, how to interpret it. I donít know whether he felt good or bad, butó
Bundy: Matching it to what happenedóhe came in here for a few minutes before and he came in here for a few minutes afterwardsóI would estimate this is quite hopeful, really quite hopeful. I think you must have handled it just Grade-A, because I wasnít so sure. I was cheered up when he came inóthere wasnít time for me to call you, and I didnít want to, reallyómuch more than I was this morning when I talked to you. But I think you must have just carried on from a running start.
I did advise him beforehand, whatever his reaction, to say nothing in haste. Heís worried bout being the [national] chairman; he thinks itís a good way of running the campaign, [but] itís a good way of making enemies., and that doesnít entice him. I said I didnít think that was true in the long haul, that the measure was going to be who had done most to help win.
But I donít, myself, think that his doing that is crucial from your point of viewó
President Johnson: No.
Bundy: [continuing] As long as he pitches in. In fact, I see some disadvantages to it.
President Johnson: yes. Thatís exactly right. Thatís exactly right. The main thing I wanted to do is kind of like you indicated the other day, that whatever ticket he wanted to write, he could write.
Bundy: yes. Well, there isnít any doubt in my mindó
President Johnson: [continuing] To carry on for brother, and if he wants to carry on for his brother, thatís my job. And I didnít say so, but I have no intention of doing anythingó
Bundy: I am persuaded that he wants to be in your next administration, Mr. President. I think that his saying the opposite to McNamara was simply that when youíre hoping for one thing, you donít talk about something else.
President Johnson: [softly] Mm.
Bundy: I donít blame him for that.
President Johnson: What did he say to McNamara?
Bundy: When Bob told us a week or so ago that he had said he wasnít interested in any job after November, except this one.
President Johnson: Mm-hmm.
Bundy: I donít think thatís true.
President Johnson: Well, I hope not, because I think that he wants to be Presidentó
Bundy: Thatís what I told him.
President Johnson: [continuing] And I think the best way for him to be President isó
Bundy: [completing Johnsonís thought] With wider experience.
President Johnson: [pensively] And to be a little better understood.
Bundy: Thatís right.
President Johnson: I donít say this as a fact, but I believe that of the 50 states, there were three of them that indicated that they would some of their delegates would like to be for him. I would say there were 30 that indicated they couldnít go along at all.
Bundy: Yes. Heís got enemies he doesnít need to have.
Bundy: No. And doesnít know about.
Bundy: Thatís right.
President Johnson: And Iíve got them, tooóbut heís the one thatís being decided.
President Johnson: MA, WI, NH, and maybe one more.
Bundy: NY or not?
President Johnson: No. No. The New York peopleówe think he has some, but none of them we talked to. They all said weíd do anything I wanted done. But these others said theyíd do what I wanted done, too, but.
President Johnson: There was some sentiment.
President Johnson: I would say that Hubert [Humphrey] had 15.
Bundy: How are his negatives?
President Johnson: Heís next to Bobby in negatives in the South, but heís not really negative anywhere.
Bundy: Thatís great.
President Johnson: Bobby has some for him, but just all kinds of negatives.
President Johnson: Just every one. I would guess that of 15 men weíve asked to do things, 12 of them have said Iíd have to assure that heís not on the ticket.
Bundy: Iíll admit that.
President Johnson: they just wonít do it if heís on the ticket. Now, what weíve got to do is find out a nice wayóand your great function now, aside from trying to pull us together and work together closely, as close as heíll permit; Iím going to have self-respect, and Iím not going to bow too much, but Iím going to meet 60 percent of the way.
Bundy: Now that youíve made this decision, you donít have any problem of self-respect. Youíre in charge.
President Johnson: I think that the main problem quickly, before somebody writes it up, and writes it up unfairly. Now, we ought to find out how to do it. He said he wants to think that over.
Bundy: Yes, [unclear]ó
President Johnson: I donít want to press him. But I want you to find a way of how to allow it before they all go to talking. For instance, Iím an hour and a half late to this luncheon, and theyíre going to wonder what the hell? So Iím goingó
Bundy: Blame it on me.
President Johnson: But youíre going to have to today or tomorrowó
Bundy: Letís not put it on me, because I told him I wasnít able to get in, either.
President Johnson: [continuing; ignoring Bundy] Thatís agreeable to both of us on how to get this cat out of the bag.
President Johnson: If I were a dictator, I would just say that he had indicated heíd be glad to be helpful in the campaign, but there had been a lot of talk about the ticket and heíd given serious consideration to it, but he didnít choose to be a candidate. That doesnít say he wouldnít take it, but he just didnít choose toó
Bundy: And that you had accepted this decision.
President Johnson: And Iíd said that that was fine. Now, if you donít, theyíll say, "Well, he said he wouldnít have him," so that makes a fight. I mean, that leaves some wounds, if I say I donít want him.
Bundy: Well, I think heís got time to think that over, and I thinkóhe doesnít have much time, because the number of people he can talk to who will keep their mouths shut is not large.
President Johnson: How many knew he was going to come in here today besides you two? Was anybody else present last night? I guess the whole family, werenít they?
Bundy: Yes. No, he took me in the corner to talk about it. The only people there were Gene Black, and Jackie [Kennedy], and Steve Smith. And, as I say, he didnít talk about this at the table at all.
President Johnson: How did he knowójust instinct?
President Johnson: Mm-hmm.
Bundy: Well, I thinkóI guessóI thinkóBob [McNamara] told me. I talked to him this morning, because I wanted to get his savor of where we were going, and he told me that the conversation had gone a shade further, perhaps, than he had made clear to you, that, you know, when he was in Hyannisport, that Bobby had said, in effect, "I think heís going to decide no, and heíll probably be telling me so fairly soon." Or something like that.
Anyway, it was instinct, and he said to me, "Iím going to see the President, and I think this is what it must be about, and what is his thinking?" And I said, "You know, youíve got to find out what his thinking is from him," but I didnít deny what it was about. Thatís how he knew, Iím sureóor confirmed. From his conversation with me.
As I say, Iím much encouraged. I think what actually happened, Mr. President, was that he looked hard at whether there was any course that made any sense for anyone, himself included, except your decision, and came out where I think where weíre going to be all right.
President Johnson: I think it would be very bad for me, first, very bad for his brotherís memory, and, I think, disastrous for him if he did anything else.
Bundy: Disastrous for him. Disastrous for him.
President Johnson: it would mess up the whole Kennedy image and the whole Kennedy picture to be trying to have a dynasty this quick, and move right in and take over. And I think it would reflect on all of them. What weíve got to do now is work it out, and Iíll talk to you later, Mac.
Bundy: All right, Iím sorry.
President Johnson and Bill Moyers, 4:20 PM
Operator: We find that Robert Weaver is in New York. Do you want me to reach him?
President Johnson: No, I donít want him. Get Bernie Boutin for me, and see if you canít also get Gene Fougin, before I forget what I want to talk about. Heís the small business administrator. [They then discuss Fouginís schedule, and Moyers comes to the line.]
President Johnson: Walter Reutherís going to say that heís there for Johnson because heís for the poverty program, and heís for education, and heís for taking care of the sick. He wants a real strong sentence on medical care. I assume there is a sentence on medical care in here, and on education in here.
Moyers: Yes, sir. And on poverty.
President Johnson: I want one paragraph liftedóDick Goodwin can work on it till dark, or youóalong the lines of the other day that I took out of the [John] Steinbeck speech, I think it was, where we have a right to wish for what we want to, think what we want to, worship where we want to, sleep where we want to. Everything like the basic fundamentals thatóthe Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution thing, wrapped up in one paragraph.
Do you remember the paragraph Iím talking about?
Moyers: Yes. I sure do.
President Johnson: But I want it elaborated on a little bitó"Mind to be trained, childís mind to be trained. Church to pray in. A home to sleep in. A job to work in."
Moyers: All right.
President Johnson: Letís get education, religion, free speech, free pressó"read what he pleases." Round him out as a well-balanced, tolerant, understanding individual, instead of one of these cooks. [Chuckles.]
President Johnson: Do you follow me there, now?
President Johnson: I want that one paragraph so that I can have all the Johnson philosophy.
He said, "Well, youíve got to speak some on poverty. Youíve got to speak some one education. Youíve got to speak some on Medicare." Somebodyís told him itís got to be a high level speech. He wants it a party hack speech.
I said, "Iím going to refer to all of them." I want it in one paragraphómy philosophy. So that when you quote what I had in that Southwest Quarterlyó"Iím a free man, an American, and a senator, in that order." Do you remember?
President Johnson: I want something that you can quote like this the rest of our lives. You can put it in the preface of your book. "I have a visionóa vision of a land where a child can [pauses] have a home to live in." And then repeat what I just said to you. "And read what he wants to, and can wish what he wants to, and can dream what he wants to."
And then the words, "I have a vision." Letís get a little bit of this holy-rolly populist stuff. [voice rising] "I have a vision of a land where every child [pauses] can have training to fit his abilities, a home to protect him from the elements, a church to kneel in." Throw at least two biblical quotations in, that are very simple, that every one of them have heardóthese working men, these auto mechanics.
Moyers: All right.
President Johnson: Itís what you Baptists just report to them all the time.
Moyers: [chuckling] All right.
President Johnson: Make it simple; donít give me one of these long ones.
Moyers: All right.
President Johnson: Go back and get me one of the commandments. These Baptists preachersódonít get on that adultery one. Get some of these, "Thou shalt not [pauses] lie on thy brother."
Moyers: [tartly] All right. OK.
President Johnson and Robert McNamara, 8:39 PM
President Johnson: Looks like to me you went down there with John Connally and the two of you got together and transferred this from "McNamaraís War" to "Johnsonís War."
McNamara: [chuckles heartily] Oh, my God! Itís the first time he hasnít attacked me! I think heís finally getting some sense, Mr. President. I think it was a serious political error for him to run against me instead of you. [Laughs again.]
President Johnson: Iíve been reading about all these coups out there, and all the problems of Khanh and everything. I was just wondering whatís happening to me. [Both chuckle.] I start out with a war.
Now, tell me, whatís your evaluation of the stuff weíre getting from Taylor tonight? Iím just reading it, and it doesnít look very good.
McNamara: It doesnít look good, Mr. President. Itís no different, you know, than what weíve seen here and sensed here for some time. I think the odds are we can squeeze through between now and the next several weeks. But it certainly is a weak situation.
Iím going to meet tomorrow at 11:00 with Dean Rusk and Mac [Bundy] and others to reappraise it and see what we think can be done, if anything. I really donít think thereís much we can do in the next several weeks to change the outlook. But neither do I think itís going to completely collapse in that period.
Afterwards, though, after the election, weíve got a real problem on our hands.
President Johnson: All right. Now, Iím going to be away tomorrow. Iíll have to have a meeting with the press on Saturday. So you better figure outóyou and Rusk and Bundyówhat we can say to them in a good many fields. I canít dodge them Saturday. Iíve been dodging them all week.
McNamara: In the first place, I think weíll have some announcements for you. We can cut our personnel budget at the end of the year by 5,000, for example. Weíve got a few other things you can announce.
Secondly, by that time, we should have finished this Eisenhower discussion. You donít have to meet them until afternoon, do you?
President Johnson: Iíll meet them about 10:00 our time, which is 12:00 yours.
[They ponder the coordination of schedules.]
McNamara: There was an excellent editorial in the Star tonight.
President Johnson: Thatís what they tell me.
McNamara: It was very good, indeed. Iím very hopeful we can hold the line on this thing. So, weíll have some newsó
President Johnson: it looks like to me that Birch statement, by the chairman of the Republican committeeó
President Johnson: [continuing] Would help us some to do it, because we could just say, "Well, itís down in the alley now."
McNamara: Right. Right. Exactly so. I think this does help us. Birch is of the same stripe as Miller, and the more the two of them talk, the better off we are.
President Johnson: Now, are you gong out to SAC with us?
McNamara: Oh, yes. Surely. Iíd like to very much. I didnít know that youíd finally decided to go.
President Johnson: Yeah, I think we ought to, and I think we ought to put it on, and milk it for all itís worth with care.
McNamara: Weíll get it laid on. I think it would probably be wise for Dean to go, too.
President Johnson: If he would.
McNamara: Iíll talk to him and weíll line it up.
President Johnson: Iíd recommend it, if he could. Do you have any other thoughts?
President Johnson: [teasingly] Iím looking to you all to give me some initiates these days, because itís getting pretty blue over here. All I read is the criticism.
McNamara: Oh, come on!
President Johnson: You and Connally got this stuff off you all. Itís no longer "McNamaraís War." I kind of enjoyed hearing Goldwater talk about McNamara. When he started talking about Johnson, I said, "Wait a minuteólet me get the paper." [Both laugh heartily.]
You arenít George Smathersís brotheróI told you that story, didnít I?
President Johnson: I said, "BY god, heís going to close a bank here. Heís going to start a run on a bank." Thatís the way I feel when Goldwater jumps on me. Iím afraid heís going to start a run on a bank. [Chortles.]
McNamara: [joining the merriment] Every night I come home and pick those barbs out of my back.
President Johnson: I got a letter today. When I took my nap, they woke me up with a letter from Mr. Dale Miller. He had pictures of you and Connally. Damned if you donít look like two movie stars. All of these big fat cats following you around there in that Dallas airportó250 of them. No oneís ever had a reception like that.
McNamara: We had a good day in Dallas, thatís right.
President Johnson: A fellow called me todayóno, it was Deke DeLoach, whoís Edgar Hooverís manówho said that Goldwater didnít have but half the crowd you had, and they werenít enthusiastic. They were worn out.
McNamara: The thing to really look at is that Ted Deale. If we can swing him over, we can make some hay down there.
President Johnson: Connally can swing him over. I donít know whether heís going to or not.
McNamara: Heís working on him, and I worked on him. I think I could absolutely guarantee you he wonít come out for Goldwater.
President Johnson: [softly] I sure hope not.
McNamara: Thatís not enough. Weíve got to getó
President Johnson: What are you doing on the Los Angeles Times?
McNamara: I talked to Tex again today about it. Heís working on it. I donít know whether we can do it or not. Itís the relatives, as I said, who own the stock that hold the key to thisóand theyíre all Goldwater-ites.
President Johnson: You tell Bill Moyers tomorrow that you want a letter that Palmer Hoyt wrote the Chandlersóbecause itís a very interesting letter.
McNamara: All right. Very good.
President Johnson: You ought to have it in background.
McNamara: Hoy has influence with them. I know that.
President Johnson: "Oh, God," he wrote them. He said, "Donít do this to the newspaperís reputation. Donít do this to Otis. Otis is doing well. Heís respected in the nation. This is too cruel to hand this man the tradition here that youíve joined the Chicago Tribune." Damned if they donít [unclear]. Itís the strongest thing. Itís just like your will and dishonesty and something. Itís tough.
McNamara: Iím going to Chicago for a speech Tuesday night out there. I thought I might meet with the editorial board of the Tribune. I know I canít swing them, but I at least can dilute them a little bit.
President Johnson: I would, and the Chicago Sun-Times, too.
McNamara: Oh, Iím going to do that, too. But the Tribune is the one to try to calm down a bit if I can.
President Johnson: I think if we could, some way or other, I donít think you could do itóbut I think if some way or the other, we could point out that this is kind of catastrophic on this fellow. Theyíre just quitting the ships like rats. Heís really in deep trouble. He and Birch and Miller have really screwed this thing up. Itís just hopeless.
Henry Luce told a friend of mine that he was endorsing us. I canít believe Life and Time wouldó
McNamara: My God.
President Johnson: So I called him today, and said, "Go check it." He went to Hadley Donovan, and Hadley Donovan said it would be in their issue of October 9th.
McNamara: My God, I canít believe that.
President Johnson: Kohl said that they would endorse us October 12th. Another friend came in said that Jock Whitley was endorsing us. I just canít believe that.
McNamara: I can believe that, but I canít believe Luce.
[The President tries to recall the source of the Whitley information.]
President Johnson: Well, John [Connally] is here. Do you think that two of you on one little fellow is bad? [McNamara guffaws.] I never noticed a word about "Johnsonís War" until you all got together in Dallas, and then it became "Johnsonís War."
McNamara: It took me a long time to get rid of that label, but, by God, I did.
[Both laugh heartily, and conclude the conversation.]
President Johnson and Bill Moyers, 12:01 PM
President Johnson: Bill, on this stuff you wanted to know about Connally, Clifford, and you thatís fine, but Connally, as I understand it, wonít be back until Thursday or Friday.
Moyers: All right. Weíll wait, then.
President Johnson: We can do it any time, if you want to have whoever you can there Tuesday.
On the report, I believe that that report ought to come out of the FBI.
Moyers: It is.
President Johnson: And I think that our statement ought to be a little better than what weíve got. I think it ought to say that Hooverís had 2000 various meetings or conferences on this, and Iíve had several hundred. Iíd say that the President and the FBI director have had several hundred meetings in this connection. I have the feeling that itís going pretty well, and unless people are incitedóand not from Goldwater just saying soóunless theyíre incited . . . And Iíd have something in there about the fathers and the mothers. I guess thatís pretty ticklish, though. I started to say that they ought to do their jobóparentsí job.
This statement doesnít say much, that Iím issuing.
Moyers: The idea, Mr. President, was to avoid the possibility of something happening between now and the electionóanother riot, or more riotsófor those other people to point back and say, "Look, on the 25th of September, he said things are going very well, and they had it under control." It was to try to be as factual as possibleó
President Johnson: Letís take all the appeals that Iíve made, then, and say that Iíve appealedó
Moyers: Youíve had more than 75 conferences or meetings in which youíve discussed crime and respect for law and order.
President Johnson: All right. Give that sentence to George.
Moyers: All right.
President Johnson: And then I think that I publicly made an appeal in three or four speeches, you know, like the AP speech.
Moyers: No question about it.
President Johnson: Iíd list those. Press conferences, speeches. Say Iíve had over 75 meetings at the White Houseóand conferences with groups, and with the FBI, with governors, and with others.
Moyers: All right, sir.
President Johnson: Then tell George to get on and issue it.
Moyers: All right. Iíll get right back and do it.
President Johnson: Now, the TV show. Iíll do that whenever you all get me a speech. Let me look at it. I donít want to get the time and then I have to have a speech and I canít deliver it. Because that agonizes me. If anybody will ever write me a speech right away and let me look at it, where I think it will be adequate, Iíd be inclined to do it.
Moyers: Your speeches for Monday will all be down tonight, on the wire.
President Johnson: Are they any good?
Moyers: Pretty good, sir. I think they are.
President Johnson: What was the effect of yesterday on the press up there?
Moyers: Iím having lunch right now with Walter Lippmann at his request. He called me this morning, and wanted to say simply that your speech at El Paso yesterday was superb, and that he was so proud of the fact that you were conducting your campaign in this way, as far as the effect on feign policy. He says that he thought that the speech at Chamizal was "perfect politics," that it talked forcefully and clearly about peace, and cast you as a man who knew how to keep the peace. Yet it appealed to something basic among the voters, and that is their desire for peace. He said that heóand Iím reciting verbatim almost what he saidóthat he thought yesterdayís appearance at El Paso wasó
President Johnson: Did they have good crowds up there?
Moyers: Yes, sir. he did.
President Johnson: Did Goldwater make any progress yesterday?
Moyers: No, sir. Lippmann thinks that heís falling back.
President Johnson: He ought to say so. He ought to just say that his people are quitting him everywhere. He ought to sell that line: itís just catastrophic. The county managers are afraid to go with him now. Everybody is getting ashamed to go with him. Theyíre afraid of whatís happening.
People like Scott and Case and Javits and Keatingóthereís four of themóand Kuchel. Thereís the background of [the GOP contingent] in the Senateótheyíve theyíve just got 33. Thereís Javits, Keating, Kuchel, Scott, and Caseóthereís five of them. Margaret Smith is six; Cooper [is] seven. Just say about 30 percent of the people in the country that are Republican wonít go with them. Thatís about 30 percent in the Senate that are doneóthey wonít go with him. The othersóhardly none of the local candidates want to go with him.
Compare that to the ten Southern governors. Seven of them are for me already, compared to three against me. Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana havenít taken a position.
I would try to get the line to everybody you could this week that itís kind of catastrophic with him, that his outfit is about to throw it in, [unclear] and theyíre trying to save some of the state tickets.
Moyers: I would say some of the difference is that we have been told twice this week that Goldwater has a "bombshell" on the morality issue that heís going to put out the last ten days. You remember Walter told you about [unclear] statementó
President Johnson: Yeah.
Moyers: I had not mentioned that, except that on the subject of [unclear]
President Johnson: Yeah.
Moyers: [continuing] On every campaign Iíd ever known about, it doesnít catch on, because you are prepared for it. His suggestion is that sometime in the next week or ten days, in some speech or especially on television, you ought to say that "this campaign, that this cannot be for this campaign. You want to make it extremely personal; you want to make it extremely mean and wild, and I refuse to endorse that. We can expect things in that position. We can expect all kinds of wild charges on every issue, and Iím sure the American people are not going to listen," etc.
He feels that theyíre getting desperate. [unclear]
President Johnson: OK. You get a hold of George, now, and we wonít have any more contact. Just tell him Iím not having a press conference today, that Iím staying at home, reading reports. I talked to McNamara and Bundy and Wheeler and different ones, keeping in touch with things, going up there with you. I will stay in my study all day long.
Itís a little rainy; itís not sunshiny. If the sun lightens up any this afternoon, I make take a little drive, a little ride around the place, but I donít plan to get out of my study today.
Moyers: OK. Just tell them youíre going over the speeches for Monday.
President Johnson: Yeah. Anything else, Jack? He better go on and have his press conference.
October 5, 1964
LBJ and Willard Wirtz, 10:15 AM
President Johnson: . . . Good news, isnít it?
Wirtz: [chuckling] I thought you wouldnít mind.
President Johnson: I thought you said more in one paragraph than Iíve ever seen before about labor and minimum wages and Social Security and right-to-work and collective bargaining and everything at stake. I saw it in some of the national papers this morning. It had a very short storyóabout four inchesóbut itís all wrapped in one paragraph. It said you never mentioned Goldwaterís name, which I commend you for.
Wirtz: All right. On theó
President Johnson: I want to also tell you that these speeches have been coming through a lot better, and have been relieving me of a lot. So I wish youíd just keep your teeth in that, as much as you can, and get them to me as far ahead as you can.
Wirtz: All right.
President Johnson: I made 31 appearances the other day, and I had five or six of them prepared, and this week, I have to start out tomorrow and hit the train. Then tomorrow night in Raleigh. Then the next day in Des Moines. Theyíve got them reasonably well along. Thereís one on the Test Ban Treaty.
Wirtz: Yes. Springfield.
President Johnson: Well, theyíre suggesting we pull that one, and make it on Wednesday night on TV. Now, this is something you better get you some pretty good judges to counsel with you on.
A man thatís got a flush hand doesnít draw any cards.
Wirtz: Iím glad to hear you talk this way. Iíve been worried by some of the discussions weíve had.
President Johnson: Now, thatís my feeling. But Iím constantly getting shoving saying donít be a Dewey and donít overlook him. Well, Iím not being a DeweyóIím going out, but I really want to play it safe.
So theyíve got one speech that they were saying, "Hereís what we stand for, and the new frightening voice on the other side says so-and-so." And I told them we better cut that out and not do it. So theyíve rewritten another one, and it says, weíre for Social Security and heís against it. And they kind of cut that one out. Last night, they came up with the Springfield speech and suggested we put it on television, and I finally, just because I was worn out, I said, "Well, Iíll do anything that you all want me to do."
Now, theyíve tentatively got us scheduled for a television slot Wednesday evening. Goldwater speaks Tuesday, and they think we ought to be on television. Iím not convinced that thatís the right thing to do, but I donít want to just be vetoing all the time. I wish youíd give a little thought to it.
What they propose I say is pretty good if itís not too slick and too subtle. Itís the Springfield speech. And itís on the anniversary of the Test Ban. Whether you would pay political time to do that or not, I donít know.
Wirtz: Iím very clear, Mr. President. And Iím so relieved. Weíve been arguing day and night about this, and I havenít known whether to bother you or not. And Iíve thought that the reason was prevailing. Iíve made it a point to check with as many wise people as I know all over the country, of as many different kinds as I can find, and they just all agree on this same thing, and that is the one important thingóand I hope this isnít presumptuousóthe one important thing is just to make it clear that youíre 10 feet taller than anybody else, and that anything else would be real wrong. And Iím right clear, just as clear as I can be, that the best possible speechóand it would be a good oneówould be a test on the nuclear testing thing, from Springfield, and that these others donít even compare with that.
President Johnson: Well, now, what about our TV speech?
Wirtz: Thatís fine.
President Johnson: Thatís what they plan to do. They plan to take the Springfield speech . . .
Wirtz: Thatís fine. Put it on TV.
President Johnson: Yes, put it on TV. Polish it up a little bit. Now, letís be sure that we donít get into something like we did on that spot thing, that weíre overdoing it.
Wirtz: [puzzled] Overdoing the . . .
President Johnson: You remember the little girl pulling the pedals out on the spot, and the bomb going up?
Wirtz: Oh, yes. I know. Yes.
President Johnson: Now, this Springfield [speech] has got some good facts about strashumCK 90 being reduced, and so forth, and I just donít want them to think that Iím overdoing it.
Wirtz: I understand.
Wirtz: You take a look at it from that viewpoint.
Wirtz: All right. Weíre sending over today a memorandum on what the Protestant press has been doing. That hasnít come to you yet, has it?
President Johnson: No, sir.
Wirtz: Just fantastic. Just fantastic.
President Johnson: Wonderful. Should we say anything about the strike thing?
Wirtz: The announcement out to come from out there. It will right shortly. And I donít think you need to say anything. The story got around this weekend that you thought there was going to be a break, and that it would all be cleaned up shortly, and this doesnít hurt at all.
President Johnson: Hmm.
Wirtz: In fact, it didnít just happen. [Chuckles knowingly.]
President Johnson: You donít think we ought to have a statement commending both sides when they finish it to put out?
Wirtz: Well, let me seeó
President Johnson: You think about that.
Wirtz: Part of the problem is they donít go back right away, because theyíve got to clean up their local agreements. My instinct is to think that youíve got from this reportóit was on all the radios this morning and so on and so forthóand I think it works out about right the way it is.
President Johnson: OK.
Wirtz: Now, on the newspaper thing, I donít know whether Walter [Jenkins] filled you in on that. I talked to him. Had a series of talks over the weekend with DíAndradeCK. Iíve got just an ironclad commitment from him that when he settles that, heís going to settle it here, and not someplace else.
President Johnson: Good.
Wirtz: Weíve got some very private meetings set up for Tuesday or Wednesday.
President Johnson: Good. Good. Wonderful. Thank you, Bill.
Wirtz: Much obliged.
President Johnson: Keep your teeth in these speeches, now, and pull anybody that you need from anywhere.
Wirtz: We donít need any more. Weíve been at itówell, weíve been quitting about 3:00 every morning.
President Johnson: Well, thatís wonderful. Now, you donít know how much helpóI just want to emphasize that itís the best thing that happens to me. Itís better than my wife, almost.
Wirtz: Well . . .
President Johnson: [continuing] So please keep it up.
Wirtz: Well, Iím so relieved and [unclear] to hear what you say. As I say, Iíve almost started to call several times, and then figured just donít impose on you until itís desperate.
President Johnson: You please tell everyone there after itís all over, well, weíll have a little special fraternity pin weíll pin on all of them. Thank you.
Wirtz: Thanks, Mr. President. Bye.
LBJ and Abe Fortas, with Clark Clifford, 3:56 PM
Fortas: Mr. President, this is Abe, and Clark is sitting here with me. We have had a very serious problem that came up today. Walter [Jenkins] came over to see me this morning, and he got involved in quite a serious situation. We hope that we have it under control.
The net of it is this: Walterís doctor was over here just a little while ago, and Walter is, on doctorís orders, going into George Washington Hospital for hypertension and acute nervous exhaustion, and heíll be in there for some days. Now, because of [unclear] situation that weíll have to explain to you in detail, we had to handle it this way, and Walterís secretary has been authorized to tell people that call in that Walter has been put in the hospital for hypertension and nervous exhaustion. We believe that unpleasant publicityóvery unpleasant publicityówhich might otherwise develop has been averted. I think that, if youíre asked about it, you should say only that you have heard that Walter Jenkins has been in the hospital on doctorís orders, that youíre sorry to hear it, and that you hope to give more detail. And thatís all.
Clark, do you agree?
Fortas: Clark says thatís right, and donít say anything more. In other wordsóit would be a mistake in these circumstances to make a big play about Walter having worked himself into a state of exhaustion or anything else, beyond the fact that you have heard that the doctor put him in the hospital, Mr. President. You donít know anything more about it.
I know that this sounds strange, Mr. President, but itís a weird situation, and we want to fill you in on it the first moment that you say. And I guess Clark and I are the only ones that know all the details.
President Johnson: Well, is itó
Fortas: Have I gotten this across at all, sir?
President Johnson: No.
Fortas: Yes . . . Uh . . . Is it all right to talk on this phone?
President Johnson: [A bit frightened.] Yes, I think so.
Fortas: About a week ago, Walter went to a party and after the party, he says, he was picked up by a policeman and booked. And this morning, we heard that the Staróthis morning, he called me and came over and saw me. Told me that the Star man had called Liz Carpenter, and that the Star had the storyóthat it was a morals charge, and that they were going to publish it.
So I got a hold of Clark and we went over and saw Noyes and so on, and the Star says they wonít publish it. We spent around 25 minutes with them. The [Washington] News had the story, too, and we went over and saw John OíRourke, with the same result. We believe that the Post will take the same position. But the circumstances of the whole thing, it appears that the only thing to do was for Walter to go to the hospital, and the doctor [unclear] suffering from hypertension and [unclear] and he had Walter go into the hospital for hypertension and nervous exhaustion. [Unclear.]
President Johnson: I canít hear you. Talk a little louder.
Fortas: I say, weíve got a lot of problems, obviously, as a consequence of this, that weíll have to present to you. Clark and I, of course, are available to do anything in the world that we can do. We think weíve got the situation in as good shape now as we can.
Would you like to say a word to Clark about it?
President Johnson: [Stunned.] No, just tell me: could this be true?
Fortas: [sadly] Mr. President, Iím afraid so.
President Johnson: [pauses.] Well, who is involved?
Fortas: [mumbling] Just some fellow that happened his way, and [unclear].
President Johnson: I canít hear you!
Fortas: I said, itís just a case of a fellow going off his rocker for him to get involved in that kind of thing. [Unclear.] But thatís about the way it standsó
President Johnson: Now, whatís . . . What do you say to these other people? What do you explain to them?
Fortas: Well, we have told themóI have told themóthat Walter came over to see me this morning, and that he had a complete blackout about the period involved. That he did go to the party, and he had a couple of martinis, was exhausted, and had a complete blackout about it, and that he just doesnít remember anything. But he does remember. And whether the story is justified or not justified, well, it shouldnít be printed. It had nothing to do with the discharge of his public responsibilities.
And, finally, the Star agreed. They had a wonderful scoop but they agreed it wouldnít be a decent thing to do, and theyíre not going to use it. And John OíRourke of the Daily News [unclear] same position. And weíll talk to Gerry Siegel and Russ Meegan at the Post, and weíre both quite hopeful that theyíll take the same position.
But the problem is that the story mayóyou know, you can never tell how far these things go. And we thought, under the circumstances, that certainly Walter ought not to be around the White House, and that the best way to handle it was for him to go to the hospital, which has been done.
And heís at George Washington Hospital, with instructions of no phone calls, no visitors, no nothing. And heíll be kept there under sedation.
President Johnson: Does his wife know about this?
Fortas: We havenít been able to reach her yet. We didnít want to reach her until after the doctor was here. The doctorís their family doctor, a very able, fine man, and very operational. Weíre not going to ever tell her anything except the exhaustionóexcept that he was exhausted, in the hospital.
President Johnson: Now, did Walter talk to you frankly?
Fortas: yes, sir. Yes.
President Johnson: [softly] I just canít believe this.
President Johnson: I just canít believe this.
Fortas: I couldnít either, Mr. President. Itís the most fantastic thing I ever heard in all my life, and I thought I had heard everything. But you never know.
President Johnson: has there been any of this beforeóany history of it?
Fortas: He told me no, but the Star had a record of an arrest in 1959. Walter told me no, and since I found out about the arrest in 1959, you know, and we came back to the Houseóthereíd been reports all day longóI just didnít have the heart to ask him about that 1959 thing, which weíll have to do one of these days. But the Star says that he was photographed by the policeóin Ď59. They took a mug shot of him that theyíve got down there that thereís no doubt about the identity.
So, what weíve done is just to work as hard as we can, as [unclear] as we can all day long to try to control the situation, and I think itís in as good shape as it can be.
President Johnson: [Clears his throat.] Well, you donít foresee that you can keep this lid on for three weeks, do you?
Fortas: [quickly] No, sir. I think that, however, that if we can keep him out of a news story, that it wonít assume a great deal of [unclear]. And I think that Walter ought to stay in the hospital a while, and then be sent off somewhereóthe doctor give the order that he go off somewhereóto recuperate. But I think we wouldnít be very sensible if we didnít assume that the Republican National Committee has it or will have it. [Unclear.] But I think that if we just keep it out of the news story, we can [unclear] in the atmosphere of malicious gossip and general accusation.
President Johnson: [Pauses.] What are they going to do with the charge?
Fortas: Well, he put up $50 collateral, and apparently, in [unclear] of a plea, he said that he would forfeit the collateral, so that the charges are just there on the booksóin effect, a no contest, which forfeiting the collateral amounts to.
Now, Iíve talkedóor rather Deke [DeLoach] called, and I talked with him, and heís going to look into this question of the police blotter, as to what, if anything, was done. He offered to do that; I didnít suggest it. Financially, itís too late, you see, [unclear] known to have reported it.
A week passed before Walter [unclear] early this morning. I guess Walter was just praying that nothing would happen. [Unclear], which of course wasnít true.
President Johnson: What did he say to you?
Fortas: Well, it happened. He told me that it happened. Of course, he was just as distraught as could be. I think heís just exhausted, had a couple of drinks, and was sort of out of his mind. I thinkóhis version of it is he blacked out because of [unclear]. He wonít [unclear].
President Johnson: Abe, Mary Lasker and these folksóthe various peopleó
Fortas: yes, sir.
President Johnson: [continuing] Of that type have been seeing him every day or two for the last few days, and you ought to talk to him and talk to Mildred so that what his situation is goes over to you.
Fortas: So that what?
President Johnson: What he has goes over to you.
Fortas: All right, sir. Iíll take care of it.
President Johnson: Do you follow me? Do you follow me?
Fortas: yes, sir.
President Johnson: Mary Lasker and some of themóa good many folks have been talking to him. Clark has; tell Clark about it, so that you can go talk to Mildred about it.
Fortas: Clark and I will handle it; yes, sir.
President Johnson: All right. Is there anything else?
Fortas: No, sir. Do you want us to come up and meet you or see you or do anythingóyou know, anything in the world.
President Johnson: No, I donít know . . .
Fortas: I think weíve got it in as good shape as can be right now. And weíre letting the word out that heís in the hospital, on doctorís orders. And the doctor was over here, and the doctor is going to take calls, and say that Walterís had hypertension for a year, heís been telling him he was going to kill himself, and that today Walter had the shakes and thought that the top of his head was going to blow off, and that [he had] no alternative if the man wanted to live, and put him in the hospital.
President Johnson: [ruminating] You know, Abe, Iíll swear, I just canít believe this.
Fortas: Isnít it fantastic? I would have believed it of my own brother or myself. I mean, thisóthe whole thing is just incredible. Incredible.
President Johnson: Whatís this going to do?
Fortas: Well, I . . . Well, in the first place it deprives the public of a great public servant. In the second place, I donít know. I donít think the other side will be able to make much of it. We should just keep it out of the story news, try to close off a reputable paper. [Unclear.]
President Johnson: Oh-h. You reckon this is a frame deal?
Fortas: No, sir. I have to tell you that I donít think it was. I just think that the man went off his rocker.
President Johnson: How did he locate him, though?
President Johnson: How did he locate him?
Fortas: He went over to the YMCA.
President Johnson: Well . . .
Fortas: [continuing] Where thereís dozens of them around thereódozens of head cases of this sort before. Place is just full of thatís kind of fellow, and also of undercover cops. But he was involved hereóthe police arrested the other guy, too, you see.
President Johnson: And they both admitted it?
Fortas: yes, sir.
President Johnson: Had they known each other before?
Fortas: No, sir. It was a pure pick-up.
President Johnson: Was a fee involved?
President Johnson: Was a fee involved?
Fortas: No, sir. [Pauses.] Incredible, isnít it?
President Johnson: Whatís his explanation?
Fortas: Well, he doesnít have any. He was drunk and sick and thatís really what it was. He just went off his rocker. And Iím sure thatís what it was. Exhaustion. It must be some latent thing, you knowóa psychiatric problem that he managed to handle all these years, but itís been . . . Heís exhausted, and drunk, and went to the YMCA and then this thing happened.
President Johnson: What time?
Fortas: Iíve forgotten the exact time, but it must have been around 9:00. [to Clifford:] Clark, do you remember?
Fortas: Yes, it was about 9:00. There was a cocktail party given for the opening of the new offices of Newsweek. He and Marjorie went over to that, and Marjorie left, because she had a dinner engagement. Walter stayed a little longer, and says he had three martinis. Then Walter went over to the YMCA. And then this thing happened. [Pauses.] Thatís about the way it lines up.
Now, Clark telephoned Mrs. Johnson and just told her that Walter was in the hospital for hypertension. Told her there were some other aspects of it, but that she would probably be filled in later. In other words, we were worried about either you or her being too fulsome at this time, you know, about saying anythingóthings about the strain of the office or whatnot. I think you just ought to play it down now. That you were terribly sorry to hear that he was in the hospital; donít know anything about it.
President Johnson: [Sounding hoarse.] Who told me that he was?
Fortas: Well, uh, [pondering] Mildred could have told you.
President Johnson: All right. OK.
Fortas: Thatís OK. Because she knows, and she is telling people.
President Johnson: Does she know the facts?
President Johnson: Does she know the facts?
Fortas: Well, she was the one who first got the word from Liz. Liz called her first and told her this ridiculous accusation. The Evening Star man called Liz, and Liz called Mildred, and Mildred called and talked to Walter. And then she talked to Walter. So Mildred knows something. But how much she knowsóI mean, she doesnít know whether it was true or not [unclear], but sheó
President Johnson: What does this do to your [Bobby] Baker angle?
Fortas: Well, it all depends on how boldly this thing is played by the other side. If we could keep it in the area of speculationóitís hard for them to handle. Itís the kind of an accusation thatís very difficult for them to handle. But it sure can add fuel to this general attack on moral standards and what not. [Unclear.]
I donít know what else we can beyond it at this time. I think that if there is any break about the blotter entry on the police record, and Walter is available, well, weíll have to work out some way of saying it was just a frame-up, a fake. [softly] I donít know. Itís hard.
But I think that our immediate objectives, which weíve been concentrating on all day long, is to try to: first, keep it out of the news stories; and second, to try to set the stage for the future, which mean first getting Walter out of the White House on some plausible basis and second, getting him into a place where [unclear], some way theyíll be a certain appeal to sympathy.
President Johnson: [Pauses.] I think you better tell Bird and Marjorie the truth.
Fortas: Not Marjorie, I donít think, Mr. President. The doctor, who knows her very well, doesnít think so, and, you know, sheís not a very sturdy girl. I think you do knowómaybe you donít knowóabout that, but she has problems.
President Johnson: No, I didnít know that.
Fortas: And the doctor didnít think that she ought to be told. He was very firm about that, and heís been their family doctor for 15 years. I think maybe a little more filling in of Bird might be advisable. Donít you think so?
President Johnson: [Distracted.] Mm-hmm.
Fortas: But I donít think so of Marjorie. Iíd be afraid of the consequences.
I donít see this doing any good, in a way, to tell her the truth. It might knock her off her rocker.
President Johnson: I think that you ought toówill you be seeing him at all?
Fortas: I can. I have access to him.
President Johnson: I think you ought to see him and ask him where he has these materials, so you can be positive of that right away.
Fortas: Where he has the what?
President Johnson: This Mary stuffóMary Lasker stuff.
Fortas: yes, Iíll see him and find out where that is and get it.
President Johnson: Yes.
Fortas: All right.
President Johnson: Because itís going to be used this next week in television and everything.
Fortas: I see.
President Johnson: You better do that, though, right away.
Fortas: Iíll do that right away.
President Johnson: OK. Fortas: Thank you.
October 31, 1964
LBJ and J. Edgar Hoover, 10:35 AM
President Johnson: What do you know this morning?
Hoover: I havenít heard anything more than that rumor that we got yesterday.
President Johnson: Mm-hmm.
Hoover: I talked to Abe Fortas about it. I think he talked to you in Chicago.
President Johnson: Well, he talked to one of my men. I was speaking. Iím just getting ready to go to New York. Do you have any idea who that might be?
Hoover: No, I havenít any idea. I would surmise it might be down the line, but they always refer to a cabinet officer. But I do know that over in the Defense Department the Navy has had under surveillance this fellow [excised material] who works for an assistant secretary by the name of Ballou.
President Johnson: Mm-hmm. Yes.
Hoover: [continuing] In connection with some deviation.
President Johnson: Yes.
Hoover: Now, Ballouís name, you will recall, was mentioned a number of times in the Billy Sol Estes matter. But this fellow [excised material] has been working in his office, and the Navy have had him under surveillance. We took over that investigation yesterday . . .
President Johnson: Yes.
Hoover: [continuing] Because it involves the overall picture of any penetration into the security ofóhe was never assigned to the White Houseóbut any security of the country.
President Johnson: Yes.
Hoover: That is the nearest one. They said that this particular man had been under surveillance, and that they were going to explode this bomb today. Now, the only person I know of whoís been under surveillance by any agency has been this man over in the Navy Department. Weíve had no one under surveillance, and I donít know of any other intelligence agency that has had one, except the naval intelligence.
President Johnson: No, I read that. What they said wasóthey raised the question of the way he combed his hair, or the way he did something else, but they had no act of his, or he had done nothingó
Hoover: No. It was just the suspicion that his mannerisms and so forth were such that they were suspicious.
President Johnson: Yes. He worked for me for four or five years, but he wasnít even suspicious to me. But I guess youíre going to have to teach me something about this stuff!
Hoover: Well, you know, I often wonder what the next crisis is going to be. [An awkward pause ensues.]
President Johnson: Iíll swear I canít recognize them. I donít know anything about it.
Hoover: Itís a thing that you just canít tell. Sometimes, just like in the case of this poor fellow Jenkins . . .
Hoover: [continuing] There was no indication in any way.
President Johnson: No.
Hoover: [continuing] And I knew him pretty well, and [Deke] DeLoach did also, and there was no suspicion, no indication. There are some people who walk kind of funny and so forth, that you might kind of think are little bit off or maybe queer. But there was no indication of that in the Jenkins case.
President Johnson: Thatís right.
Hoover: Iíve never seen this fellow [unclear] but we heard so much of these thingsóthese stories, opinions and such . . . I think [Drew] Pearson had the information for you. We got an affidavit from that source saying it was absolutely untrue; it was just said as a gag. Got that yesterday.
President Johnson: What was that?
Hoover: That was the story of this man being planted in the Republican National Committee and the frame-up of Jenkins.
President Johnson: Yes.