A Time For Greatness: The Alternate Presidency of John F. Kennedy and beyond

You're welcome! Also remember that Star Trek is likely coming up in a couple of years. I don't think Gene Roddenberry would be butterflied out of his dream/concept of a "Wagon Train to the Stars", as he originally called it; indeed, his idealistic vision would likely be amplified. It's going to be interesting to see how exactly TTL's TOS differs from OTL's; maybe, for example, the original idea of a female first officer for the Enterprise stays in place.* In fact, from the very valuable book by Bob Justman and Herb Solow, "Inside Star Trek", most of the key casting seems to have been driven more or less by serendipity. It's possible, for instance, that Lloyd Alden, the person originally cast as the communications officer (he later went on to star in "Room 222" OTL) might stay in place, though I'd hate to lose Nichelle Nichols.

*Contrary to popular myth, NBC actually liked the idea of a female "Number One". What they objected to was having Roddenberry's girlfriend Majel Barrett cast in the part. In fact, they had more problems with the notion of Mr. Spock, especially his appearance - which they considered to be too "Satanic" - than with "Number One".
The original Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was filmed in December 1964-January 1965.
 
Could Ayn Rand who hasn't broken with Nathanael Branden in ttl, play a larger role in The Goldwater camp
Potentially! I'll look into her at the time if you like. Do you have any sources that might help orient me to where she fits in?
 
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The original Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was filmed in December 1964-January 1965.
Right; and Roddenberry had been working on the series concept and peddling it to the networks for quite a while before that. (By the way, his previous series, The Lieutenant, starred Robert Vaughn, who would later go on to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ITTL, while that short-lived - one season - series depicted life in the peacetime Marine Corps, it may well have instead been a combat-oriented series set in Cuba.)
 
By the way, his previous series, The Lieutenant, starred Robert Vaughn, who would later go on to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ITTL, while that short-lived - one season - series depicted life in the peacetime Marine Corps, it may well have instead been a combat-oriented series set in Cuba.
I will absolutely include this ITTL if you'd like. That's an amazing idea.
 
I will absolutely include this ITTL if you'd like. That's an amazing idea.

Sure! I still want to see Vaughn as the charming and redoubtable Napoleon Solo, so maybe we could have him leave the show (his character could be killed in action, possibly) to join U.N.C.L.E.. IOTL, he didn't really like his role on The Lieutenant anyway, because he considered it to be too much of a "second banana" thing, and made the U.N.C.L.E. pilot, which he had been offered the lead role in, while his current show was in first-run broadcast. Vaughn could be replaced by - wait for it! - William Shatner as Gary Lockwood's (the titular character's actor) new company commander. (A LOT of people who would later appear on Star Trek had guest roles on The Lieutenant, and hilariously, both Shatner and Nimoy had guest roles in one of the best first-season U.N.C.L.E. episodes, "The Project Strigas Affair". Hollywood is quite a small village.)


 
Sure! I still want to see Vaughn as the charming and redoubtable Napoleon Solo, so maybe we could have him leave the show (his character could be killed in action, possibly) to join U.N.C.L.E.. IOTL, he didn't really like his role on The Lieutenant anyway, because he considered it to be too much of a "second banana" thing, and made the U.N.C.L.E. pilot, which he had been offered the lead role in, while his current show was in first-run broadcast. Vaughn could be replaced by - wait for it! - William Shatner as Gary Lockwood's (the titular character's actor) new company commander. (A LOT of people who would later appear on Star Trek had guest roles on The Lieutenant, and hilariously, both Shatner and Nimoy had guest roles in one of the best first-season U.N.C.L.E. episodes, "The Project Strigas Affair". Hollywood is quite a small village.)
I won't lie, I'm pondering having Star Trek proceed with Jeffery Hunter as Captain Pike.
 
I won't lie, I'm pondering having Star Trek proceed with Jeffery Hunter as Captain Pike.

You'll need to get around the problem of Hunter's wife, model/actress Joan Bartlett. While it was thought for many years that Hunter was let go because many people, including Roddenberry himself, considered him too "wooden" in his style to generate the charisma needed for the lead role, more recent accounts now indicate strongly that Hunter was actually more or less fired because Bartlett, who thought her husband was essentially demeaning himself by working in TV when, as she told him, "You're a movie star. You're not a TV star", essentially took over as his agent and made a real pest of herself, making demand after demand and never being satisfied no matter how much the Trek production team bent over backward to meet her ever-more-stringent stipulations. And I'm not exaggerating about the "pest" part; she would, according to Shatner, storm into Roddenberry's office on numerous occasions and make demands like, "From now on, my Jeff must only be shot from certain angles", and so on and so forth.

That being said, Herb Solow and Bob Justman, in their invaluable book Inside Star Trek, say that they were satisfied with Hunter's performance in "The Cage", and while he wasn't signed for the second pilot, they very much would have liked to get him contracted for the series. However, once again, Bartlett messed it up, when she, according to Solow and Justman, politely but firmly told them and Roddenberry, "This is not the kind of show Jeff wants to do, and besides, it wouldn't be good for his career. Jeff Hunter is a movie star." (The implication here, in this version, is that it was in fact Hunter's decision to not proceed, and his wife was simply the messenger.) And just like that, Hunter was out and the Enterprise needed a new captain.


 
You'll need to get around the problem of Hunter's wife, model/actress Joan Bartlett. While it was thought for many years that Hunter was let go because many people, including Roddenberry himself, considered him too "wooden" in his style to generate the charisma needed for the lead role, more recent accounts now indicate strongly that Hunter was actually more or less fired because Bartlett, who thought her husband was essentially demeaning himself by working in TV when, as she told him, "You're a movie star. You're not a TV star", essentially took over as his agent and made a real pest of herself, making demand after demand and never being satisfied no matter how much the Trek production team bent over backward to meet her ever-more-stringent stipulations. And I'm not exaggerating about the "pest" part; she would, according to Shatner, storm into Roddenberry's office on numerous occasions and make demands like, "From now on, my Jeff must only be shot from certain angles", and so on and so forth.

That being said, Herb Solow and Bob Justman, in their invaluable book Inside Star Trek, say that they were satisfied with Hunter's performance in "The Cage", and while he wasn't signed for the second pilot, they very much would have liked to get him contracted for the series. However, once again, Bartlett messed it up, when she, according to Solow and Justman, politely but firmly told them and Roddenberry, "This is not the kind of show Jeff wants to do, and besides, it wouldn't be good for his career. Jeff Hunter is a movie star." (The implication here, in this version, is that it was in fact Hunter's decision to not proceed, and his wife was simply the messenger.) And just like that, Hunter was out and the Enterprise needed a new captain.


Thank you very much for the insight! I'll be sure to take this into account.
 
And by the way, please find some way to not have "camp", in the sense of the wildly-exaggerated-for-comic-and-absurdist-effect style, overrun American TV during the mid-to-late-1960's. I admit to Batman '66 still being my favorite version of the Dark Knight, as that was the first exposure I ever had to him as a young boy, but what made that show a phenomenon...really doesn't work with most other programs. It doomed the spinoff of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., to one season, and essentially ruined the parent program too so that it swung too far back toward an utterly serious style in its fourth season and ended up getting cancelled. (It might not necessarily have survived more than five years, anyway, in part because Leo G. Carroll was getting seriously infirm.) Even Trek had an encounter with camp, the third-season episode "Spock's Brain", which these days is treated as a so-bad-it's-good moment and, truthfully, one of the higher moments in a season where everyone from Roddenberry on down was essentially phoning it in after NBC fucked the show over by renewing it for another season after the famous "Save Star Trek" campaign, only to yank the rug out from under it by putting "Laugh-In" in the prime slot that ST had originally been slated for and retiring Kirk, Spock and Co. to the 10 pm Fridays slot.
 
But Johnson’s time as a party elder and back-room power broker had only just begun.
Why does the image of an elderly LBJ strutting around and acting as kingmaker scare me... Is it just me? Because let's be honest here, by the looks of it, it doesn't seem like LBJ is gonna smoke himself to death like he did OTL, and he actually might live longer, which is honestly a bit scary though somewhat cool at the same time....
 
Potentially! I'll look into her at the time if you like. Do you have any sources that might help orient me to where she fits in?
She did iotl write a speech for Goldwater to deliver in California. A good source might be it useally begins with Ayn Rand. She had worked on an intellectual ammunition bureau for Willkie earlier. George Schuler's black and conservative may also help
 
You'll need to get around the problem of Hunter's wife, model/actress Joan Bartlett. While it was thought for many years that Hunter was let go because many people, including Roddenberry himself, considered him too "wooden" in his style to generate the charisma needed for the lead role, more recent accounts now indicate strongly that Hunter was actually more or less fired because Bartlett, who thought her husband was essentially demeaning himself by working in TV when, as she told him, "You're a movie star. You're not a TV star", essentially took over as his agent and made a real pest of herself, making demand after demand and never being satisfied no matter how much the Trek production team bent over backward to meet her ever-more-stringent stipulations. And I'm not exaggerating about the "pest" part; she would, according to Shatner, storm into Roddenberry's office on numerous occasions and make demands like, "From now on, my Jeff must only be shot from certain angles", and so on and so forth.

That being said, Herb Solow and Bob Justman, in their invaluable book Inside Star Trek, say that they were satisfied with Hunter's performance in "The Cage", and while he wasn't signed for the second pilot, they very much would have liked to get him contracted for the series. However, once again, Bartlett messed it up, when she, according to Solow and Justman, politely but firmly told them and Roddenberry, "This is not the kind of show Jeff wants to do, and besides, it wouldn't be good for his career. Jeff Hunter is a movie star." (The implication here, in this version, is that it was in fact Hunter's decision to not proceed, and his wife was simply the messenger.) And just like that, Hunter was out and the Enterprise needed a new captain.


Indeed, Jeff Hunter was "fired" by Roddenberry after the first pilot as Gene felt Hunter's wife had too much say in her husband's career, saying things like "My Jeff wants this" or "My Jeff wants that". Roddenberry later told Shatner that he would rather work with Hunter and his agent or Hunter with a gorilla rather than with his wife. He thought "I can't work with these people. They'll drive me nuts!" That was when Shatner's phone rang and the rest is history.....
 
Free Cuba's First Election, an upate in the 1964 election, and Operation Heavyweight begins
The first Free Cuban Election
On May 30th, 1964, the first election under the new Free Cuban government took place.

Under the new system, the President, in this case Cardona, would largely be a ceremonial figure as head of state.

Instead, the Prime Minister would be the de facto “true” power in Free Cuba and would be the figure largely responsible for leading the federal government.

A number of different political parties formed to contest the election. These included:

  • The Christian Democratic Party – A party made up of economically liberal, socially conservative politicians.
  • Liberal Party of Cuba – A center-left party modeled primarily on the Democratic Party in the US, more specifically on the beliefs of President Kennedy and his New Frontier.
  • The Cuban Renewal Party – A right wing nationalist party, made up of many former supporters of Fulgencio Batista and other hard-line right-wing figures.
  • The Cuban Labor Party – A center-left, though explicitly not communist political party which operates in conjunction with Cuba’s trade union movement (which saw considerable purges and alterations following Castro’s ousting).
  • The Conservative Republican Party of Cuba – A right wing/center-right political party largely modeled after the Republican Party in the United States
  • Cuban Unity – A “big tent” centrist political party.

Many former Brigade 2506 soldiers made the decision to enter politics in this election, and a number of exiled former politicians returned.

However, one notable figure that had not returned was Fulgencio Batista.

The former leader and military dictator in Cuba, it was agreed to by the US and Free Cuban leadership that Batista would not return until the new government had firmly established and legitimized himself.

Batista’s return would be on the condition that he not involve himself in any political matters, and instead simply “enjoy retirement”. The 9th President of Cuba agreed to these terms.

When all the votes were counted, no single party had a majority of the seats.

As such, four parties – the Liberal Party, Cuban Labor Party, Cuban Unity and Christian Democrats – formed a governing coalition with Carlos Márquez Sterling to serve as Prime Minister.

Sterling, a former politician himself, had been an opposed to both Batista and Castro, and as such, Kennedy was delighted that he would be the next leader.

Eusebio Mujal, an anti-Communist Cuban trade union leader, would be Deputy Prime Minister.

Notably, there were no Marxist or anti-American political parties, which was largely by design. The US had done what it could to ensure that whatever the outcome, they would have a steadfast ally in power.

With a center-left wing coalition at the helm, that was surely to be the case.


The California primary
June 2nd, 1964, saw the long-awaited Republican primary content in California finally take place.

The polls showed the two leading candidates – Rockefeller and Goldwater – virtually neck-and-neck in the state.

This had not been the case only a few weeks ago – Rockefeller had led Goldwater by a comfortable margin.

But in the time since then, Goldwater had employed a masterful combination of grass roots organising and high-profile surrogates to cut into Rockefeller’s lead.

The figurehead of both these tactics was Ronald Reagan. Already, there was talk of Reagan running for political office in the 1966 mid-terms.

But that was years away. First came the 1964 Republican primary.

If Goldwater could pull it off, and win the nomination, he could begin the process of permanently reshaping the Republican Party into his conservative vision.

If Rockefeller won, it would revitalize the Eastern Establishment and ensure that the race was between two liberal candidates.

In the end, the election would prove to be the nail biter that everyone assumed it would be.

When all the votes were counted Rockefeller had won with 50.5%, while Goldwater got 49.5% of the vote.

Goldwater had come within a single percentage point of defeating Rockefeller and upending the race, but he had still come up short.

As a winner-take-all contest, Rockefeller would receive all the delegates that the state of California had to offer.

Barring some backdoor deals at the convention, it was likely that Rockefeller would be the Republican nominee in 1964.

The result disappointed Kennedy, who was looking forward to running against his close friend, Barry Goldwater, and felt that defeating Goldwater would prove an easier task than defeating Rockefeller.

However, Kennedy saw a number of benefits to the current situation.

For one thing, favorite son and write-in candidates won approximately 45% of the vote in the primary, signifying the deep split that existed inside the Republican party.

In truth, it was obvious to virtually everyone that Governor Richard Nixon was the overwhelming preferred choice of Republican voters. Nixon knew this too, and repeatedly ruled his name out of consideration.

There was another added benefit – Nelson Rockefeller was firmly committed to civil rights and supportive of the current Civil Rights Act before the Congress. This effectively removed civil rights as a campaign issue, and perhaps could even give Kennedy leverage to secure its passage.

However, there was one man who assuredly did not see any positives to a Kennedy vs Rockefeller race in 1964.

And that man was George Wallace.


Wallace enters the fray
On the 10th of June, 1964, George Wallace stood on a platform in front of a large crowd at the Alabama State Capitol.

A large crowd had turned out to meet their Governor, who had become the public face of the pro-segregationist movement.

Wallace made an announcement that many were expecting for some time:

“We stand at a turning point in history, when all people must decide whether they wish to live free or be the subject of a tyranny overreaching federal government that controls every aspect of their lives.

That is the choice – freedom or tyranny.

And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather die than submit to tyranny. Who agrees with me?!

[crowd cheers and shouts in response]

Both parties – Democrats and Republicans – are guilty of the same crime – robbing innocent, God fearing, law abiding Americans of their constitutional rights and hard-earned dollars.

They have chosen to worship at the alter of pointy headed intellectualism and left wing agitators.

Well, I will not stand for it. And I know there are millions of Americans who feel the same way.

If neither party will protect our freedoms, then we, the citizens of this land, must do so ourselves.

It is in that spirit that I announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States in 1964.

I shall not run as a Democrat, or as a Republican, but under a banner that shall unite all good Americans.

The American Independent Party will stand for local governments, lower taxes, and I believe most importantly - law and order. It will stand against communism, government overreach, lawlessness and any attempt to pervert our great constitution.”

These were all bread-and-butter issues for Wallace, and he looked to build on his performance in the Democratic primaries to embolden segregationists in Congress, and, if possible, set himself for greater things in politics, down the line.

Reactions to Wallace’s announcement were generally split along geographic and ideological lines. Many in the south were broadly behind him, as were the various groups in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Indiana that Wallace had reached out to during the primaries.

However, more broadly, Wallace’s unveiling of a 3rd party was met with disdain. Liberals and moderates of course hated everything Wallace stood for, but even among conservatives, Wallace had struck a nerve.

Conservatives in the west resented Wallace’s accusations that they were somehow supportive of a high tax, civil liberty restring agenda.

While the commentariat would have their say, it would ultimately be up to the voters to decide what impact Wallace would have in 1964.


Operation Heavyweight

The North was on fire.

On the 19th of June 1964, Operation Heavyweight, a sustained US bombing of North Vietnamese infrastructure, began.

It would signify the start of escalated US involvement in Vietnam.

As part of the operation, US forces targeted not only military targets, but civilian infrastructure as well.

From ammo depots, radar systems, barracks, airfields, and air defences, to dams, railroads, bridges, steel producers and power plants – very little was off limits.

Only a select few areas and targets were actively off limits – central Hanoi, and Chinese border areas among them.

Kennedy may have been willing to stand up to and tell the military leadership when he believed they were wrong, but he also knew when to give them broad authority to carry out the tasks he devised for them.

It was a delicate balance. However, Kennedy’s propensity to surround himself with an inner circle of figures whose abilities he trusted, but whose judgement he never placed above his own, made the system work.

Reactions to Operation Heavyweight were some variation on shock. The Soviets, Chinese Communists and North Vietnamese leadership were not expecting such a sustained and strong bombing attack so quickly.

Kennedy’s reluctance to use airpower in Cuba and Latin America had led America’s adversaries to believe he would tread carefully into Vietnam and carry out only limited strikes – this shift in approach surprised friend and foe alike.

Hawks in Congress were delighted. The likes of Barry Goldwater and Henry Jackson praised Kennedy’s “strong, appropriate response to North Vietnamese aggression”. Those less eager to employ US military power were disapproving, urging Kennedy to limit the scope of the bombings. The American public largely supported the President.

The international community however, largely condemned the operation, with the UN delegation to several countries decrying Kennedy’s action as a war crime.

Similarly, the protest movement inside the United States, grown out of anti-war, anti-nuclear arms, and anti-segregation movements, was brought into a frenzy.

Thousands upon thousands marched in cities and demonstrated on college campuses following the announcement of Operation Heavyweight. They derided Kennedy as an evil imperialist and called on him to cease all US involvement in Vietnam.

“Hey, hey, JFK, how many kids did you kill today?”

-- A common chant for anti-war protestors

It wasn’t just college kids protesting. Several academics and intellectuals added gravitas to the burgeoning anti-war movement. One such academic, Noam Chomsky, had this to say of US involvement in Vietnam:

“The terror and violence inflicted upon the people of North Vietnam represents one of the great atrocities in the history of not only the United States, but in all human history. If John F. Kennedy were judged by the standards of the Nuremberg Trials, he would be hanged.”

Kennedy, while not unmoved by the protests, was undeterred from his current course of action.

A student of history, he recalled the words of General Sherman, who responded to a Mississippi woman with Confederate sympathies during the Meridian campaign:

“War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueller it is, the sooner it will be over.”
 
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Wallace vs Rockefeller vs Kennedy?

I can see Rockefeller losing and the blame going to Wallace for splitting the conservative vote.
 
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