Blue Skies in Camelot: An Alternate 60's and Beyond

Chapter 70
  • Chapter 70: I Don’t Want to Be Right - The Soviet-American Summit in Helsinki


    It was the early morning hours of March 2nd, 1972. President George Romney lifted his head from silent prayer as the announcement filtered over Air Force One that the executive entourage would soon be arriving at its destination. After a grueling eleven hour flight, the Commander in Chief would have been lying if he claimed he wasn’t excited to get off the plane. The canned air of the cabin, combined with a lackluster club sandwich dinner the night before, and the constant frittering of aides and advisors had given the President a headache. Except for the brief respite of half a night’s sleep, not an hour passed in which someone didn’t come by to give the President a briefing, speculation on the First Secretary’s outlook, or rumors which could or could not otherwise prove useful. Romney was not the biggest fan of the constant bombardment of information he was being subjected to. He would have preferred to return to his private seats with First Lady Lenore and catch a few extra winks before landing. He understood however, as he had from the moment the summit had been scheduled, that the stakes for this meeting of the titans could not have been higher. The United States and Soviet Union had come a long way toward deescalation and detente since the high point of tensions the Cuban Missile Crisis had been nearly ten years prior. Since those few fateful days, both superpowers had operated under the mindset of diplomacy first, and maintaining open channels of communication with each other. The transition of Khrushchev’s government into Kosygin’s had given the Americans hope for continued cooperation. But Yuri Andropov’s rise to power presented uncertainty, and seemed to throw a wrench into the work of peace. Romney knew that Andropov authorized the continuation of aid shipments to North Vietnam. His foreign policy team prepared him endlessly for the cold, calculating nature of the former KGB head. They pulled from their President his righteous anger, his desire to see a world wiped clean of totalitarian tampering. A tough stand against the Soviets would work wonders for his popularity amongst the GOP base, and could prove the silver bullet to killing Ronald Reagan’s candidacy. More than anything however, what President Romney really felt was an urge to cooperate, an urge to understand. The clock in the corner of the cabin reminded him that it was nearly 4:30 AM. He squeezed his wife’s hand, then made his way out into the “war room” for a last minute strategy meeting with Kissinger and a young recent hire: White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Richard “Dick” Cheney.


    Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska before spending much of his young adult life in Casper, Wyoming, Cheney was, despite his youthful status of only 31 years, already seen as a potentially powerful political player in Washington. After flunking out of Yale, graduating with a B.A. in political science from the University of Wyoming, and marrying his high school sweetheart, Lynne, Cheney began his career in politics in earnest in 1969. Serving first as a congressional aide to then Congressman and later Senator Donald Rumsfeld (R - IL), Cheney vastly impressed Rumsfeld, who in turn recommended him to White House Chief of Staff Lenny Hall. Hall initially hired Cheney as a “White House Staff Assistant”, but a chance encounter between National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Cheney one afternoon in the West Wing gave the Wyoming-native a chance to shine and brought him into the Commander in Chief’s inner circle on foreign policy decision making. By the beginning of 1972, Cheney was holding the prestigious job of Deputy White House Chief of Staff, and was often seen as the President’s “unofficial campaign manager”. An advocate of a fiercely interventionist foreign policy, Cheney also had a penchant for deal making and negotiation. In Kissinger’s eyes, he was the perfect point man to bring along for the summit. The President agreed. As Romney entered the war room, Kissinger and Cheney stood. “Good morning, Mr. President.” They said, nearly in unison. Kissinger’s finely pressed charcoal suit juxtaposed Cheney’s humbler get-up: slacks and a white button up shirt, with its sleeves rolled up.

    “Morning.” The President responded with a yawn. “Henry, Dick, what am I walking into today?”

    “Well sir, the schedule our advance teams agreed to with the Soviets has been finalized and approved by all the right people.” Dick Cheney began. “You’ll be greeted on the tarmac by President Kekkonen [of Finland] and First Secretary Andropov, then walk with them to a nearby hall for breakfast, a photo op and some short questions by the press. After that, the hall will be made available for you and the First Secretary.” The Deputy Chief of Staff reached onto the war room’s large central table and picked up a clipboard before handing it to the President. “Discussions today will cover space and trade cooperation. Tomorrow will be all about the ABM treaty and Friday will focus on Vietnam and ‘friendship around the world’.”

    Romney nodded his assent. “Excellent.” He turned his attention to Kissinger. “Any last minute facts or figures I should be aware of, Henry? I’ve got a lot riding on this.”

    “Nothing I can think of, Mr. President.” The National Security Advisor reached below the table and retrieved a wrapped box of about three feet by three feet. “Inside are the gifts you will present to First Secretary Andropov once the cameras have stopped rolling and the shutters have ceased to click. A bottle of Chivas Scotch and a box of fine cigars, tokens of our esteem for him agreeing to meet with us.” Romney felt the weight of the box and appeared distasteful, but accepting of the contents. “Use charm where you can, sir. I suspect Andropov is more pliable than he lets on. But don’t allow yourself to be pushed around, either. The Soviets need to see your strength if you’re going to successfully pitch our offer on Vietnam.” The Commander in Chief agreed, continued to talk with his two advisors for another half hour, then departed the room for a glass of orange juice and to put on his business attire for the day.

    As the 747 came to a halt on the runway, Romney looked out his window at the throng of people who had gathered to greet him. Thousands turned out, most bundled in thick wool coats to battle the severe Scandinavian chill, and many held American and Soviet flags, waving them side by side as cheers went up and down the crowd. The President’s lips creased into a firm, confident line. Here he stood, as he saw it, at the boundary between two worlds. He saw this as his greatest, most noble task: as the representative of the free world abroad, and the defender of America’s values on the international stage. He had been elected to lead in domestic policy, an area he considered himself more of an expert on. But after years working alongside Kissinger and Richard Nixon, Romney was starting to believe that foreign affairs were the area which would define his legacy, whether he willed it that way or not. The shape of the next phase of the Cold War would be decided over these three days in Helsinki, and history, that ever present judge, would have its eye fixed on his actions and decisions. Would he be a strong leader who brought freedom and the promise of friendship to the rest of the world, like Theodore Roosevelt and President Kennedy? Or would he be weak, crushed under the wishes of other men like a James Buchanan or Warren G. Harding? He resolved to be as much of the former as possible, descended the stairs of the jet with the First Lady, and locked eyes with First Secretary Andropov, who greeted him with a neutral expression and a handshake. Romney wasn’t sure whether to believe the rumors or not, that Andropov spoke no English and constantly needed a translator, and so as he shook hands with his great geopolitical rival, he squeezed tightly and pulled the Soviet close to him. “Pleasure to finally meet you, First Secretary.” He said with a smile. “Let’s make some history today, shall we?”

    “Cold” was the word Dick Cheney most often used to describe the atmosphere in Helsinki as food was eaten and negotiations got under way. Though the temperature outside never rose above freezing, it was more the personal interactions between the heads of state that the Deputy White House Chief of Staff found to be somewhat disconcerting. Even symbolic gestures were misunderstood, with the Soviet gift of top shelf vodka being deemed somewhat insulting, given the President’s Mormon faith and strict adherence to temperance. From there, potential connections continued to be missed, as Andropov smoked constantly throughout the event, much to President Romney’s annoyance. Unlike the hard won respect and personal devotion developed over years between Khrushchev and Kennedy, Andropov and Romney had very little in common between them, save thinly veiled animosity and the inheritance of predecessors they did not entirely agree with. Andropov may have been a reformer with regard to the Soviet economy, vigorously pursuing Kosygin’s new decentralization policies, but when it came to affairs outside the USSR, he tended to agree with the hardliners on the Politburo more than he disagreed with them. As for Romney, he was certainly not as aggressive toward the Soviets as his rival Ronald Reagan would have been were he in his stead, but he was no Jack Kennedy either. He lacked the 35th President’s patience, eloquence, and intellectual curiosity, favoring instead simple, direct solutions which were not always readily available when dealing with a human iceberg like Yuri Andropov. It was said that JFK had a “common touch”, that he “could talk to anybody”, he was so charming and insightful. It was said of Romney that “he needed a team of press secretaries to explain his true meaning in conversation” even within the confines of English. Romney’s indecisive nature and tendency to contradict himself when speaking proved to be glaring issues. Add a language barrier and a room of cold, irritable diplomats to the mix, and it was a miracle that anything managed to be achieved in Helsinki, according to future historians.


    On the bright side, both leaders came well prepared, and managed to make significant headway in some areas of discussion despite their personality clashes. Both Romney and Andropov agreed that cooperation in space over the last several years, including the fifteen missions of the Apollo-Svarog Program, had been an overwhelming success, and should be renewed and expanded in the future. In the time since Kennedy had invited Khrushchev to chase a moon shot with him, the French and Japanese became the third and fourth nations of the world to launch satellites and officially begin space programs of their own. In the spirit of greater cooperation between East and West, President Romney suggested inviting France and Japan to join with the USSR and United States in the creation of an international space agency, which would coordinate the efforts of all four countries toward greater (and more affordable) projects of exploration. One such project included talks of a permanent research station and expedition launching base on the surface of the Moon. Though Andropov was not entirely convinced on this particular idea, he endorsed cooperation in space on principle, and agreed that inviting France and Japan to join could engender greater geopolitical cooperation in the future as well. The results of these talks would be a new series of joint manned and unmanned missions in space, and great acclaim waiting at home for all of the astronauts and cosmonauts involved in the initial phase of the project. Neil Armstrong and Valentina Tereshkova, the first man and woman on the Moon, each handled this fame in different ways. Armstrong mostly avoided the public spotlight, and took up a career as a Professor of aerospace engineering at several universities in his native Ohio. As for Tereshkova, she took a different route. Capitalizing on her near universally beloved status and fame, she entered a career in politics and rapidly rose to a seat in the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. Considered one of the biggest “rising stars” in the Communist Party, Tereshkova positioned herself as a moderate reformer, working closely with Premier Alexei Kosygin to improve the quality of life for all people throughout the USSR.


    One major goal of the summit was thus achieved in earnest. Next came the possibility of an ABM Treaty. Throughout the late 1950s and into the 1960s, the United States and Soviet Union had both developed missile systems with the ability to shoot down incoming ICBM warheads. During this time period, the US considered the defense of its homeland and overseas territories as part of reducing the overall damage inflicted in a full nuclear exchange. As part of this defense, Canada and the US established the North American Air Defense Command. By the early 1950s, US research on the “Nike Zeus” missile system had developed to the point where small improvements would allow it to be used as the basis of an operational ABM system. Work started on a short-range, high-speed counterpart known as “Sprint” to provide defense for the ABM sites themselves. By the mid-1960s, both systems showed enough promise to start development of base selection for a limited ABM system dubbed “Sentinel” by its creators. President John F. Kennedy funded these and other similar missile defense programs in an effort to keep the US ahead of the USSR in military technology, but by 1967, he began to see their potential to disrupt the ongoing overtures toward detente between the two superpowers. Following a conversation between himself and First Secretary Alexei Kosygin early the following year, President Kennedy drew up preliminary plans for an ABM treaty between the two nations. Before the treaty could be signed however, Kosygin was ousted by Andropov and Kennedy’s second term came to a close with the election of George Romney. Both parties remained open to the idea of such a treaty, but the work of hammering out the details became lost in the shuffle of the new administrations.

    Hoping to once again pursue such a venture, President Romney spent the second day in Finland arguing with Andropov and his defense minister, Andrei Grechko about the potential benefits and pitfalls of such an agreement. The First Secretary was on the fence about the concept of the treaty. He believed that he would have a hard time selling any limitation of defensive measures to the Politburo. Romney knew he would face similar criticism at home from his Republican base, but after weeks of nonstop campaign advice and witticisms from Vice President Bush and Secretary Rockefeller, he decided that he had had enough of being told what to do in the name of politics. Standing from his seat and leaning hard against the conference table in Helsinki, Romney narrowed his eyes at Andropov. “First Secretary, with all due respect, we are called to a higher purpose than simply making our supporters back home happy. We have been entrusted with leadership of the two most powerful nations in the history of the world. Now we can either sit here and pretend like children, that building missiles is the best way to make sure they’re never used. Or, like men, we can make concessions and reach an agreement that both of us can live with. What do you say?” Andropov disliked Romney’s tone, but agreed to sign the treaty nonetheless, on the grounds that if he were to refuse, other nations would surely blame the Soviet Union for making the world a more dangerous place. As one of Andropov’s major foreign policy goals involved rapprochement with several non-aligned nations, whom he hoped to eventually bring under Soviet influence, the First Secretary became convinced that he would have an easier time attracting flies with honey than with vinegar. The nations of eastern Europe would be subjugated without mercy, but countries further away would need to be lured in with promises of peace, prosperity, and friendly relations. The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was thus signed by both parties and would eventually be ratified by Congress and the Supreme Soviet, enjoying mostly widespread support across both countries’ political spectrums.


    It was at this point however, that the good news out of Helsinki largely ceased. The Americans had, for the first two days of the summit, largely gotten what they wanted from their interactions with their Soviet counterparts. As had the Soviets, in the spirit of mutual benefit. The talk of continued space cooperation, with equal funding from the US and USSR, coupled with the signing of the ABM treaty were both seen as major foreign policy victories for the Romney Administration. Romney was shedding the image he had acquired as “soft” or a “weak negotiator” during his time in Washington and riding high. The President did however begin to let his rather large sense of himself, and his frustration at the tedious, sometimes painfully slow pace of the summit get in the way of perhaps the most important discussions of all: those surrounding Vietnam and other proxy conflicts between East and West around the world. Romney’s ego, bolstered by self-perceived evidence that he had Andropov right where he wanted him, and his desire to get home and finish off the damned primary campaign against Ronald Reagan, convinced the President that momentum was on his side by Friday, March 5th. That day, he began talks on Soviet aid to Vietnam with a major power play: demanding not only that Andropov cease sending aid to Hanoi, but that he order Giap to hold a reunification referendum “as soon as possible”, not whenever it should be decided by North and South Vietnam themselves. Henry Kissinger sat at the table, disappointed and flabbergasted, as the President gaffed, overstepped the agreed-upon plan and shredded any chance of a strong American negotiating position through his overconfidence. Yuri Andropov, in response did something rare for his dour countenance: laugh.

    The First Secretary’s chest bobbed up and down heavily as he chortled at the American’s suggestion before stopping to wipe away a tear. “I’m sorry, Mr. President. There is no chance in Hell that I could ever agree to such vulgar terms. The People’s Republic of Vietnam is sick to death of decades of harsh imperial rule, and has embraced a superior ideology in the name of freeing themselves of this oppression. While I sympathize with your desire to see peace in the region, and ‘bring your boys home’ as it were, I cannot turn my back on a fellow nation committed to the downfall of colonial exploitation.” He paused to light up a cigar, one from the box given to him by the Americans as a gift at the start of the summit. He took a long, luxurious drag, then slowly blew it out his nostrils. “It’s a shame really, that you think yourselves so mighty as to dictate terms to us. Mark my words, Mr. President. You and all of your fellow imperialists will fail. The age old forces of empire are coming to an end, and the world that will be left in their wake will be a world built on the ideal of equality. Aid will continue to flow to Vietnam, and General Giap will hold that referendum if he decides he wishes to do so. I believe we’ve discussed all that we came here to discuss.”

    With hardly another word, the Soviets announced that the summit was at an end. Money and weapons would continue to flow from Moscow and Havana to Hanoi and foreign volunteers and saboteurs would be encouraged to continue a guerrilla insurgency against western-aligned South Vietnam, Laos, and the Khmer Republic for years to come. “George Romney’s War” in Cambodia may have concluded in an American victory, but further foreign entanglement in Vietnam and later, alongside their British allies in Rhodesia, would taint that victory with a hollow twinge. As the Americans departed the summit with a mixed bag to carry home, and responsibility for the at least partial failure weighed heavily on the President’s mind, Henry Kissinger called ahead to let Secretary of State Nixon and Vice President Bush know how he did.

    “He’s tired.” Kissinger explained to an angry Nixon and a concerned Bush. “I did not believe that Governor Reagan would be able to get under his skin, but he has, and it is beginning to affect the President’s ability to lead, reason, and govern.”

    “Fuck.” Nixon replied, increasingly back to his usual self. “Well at least the press should report this thing the way we want them to. With ABM signed and space co-op still intact, it’s going to look like Andropov stuck his finger up at us and stonewalled us on timely peace in Vietnam. We’ll score some ‘strong leadership’ points with independents, and spin this into some ‘rally round the flag’ for paleos and conservatives. I’ll be honest with you Henry, George, I… I-uh think the Soviets stiffing us like this is better at the polls than if they’d wanted to play nice. Lets the President show how tough he is and take some powder out of that snake Reagan’s barrel.”

    “But what about our long term foreign policy, Dick?” The Vice President interjected. “It might make for good optics to have Andropov be antagonistic toward us, but we also have to think about after the election, don’t we? How are we going to guarantee that this doesn’t escalate until we’re right back where we started with the Cuban Missile Crisis? I for one like the idea of sleeping a little more soundly at night without needing to catch my shuteye in a fallout shelter!”

    “A problem for another day, Mr. Vice President.” Kissinger answered for Nixon. “For now, we focus on two goals: replacing Secretary Bradley at defense, I hear he’s planning to retire sometime this spring; and destroying Ronald Reagan. From there, everything else will fall into line.”


    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: President Romney Hits the Campaign Trail
    Decorated Cambodia Vets, List 1
  • OOC: This segment was suggested and (mostly) written by his Majesty, @King_Arthur for Blue Skies. I have taken the liberty of editing and adding to his list of decorated notables from TTL's Cambodia. Some are fictional characters, others more recognizable. Hope you all enjoy! :D

    US Army Roll of Honor, January and February 1971 from the Stars and Stripes Magazine


    Major Colin Powell, Silver Star

    Major Powell has been awarded the Silver Star for gallantry during combat. He was part of an infantry convoy that was attacked by Khmer Rogue fighters to the north of Phnom Penh. Major Powell made sure that his Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Faulkner, was safe before personally leading a charge on the Khmer Rogue positions with the help of Staff Sergeant Edward Marks (see below). Major Powell and his men managed to push back the Khmer Rogue, sustaining only minor casualties, compared to their heavy casualties. Major Powell has been awarded the Silver Star for valor during combat and will soon be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.


    Private Thomas L. Jones, Medal of Honor

    Private Jones was part of an infantry platoon in western Cambodia and was on a reconnaissance mission with four other soldiers when the patrol was attacked by a hostile force many times their number. Private Jones and his squad mate, Private Jefferson Session (see below) attempted to evacuate their severely wounded Sergeant. Private Jones evacuated him, suffering grievous wounds in the process, while Private Sessions held off the hostiles. Private Jones and his Sergeant both made it back to their Platoon alive. Private Jones has been awarded the Medal of Honor for extreme valor during combat.


    Second Lieutenant Bruce Springsteen, Soldier’s Medal

    Second Lieutenant Springsteen was working at an army hospital when it came under fire from Khmer Rogue combatants. At great personal danger, Second Lieutenant Springsteen rushed into an unprotected area and provided medical aid to soldiers wounded in the attack, saving dozens of lives. Second Lieutenant Springsteen has been awarded the Soldier’s Medal for valor shown during a non-combat situation.

    Staff Sergeant Edward Marks, Medal of Honor

    Staff Sergeant Marks led a group of soldiers against Khmer Rogue assailants with Major Powell. While Major Powell stopped the pursuit after most of the enemy had been killed and fled, Staff Sergeant Marks carried on the pursuit with several of his men. They were confronted by several Khmer Rogue fighters, and fired on them from cover. When this proved unsuccessful, Staff Sergeant Marks emerged from his cover and began firing on the enemy, not stopping until they were all eliminated. He suffered no less than nine bullet wounds, which crippled him. Staff Sergeant Marks has been presented with the Medal of Honor for extreme valor during combat.


    Private Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Silver Star

    Private Sessions was part of a patrol including Private Jones that was ambushed. While Private Jones evacuated their Sergeant, Private Sessions provided covering fire, which took out the ambushing force, allowing Private Jones and their Sergeant to escape. Private Sessions was found by a later patrol and was sent to a field hospital to be treated, but he was beyond help and died shortly afterwards. Private Sessions has been posthumously presented with the Silver Star for valor during combat.


    Lieutenant Colonel Norman Schwarzkopf, Silver Star

    Lieutenant Colonel Schwarzkopf discovered soldiers from his Battalion who had strayed into a minefield. He and his men began evacuating several injured soldiers, when one soldier struck a landmine, breaking his leg. When the man began flailing around, Lieutenant Colonel Schwarzkopf pinned him down while another man applied a splint to the wounded man’s leg. In the commotion, another mine was set off, killing three and burning Lieutenant Colonel Schwarzkopf. Lieutenant Colonel Schwarzkopf has been presented with the Silver Star for valor during combat.


    Sergeant Oliver Stone, Bronze Star

    Sergeant Stone was driving a truck carrying an infantry squad as part of a convoy, when Khmer Rogue fighters began firing on the convoy. Sergeant Stone remained calm under pressure and accelerated, evading the attack and saving the lives of everyone in the truck. Sergeant Stone has been presented with the Bronze Star for valor during combat.
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    Chapter 71
  • Chapter 71: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - The Struggle for Middle America


    Secretary of State Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger had been right to believe that the President’s poll numbers would climb in the wake of his return home from the summit in Helsinki. As predicted, respondents used phrases like “strong leader” and “shares our values” when describing the Commander in Chief. With the exception of Romney’s existing detractors within groups like the YAF, few on the right had overly harsh words to say about the summit’s results. The left was another story, of course. The anti-war movement was livid that 50,000 Americans would remain along the DMZ in Vietnam “for the foreseeable future” to secure it once again from communist aggression from the North. Following a long and fatiguing phone call between the President and Prime Minister Randolph Churchill of the United Kingdom, Romney called on Congress to grant their permission for 25,000 soldiers originally slated for withdrawal to be rerouted to the Commonwealth of Rhodesia, along with millions of dollars in financial aid and material supplies. If the Soviets were not going to back down from spreading communism abroad, Romney argued, then the United States could not hesitate in its defense “of all free peoples crying out for aid”. The request was wildly unpopular however, and quickly stalled in Congress, where Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D - MT) wondered aloud whether the President was considering “triggering yet another war to boost his flagging chances at the polls”. No President, Mansfield contended, had ever failed to be reelected during wartime, and he conjectured that perhaps the GOP was hoping to ride that safe bet to another four years in power on another stolen election. Protests erupted in New York, Los Angeles, and numerous other cities over the news that the U.S. could perhaps be entangling itself in yet another foreign conflict. Democratic candidates for President Senator Edmund Muskie (D - ME) and Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (D - NY) joined with hippies and college activists in decrying Romney’s request for action in Rhodesia. Bearing signs with mottos like “Bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity!” and “1 - 2 - 3 - 4 Not Another Fucking War!”, the activists demanded more peaceful foreign policy, and rallied especially behind Congresswoman Chisholm, who made racially discriminatory practices in the draft a focal point of her fledgling campaign.


    In the middle of the political spectrum, the fact that at least 75,000 soldiers would soon be coming home regardless of Congress’s ultimate decision on Rhodesia, over the next year gave the nation reason to celebrate. The talk of bringing France and Japan into the fold on space cooperation excited the minds of a curious people, ready to reach out and grasp again at the beautiful face of the heavens. And the ABM treaty, even with its limitations, helped millions of Americans sleep a little more soundly each night. President Romney was by no means a perfect leader. Many in fact considered him a step backward from the bold, inspiring President that John F. Kennedy had been, but they faced the alternatives in the race and most thought twice about trading Romney out for someone else. Ronald Reagan’s confident, sunny optimism was a refreshing change of pitch from Romney’s indecisive backpedaling, but the Governor’s thoroughly conservative positions on the issues frightened away moderates and liberal Republicans. The droves of women who supported the GOP because of the party’s push for the Equal Rights Amendment and moderately pro-choice stance in 1968 were put off by Reagan’s social views, and with abortion increasingly becoming a voting issue for women, the Republicans did not believe they could afford to throw away the female ballot completely to the Democrats. Governor Reagan managed to edge out another narrow victory over the President in Florida on March 14th, but Romney hit back hard with a decisive win in the more populous state of Illinois on the 21st. The Land of Lincoln was good to George Romney, and now both candidates’ attentions turned to the Badger State of Wisconsin, with its high stakes primary to be held on April 4th. Romney seemed to hold a slight advantage there. The large suburbs of Milwaukee, Green Bay, and other industrial cities were full of hard working family men and women who relished the opportunity to support Romney’s brand of liberal Republicanism.

    Turning to the issues, foreign affairs seemed a world away to millions across Middle America. Unless you happened to have a son or brother who served over there, the only exposure most Americans had to the war were nightly broadcasts on the evening news. These images, though horrific and tragic, were often interspersed with testimony before Congress from veterans like three time Purple Heart recipient John Kerry, who appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to express his belief that the United States should in fact intervene on the side of the British in Rhodesia. 16,867 Americans died in the War in Southeast Asia. Still more would likely die in the years to come, but Kerry insisted that those deaths had not been in vain. He pointed to the clear and present evidence of war crimes committed by Pol Pot and his allies throughout the war, then to the United States as the clear liberators of an oppressed people. “War isn’t pretty.” Kerry admitted. “But sometimes it is, unfortunately, necessary to protect the free peoples of the world from tyranny.” The heroic young man swayed thousands of people to his arguments, and convinced his mentor, Senator Henry M. Jackson (D - WA) to adopt a pro-war plank in his positions on the campaign trail. The “Jackson Resolution” to approve the President’s wishes continued to languish, but pressure mounted on Democratic leadership to clearly define the party’s position on the matter.


    Other issues than “the War” were beginning to rise in prominence to replace it for everyday people back home as well. The year before, in May of 1971, President Romney and a group of his top economic advisors, including Secretary of Treasury Nelson Rockefeller, Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns, and future Fed Chairman Paul Volcker met at Camp David to discuss possible solutions to a perplexing problem facing the United States: rising inflation which was simultaneous to rising unemployment. Prevailing economic theories of the day stated that inflation and unemployment held a firm inverse relationship, and that if one went up the other was, inherently supposed to go down. As this was seeming to no longer be the case, Romney sought to nip inflation in the bud. It had already reached nearly 5% in the United States by that point, and showed few signs of slowing, even as unemployment rose to 6.1% by May of that year. Relying heavily on the advice of Rockefeller and Burns, Romney eventually came to the decision to end the “Bretton Woods Agreement” reached back in 1944 by suspending the Gold Standard for U.S. currency, freezing wages and prices for 60 days to combat any potential inflationary effects this might have, and imposing a temporary 10% import tariff to prevent a run on the dollar, stabilize the economy, and hopefully begin to cut back on both inflation and unemployment. Encouraged in their belief that the Administration was protecting the country from price gougers and from a foreign-caused exchange crisis, middle class voters flocked to Romney in what became a major political success. The actual economic benefit of the President’s actions however was a little more opaque.

    The first price and wage controls instituted in the U.S. since World War II, the so-called “Romney Shock” was later said to majorly disrupt the stability of the country’s economy, and may have played a hand in bringing on “stagflation” and a major recession which was soon to follow. In all likelihood, the 1970s would have been a period of economic slowdown for the United States regardless of which policies were employed due to several factors. For one thing, the economy boomed in the 50s under Ike before going through a short recession, only to roar back stronger than ever under JFK in the 60s. By the time Romney was running for reelection, the economy had seen massive, sustained growth for nearly ten years. A cool down was coming, and soon. Add to this the fact that other industrialized nations, such as West Germany and Japan were now fully recovered from the Second World War, and were producing goods that could compete with those of America cheaply on the world market (especially steel and other metal products), and it only made sense that the U.S. would have to go through a recession sooner or later. These logical outlooks on economics did little to stem the worries of the American people however, and the Democrats made great political theater out of the slowdown and looming recession that many believed was to follow it. Senator Lyndon Johnson (D - TX) called President Romney “the Great Rom-dini” in a stump speech; a magician whose most fabulous trick was "making the Federal surplus disappear.”

    Wisconsin, the site of the crucial next primary contest between Romney and Reagan was one state hit especially hard by the news of economic downturn. Industrial plants up and down the coast of Lake Michigan threatened to begin layoffs, and the locals held their breaths and crossed their fingers. One such native of the Badger State was a disturbed, lonely young man by the name of Arthur Bremer. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Bremer was 21 years old in March of 1972, the third of four sons to William and Sylvia Bremer, two working stiffs living on the city’s troubled south side. The product of a deeply dysfunctional family, Bremer wrote in his diary: “I would escape my ugly reality by pretending that I was living with a television family and there was no yelling at home, or no one to hit me.” The boy had few friends growing up. Never openly bullied but always shunned and ignored by his fellow students, Bremer managed to graduate high school in 1969, and briefly attended the Milwaukee Area Technical College before dropping out after only one semester due to poor grades and lack of interest. In March of that year, Bremer managed to snag a job as a busboy at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. He liked working there and was able to move out of his parents’ house and into a studio apartment. For a while, things seemed like they were beginning to look up for the young man. It was not to last, however.

    As the Romney Shock shuddered through the nation in August 1971, the Athletic Club was looking to cut corners and decided that Bremer, about whom they received complaints from customers because he was often found loudly singing to himself and marching to music in the club’s dining room, would be the first to go. The young man quickly found a new job working as a janitor at a local Elementary School, but the spark, the humanity had gone out of him. Reason, that Godly aspect that sets man above and in responsibility for his fellow living things, had fled Arthur Bremer’s mind as he heard the news that his one and only friend, Thomas Newman, committed suicide while playing Russian roulette. The torture of living with his siblings and abusive parents, combined with his terrible loneliness, losing his lone companion, and finally the job he liked so well going away joined together to snap something within him and turn that pain and sadness into anger, white hot fury. Bremer moved back into his parent’s house in October of 1971 and took up a new hobby: shooting.

    He purchased a snub-nosed Charter Arms .38 Revolver from the Casanova Gun Shop for $90. Every day, after work at the Elementary School, he’d take his new piece to the firing range and fire off a few rounds. He said the smoke from the gunpowder and the loud, percussive sound of the hammer helped to ease his stress. After a short relationship with the daughter of his supervisor at the school’s custodial department came to an end and resulted in his further termination from the only job he had left, Bremer’s thoughts about his new hobby turned noticeably… darker. On March 1st, 1972, Bremer wrote in his diary: “It is now my personal plan to assassinate by pistol either George Romney or Ronald Reagan. I intend to shoot one or the other while he attends a campaign rally for the Wisconsin Primary. My job at the Athletic Club was the only thing left that made me happy, and the Republicans took it away from me. I will make them pay.” The following evening, Bremer attended a meeting of the local Milwaukee chapter of the YAF, trying to get a read on when Governor Reagan would be making his way through the city. The Yaffers staffing the event later reported feeling “unsettled” by Bremer, who would occasionally talk and giggle to himself and burst into open laughter as the organizers described the Governor’s plans for a speech before the Milwaukee Athletic Club on the 21st.


    Paul Laxalt, Governor of Nevada and unofficial chairman of the campaign to elect Ronald Reagan President was dismayed when he heard that the Gipper came down with a cold only a day before he was set to begin his big swing through Milwaukee in preparation for the primary there. For a man of his age, Reagan was typically the model of good health, so the illness caught both the candidate and his staff completely off guard. Believing that Wisconsin would ultimately be lost to the President but only narrowly, the campaign agreed to let the Governor sleep through what should have been his speech to the Athletic Club on the 21st, get an extra few days of rest, then pick back up with a big rally on the 25th to try and make up the lost ground. Reagan himself resisted the calls for him to take a break. He felt that if he didn’t stump hard in the midwest, he’d find himself outfoxed by an establishment which desperately wanted to see him defeated. He figured he was already likely to lose the Massachusetts Primary at the end of April given the more liberal type of Republican which dominated New England, but he correctly believed that if he could maintain his current momentum thanks to a surging YAF fueled ground game, he might have a chance of winning the massive Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If that state were to go to Reagan, then Ohio could easily be in play as well, as could the deeply conservative Indiana where the Governor was already favored to win. Combine the delegates from those states with the massive guaranteed pool waiting for him in his home state of California, and several southern states who favored his brand of “law and order” rhetoric, and the Gipper stood a very real chance of capturing the nomination. This all depended on keeping up a strong image in the wake of the President’s semi-triumphant return from Helsinki, however, an image Reagan could not easily defend from the confines of his hotel bed. Thus, for several crucial days at the end of March, he relied on surrogates and a new endorsement in the form of conservative firebrand and newcomer to the GOP: Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

    Formerly the leader of the American Conservative Party’s Senate Caucus, Senator Thurmond was a figure many in politics sought to distance themselves from since the dissolution of the ACP. The Republicans of South Carolina had only taken Thurmond in from the political winter due to the power and prestige associated with him in his home state, and because he represented the one chink in the mighty armor of Lyndon Johnson’s “New Solid South strategy”. But Thurmond, who had once split his own party asunder to run against President Truman with the Dixiecrats in 1948, was no stranger to controversy. To Thurmond, it was just the price of doing business. The South Carolinian had been drawn to Reagan’s candidacy not just for the Gipper’s social views, more conservative and in line with Thurmond’s than the administration’s, to be sure, but also because of his hard and fast dedication to laissez faire economics and a strong national defense. Stumping up and down the south in preparation for the soon to come primaries there, Senator Thurmond made a strong case that only Ronald Reagan, and his liberty-based view of the American spirit could lead the confused nation into a brighter tomorrow. The endorsement may have cost Reagan some support he had been picking up from the more moderate wings of the GOP, but in a case such as this series of contests was turning out to be, the Governor couldn’t say not to such a powerful potential ally.


    The Milwaukee chapter of the YAF was devastated that Governor Reagan would not be making an appearance at his own rally at the Athletic Club. For weeks their membership had whipped itself into a frenzy as the young conservatives thrilled at the chance to meet their hero. Nonetheless, most would still happily attend the rally, which would now feature as its keynote speaker Congressman John M. Ashbrook, a fiercely conservative Republican from Ohio who had been one of the first major politicians in the country to endorse Reagan. Also disappointed at the change in speakership was Arthur Bremer, who had his plans for retribution temporarily derailed. He recorded in his diary on March 21st: “Fury. My hands are shaking as I cannot bring myself to go after Ashbrook. He’s merely a drop in the pot. I suppose I am left with no choice but to attend the President’s rally near the airport this Thursday…”


    Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney had a bad feeling about the trip to Milwaukee. There was something in the atmosphere that felt somehow off to him… somehow wrong. Perhaps it was the news that Governor Reagan had come down with a cold just a day before his own trip through the state was set to begin. The Administration’s campaign staff had viewed this as a Godsend, a chance for the President to barnstorm through a tightly contested state unopposed. Cheney saw it as a bad omen. As Air Force One set down in Brew City, USA around noon on the 23rd, the President placed his hand on Cheney’s shoulder. “Dick, you’ve got nothing to worry about.” The door to the plane opened and the President and First Lady were greeted by the applause and cheers of nearly a thousand gathered onlookers. “See? They love us here!” Still the Deputy Chief of Staff was unconvinced. He placed a phone call back to his boss, Lenny Hall back in Washington and asked him what the President’s schedule looked like for the day, if any last minute changes had been made.

    “Just one.” The White House Chief of Staff answered. “After dinner tonight at the fundraiser, he’ll be giving a short speech to the attendees. Nothing fancy, no frills, just a modified stump with some more emphasis on our plans for fighting inflation.” Cheney nodded, though still unsure of himself and terminated the call with a click.

    The day passed quickly, the staff later noted. The President toured a local factory belonging to the Allis Chalmers Company, a manufacturer of heavy machinery but specializing in Agricultural equipment like tractors. There, he made a few brief remarks and shook hands with workers before heading off to a luncheon with Warren Knowles, former Governor of Wisconsin and a firm supporter of the Administration. After that, the President was interviewed briefly by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel along with his youngest son, Mitt, whom had just graduated with a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University the year before, and had become a dad to he and Ann’s first child, a son they named Taggart. Mitt talked about his initial wish to enter business school before being overruled by his father, who persuaded him instead to study law at Harvard, since he believed a law degree would prove invaluable to his son, even if Mitt decided to go into business after all. Throughout the interview, the intensely close and loving relationship between father and son was eminently apparent. Near the end of the questioning, the two shared a tender moment as Mitt claimed his father was his “hero and single greatest inspiration”. The President replied that he “loved his son, and was proud beyond words of everything that he had accomplished.” Mitt was taking a day or two off from classes to help his father campaign in Wisconsin at the time, a decision which would ultimately prove fateful for the young man. Following the conclusion of the interview, the President, First Lady Lenore, Mitt, and the rest of the campaign’s entourage headed across the city to the Red Carpet Airport Inn, where they were scheduled to attend a dinner fundraiser, open to anyone in the public who would buy a $100 plate of food. Among the attendees were numerous Milwaukee bigwigs and business owners, newspapermen and journalists hoping to catch the President off his guard in front of middle America, and an angry young man with a pistol hidden in his boot, and a deadly purpose.


    The dinner and speech portions of the evening went off without a hitch. The President entertained, swapped jokes, and shook hands with various guests and made every effort to compliment the food where he could. He struggled to make conversation with the CEO of the Pabst Brewing Company, who made the mistake of feeling insulted when the teetotaling President shared that he had “never tried his beer, or anyone else’s for that matter”. The President had meant it as an awkward attempt at a self deprecating joke. As his Chief of Staff had predicted, the speech was simple, straightforward, to the point. The President wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel or launch a thousand ships, just make some appropriate remarks without gaffing or causing a scene. In that sense, he succeeded completely. Mitt Romney would later recall, “it was maybe the most boring speech that Dad ever gave. He looked tired, disappointed that he couldn’t speak his mind as freely as he would have liked. The ‘handlers’ as Dad increasingly called his staff had their hands all over that speech.” As the Commander in Chief wrapped up speaking, he transitioned into the question and answer portion of the evening, allowing guests from the public to approach his family’s table and ask for his opinions on the issues.

    The First Family’s Secret Service detail that night was dangerously relaxed about their assignment. First Lady Lenore was famous for not liking the “fuss” of her protective detail, and the President was never one to feel overmuch the need for bodyguards. Thus when it came time for the Q&A portion of the event, only four agents were actively on duty near the President’s dining table. Of those four, one had had more than his fair share of free Pabst that night and was deeply intoxicated as the questions began. Two more were distracted and tired, the last standing diligently by young Mitt, the member of the family he was most responsible for. The Agent’s name was Joshua Simpson, and he was disappointed, but not troubled by his colleague’s behavior. They were just blowing off some steam at another predictable campaign event, he thought.

    The President took several questions about this policy or that, his trademark patience and good humor gradually straining as he became uncomfortable at the probing nature of the journalists’ inquiries. Hoping to lob himself a bit of an easier pitch, Romney finished answering the last of the reporter’s questions, about the lasting effects of his wage control policies, and turned his attention toward a young man with light blond hair in a boxy pair of glasses and a denim shirt. He looked like a hard worker, someone who would ask something the President would actually be happy to talk about. The man stepped forward, smiled broadly as Romney called on him. “Thank you, Mr. President.” He said, his voice loud and clear. “My question is…”


    The next few seconds were a total blur. In an instant, a .38 revolver was revealed and aimed at the President’s chest. Before anyone could move or even make a sound, Arthur Bremer squeezed the trigger several times in rapid succession, shouting with glee as the rounds went off and terrified screams echoed through the dining hall. The Secret Service, led by Agent Simpson finally sprung to life and tackled the shooter to the ground. Simpson caught a bullet to his right thigh as the sixth and final round in the chamber went off and Bremer let himself be overcome. The Agent turned to the table to see the results of the incident. His heart stopped.

    Lying behind his seat, with five trails of blood trickling down his chest toward his abdomen, was the President of the United States. His head was cradled in the lap of First Lady Lenore, who was wailing and screaming “Heavenly Father! A Doctor! A Doctor! Can someone please find us a Doctor?”

    The nation’s chief executive was a strong man, but Mitt didn’t need to be a surgeon to tell that his father’s wounds were fatal. Tears filled the younger Romney’s eyes as he clutched the hands of his father, his role model, his hero, and felt the life drain from them. Somehow, Mitt managed to keep his eyes open and see his father’s lips mouthing words quietly, too soft and wispy for his Mother to hear. Mitt leaned in close to hear the President’s dying promise: “I Love you, son”, then broke down as the Secret Service rushed to secure the room and call for an ambulance. As Mitt predicted in that moment, that terrible moment, the fuss and the rush would ultimately be in vain. Upon his arrival to St. Mary’s Hospital less than ten minutes after the first shots were fired, George Wilcken Romney was pronounced dead, felled by an assassin’s bullets. The nation and the world he left behind would never be the same again.



    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: A Requiem

    OOC: Thank you to @Hulkster'01 for the wikiboxes. I know this update has ended on a tragic note, but it will go on, and those left behind will need to find a way to move forward and carry on. In the meantime, thank you for all the love this TL and President Romney have received. It was a very hard decision to have the story go this way, but I promise it was carefully considered and agonized over for a long time. The "Seesaw Seventies" will potentially have multiple meanings, indeed.
    Chapter 72
  • Chapter 72: Lean On Me - The Nation Mourns


    Above: The body of President George Romney lies in state in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington. Thousands of Americans would pour through the city to pay their respects to the slain Commander in Chief (left). Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush, 47 years old in March of 1972, was thrust into the rigors of the Oval Office whilst also in the midst of an incredibly uncertain campaign season (right).

    President George Romney, the great scion of decency and honest government in the nation’s capital, that symbol of the rugged American spirit, was dead. Sirens ringing out in the chill of a not-quite-through Milwaukee winter’s night began to fade and were replaced by the sobs of a widowed First Lady, the shaking hands of a youngest son who held his father in his arms as his life was taken from him. Across Brew City, people came out of their apartments and into the night, listening to the horror and shock spreading like wildfire among them. Watching from frosty fire escapes and crammed into balconies, a small crowd also congregated around the Hospital, forming an impromptu vigil for the fallen leader. At around 8:47 PM, word officially left St. Mary’s that the President had succumbed to his wounds. Mitt, the President’s son and the last person to speak to his father before his death, tearfully addressed the gathered people there, and asked them to pray for each other and the First family in the time to come. “There was a heinous, evil act committed here tonight.” The youngest Romney lamented. “And words cannot reveal the depth of our anguish.” Emergency news reports had already cut into regularly scheduled television programming on the major networks and their subsidiaries, beginning only minutes after the assassin fired the first shot. Just like he had when JFK was shot in Dallas nine years earlier, “the most trusted man in America”, CBS’s Walter Cronkite delivered news of the shooting to the nation. As had happened with the attempt on the life of President Kennedy, most who watched the first report assumed that President Romney would receive treatment and ultimately overcome his injuries. The report which Cronkite delivered at 8:53 PM, CST would dispel any such hopes, however. In the days, weeks, months, years, and even decades to follow, millions of Americans would report being able to recall exactly where they were, and exactly what they were doing when they heard that the President had been killed. Most were at home trying to relax in front of prime time TV with their families. Many, too stunned to look away, were left unable to process what they were hearing, as the legendary anchor struggled not to break down on the air. “Ladies and gentlemen… The President of the United States is gone.”


    Across the country, Vice President George Bush was delivering a campaign speech outside of the Old Massachusetts State House in Boston when the President was shot. Even though Massachusetts was seen as a safe state for the President in the upcoming primary there at the end of April, the Yale educated VP had been sent there anyway to charm Beantown with his deep New England roots and talk about “the Spirit of ‘76”, a series of proposed renovations to museums and sites along Boston’s “Freedom Trail” with federal funding in celebration of the nation’s bicentennial, should the Administration be reelected. In the midst of a paragraph of his speech talking about the bravery of the minutemen who fought at Lexington and Concord, a secret service agent approached the Vice President and informed him of what had happened and that he would need to cut the speech so that they could transport him back to Washington right away. Thoroughly astonished by the news, Bush did as he was bade. He apologized to the confused and concerned crowd and was swiftly whisked away in a black Lincoln Continental to the city’s Logan Airport. From there, he climbed aboard Air Force Two and was immediately asked to swear the oath of office to ensure the continuity of the government. With dutiful sorrow in his eyes and his wife, Barbara by his side, Bush accomplished this and was sworn in by a local judge as the 37th President of the United States.

    There were two objectives immediately on the mind of the newly-sworn in President: first, to ensure that the federal government was not under attack and that Arthur Bremer really had acted alone in his murder of the President. This was achieved quickly enough. With the assassin in custody and already confessing openly to having committed the crime, the investigation looked like it would be a pretty open and shut case. Second: Bush would need to get himself on the airwaves as soon as he returned to Washington to ensure the public that there was no need to panic, and that everything was under control. This too happened shortly thereafter. As soon as the President landed at Andrews Air Force Base, he was quickly flown back to the White House on Marine One so he could address the nation, live on television from the West Wing. Three of his sons: war hero George “Dubya”, Jeb, and young Neil all returned to the capital with their father when they learned of what had happened, and joined him and their mother at a press conference following his brief, but poignant address.


    Calling on all Americans to “rally together in solemn celebration of our common values” and “to always reject violence, politically motivated or otherwise,” Bush immediately began his most important task of all: binding up the nation’s wounds and leading it forward into an even more uncertain future. Resting that night at the Vice Presidential residence, 1 Observatory Circle, Bush and the new First Lady did not feel comfortable spending the night in the White House just yet. It still had not fully sunk in yet for them that the events of the evening had actually, truly occured. The Romneys would soon be given time and assistance in packing their belongings and moving them back to their old family home in Detroit, of course. The last thing the country needed to worry about in this time of grief and anguish however was how the new first family would decorate. The President concluded his evening with a final security briefing from the Secret Service and Pentagon. The country’s top law enforcers ensured him that whatever had gone down in Milwaukee was the act of a “lone wolf” and not the beginning of a war with the Russians or anyone else. After that, Bush called Lenore Romney and briefly spoke to both her and her son, Mitt. Trying to offer what sympathies he could, though he knew his words could not do much to ease their pain, Bush promised that he would personally arrange President Romney’s funeral, and ensure that his captured killer faced justice to the fullest extent of the law. Mitt sighed and thanked him, and ended the call with a tearful prayer and a wish of “Good luck... Mr. President.”

    Finally lying down, exhausted in bed at nearly three in the morning, Bush tossed and turned all through the night, “Babs”, as the First Lady was known to her husband, would later recall. At only 47 years, 9 months, and 11 days old when he swore the oath of office, the Texan was the fourth youngest man in history to ever reach the highest office in the land, standing behind only Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ulysses S. Grant. Though not exactly “inexperienced”, he had served four years in the Senate and then just over three years as Vice President after all, Bush’s youthful appearance, energy, and countenance would still certainly prove a change of pace from the paternalistic finger wagging the nation had experienced under President Romney, a man old enough to be Bush’s father. Fresh faced, sometimes awkward but still decently well spoken, and deeply passionate about public service, the new President was well aware that the two things most Americans knew about him as he took the reins of power were that as a Senator he had spearheaded the Kennedy Administration’s bipartisan push for American high speed rail, and that only a year ago his name was all over the papers for having had an affair with one of his aides. Hoping to replace that latter association in the minds of the people with one of a vigorous, honest leader, Bush dove headlong into the nuts and bolts of orchestrating President Romney’s state funeral, which was to be held that Sunday, March 26th, at the National Cathedral in Washington.


    Both living former Presidents were among the first to be invited: Harry S. Truman, who, at the ripe old age of 87 looked more like a phantom than a man, and would himself pass away before the end of the year; and John F. Kennedy, 54 and still handsome, though starting to show more obvious signs of aging. Gone was the auburn luster of President Kennedy’s hair, replaced instead by a head of snowy gray. Nonetheless, JFK’s gray-green eyes still burned with his vibrant spirit, steely determination, and a passionate love for his country, and alongside President Truman, Jackie, and almost the entirety of the United States Congress, Jack Kennedy would return to the nation’s capital to pay tribute to his fallen successor. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D - MN), Senate Majority Whip Russell Long (D - LA), and Speaker of the House Carl Albert (D - OK) joined with their Republican colleagues Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott (R - PA), Senate Minority Whip Howard Baker (R - TN), and House Minority Leader Gerald Ford (R - MI) to show complete bipartisan unity in sorrow at the loss of the fallen President. A powerful, moving event and cultural touchstone for the nation, President Romney’s funeral concluded with a heartfelt eulogy delivered by his successor, and former right hand man, President Bush. Of his former boss, Bush said the following: “He sought to mend America’s wounded spirit, to sure up the strength of the free world, and to remind us of a simpler time, when the frontier beckoned and the promise of a better tomorrow was as attainable as having the will to get there. He was a tremendous leader, he was a good man, and he was my friend.”

    As the President concluded his speech and prepared to join the other pallbearers at the side of the coffin, former First lady Lenore Romney approached the President and squeezed his hand. “You were like another son to him, George.” She said through her black veil of mourning. “Take what he built and finish the work he began.” As the widow Romney walked away and Bush began the task of carrying her late husband’s casket, he drew a deep breath and steeled himself. It was at that moment that George Herbert Walker Bush decided he was going to be elected to the Presidency in his own right, and build a kinder, gentler nation than the one that came before it.

    For two weeks across the country, the major Presidential campaigns of both parties grinded to a standstill. It was seen as rude, uncouth, even downright barbaric to think of self-promotion or vote collecting in the wake of such a terrible national tragedy. Even the cynical, sharp tongued LBJ was forced to conclude: “Only a no-brains would go around attacking the late President right now. Who cares about the guy’s record when the last you saw of him was him dying in his son’s arms?” Temporarily distracted from economic uncertainty at home and the possibility of intervention in Rhodesia abroad, the American people looked to President Bush as a unifying figure, someone who could heal them in their time of trouble, and blessed him with an approval rating on the first of April that, according to Gallup, had shot up to 76%. His calming language, insistence on “staying the course”, and “steadying the ship” took the wind out of the sails of liberal Democrats, mostly Muskie supporters, who insisted that the time had come for change in Washington. It also tore directly at the heart of another candidate’s campaign: that of Governor Ronald Reagan.

    The Gipper had gotten into this race, and indeed staked his entire political career on challenging the “eastern establishment status quo” which he felt had overwhelmed Republican politics in Washington since the days of Thomas Dewey and the New Deal. Romney, while alive, had seemed beatable, and even if Reagan lost, he would have set himself up perfectly to be the front-runner in ‘76. Now? Things had changed. As the agreed upon two week moratorium on campaigning drew to a close and the next round of primaries loomed, Reagan faced a terrible dilemma: go on in the race and face almost certain defeat against a new President who had the public’s overwhelming confidence and support; or bow out and reverse position, endorsing an establishment he had just spent the last several months decrying in absolutes like a Bible Belt preacher. Unofficial campaign chairman Paul Laxalt made his advice to Reagan very clear: bow out and grant Bush his endorsement, but on the condition that he have a say in influencing the ticket in some way. Laxalt recommended asking for the keynote address at the convention, and perhaps some policy planks in the party platform. Reagan himself had another idea: influencing the shortlist for the VP spot on the ticket. A morbid but very real consequence of President Romney’s assassination was a forceful reminder to the public of the importance of the Vice President. Not simply a chance to “balance a ticket” and win an election, the VP slot, Reagan felt, ought to be filled by someone whom the party could rally behind, and be expected to lead with every bit of strength and ability as the Presidential candidate. Hoping to act while he still wielded influence in the race, the California Governor called the White House from his room at the Watergate Hotel in Washington. After briefly speaking to Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney, Reagan was patched through to the President, who agreed to meet with him and discuss the rest of the primary process immediately. As the Commander in Chief arranged the meeting and hung up the phone, he confessed to Cheney that he had personal disagreements with Reagan and his style of politicking. “Why do our people [Republicans] like him so much?” Bush wondered aloud. “What do they see in him?”

    Cheney shrugged. “I don’t think it’s our position to say, sir. I think that sometimes we don’t get to choose who we play ball with.”


    A short time later, around noon on April 3rd, 1972, Governor Reagan and President Bush met at the Watergate to hammer out a deal which would, they hoped, secure the Republican Party as a united front heading into November. Reagan’s smaller demands were met quickly, though modified by the President’s watchful eyes and shrewd negotiation. Governor Reagan would be given a chance to speak at the party’s convention in Miami Beach, but he would not be the keynote speaker. That honor would instead go to Anne Armstrong, the RNC Chairwoman and unofficial counselor to the President. Bush also accepted Reagan’s request that the party platform be up for discussion, with an emphasis placed on “law and order”, “rollback of communism abroad”, and a pledge not to include pro-choice positions on abortion as official party doctrine. Reagan knew that the issue had helped get Romney/Bush elected in 1968, and did not expect a strong pro-life turnaround, he merely wanted the party to recognize “a diversity of opinions within the party on the subject”. Bush agreed to disagree. On the final, perhaps most important issue, that of the eventual VP nominee, Governor Reagan handed the President a list of three conservative candidates whom the Gipper believed he, Bill Buckley, and their supporters could find suitable: Congresswoman Shirley Temple of California, Congressman John Ashbrook of Ohio, and Governor Jim Buckley of New York, all of whom had already taken the bold step of endorsing Reagan for President over then President Romney. Bush found Buckley too inexperienced (Buckley had only been elected Governor in November of 1970), Ashbrook personally disagreeable, and veered apart on key foreign policy goals with Temple. Her insistence on opposing detente on the floor of the House worried the President, who hoped to continue to pursue cordial, if not friendly, relations with the USSR. Bush asked Reagan if he could not be convinced to accept any other choice for the Vice Presidential nomination. Reagan replied that he could not, “unless it was someone really special.” The President resisted the urge to roll his eyes and called for a break so he could grab a cup of coffee and talk things over with Cheney, who had quickly taken to his role as the White House’s unofficial campaign manager.

    Reagan and his aides agreed and filed out of the room, leaving the Deputy Chief of Staff and Commander in Chief alone to discuss. The pair spent several frustrating minutes arguing over the merits of each of the potential candidates, each time coming back to the same series of conclusions. None of the choices laid before them really gelled with the campaign’s message, or the White House’s policy objectives. Just when it looked as though the President was going to give up in anger and call the meeting a failure, Cheney sighed and made a controversial suggestion: naming Governor Reagan himself as the President’s running mate. Bush laughed out loud and struggled to look his advisor in the eye. “Surely you can’t be serious, Dick. We’ve just spent the last few months trying to run him out of the party, now you’re saying we should put him on our national ticket?”

    “I am, sir.” Cheney replied, stone faced.

    “May I ask why?” Bush asked, incredulous.

    “For all the right reasons, Mr. President.” He responded and scratched his head. “Throwing Governor Reagan a line and asking him to be your running mate is a great show of unity for the party. President Romney’s protege and his greatest rival joining forces for the good of the country, making two distinct philosophies work in tandem against Democratic excess and opportunism in the face of a tragedy? The political theater writes itself. You two may be the best and brightest we Republicans have to offer this country. Why should you two be in conflict when you could be cooperating? I know you have your policy differences. But those can be… ironed out, and an understanding reached. What do you say?”

    Bush considered the suggestion, rolled it around in his mouth for a moment like a bad piece of sushi. Vice President Reagan… The title didn’t sound so bad as the implication. If they won and something should ever happen to him, did the President feel comfortable knowing that Ronald Reagan would rise to the highest office in the land? On the other hand, Cheney raised excellent points, and Bush was beginning to feel the pressure to unite the GOP and present a strong face for the Democrats to grapple with in the general election. He could end the bickering and infighting right now, and prevent Reagan from pulling a similar stunt in ‘76 if they won, a factor he had not previously considered, if he swallowed his pride and asked the anti-establishment Governor of the Golden State to join the ticket. Bush looked out the window out on the capital below, remembered his unspoken promise to Lenore Romney and nodded. “Call them back in here. Let’s get this over with.”

    “The Watergate Agreement” as it came to be known in the pages of the Washington Post, New York Times, and The National Review was seen as the political maneuver of the century. To paleoconservatives and Buckley-ites in the party, it represented snatching a victory from the jaws of an inevitable defeat and vindicated that their wing of the party wielded enough influence to make significant changes down in Washington. To establishment types like Gerry Ford and Bob Dole, Reagan’s conservatism and “craziness” were overstated and manageable. They held that as long as a centrist like Bush occupied the White House and Reagan was relegated to the “kid’s table” of being his number two, the Republican Party could continue to claim to be the party of “good, responsible government” in opposition to the “liberal excess” of the Democrats. They wondered often and aloud if the public’s outpouring of sympathy for the President and Reagan’s dynamism and charisma couldn’t lead the party to a landslide and the possibility of taking back the House of Representatives, which would go a long way toward helping them pass their legislative agenda. In a joint press conference months ahead of the actual convention, Bush and Reagan appeared side-by-side, all smiles and handshakes as they spoke vigorously of their joint vision for the country, and prepared to charge into the general election with a few months’ head start on the Democrats. For the first time in decades, the moderate and conservative wings of the Party of Lincoln stood united, no longer a house divided against itself.


    Republican Ticket for 1972: BUSH/REAGAN

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: The Democrats Respond
    Chapter 73
  • Chapter 73: (Searching for a) Heart of Gold - The Democratic Primaries and Convention

    Above: Senator Lyndon Johnson (D - TX) and Senator Edmund Muskie (D - ME), the two major Democratic candidates for President in the aftermath of President Romney’s assassination.

    President Romney’s assassination rocked the Democratic Party to its core with the same intensity as it did the GOP. As Presidential campaigning resumed following the two week moratorium on April 9th, the “People’s Party” came to the realization that their electoral situation had changed dramatically. A public which had previously been lukewarm on the Republicans and their handling of the country’s affairs was now tripping over itself to shower the newly minted administration in its support and solidarity. It seemed to party insiders and political pundits that the party’s previous vision of a “hop, skip, and a jump back to the White House” would no longer be tenable. Indeed, momentum in the race seemed to shift in exactly the opposite direction. News of the “Watergate Agreement” and the emergence of a Bush/Reagan unity ticket only heightened Democratic fears and led to a new terror entirely: the prospect of not only a GOP victory in November, but an absolute avalanche, a landslide. Some Democrats panicked and called for the field of candidates to narrow out as quickly as possible so that the Republicans’ unity could be matched and challenged. The likelihood of that, however was looking increasingly slim. Two wings of the party: the Johnsonian “New South” and the Kennedy-oriented northern liberals dug their heels in and marshaled support for their chosen candidates. Battle lines were being drawn, and despite the wishes of a myriad of minor competitors, the race was really coming down to two men: titans of the party in the Upper Chamber of Congress. With a pledge not to actively campaign not keeping primary elections from happening, the Democrats of Wisconsin convened on April 4th to cast their ballots for their preferred candidate. Though several candidates performed well, the voters overwhelmingly favored Senator Ed Muskie of Maine, with his hard-working background, folksy roots and liberal economic agenda which promised to protect labor and the interests of blue collar America.

    This victory marked the third major primary win for Muskie, the others being New Hampshire and Illinois, and cemented his status as the Democrats’ front-runner. The endorsements of former rival Senator George McGovern (D - SD) and more recently, Senators Robert F. Kennedy (D - NY) and Ted Kennedy (D - MA) meant that Muskie enjoyed widespread liberal support and was rapidly marshaling predominantly northern constituencies in the Democratic coalition: Jews, Catholics, urban labor unions, women, intellectuals, and some African-Americans, to his cause. The Senator maintained a cultivated image of being perennially calm and collected about the issues, and many attributed that calm, placid countenance to his continued popularity after the death of President Romney. The break in campaigning had cost Muskie, however. Before the assassination, the Senator from Maine had been surging in popularity, vigorously barnstorming Wisconsin, and sending surrogates to warm up for him in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. All three were states Muskie believed he needed to win in definitively if he were to knock Hubert Humphrey out of the race for good. Humphrey had fallen to third place in national opinion polls and was shocked that his status as one of the country’s leading liberal voices alone was not enough to let him waltz to the nomination. He was still a potent political force, particularly in the Midwestern industrial cities, though. Still bitter at being “robbed” of the White House four years prior by what he saw as inadequate support from liberal activists and President Kennedy’s suggestion of adding George Smathers to the ticket, Humphrey refused to surrender what was likely to be his last shot at the Presidency to another northern liberal without a fight. As McGovern bowed out, and joined the Kennedys in standing firm behind Edmund Muskie, Humphrey doubled down and resolved to fight harder than ever in the races to come. Over the next month or so, Humphrey drove all over the Midwest in a rented bus, stumping hard against Muskie and trading victories and delegate counts with him in: Massachusetts (Muskie win), Pennsylvania (Humphrey win), Ohio (Muskie win), and Indiana (Humphrey win). All the while, the party’s northern wing tore itself to shreds and argued about which of their chosen sons was more likely to successfully oppose the Republicans in November, often damaging each other’s preferred leader in the process. Bobby Kennedy, frustrated at the infighting pointed, exasperated to the electoral map. “We need to come together!” He warned. “Or someone else is going to wait until we’re all tired, then clean house.”


    The southern wing, on the other hand, quietly solidified behind its foremost architect. Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson, the “Phoenix of Texas”, picked up staggering wins in Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska, West Virginia, and Maryland, each time taking well over 75% of the vote and the lion’s share of the states’ delegates. LBJ’s platform: moderate to conservative social policy, a strong emphasis on populist New Deal economics, and interventionism against communist influence abroad, combined with a strain of religious support from the likes of Billy Graham and other congregationalists rallied massive support for him across Dixie. This was impressive, as it manifested even as Johnson and his followers insisted on a “new outlook” on race relations in the country. Speaking boldly in front of a crowd of white, working class voters in Nashville, Johnson railed against what he saw as the injustice of old southern politics:

    “These old school ex-conservative party types are a riot, I tell you! Well, they’re a riot until you consider how crooked they all were. They tried to convince you that all your problems were caused by the colored man, and prayed you’d never wake up to what was really going on, what they were really doing to you. They lived by one mantra, folks: If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you. They robbed you blind, my fellow southerners. And for that, I will never forgive them, and neither should you. The colored man is not your enemy. The colored man is your friend, neighbor, and fellow American. Your true enemies are those with power who would seek to deny you all the benefits to which you are entitled as a member of a free and prosperous society. It is such a society in which we live, and a greater, better society which we we build together.” The crowd cheered and the following day, Johnson carried the state of Tennessee with nearly 80% of the vote.


    Despite being as old a face as could be found in Democratic Presidential politics that year, Johnson, and the machine he constructed across the south represented a new kind of Democrat: accepting of civil rights, but still socially conservative on issues like abortion, gay rights, access to contraception, and the death penalty. Johnson believed it was possible to build a “great society” without the need to necessarily agree with all the social mores of the progressive left, and southerners welcomed his return to national prominence. Johnson found vocal support from countless southern politicians, who used his rhetoric and positions as the foundations for their own ambitions and message. Governors Jimmy Carter of Georgia, and Reubin Askew of Florida, not to mention the former “Mr. Segregation” and ACP Presidential nominee himself, Governor George Wallace of Alabama all sung Johnson’s praises, and hoped to serve as delegates at the party’s ‘72 convention to help rally the floor for him. But southern state primaries alone would not a nominee make. LBJ realized this, and so Johnson turned his attention to gathering additional support wherever he could. While Humphrey and Muskie battled for control of the North and Midwest, Johnson focused his campaign’s resources on the West Coast and Southwest. Golden, sunny California, with all her magnificence and large delegate count, could be Johnson’s key to preventing a deadlocked convention, as could more conservative Arizona, the oft-neglected New Mexico, and the lush green climes of Oregon. His campaign reached out to Scoop Jackson, of Washington State, a traditional opponent of the party’s Kennedy wing, who dropped out after the Wisconsin primary and enthusiastically extended his support to Johnson, perhaps hoping that he would make a suitable running mate should Johnson secure the nomination. Jackson’s personal aide and political protege, Purple Heart recipient and interventionist activist John Kerry became a tireless campaigner for Johnson, and announced his own candidacy for the House in his native Massachusetts’ third congressional district.

    On May 16th, Johnson’s campaign manager, Walter Jenkins and a carefully crafted ground game orchestrated the season’s greatest upset, rallying conservative Democrats across Michigan to deliver the state’s primary (and the largest chunk of its delegate count) to LBJ. The shock of a Johnson victory so far north of the Mason-Dixon Line served as a wake up call to the party’s liberal wing, and seemed to vindicate Senator Kennedy’s worries, but it also built massive momentum for Johnson’s campaign and brought his message to a wider national audience. Carefully avoiding overt criticism of the administration in the delicate post-assassination political climate, Johnson focused his public message on positive plans for the future, while privately using every dirty trick he could think of to discredit his opponents, often through anonymous op-eds and the comments of aides and surrogates. He decried Hubert Humphrey in vicious tv attack ads as “a sore loser who doesn’t know when to take his marbles and go home”, and Ed Muskie as “a wimp, a total pushover to the interests of radicals and hippies”. Though not everyone who saw them was a fan of these murky advertisements, their message stuck in the minds of those who did. Bill Moyers, LBJ’s leading ad consultant, was the man behind them, and his spots would make him feared in the minds of any who stood to run against his chosen candidates. He became something of a liberal bogeyman to those “in the know” about American politics.


    The last handful of state primaries played out much as the experts and party insiders expected them to. A general lack of enthusiasm for a second Humphrey nomination cost the Minnesotan greatly in the last few contests, as he watched most of his support shift to Muskie, or to his left to Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm of New York, whose campaign picked up steam, then surged as the White House refused to categorically deny the possibility of American military involvement in Rhodesia alongside the UK. Chisholm’s message galvanized a “new left” who felt betrayed by mainstream Democratic politics and wanted to see greater influence for progressive social movements at the party’s convention.Youthful activists not unlike the YAF college students on the right who had helped catapult Ronald Reagan onto the GOP Presidential ticket, Chisholm’s supporters took her small, largely symbolic campaign and made her into a serious contender for the White House, winning her the New Jersey and New York primaries, albeit narrowly. The “winner take all” nature of the last few primaries upped the stakes for all the candidates, and as huge numbers of delegates flowed into the leading contenders’ corners, it became clear that no one would be heading into Miami the undisputed nominee.

    Delegate Count before the 1972 DNC: (1,508 needed to clinch the nomination) of 3,014 total

    Edmund Muskie: 724

    Lyndon Johnson: 488

    Shirley Chisholm: 248

    Hubert Humphrey: 213

    Uncommitted: 1,341


    The 1972 Democratic National Convention opened its doors on July 10th at the Miami Beach Convention Center and was widely seen at the time and in history books since as an absolute media spectacle. Unlike the Republican convention which would follow a little more than a month later, which was practically part coronation for President Bush and part royal wedding between the party’s establishment and grassroots conservative wings, the DNC was poised to be a brawl. Millions tuned in to watch quorum calls, near-riots in the stands, and furious Johnson and Muskie supporters hurl insults at each other, all while Chisholm and Humphrey delegates struggled to even be heard and uncommitted delegates were bribed, threatened, and cajoled into backing one candidate over another. The first night was a mess, to say the least. The Muskie and Johnson campaigns went to work convincing uncommitted delegates not to “throw away their votes” and to instead back a horse that could actually win the whole thing. The south flocked of course to Johnson, while much of the north coalesced behind Muskie, though there were some constituencies which remained unconvinced, including major power broker and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who insisted on keeping his support behind Humphrey for the time being, and delegates such as New York Congressman Gore Vidal, who insisted that Chisholm was the future of the party and the country. As predicted, most of the free delegates rushed to one of the two front-runners, but neither garnered enough support to push them through to victory:

    First Ballot - Presidential Nomination:

    Edmund Muskie - 1,065

    Lyndon Johnson - 1,011

    Hubert Humphrey - 457

    Shirley Chisholm - 268

    Other: 213

    All campaigns were understandably frustrated with the outcome of the first round of voting. Muskie supporters fumed at how close the race with Johnson had now become, while Johnson’s staff feared Humphrey or Chisholm dropping out and telling their delegates to swing to Muskie. Such fears in the latter camp were all too founded, as Bobby Kennedy and George McGovern were already on the phone with Senator Humphrey and Congresswoman Chisholm respectively, begging them both to do exactly that. If either one of them decided to do so and back Senator Muskie, the whole thing would be over. Kennedy and Johnson especially took an interest in ending the pressure cooker before it turned into a full blown fiasco. News outlets were spinning the story as “disarray among the Democrats” and only furthered the narrative that the party had little means of countering GOP strength in this election cycle. “They’re divided to say the least.” commented a leering, jubilant William F. Buckley, who had been brought on by ABC once again to provide partisan insight into the goings on of the national conventions. “I’m left to wonder if there is any chance of this party reconciling their differences anytime soon.” Because his old liberal rival Gore Vidal was now too busy serving in Congress to appear in debates alongside him as he had in 1968, Buckley was now joined by renegade journalist Hunter S. Thompson. The pair provided colorful commentary and back and forth in between bits of objective reporting from Max Robinson, the first black news anchor of a major network nightly news program and seemed to get along better than Buckley had with Vidal.


    While Buckley and Thompson picked apart the goings on, Johnson made a bold power play to secure his ambition once and for all. Living former Presidents often made the trek to party conventions to deliver speeches and stand in solidarity with the new candidate, to pass the torch so to speak, and lend any popularity or credibility they could to the next generation. President Kennedy was already scheduled to speak on the third and final day of the convention, though as of yet he had observed tradition in declining to officially endorse a candidate, believing doing so would be beneath the dignity of a former President, even one as practically universally beloved as him. He did, in private, encourage Bobby’s efforts to keep Johnson off the ticket. Having worked in close proximity with him for nearly four years in the White House, JFK did not believe that LBJ was the sort of man who should be the head of the Democratic Party. “He’s mean, vindictive, and power hungry,” Jack said to Bobby over a phone call from Hyannis Port to Bobby and Ethel’s hotel room. “Exactly the opposite of what makes for a good President. You’ve got to stop him, even if it means throwing my name around a little.” The implication that Jack would come out in support of Muskie as political cover for liberal Humphrey and Chisholm supporters to throw their weight behind the Maine Senator was a godsend, Bobby realized, but one that ultimately came too late.

    Though too frail to attend the Convention in person, former President Harry Truman was as passionate as ever about politics, and eager to see his beloved party delivered into what he saw as Lyndon Johnson’s capable hands. Contacted by Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird, and lobbied hard by the Johnson staff for weeks beforehand, Truman finally did what President Kennedy had been reluctant to do, and gave his endorsement to LBJ via a written statement to the delegates in Miami. The statement, which was met by thunderous applause when read by Congressman Wilbur Mills (D - AR) on the floor of the convention, was the death knell for the campaigns of the other candidates, and everyone at the Convention Center knew it. Watching on television from their hotel room, Ethel Kennedy reported seeing her husband bury his face in his hands and choke back angry, bitter tears. “Well we’re licked now, honey.” He said to her. “Truman’s gone and handed him the keys to the Kingdom.” The second round of voting was held shortly afterward and confirmed Kennedy’s instincts. Humphrey sensed which way the wind was blowing and hoping for an administration with whom he could work to cement his own legacy, he called on his delegates to vote for Johnson on the Second Ballot. Humphrey’s delegates, combined with the remaining uncommitteds sealed the deal and brought forth a rather disappointing truth for the Kennedys: Johnson and his conservative, southern wing of the party were now firmly in control.

    “What are you going to do?” Ethel asked, and squeezed her husband’s shoulders.

    Shaking with silent rage, Bobby stood and pulled on his jacket. “The only thing to do. Go down there, shake his hand, smile for the cameras, and say ‘happy times are here again!’” The New York Senator did exactly that, save calling Jack and Senator Muskie to express his regret and disappointment first.

    “The very thing Kennedy had gotten into national politics to prevent: Lyndon Johnson’s nomination to the Presidency, had come to pass. A politics of brutality, cruelty, and cutthroat power brokering took hold of the Democrats that year, and threatened to hide forever the spirit that John F. Kennedy and his brother had labored so long to build throughout the wonder years of the 1960’s. Robert Kennedy did what was expected of him that night in Miami, same as his elder brother, the elder statesman, did the next night, when he spoke to the convention and lauded Johnson for his time in the Senate and as Vice President. In the end though, behind the smiles, fire burned in the eyes of Robert Kennedy, a fire of defiance. This rivalry between the two: north and south, privileged and self-made, liberal idealist and backroom-dealing cynic; was far from over.” - Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., To Seek a Newer World: The Life and Times of Robert F. Kennedy.


    Second Ballot - Presidential Nomination:

    Lyndon Johnson - 1,671 (Nominee)

    Edmund Muskie - 1,065

    Shirley Chisholm - 268

    Others - 10

    A triumphant Johnson, elated at having finally reached the precipice of achieving the ultimate goal in American public service, to which he had dedicated his entire adult life, vigorously thanked his staff and turned his attention to the last remaining matter of import at the convention: the Vice Presidential nomination. Around others, the nominee joked that he “didn’t need to worry too much about who’s VP. Anyone can do it. Hell, I did!” But deep down, he knew better than most how seriously the job would and needed to be taken. He had nearly ascended to the Presidency when JFK had been clipped by that wacko in Dallas, and now his opponent in November had actually come into office in exactly the same way. He knew that his rise to the top of the national ticket came as a surprise to many in the party and hurt the feelings of the naive Prince Bobby and his fans. Much as he found their wishy-washy style distasteful, Johnson knew he would need the Kennedys and their wing of the party behind him if he wanted to win. His running mate could be just the sort of olive branch he needed to make that happen. Add to that the fact that Johnson’s cardiovascular health wasn’t exactly the most stable situation either, and the Texan knew that his choice of a VP could have tremendous consequences should he win this thing. He needed to be absolutely certain that his choice would not only help him claw this election back from the Republicans, but be able to govern, heaven forbid he should ever need to.

    He thought about offering the spot to Humphrey or Muskie, but the former would want to remain in the Senate, no doubt, and the other was said to be “personally hurt” by Johnson’s attack ads. He never even called to concede or offer his congratulations to LBJ on account of these feelings, a move the Texan found utterly disrespectful. Clearly, Muskie would not do. Congresswoman Chisholm was already being drafted as a potential VP candidate by her delegates, and a black woman from the north on the ticket could go a long way toward helping counter claims that Johnson wasn’t progressive enough. Chisholm herself had already killed that idea in its cradle however, saying she would “never serve on the same ticket as a warmonger like LBJ”. Privately, Chisholm admired Johnson for what he had done to help pass The Civil Rights Act of 1964, something she felt he did not get enough credit for when compared to President Kennedy. Nonetheless, that option seemed off the table as well. On the suggestion of Senate Majority Whip and faithful ally Russell Long, Johnson finally made the offer to Ohio Senator and former Mercury Program Astronaut John Glenn. A no nonsense moderate with a strong reputation for deal-making, common sense, and good natured governance since his arrival in the Senate in 1964, Glenn also had the added benefits of starpower, being from a crucial swing state, and a personal friend and close ally of Bobby Kennedy. Though not satisfying to everyone at the convention, especially hippies and anti-war activists who demonstrated outside the convention center despite the Florida heat, the ticket was the result of a long and tumultuous struggle. “The finest steel,” Johnson said in his acceptance speech when talking about the race ahead. “Is forged in the hottest fire. Senator Glenn and I had to fight to earn this nomination, but it has shown the American people that we've been through the fire and we can take the heat! Let our opponents in November claim the same, and we’ll prove ‘em wrong!” The arena filled with chants of “LBJ! LBJ!” and Bobby Kennedy, forlorn, hid his face from the television cameras by kissing Ethel’s cheek. The race for the White House was on.


    Democratic Ticket for 1972: JOHNSON/GLENN

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: A Check-In with Latin America
    Chapter 74
  • Chapter 74: Oye Como Va - 1962 - 1972 in Latin America

    Throughout the Eisenhower administration, and especially in the late 1950’s, the United States began to pursue a policy of strengthening diplomatic relations with her Latin American neighbors to the south. In March of 1961, the newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy decided to double down on this new direction and proposed a bold, ten year plan for pan-American economic cooperation in Latin America: “...we propose to complete the revolution of the Americas, to build a hemisphere where all men can hope for a suitable standard of living and all can live out their lives in dignity and in freedom. To achieve this goal political freedom must accompany material progress...Let us once again transform the American Continent into a vast crucible of revolutionary ideas and efforts, a tribute to the power of the creative energies of free men and women, an example to all the world that liberty and progress walk hand in hand. Let us once again awaken our American revolution until it guides the struggles of people everywhere-not with an imperialism of force or fear but the rule of courage and freedom and hope for the future of man.” The initiative, christened the “Alliance for Progress” by the Administration, was part of President Kennedy’s vision for making the world a better place, while also spreading American ideals about liberty and capitalism to its “backyard” in the western hemisphere. Signed at an inter-American conference at Punta del Este, Uruguay in August of that year, the charter of the Alliance called for the following: an annual increase of 2.5% in per capita income; the establishment of democratic governments; the elimination of adult illiteracy by 1970; price stability, to avoid inflation or deflation; more equitable income distribution, land reform, and further economic and social planning. The Charter also had three additional requirements. First, Latin American countries had to pledge $80 billion in capital investment over the next ten years, which would be added to an additional $20 billion supplied and guaranteed by the United States within that same decade. Second, Latin American delegates required the participating countries to draw up comprehensive plans for national development. These plans were then to be submitted for approval by an inter-American board of experts. Third, tax codes were to be updated, to demand “more from those who have the most” and land reform was to be implemented as well.

    The Alliance was met with both support and skepticism at home and abroad, with the Administration’s advocates cheering it as a “second Marshall Plan” and a plainspoken display of good neighborliness and sensible friendly foreign policy; and its detractors decrying it as either “thinly veiled economic imperialism” in the words of Gore Vidal, or “a damned waste of money” according to Barry Goldwater. Regardless of the political capital involved in keeping it afloat, President Kennedy strongly believed in the Alliance, and made helping it flourish an absolute priority whenever possible throughout his two terms in the White House. Governor Luis Munoz Marin of Puerto Rico was a close advisor on Latin American affairs to Kennedy, and one of the principal architects of the Alliance, alongside Teodoro Moscoso, the mind behind “Operation Bootstrap”, which had largely transformed Puerto Rico from an agrarian island territory to a modern, industrial one, and the administration believed it could serve as a model for the entire region. Together, Marin and Moscoso kept the President informed on the progress of the Alliance, and the President repaid them by using the titanic weight of his popularity and charm to keep it well funded in Washington.


    Because of the program, economic assistance to Latin America nearly tripled between fiscal year 1960 and fiscal year 1961. Between 1962 and President Kennedy leaving office in 1969, the U.S. provided around $3.5 Billion in aid each year, that amount rising to nearly $5 Billion in the latter half of the decade, as the U.S. economy boomed and with it, the Federal government’s budget surplus, leaving the Administration plenty of wiggle room in terms of its bottom line. All told, $34 Billion in American foreign aid was sent south over the course of the Kennedy Administration and though not perfectly successful at attaining all of its noble aims, the Alliance for Progress did see some of its lofty goals achieved. Economic growth in regional output per capita in Latin America was 3.0% throughout the 1960’s, surpassing the alliance’s initial goal of 2.5%, and came in stark contrast to the relatively slow 2.2% growth rate per capita of the preceding decade. By the latter half of the decade, and into the 1970’s that growth rate per capita would accelerate first to 3.3%, then 3.5% by 1973. Fifteen nations (including regional powers Mexico and Brazil) met or exceeded their goals, four nations did not, and only little Haiti actually saw negative growth during the Alliance’s heyday. Though not completely wiped out, adult illiteracy in the region was severely curtailed. In some countries, the number of attendees to universities doubled or even tripled, and access to secondary-level education for the common people increased by leaps and bounds. Many working class Latin Americans were provided with new schools, textbooks, and housing. One in four school-age children were provided with an extra food ration, free of charge. The Alliance also saw the beginnings of much needed long-term reform in the region: improvements in land use and distribution, especially in Chile; improved tax codes and administrations; the submission of detailed development programs to the Organization of American States (OAS); the creation by many countries of central planning agencies; and greater local efforts toward providing housing, education, and stable financial institutions. New health clinics were constructed across the region, as growing populations placed strains on existing medical services there. Minimum wage laws were created, and the United States worked to ensure that they were meaningful, rather than simply nominal. When Nicaragua’s government attempted to issue minimum wages to its people so low that there would have been no appreciable impact on real wages, President Kennedy dispatched Secretary of State McNamara to the country to apply pressure to raise them. Overall, the quality of life in Latin America was on its way up, thanks to the Alliance and the firm belief in it held by President Kennedy.

    One would be remiss to study the history of Latin America in the 1960’s and not cover the vast forces at work politically across the region during that time. Elected under the shadow of the Cuban Revolution and nearly shattering his fledgling administration with the ludicrous Bay of Pigs Invasion, John F. Kennedy demanded a new American policy in Latin America, of which the Alliance for Progress was only one component. Because of U.S. aid in economically developing the region, and the Kennedy Doctrine: supporting Democratically elected governments, regardless of their political leanings in a hopeful process toward friendship and trade-based relationships, the region avoided many near-scrapes with totalitarian rule during this period. In Venezuela, President Romulo Betancourt faced determined opposition to his leadership from extremists and rebellious army units, yet continued to fight for educational and economic reform. A fierce opponent of dictatorships of the left and the right alike, Betancourt was a committed social democrat and made himself a staunch ally of Kennedy and the United States. It was not always easy for Betancourt to defend his tenuous position, however.


    In 1962, a fraction split from President Betancourt’s party of government, Democratic Action and formed the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR). When leftists supporting the movement were involved in unsuccessful revolts at Navy bases throughout the country, Betancourt temporarily suspended civil liberties and restored order. In response, radical elements on the left formed the Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN), a communist guerrilla army, to overthrow the Democratically elected Betancourt administration. This action was wildly unpopular with moderates however, and drove the leftists underground, where they would proceed to engage in rural and urban acts of terrorism. These attacks included sabotaging oil pipelines, bombing a Sears-Roebuck warehouse, kidnapping American Army Colonel Michael Smolen, attempting to assassinate football legend Alfredo Di Stefano, and bombing the United States embassy in Caracas. The organization’s ultimate goal was to rally the rural poor to mass revolution, ala Cuba, and disrupt the nation’s 1963 elections, something they would ultimately, thankfully fail to do. After numerous attacks, the MIR and Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) members of Congress were finally arrested. The elections, held December 1st, 1963, were declared by the United Nations: “The most open and honest in Venezuela to date”, and March 11th, 1964 was a day of pride for the people of Venezuela. For the first time in the nation’s history, the presidential sash passed from one democratically elected chief executive to another. It should be noted that prior to Betancourt changing the law, all presidents in Venezuela were elected by Congress, rather than directly by the people. He was Venezuela's first democratically-elected president to serve his full term, and was succeeded by Raúl Leoni. It was thus Romulo Betancourt who established a democratic precedent for the nation that had been ruled by dictatorships for most of its history and changed the view of the outside world of Latin America being a “playground of warlords and dictators”. It was revolution not by violence, but by popular vote. Without historical reference until then, Betancourt created the political model that would survive in Venezuela and throughout Latin America for many years afterward. He would go down in history as one Caracas’ finest leaders.

    It became clear after the fact that Fidel Castro and Che Guevara had been arming the rebels, so Venezuela protested this meddling to the OAS. In response, President Kennedy gave his new foreign policy teeth, taking bold action in the wake of the revelations. The U.S. suspended economic ties and broke off diplomatic relations with several dictatorships, starting in 1961, including Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. The U.S. finally decided it best to train Latin American militaries in counter-insurgency tactics at the School of the Americas, in an effort to help Democratically elected governments fend off rebels who hoped to illegally install communist regimes against the will of the common people. In effect, the Alliance for Progress included U.S. programs of military and police assistance to counter Communism, including Plan LAZO in Colombia from 1959 to 1964. On his end, President Kennedy’s dedication to supporting democratically elected governments in the region would be tested when foreign policy talks in the White House turned to the developing nation of Brazil, and its left-leaning nationalist President, Joao Goulart.


    Above: U.S. President Kennedy and Brazilian President Goulart, on a state visit to the United States, 1962.​

    Despite the overwhelming desire of JFK to refrain from overthrowing democratically elected governments, as evidenced by his eventual handling of the coup attempt in Greece later in the decade, Brazil presented a unique issue for the administration. In his efforts to strengthen American relations with Latin America, he quickly came into contact with President Goulart of Brazil. At first the two seemed to get along just fine. It soon became a fear of Kennedy’s cabinet however that Goulart was becoming too friendly with anti-American radicals in the Brazilian government. Kennedy was obsessed with preventing Brazil from “becoming another Cuba or China”, especially as Kennedy faced reelection in 1964, and did not want his foreign policy to be seen as weak in any way. To this end, the President held his nose and authorized his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, then Secretary of Defense McNamara, and U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Lincoln Gordon to work with the CIA to draw up a plan to overthrow Goulart in a military coup. The plan was to have Goulart removed sometime early in ‘64, while he was away on a foreign trip, so the story would carry weight through the election cycle and disarm Republican cases against the President. Bobby complimented his brother for “having the courage to do what had to be done in Brazil” and described Goulart as “a wily politician”, pointing to the Brazilian’s decision to appoint hard left-wingers and “communists” into prominent state offices in his administration. The President avoided thinking about it overmuch, but accepted that this was just the way things had to be.

    Dallas changed everything. Given a new outlook on life after being spared an untimely death, and seeing his poll numbers skyrocket in public sympathy, JFK found the confidence he needed to stay the course in Latin America and follow the Doctrine he truly believed in, rather than what he was told would be politically advantageous. Against the advice of Bobby, McNamara, and all his other foreign policy advisors, save Dean Rusk, Kennedy pulled the plug on plans for the coup attempt and instead made further peaceful overtures to the Goulart government. The two met again, this time in Sao Paulo, and discussed how to engender closer relations between their peoples. In exchange for removing the “communists” from power and closely aligning with the U.S. in Cold War geo-political posturing, Brazil could expect favorable trading status with their powerful northern neighbor, as well as “continued security”; a thinly veiled threat which Goulart understood and accepted. Goulart used money received through the Alliance for Progress and his relationship with the Americans’ to pursue what he called “a basic reform policy” whose tenets precipitated greater intervention in his country’s economy by the central government and had several key aims: combating adult illiteracy via educational reform, including the development of new universities and a promise to spend 15% of all government income on education; reform of the nation’s tax code, which included a progressive income tax and control of any transfer of profits by multinational companies with headquarters abroad; the profits promised to be reinvested in Brazil; expansion of voting rights to the illiterate and low-ranking military officers; and desperately needed land reform which sought to modernize and make more efficient the nation’s vast countryside. As many of these goals were in line with those laid out in the Alliance for Progress’ charter, Kennedy settled into an agreement with Goulart which was questioned by contemporaries, but would be lauded retrospectively by historians for its foresight. Kennedy’s restraint precipitated a warming of relations between the U.S. and Brazil, and enabled Brazil’s eventual rise to the status of a secondary power…

    [OOC: I know that the above section runs counter to an answer to a question on the subject I have made in the past, but I feel this is more in line with TTL’s President Kennedy’s values. I apologize for any confusion caused by any of this, and am happy to answer clarifying questions.]

    The Kennedy years were indeed good times for many countries in Latin America. That being said, not all was yet as it should have been in some parts of the region. Mexico experienced its own “economic miracle” thanks to internal development combined with foreign investment and the Alliance, yet it remained a relatively poor country, and that newfound growth was by no means distributed equally. Social inequality became a major cause of discontent in the country, leading to a so-called “Dirty War” fought between the increasingly authoritarian PRI government and democratic protesters. President Kennedy criticized the government in Mexico City vigorously, especially after the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968 which claimed the lives of nearly 500 anti-government activists, and channeled American support and protection to Carlos A. Madrazo, a former leader of PRI and a tireless reformer dedicated to seeing a more democratic Mexico. Madrazo first caught Kennedy’s attention in 1965, when he had been fired from his leadership of PRI by then Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz under suspicion of “disloyalty”. Insisting on replacing useless old bureaucrats and government officials with dynamic, idealistic members of his own, more youthful generation, Madrazo earned many enemies in Ordaz’s government, but reminded President Kennedy a little bit of himself. Kennedy invited Madrazo to the White House to be the guest of honor at a state dinner and privately encouraged him to run in Mexico’s next Presidential election, scheduled for July 5th, 1970. The former Governor of Tabasco, still active in PRI politics and eager to get back “into the game” agreed with the American leader, and announced his candidacy shortly into the administration of Kennedy’s successor, President Romney. Despite two attempts made on his life during an incredibly tumultuous election which would see PRI’s one party rule, which had held since universal suffrage was enacted in the country in 1917, come to a dramatic close, Carlos A. Madrazo rallied the masses and public opinion behind him, managing to pull off the impossible. He would be elected Mexico’s 50th President in one of the great electoral upsets of the 20th century. A celebrated man of the people, Madrazo’s Presidency would provide much needed electoral reform and stability to the country, and enable it to capitalize on its newfound economic growth, building a nation which would be much more pleasant and safe for all of its people in the future. Madrazo would go down a hero in Mexican history and be hailed as one of its finest leaders...


    The conclusion of John F. Kennedy’s time in the White House and the election of George Romney sounded a note of uncertainty for the future of U.S. relations with Latin America. Though Romney had begrudgingly admitted during the 1968 campaign that the Alliance for Progress was “a solid bit of foreign policy”, he insisted that “the gravy train needs to stop sometime” and vowed to cut funding for the program in half when he took the oath the following year. During the transition, President Kennedy pleaded on behalf of his pet project, pointing to turning tides in Brazil, Venezuela, elsewhere, and he hoped eventually in Mexico as proof that the Alliance was working. Romney softened his opposition to the program somewhat, maintaining 3/4ths of its budget, and overruled Secretary of State Nixon when his adviser recommended that the Alliance be shut down altogether. He wasn’t about to be as generous as that liberal dreamer Kennedy, but he wasn’t Ebenezer Scrooge, either. Though often embarrassed at his derogatory nickname “Mex” for having been born south of the border, the new President was not ashamed of the country of his birth itself. Indeed, when Madrazo won his great surprise victory on July 5th, 1970, Romney was the first world leader to call and congratulate him. During their conversation, Romney said: “Yesterday, my people celebrated their freedom from tyranny and oppression. Today, your people celebrate theirs.” Madrazo and Romney struck up a close friendship in the years that followed, and pursued warm relations in trade and diplomacy between their nations. Despite these overtures however, Romney’s foreign policy was not nearly as idealistic or patient as President Kennedy’s had been. The “First Irish Brahmin” favored slow, diplomatic action and a firm insistence on democracy and liberty in its allies abroad. “The Romney Doctrine”, as written by Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon, seemed a return to the realpolitik of the Eisenhower and Truman years. Favoring a harder line against left-wing insurgents to match First Secretary Andropov’s implicit support of militants in Southeast Asia, Romney turned up the pressure on Latin American countries to distance themselves from Moscow and Beijing, and threatened to cut off funding from nations who could not “play ball” with the United States. In accordance with this new policy, Romney ordered an economic war on the Republic of Chile after Salvador Allende, a devoted socialist, was elected President of that country in 1970. The resulting downturn in the economy there led to increased unrest and severely destabilized the Allende government. Still not wholly pleased, Nixon and Kissinger were beginning to discuss plotting the overthrow of Allende in a military coup, to be orchestrated with help from CIA Director Richard Helms when the President was assassinated in Milwaukee.


    Democratic supporters of the Alliance, such as Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York decried the Romney Administration’s policies as “dishonest” and “a betrayal of what the Alliance stands for”, but were largely quieted in the wake of the President’s murder. It seemed unseemly at the time to criticize the dead too harshly, and so Kennedy and the nation’s other liberals rested their hopes, until the 1972 election, on the newly sworn in President George Bush, who promised in his rushed “inauguration” speech to the country to create a “kinder, gentler nation” than the one he inherited from his predecessor. What that would mean for Salvador Allende and U.S. - Latin American relations, however… only time would tell.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Hollywood Finds Several New Stars
    Chapter 75
  • Chapter 75: I’ll Take You There - Elvis, Marilyn, and George Lucas


    Above: Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen co-star in The Getaway, one of the most commercially successful; and critically panned, films of 1972.​

    Having regained his independence as an artist in 1964 with the untimely death of Colonel Tom Parker, the King of Rock N Roll had thrown off the shackles of the cheesy, awful movies his manager inflicted upon him and managed to climb his way back to the top of the charts and remain as relevant as ever in the constantly changing world of popular music. His heavier, soulful jams fit right into the late 60’s, early 70’s aesthetic that was developing around him. 1972 would be no exception and see “Burning Love”, one of his best songs yet, soar to number one and become the song of the summer. Teenage music fans joined legions of folks in their thirties who had grown up with Elvis in worshipping at his altar, and crowds at his concerts seemed one of the few places left where young and middle aged people could rock out together. It was good to be the King. In his personal life, Elvis couldn’t remember a time when he had ever been happier. No longer addicted to uppers and downers, he quieted his mind through meditation and stayed in shape through regular exercise. He even managed to earn a blackbelt in karate, an interest he picked up after a tour of Japan in 1969. Twice a month, he saw an LA shrink who had worked wonders on Marilyn Monroe, and helped Presley face his fears, self-doubt, and occasional bouts of loneliness. His marriage with Ann was subsequently stronger than ever, the two still happily wed and absolutely devoted to one another. Little Lucy Ann helped as well, her radiant presence brought the King to cloud nine whenever she was around, and encouraged him to take breaks from the road and the studio whenever he could. Nothing made him gladder than making Lucy smile, he later told his friends in the so-called “Memphis Mafia”. The record label gave Presley tremendous freedom to issue releases at his own pace, figuring that anything the King released was likely a surefire success regardless of how long he waited to put it out. This freedom enabled him to pursue unorthodox artistic directions, including recording a double album of his favorite Gospel songs backed by a full orchestra, and made work fun for him again. With all of this in mind, it’s easy in hindsight to see why Presley was reluctant to return to Hollywood at first when it came a calling for him again.

    Ann had been riding a wave of successful film roles, such as in 1971’s Carnal Knowledge opposite Jack Nicholson, when she received an offer to play the part of Carol McCoy in Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah’s upcoming new action flick, The Getaway. Having heard rumors that McQueen was difficult to work with, and favoring instead to find other projects for herself, Margret turned the part down. The role would eventually go to Ali McGraw, who was much in demand on the heels of her role in the commercial smash Love Story a few years before. Ann did however keep her complimentary copy of the script and upon reviewing it further thought that it might present a tremendous opportunity for her husband. Presley had previously expressed interest, even a desire to return to acting. He felt that he gave it up the first time just as he was starting to really get good at it. He refused, however to be in any more “silly stuff” and only wanted to give acting another try if it could be guaranteed that he could star in a film without having to sing in it for a change. He wanted audiences to look at him as more than just a goofball with a beautiful voice and a chiseled body. He craved to be taken seriously. Ann thought the cure for Elvis’ predicament was to have him act in something which would paint him in a totally different light than he had ever been seen before. If the audience expected one thing from him, he needed to provide them with another. What better way to drop the boring comic hero stuff than to have him play a villain? Rudy, The Getaway’s villain was a cold, ruthless killer and bank robber, who at one point in the movie has consensual sex with a woman he’s kidnapped in front of her husband and drives him to hang himself in humiliation and shame. In short, it was definitely a distinctly dark turn for the guy who once sang to a dog in a tux on The Ed Sullivan Show, but one Ann thought her husband had the charisma and motivation to pull off. Despite his reservations, namely that some of his young fans would see him and be driven to follow his character’s awful example, Ann insisted that “bad guys have fans all the time, especially the sexy ones! Besides, people can tell the difference between an actor and his part.” She kissed him deeply. “Come on, Teddy Bear.” She pouted. “Do it for me?” Elvis needed no further convincing. He called McQueen the next morning and asked if he could drive to the studio and audition for the part.


    The film was certainly not Citizen Kane. Critics at the time felt the story was contrived, the acting of most of the cast wooden, and the action at times downright gaudy, yet Presley was spared and in fact, exonerated from the film’s mostly negative reception. Critics marveled that of all the members of the cast, it was the King who delivered the most believable, sympathetic performance, and managed to turn the dastardly Rudy into a deviously charming, even likable character. The film rode Elvis’ standout performance to a box office bonanza, earning its budget back ten times over on its way to being the 6th most successful movie of the year. Ann’s instincts about her husband’s position had been correct, and audiences could not get enough of the new, more serious Presley. It was as though he were returning to his “bad boy” image of the mid-1950’s, only now as a grown, powerful man. His status as a sex symbol was restored virtually overnight, and women across the country seemed to go through a second phase of Elvis-mania all over again. Finally, at long last, the King was conquering Hollywood. The Getaway has since received better retrospective reviews and was followed by a string of big movies for Presley including: 1973’s cult classic Walking Tall, in which the King played a former professional-wrestler turned Sheriff of a tiny Tennessee town as he employed swift justice to wipe out an illegal moonshine ring; a 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby which saw Presley tackle the role of the film’s enigmatic, sensitive titular hero opposite Mia Farrow’s Daisy; and the 1975 sequel Walking Tall Part 2. All in all, the 1970’s were a period of intense artistic experimentation, development, and growth for the King, and would only serve to grow his legend, adding “movie star” to his already impressive marquee of accomplishments.


    Marilyn Monroe also maintained something of a reduced film schedule, though she never disappeared from Hollywood completely. Far from it. In fact, the late 60’s and early 70’s had been yet another fruitful period in the star’s storied career, with 1970’s Airport giving her a notch under her belt in the thriller genre. Still hoping for another big hit in the two years which followed, while also spending as much time with husband Joe and baby Percy (who was unbelievably already five years old by 1972), Monroe also filled her time campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment, and vowed to make it her mission to get both major parties to make its ratification part of their platforms in that year’s election. In this task, she succeeded. Both President Bush and Senator Johnson spoke in favor of the E.R.A. on the campaign trail, and though it likely would not see passage until Congress reconvened after the elections, Marilyn felt glad in knowing that she had played such a pivotal role in seeing it through. Denying rumors and requests that she should seek public office in her own right, Monroe instead shifted her attention to her next big part.

    Carrying forward in the “thriller” genre that had brought her acclaim in Airport, Marilyn signed on to another such edge-of-your-seat, fingernail biter: this one an adaptation of the 1971 supernatural horror novel, The Exorcist. Adapted into a screenplay by the novel’s author, William Peter Blatty and directed by the legendary Arthur Penn, who was still riding high following the success of his New Hollywood defining Bonnie and Clyde, The Exorcist was inspired by supposedly true events surrounding the 1949 exorcism of Roland Doe. Following the plot of its source material very closely, the film follows the demonic possession of a 12 year old girl and her mother’s attempts to win her back through an exorcism conducted by two Roman Catholic priests. Monroe would star as Chris MacNeil, an actress and single mother trying to raise her daughter, Regan (played by the blooming child star Jodie Foster) in Georgetown while also starring in a film about student activism directed by her friend and associate, the alcoholic director Burke Dennings (Jack MacGowran). After playing with an ouija board and contacting a supposedly imaginary friend whom she calls Captain Howdy, Regan begins acting strangely. After several terrifying, inexpiable episodes, including Regan speaking in tongues and exhibiting supernatural strength, Chris calls on the aid of Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow) and Father/Dr. Damien Karras, S.J. (Jack Nicholson) to find the root of her daughter’s affliction, and eventually, to cast out the demon possessing her…


    Though the film would go on to be hailed one of the greatest in the history of the horror genre, its initial production was plagued with mishaps. Incidents such as Nicholson’s nine year old daughter, Jennifer being hit by a motorbike and hospitalized attracted claims that the film’s set was cursed. The complex special effects employed, as well as the nature of the filming locations, also presented severe challenges, and Penn threatened to quit the project several times, only being convinced to stay by Monroe and her devotion to what she saw as “a surefire hit”. It is no surprise to a biographer that Marilyn was attached to her role. The film’s primary psychological themes revolved around the nature of faith and the boundaries of maternal love, two things the actress had grappled with personally all her life. Scarred by memories of harsh evangelical Christianity in her difficult early childhood, and turned off of Catholicism by her husband’s oftentimes strict interpretation of its doctrines on morality, Monroe could not consider herself anything but an atheist by her mid-forties. That isn’t to say she didn’t think of herself as a spiritual person. One of the books she read with Joe in their evenings together, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden inspired in her an interest in transcendentalism, which she practiced by striving to live “simply and deliberately”, despite her wealth and fame. Whereas Thoreau found his religion in nature however, Marilyn found hers in the joys of parenting and (she hoped) setting a good example for a growing generation of young American women. Motherhood was her Gospel now, and Percy the only congregant she cared for.

    The Exorcist would eventually be released theatrically in the United States on October 31st, 1973. Initially booked in only 26 theaters across the country, that number soon exploded as the film’s popularity surged and it became a major commercial success. Critics and audiences alike proclaimed it a “triumph”, and helped it snag ten Academy-Award nominations, including Best Picture (the first ever horror film to earn that distinction) and Best Adapted Screenplay, which it went on to win. It became the highest grossing film of 1973 and one of the biggest box office smashes of all time, earning over $500 million worldwide in the wake of various re releases called for by popular demand. Following what she considered possibly the finest performance of her career, Marilyn decided to retire from acting and largely faded from the public spotlight for several years, focusing on her domestic bliss and continuing to work as an activist behind the scenes, promoting feminist causes in Hollywood and beyond.


    1972 was also a big year for up and coming film director George Lucas, of Modesto, California. Deeply passionate about the industry, and inspired by the work of Stanley Kubrick, Arthur Penn, and the developing trends which would come to define “New Hollywood”, Lucas had nonetheless hit a bit of a rut in his burgeoning career. The year prior, he had made his directorial debut with THX 1138, a science fiction film set in a dystopian future of which Lucas was also the principal writer. The film starred Robert Duvall, was produced by the great Francis Ford Coppola and was considered “groundbreaking” and “the start of a must-watch career” by critics, but utterly flopped commercially, leaving the studio deep in the red and furious with the upstart behind it. Lucas blamed the film’s dark tone and imagery for its failure, and asked Coppola, whom he considered his mentor and role model, what he thought he should do next, to try and save his career before the studio cut him loose. “Simple.” Coppola replied. “Write a script that’ll appeal to the masses. Sometimes you have to do some mainstream, bread and circus stuff before you can make the films you really want to make.” Lucas cringed initially at the idea of abandoning his creative impulses to meet the demands of the market, but relented and then embraced the idea after giving the challenge some additional thought. Hoping eventually to return to the realm of science fiction, whose tales of Flash Gordon and adventure serials helped inspire Lucas to make movies in the first place, the director temporarily took a detour into his past and worked to create something tender, relatable, and nostalgic.

    The result was a tribute to his experiences “cruising” as a teenager in his hometown of Modesto in the early 1960’s. “Cruising” was the act of hopping in a car (preferably a hot rod) with one’s friends and driving around town aimlessly, hoping to meet and pick up girls. Lucas lamented that the activity had largely died out in the change and rapid social maturation of the mid and late 60s, and felt that it was his responsibility to document the experience for future generations to understand and celebrate. As he developed the story in his mind, Lucas decided to include his fascination with Wolfman Jack, an anonymous California DJ, on whom he had briefly considered directing a documentary during his time at USC School of Cinematic Arts. Setting the film in Modesto itself added autobiographical undertones, and the characters of Curt Henderson, John Milner, and Terry “The Toad” Fields also represented Lucas at different stages of his younger life. Curt is modeled after the director’s personality during his time in college, while Milner is based on Lucas’s teenage street-racing and junior college years. Toad meanwhile was reminiscent of Lucas’s “nerd years” as a freshman in high school, especially his “bad luck” and cluelessness when it came to dating. As the events of early 1972 unfolded, Lucas also hoped the project would help provide escape and act as release for a world-weary American audience. The director later said: “[THX] was about real things that were going on and the problems we're faced with. I realized after making THX that those problems are so real that most of us have to face those things every day, so we're in a constant state of frustration. That just makes us more depressed than we were before. So I made a film where, essentially, we can get rid of some of those frustrations, the feeling that everything seems futile. I think we all needed some escape after seeing the President gunned down the way he was.”

    After winning approval for the project, christened American Graffiti, from Coppola and the studio heads, Lucas began the long and arduous process of casting his film. Fred Roos, who had just finished working on The Godfather with Coppola, oversaw the process, and put out casting calls to actors and actresses from various high school and college drama clubs in the Southern California area. This was done because the film’s main cast primarily called for such young actors, and Lucas wanted to work with unknowns with whom he could develop his vision. Roos was a former casting director for The Andy Griffith Show and immediately recommended Ron Howard to Lucas for the part of Steve Bolander. The director agreed and the 18 year old Howard was eager to accept the role, as he believed it would help him break out of his mold as a child star. Over 100 unknown actors auditioned for the part of Curt Henderson before Mark Hamill, a drama major at Los Angeles City College, who had previously only ever played a minor role on daytime soap opera General Hospital was cast. Lucas appreciated Hamill’s authentic, thoughtful reading of the role, and was absolutely thrilled to work with him. The director also kept the young Californian in mind for another part he was cooking up in another project which would grow to be Lucas’ masterpiece, a space opera fantasy story set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… Other major cast members included the debut of young Carrie Fisher as Curt’s sister and Steve’s girlfriend, Laurie Henderson (it would not be the last time that Fisher and Hamill portrayed siblings); and another unknown at the time who was then focusing on a carpentry career, Harrison Ford as the stetson-hat wearing Bob Falfa.


    Featuring a soundtrack chuck full of classic songs from the 50s and 60s, footage full of hot rods and daring action on the streets of Modesto, and a warm-hearted story about love and the challenges of growing up, American Graffiti was an absolute smash hit. Winning widespread critical acclaim and becoming one of the highest grossing blockbusters of 1973, the film was more than enough to convince the film industry that Lucas was on his way to becoming a major player, and for his studio to feel comfortable green-lighting his next major project, one that would take nearly a decade to produce, but change the face of entertainment, and the world, forever.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: All the Way with LBJ? Or a Thousand Points of Light?
    Chapter 76
  • Chapter 76: Go All the Way - The 1972 Presidential Election


    Above: Senator Lyndon Johnson (D - TX) and President George Bush (R - TX) campaign for the White House in Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas respectively. Though the President and the Republicans seemed to have a definite edge early in the campaign, Johnson’s tireless campaigning and “down and dirty” style of politics soon made the election a fighting race.

    “The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.” - Adlai E. Stevenson

    When covering the 1972 Presidential election, historians have a tendency to paint pictures which are hyperbolic, bordering on the mythic with regard to the candidates. The issues over which President Bush and Senator Johnson argued take a backseat to grandiose portraits of two men in the prime of their public careers, duking it out in a bare knuckled brawl for control of the future of the country they loved. There is a kernel of truth to the allegations that ‘72 was more about personality than it ought to have been. So too is there validity in the claim that the race took place under the shadow of mourning still not cleared from the assassination of President Romney. Had Arthur Bremer, who by July was on trial in the biggest media spectacle since the Manson Case, only missed, or been stopped by the Secret Service, many thought it likely that the President would have been renominated and thereafter reelected to a second term. Nonetheless, the show, as they say, must go on, and go on it did. Now-President George Bush began the general election campaign with a defiant, hopeful speech at the Republican National Convention in Miami, in which he laid out what he believed to be the goals of his administration and spoke on how to prevent the creation of more Arthur Bremers: “Those who commit evil will be punished. But I hope to stand for a new harmony, a greater tolerance.” He began. “We've come far, but I think we need a new harmony among the people of our country. We're on a journey through the latter half of the twentieth century, and we've got to leave that tired old baggage of bigotry and prejudice behind. This means teaching troubled children through your presence that there's such a thing as reliable, unconditional love. Some would say it's soft and insufficiently tough to care about these things. But where is it written that we must act as if we do not care, as if we are not moved? Well, I am moved. I want a kinder, gentler nation, which will prevent these acts of violence from overcoming our generous, loving spirit.” These kind words from the leader of the free world did much to bind together the wounds of a people in despair. That night at the convention, attendees openly wept and applauded the President for twenty minutes before they would allow him to continue with his speech. “I believe the spirit of President Romney is within all of us,” The new President roared. “Because that spirit is the spirit of our great country. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America!” As the crowd cheered and red, white, and blue balloons and confetti cascaded from the ceiling onto himself, his running mate: Governor Ronald Reagan of California, and the whole first family, Bush looked out into the crowd and saw an approving smile from his daughter in law, Hillary Rodham Bush. She, First Lady Barbara Bush, and Hillary’s husband, the President’s oldest son, would criss-cross the nation, stumping hard for him and cultivating an image of the commander in chief as a uniter, a healer, and a wonderful family man, putting to rest the air of suspicion surrounding him in the aftermath of the Hoover Affair. They would be joined by Mitt Romney, the slain President’s youngest child, and former First Lady Lenore, who called upon American women to stand by the party who “has championed their rights the longest”. With the E.R.A. now being sent off to the states for consideration, this was no small political wager.

    This strategy: pushing President Bush as the natural heir to George Romney’s legacy paid off. Right out of the gate, the President and Governor Reagan saw a fifteen point surge in national polling by the end of August. Continued public sympathy combined with a strong convention bump and a largely united party structure gave the GOP several advantages over their Democratic opponents, but Bush knew better than to count his chickens before they hatched. The Republican Party may have been able to agree on Bush/Reagan for the Presidential ticket, but the platform debates at the convention were rife with contention and contradiction. For instance, Bush had all but come out as moderately “pro-choice”, that is, against the government’s right to deny a woman an abortion. Governor Reagan, North Carolina Senatorial candidate Jesse Helms, and Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina however were all shifting ever further toward staunch anti-abortion positions. The issue had not become a major one in politics yet, but the disagreements on this and other social issues portented other problems for the party down the road. YAF activists who turned out in droves during the primaries to support their hero, Reagan’s bid for the White House, cooled in their enthusiasm somewhat when the Sheriff of Sacramento “caved to establishment pressure” and joined the ticket as its running mate. As the Bush and Reagan staffs came together to now work together toward one common election, old hostilities from the campaign trail reared their ugly heads again. It seemed that the only thing that united the moderate-centrists who supported the President and the paleoconservative supporters of Governor Reagan was a common desire to defeat the Democrats and hold onto power. What’s more, the President knew, even if only by reputation, the type of campaigner and politician that Lyndon Baines Johnson was. His fellow Texan wasn’t about to lose his last chance at the White House without putting up one hell of a fight. “Get me daily updates about what he’s saying about us out on the trail.” Bush instructed Deputy White House Chief of Staff and his primary campaign manager, Dick Cheney. “I want eyes on LBJ at all times, is that clear?”

    “Crystal, sir.” The young man replied. Cheney got to work building a campaign infrastructure that he hoped would be sure to weather any storm and turnout Republican faithful for the President in overwhelming numbers. Roger Ailes, a television executive and media consultant, was brought on first by Paul Laxalt and now Dick Cheney to serve as “Director of Media Relations” for the Bush/Reagan campaign, and immediately got to work creating television ads and spinning narratives about Johnson, his past ethical conduct, and his ability to serve based on his precarious health. Cheney and Ailes later admitted that “it wasn’t the cleanest campaign in history”, but strongly felt that it was the only way to ensure victory against Johnson’s “New Southern” machine and working class roots. One temptation the dual campaign managers did resist came from a suggestion by Secretary of State Richard Nixon, who felt that the best way to ensure a Republican victory in the race was to wiretap, then burgle the Democratic National Campaign HQ at the Watergate Hotel, in Washington in order to spy on the activities of the their opponents. Nixon had made a similar suggestion to President Romney before his assassination, but it had proven itself to be a non-starter with him as well. Cheney and Ailes would play dirty, but they would not cheat or break the law to win.


    While Bush got down to business, running the country and looking Presidential while doing it, Senator Johnson made it his overriding mission to tear down every inch of progress the Republicans made at trying to defeat him. He released vicious ads of his own, largely avoiding attacks on the President, out of respect for his son’s war record, but eviscerating Governor Reagan, and accusing the GOP of “selling out to right-wing radicalism”. In a now-legendary ad featuring a little girl picking flower petals with a countdown to armageddon ticking in the background before giving way to a terrifying BOOM and a mushroom cloud, Johnson questioned whether Reagan, “a Goldwater-ite” extremist, could be trusted with the nuclear launch codes should anything happen to President Bush. Appearing at stump speeches dressed down in a cowboy hat, plaid shirts, and denim jeans, the “Phoenix of Texas” copied his former boss, President Kennedy’s playbook from the 1964 election against Nelson Rockefeller: make yourself out to be a man of the people. LBJ knew that he couldn’t “out class” the President. It wasn’t in his nature. Furthermore, the White House had access to Air Force One, the Rose Garden, and all the other illustrious symbols of power and stability the nation’s capital had to offer. The only narrative Johnson could spin to counter that was the one he went with: that Bush was untested, unready to be the leader of the most powerful nation in the history of the world, and that the country would be better suited with a man of experience in this time of heartache and restlessness. He also did what he could to play up Bush’s sometimes awkward speaking style and dorkiness. Johnson recognized the foreign policy achievements of the Romney Administration, but wondered aloud at rallies: “Is President Bush up to the task of continuing that good work? I don’t know about you all, but he seems like a bit of a wimp to me.” That particular moniker: wimp, stuck with Bush throughout the campaign, and gave him no end of grief. When supporters countered that the President was a war hero, a tough negotiator with Congress, and a strong leader abroad, Johnson simply shrugged. “I’m not saying he doesn’t have his moments. A broken clock is still right twice a day.”


    Essential to Johnson’s strategy was a victory in the battle over the nation’s electorally rich industrial heartland. In 1968, George Romney carried many of these states by razor thin pluralities. These were largely attained as Wallace and the ACP siphoned votes away from Humphrey and the Democrats, which led Johnson to believe that with his more conservative wing of the Democratic Party now firmly in power, he could swing the midwest and win the whole thing. Already counting the South, which he was convinced would hold for him, New York and half of New England, all he would need to do is flip Pennsylvania and Ohio (which happened to be the home of his running mate) and he would have enough electoral votes to carry him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The major wrench in his works was that voter demographics had shifted since the 1968 elections. Whereas in ‘68 the Republican ticket was made up of two decidedly centrist moderates, 1972’s ticket brought the charismatic Ronald Reagan and all his conservative appeal to bare against a simultaneously more conservative Democratic Party. New York State, long a Democratic bastion that had even voted against its own popular Governor in 1964 to side with President Kennedy, was now being governed by a Buckley in Albany and trending Republican in numerous opinion polls of likely voters. The vicious primary season turned what should have been Johnson’s liberal base against him, and encouraged many “New Frontier Democrats” to ultimately stay home on Election Day. Johnson also struggled with cracks in his own party’s voter coalition, as African-Americans looked fondly on President Bush as the rightful successor to President Romney, a man whom their communities had generally considered a supporter and a friend. Though black turnout for Bush was somewhat less than it had been for his predecessor four years prior, and Johnson made strong overtures to win African-American support, Bush still managed to snag 20% of their votes in 1972, severely hurting the Johnson/Glenn ticket in recently integrated northern cities. Johnson would be deeply troubled by these numbers, pointing out that Reagan especially was known for dog whistling with his rhetoric of “law and order” used to stoke white prejudice. The California Governor shot back that Johnson should “Keep quiet. It’s [Johnson’s] party that plays host now to George Wallace, ‘Mr. Segregation’ himself, not ours.”

    The issues which historians all too often neglect to mention were, ironically, never far from either candidate’s command on the trail. The President referred to himself as “the bread and butter candidate”, concerned with tackling fully the nation’s developing inflation problem, and never turning a blind eye to domestic issues whilst sorting out complicated diplomatic missions abroad. Bush pointed to the flourishing rail industry, made emblematic in the 1971 creation of Amtrak, officially the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, as signs of the country’s strengthened economy and ever developing infrastructure. Under Bush’s watchful eye, the Department of Transportation was planning new high speed rail lines to connect major cities along the coasts and eventually throughout the heartland. These new trains carried a hefty investment on the front end, but were energy efficient, reliable, and provided Americans with the possibility of commuting great distances to and from work everyday, which was sure to increase worker availability and thus bolster the economy. Bush coupled his infrastructure package with a vow to press the states’ legislatures to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment for women, which had passed with the so-called Hayden rider on July 13th, 1972, a promise to draft another constitutional amendment to secure and codify the Presidential line of succession in the wake of the Romney assassination, and his most important pledge of all: he called it “W.I.N.” - whip inflation now. By election season, inflation in the U.S. had ballooned to nearly 5.3%, well above the average expected annual amount of 3.5%. President Bush and Governor Reagan blamed excessive government spending - “perpetrated by an unregulated and wasteful Democratic Congress”, and swore that if elected in November, they would bring the beast to heel. Though Reagan walked back some of the campaign pledges he had made during the primary campaign, especially his promise to “eradicate” the Assistance for Families Plan (AFP), the Gipper maintained most of his conservative rhetoric, and called on the American people to “clean up the country, and send the welfare bums back to work” with a vote for the GOP in November. Across the nation, Americans insecure in the wake of losing a President to an assassin’s bullets and continued international uncertainty saw plenty of hope in the youthful President Bush and sunny Governor Reagan. The Republicans’ campaign slogan: “The Time is Now” seemed to capture the vigor and positive energy which the two men possessed between them, as well as the promise of forward action to solve the country’s problems.


    On the issues, Johnson built his campaign on another hopeful message: “It’s time for a New Direction, toward a greater society for all”. The Texan barnstormed the country, often speaking and shaking hands until his muscles ached and his legs were near to collapse, about the “good work” he believed he and Senator Glenn could do in the Executive Mansion. He lauded President Kennedy’s New Frontier, but argued that it now needed to be protected from poaching and budget cuts by the Republicans. “Throughout the history of our country,” Johnson boomed to adoring supporters in Little Rock, Arkansas. “There are those who seek to move us forward and those who seek to hold us back. For decades, we have been held back from the true progress we could be making by reactionaries and nincompoops like my opponents, who say we’ve gone too far in helping the little man with the long arm of the law.” The crowd booed loudly and a shit-eating grin slowly crept across the Democratic candidate’s face. “Well folks, you know what I say to them? I say we haven’t gone far enough! As long as these right-wingers posture and pose and try to talk down to us, our freedom is never truly safe. Freedom from the crippling throws of poverty, freedom from worry when we get sick and don’t have health insurance because we’re too poor or too old to afford it. You want to know the difference between today’s Democratic and Republican parties? Governor Reagan calls Medicare ‘socialism’. I call it common sense.” These competing messages and stances battled their way across the map and the hearts and minds of a divided people as September bled into October and the race heated up and narrowed. Johnson and Glenn’s tireless, exhausting regimen of speeches, interviews, and media events left both men burnt out, but was finally starting to make a dent in Bush/Reagan’s lead. The New Frontier coalition began to warm back up to the Democratic ticket, as Senators Robert Kennedy and Edmund Muskie turned out for campaign events to stump for down ballot races and give Johnson their support. Jews, Catholics, intellectuals/academics, about half the country’s women, unionized workers, and most African-Americans dug their heels in and vowed to help Johnson/Glenn pull off the upset of the century. Even former President Kennedy took a break from penning The People’s History of the United States of America to appear alongside his former Vice President at a whistle stop in Boston. “LBJ shall be the vote of JFK!” He declared with a big smile to the roaring crowd. All of this certainly helped bring a Democratic victory into the realm of possibility, but was ultimately not enough to carry the ticket across the finish line to triumph.


    Wikibox credit: @Hulkster'01

    On Election Night: Tuesday, November 7th, 1972, George Herbert Walker Bush was elected by healthy popular and electoral margins to the office of President in his own right. No longer merely the next in a tragically long list of VP’s to rise to the occasion in the event of their predecessor’s untimely demise, Bush would now be given a chance to leave his own, independent mark on world affairs, and ultimately, history. Celebrating at the White House residence with his children and Babs, Bush only paused in his revelry to make a series of personal calls. First, he reached out to Lenore Romney, who, with tears in her eyes on the other end of the line praised the President for his perseverance, and said to him: “Our hopes, our dreams, our future… it all lies with you now, Mr. President. My husband is watching over you. I know you won’t let him, or us down.” Bush thanked the former First Lady, then turned his attention to Dick Cheney, whom the President had asked to meet him for a few minutes in the Oval before they turned out to greet their supporters for the victory speech in the East Room.

    “You did a great job out there, Dick.” The President said with a smile and a pat on the younger man’s back. “We wouldn’t be celebrating tonight if it weren’t for all your hard work!”

    Cheney shrugged, but allowed himself a grin in appreciation. “You’re too kind, sir. Really, you and Governor Reagan did all the heavy lifting.”

    Bush waved away the thought with his hand. “Listen Dick, now that this is over, I have to be honest with you. I’m thrilled to be back for the next four years, it’s an absolute dream come true. Men work their whole lives to get where I’m standing and I’ve made promises to some very important people and myself.” The President stared wistfully at the hallowed walls around him. “I’m going to make every day count. I can’t waste a single second. I’m going to make a real difference in things, and I want you there with me when I do.”

    “Of course, Mr. President.” Cheney responded immediately.

    “Dick,” Bush smiled half-sadly. “Lenny’s retiring in a few days. He wanted to wait until after the election, but I can tell he’s been uncomfortable ever since… well ever since Milwaukee.” The President’s voice grew solemn, mournful. “He was President Romney’s friend, his closest confidant and advisor, someone he could always count on to tell him what he needed to hear. Lenny’s a good man, but he and I don’t share that kind of relationship, unfortunately. So he’s decided that his tenure here should come to an end, and I’m going to need a new right hand man to help me see my agenda through.” The President placed his hand on Cheney’s shoulder. “Dick, I’m asking you to be my Chief of Staff. Will you do it?”

    Cheney was awestruck, but maintained his composure. “Sir, I - I don’t know what to say… Thank you, it would be an absolute honor.” A second of silence passed before he finished his thought. “I hope that I serve you well.”

    “I’m sure you will.” The President replied. A moment later, the phone rang. Bush’s personal secretary informed him that Senator Johnson was on the line, he’d called to concede the race and offer his congratulations. Bush, sensing this was a moment he would rather face alone, asked Cheney to step out of his office and took the call with his fellow Texan. The two men talked for nearly half an hour before they were through and when they finished, the President emerged from his office a wiser, better man. They spoke of love, respect, and politics but most of all: of duty, to their conscience, and to the American people. “History has its eyes on you.” Johnson said simply. “Stare the fucker down, and don’t you dare blink.” After finishing their chat, Bush went out to his supporters and delivered a triumphant victory speech, Babs and Governor Reagan, now the Vice President-elect, by his side. It was the biggest, proudest, and most terrified that George Bush had ever felt. He wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world.


    After conceding the race, Lyndon Baines Johnson felt every one of his sixty four years weighing on him like great, gigantic boulders. The Giant of the Senate had pegged all his remaining hopes for tomorrow on winning the White House and never once considered what he might do if he failed to claim his ultimate prize. Denial came first, he asked Lady Bird what she thought his odds would be if he demanded recounts in the big states. “Not very good, sug.” She replied, with bitter tears in her eyes. Next was anger. How the fuck did we lose New York?! He raged as the returns came in and NBC declared the Empire State, and the race for the Republicans. He skipped bargaining and tumbled straight into depression, sobbing for nearly an hour before Senator Glenn and Lady Bird were able to calm him down. At last, as he prepared to call the President-elect and concede, came acceptance. He knew that his time on this Earth was not long, and fate, that cruel, ugly bitch, had chosen another preppy New Englander to take his place at the helm of the greatest ship of state in history. Johnson grew contemplative, and wondered what the future of his beloved country might look like when he heard news he’d been hoping for from Georgia and Texas, both of which had stayed true blue to his new machine. Barefoot Sanders and Sam Nunn, one a former Johnson aide and confidant and the other a “New South” Democrat had both been elected U.S. Senators of their respective states. Sanders’ victory especially brought Johnson a sense of personal satisfaction, and Nunn’s win in a special election to fill the seat of LBJ’s old mentor, Richard “Uncle Dicky” Russell, seemed as much a vindication of Johnson as the night’s electoral map. Johnson may never get to be President of the United States, he might have even lost his only nomination handily, but he had changed American politics and the culture of the American South forever. His “new Southern machine” would outlive him, and come to define the national direction for years and decades to follow, as well as make the South a more liberal, progressive place than he had found it. To those who knew him, it seemed only fitting than LBJ would call his fellow Texan, wish him the best of luck, deliver a somber, but poignant concession speech to his supporters who had gathered at his ranch in Stonewall, Texas, then fall asleep next to his beloved Lady Bird, bitter and exhausted. When she awoke next to her husband the next morning, as he was still quietly sobbing in his sleep, the former Second Lady wept herself and told her daughters: “Be kind to Daddy, sweethearts. The American Dream just died for him today.”


    Lyndon’s defeat likely signified the high water mark of a storied political career, spanning nearly half a century, but it did not mean that it was over just yet. In fact, Johnson quickly resolved to return to his Senate seat, alongside the newly elected Barefoot Sanders, and push for the Great Society he always wanted to build. Many years after he was gone, Johnson’s legacy as the architect for a more liberal, racially harmonious Southern U.S. and a populist wing of the Democratic Party that would never die down again, would serve him well and leave him fondly remembered by millions of Americans who couldn’t help but wonder: What if LBJ had been given a chance in the White House?

    The only other question which remained came in two parts: who would take up Johnson’s mantle to lead his wing of the party against the reelected President Bush when Johnson inevitably passed away or retired? And further, who would stop a vindicated Robert Francis Kennedy from being crowned the Democratic nominee in four years? Several southerners would rise to meet the challenge: George Corey Wallace, Governor of Alabama and an avowed “changed man” on racial issues (though he had sworn never to run for the White House again); Reubin Askew, the popular integrationist Governor of Florida; Senate Majority Whip and son of the “Kingfish”, Russell B. Long; and a little known nuclear sub captain turned peanut-farmer turned Governor of Georgia named Jimmy Carter, whom LBJ now encouraged to run for his state’s Senate seat come the 1974 midterms.



    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: The 1972 Down-Ballot

    OOC: And there you have it, folks! :D Both candidates put up a spirited race, but in the end, President Bush had an insurmountable amount of public sympathy and the national zeitgeist on his side in this one. You haven't seen the last of LBJ, I assure you, though his time is beginning to wind down. It'll be up to a new generation of Southern and Populist Democrats to preserve the legacy he's built, and carry it forward into the future.
    Chapter 77
  • OOC: I know this is a little earlier than I expected to post this one, but I'm really excited and have several final exams on Monday, so here's Chapter 77 a little early. Hope you all don't mind! ;)

    Chapter 77: Hurting Each Other - The 1972 Down-Ballot Races


    Above: Former Governor John Chafee (R) of Rhode Island and Wilmington City Councilman Joseph Biden (D) of Delaware, both of whom won upset victories against incumbents for their states’ Senate seats in 1972.

    The 1972 race for the White House, some historians would later argue rather convincingly, was decided the moment Arthur Bremer shot and killed President Romney. Though LBJ ran a tremendous campaign, even the most well oiled political machine in living memory could not compete with the American people’s need for stability in the wake of a collective trauma. Even eight months after the death of the Commander in Chief, his legacy weighed heavily on the minds of the voters as they headed to the polls. The same could not entirely be said however for the various other races crisscrossing the country on election day. Both parties soon discovered that the Republicans could not simply ride Romney’s coattails from beyond the grave to big gains in Congress and Governorships as well. When it came to House races, the pursuit of Senate seats, and Governor’s mansions, both parties fought tooth and nail for supremacy, in a way they had not in many years. For the Republicans, ‘72 represented the first opportunity they saw in decades to effectively challenge Democratic rule over Congress. The Democrats for their part fought to fend off GOP challenges in vulnerable constituencies. They figured that if they could hold their ground on the Hill, then the party could soften the sweeping nature of Bush’s mandate, and force their Republican colleagues to the negotiating table on key issues, especially the so-called “Jackson Resolution” to send U.S. troops to Rhodesia. Unfortunately for Mike Mansfield and his colleagues, this particular proposal benefited greatly from the President’s victory. Bush had come out in favor of its passage shortly after President Romney’s death, and it gained a fiery new champion in the House of Representatives in John Kerry, the hawkish Democrat just elected from the Massachusetts 3rd. Kerry, a native of Concord, the town which was once called home by the great minds of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, whose writings on nature and the environment served as a great inspiration to Kerry, was only 29 years old but already famous nationwide for winning the Purple Heart and his “moral interventionist” stance on foreign policy. He molded his positions in the likeness of his former boss, Washington Senator Scoop Jackson, and asked for an assignment on the Natural Resources Committee, where he could lead fights to strengthen the EPA and protect the environment, another issue he was absolutely passionate about.


    Congressman-elect John Kerry (D - MA)

    Despite initially optimistic projections about containing the bleeding, Democrats were flabbergasted to discover that they had in fact lost the House of Representatives for the first time in twenty years. Districts in New England, New York, and especially the Midwest which Democrats had assumed were under lock and key blew up in their faces, as a last minute surge of GOP youth support, courtesy of the YAF and their allies, stormed voting booths across the nation and swung dozens of house races to the Republicans. 1972 was the first election in which the youth of America (those over the age of 18) could vote and it showed or rather, it didn’t. Despite many young people’s generally liberal attitudes and overwhelming support for the party of John F. Kennedy, many young liberals found LBJ a generally uninspiring candidate, and so voted Republican for President or abstained from voting for the top spot altogether. Johnson had counted on youth support to put himself and his party over the edge, but that reliance backfired in a big way. Executing a completely unexpected 39 seat swing in the lower chamber of Congress, the GOP would now hold a razor-thin majority, with 219 seats to the Democrats’ 216. Gerald R. Ford, the moderate Republican leader from the Michigan 5th, would finally achieve his ultimate dream in politics and become the Speaker of the House of Representatives, much to his delight. He promised to work with now House Minority Leader Tip O’Neill (D - MA), who was sworn in after Democrats ousted former Speaker Carl Albert (D - OK), whom they saw as not providing strong enough leadership to help them keep the house, to craft “bipartisan solutions to the nation’s ills” and to work with President Bush on a legislative slate which would further unite the country. Though much of the solid south had held firm for Johnson and the Democrats, the north and midwest fell through and the people generally thought it was time to give the Republicans a real chance to solve the ailing economy and keep the country safe.


    House of Representatives (218 needed for a majority):

    Republicans: 219 seats (+39)

    Democrats: 216 seats (-39)

    House Leadership:

    Speaker of the House: Gerald Ford (R - MI)

    House Majority Leader: John Jacob Rhodes (R - AZ)

    House Majority Whip: Leslie Arends (R - IL)

    House Minority Leader: Tip O’Neill (D - MA)

    House Minority Whip: John J. McFall (D - CA)

    Thankfully for the Democrats, losses in the Senate on the other hand were largely mitigated. Despite President Bush’s decisive victory, the GOP only managed to pick up a net gain of two seats in the Upper Chamber, losing much of the ground they had gained in the south, such as John Tower’s seat in Texas, to Johnsonian “New South” Democrats. Some exceptions to this trend did exist, of course. Fiery conservative and former talk radio host Jesse Helms stormed his way to victory in North Carolina on a strictly pro-life, anti-integration platform which seemed to run counter to the Republican Party’s national views, but nonetheless won widespread support from ex-members of the ACP who had not yet embraced the Democratic Party of their other Senator, former Vice President Terry Sanford. Helms had been an active supporter of Governor Ronald Reagan throughout his campaign for the Republican nomination, but threw his weight behind President Bush after the Watergate Agreement became public knowledge. Helms was not afraid to race-bait in order to win, accusing his Democratic opponent of “openly supporting the mixing and mingling of the black and white races” and of being “a dupe to the communists”, whom Helms assured his audiences were poised and ready to strike at America’s interests unless her leaders were ready, willing, and able to stop them. Helms’ victory was replicated by another virulent racist, William L. Scott, in neighboring Virginia, who claimed in a stump speech: “The only reason we need zip codes is because n***ers can’t read.” Though these bigots did not represent the party as a whole, as racially progressive Republicans like President Bush were quick to point out, their wins in what was supposed to be a solidly Democratic year in the South planted seeds of doubt in the minds of the African American community. Would President Bush’s GOP still be friendly to their needs and interests, as President Romney’s had been? Alongside this questioning of the party’s racial messaging, the Republicans continued to trail the Democrats in the Senate, 57 - 43.


    Senate Leadership:

    Senate Majority Leader: Mike Mansfield (D - MT)

    Senate Majority Whip: Russell B. Long (D - LA)

    Senate Minority Leader: Hugh Scott (R - PA)

    Senate Minority Whip: Howard Baker (R - TN)

    The Complete Membership of the 93rd U.S. Congress’ Senate:


    John J. Sparkman (D) - Reelected in 1972, D Hold

    James B. Allen (D)


    Ernest Gruening (D)

    Theodore F. Stevens (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold


    Barry Goldwater (R)

    Paul Fannin (R)


    John L. McClellan (D) - Reelected in 1972, D Hold

    J. William Fulbright (D)


    John V. Tunney (D)

    Alan Cranston (D)


    Gordon L. Allott (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold

    Peter H. Dominick (R)


    Abraham A. Ribicoff (D)

    Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. (R)


    William V. Roth Jr. (R)

    Joseph Biden (D) - Defeated incumbent Boggs, D Gain


    LeRoy Collins (D)

    Lawton Chiles (D)


    Herman E. Talmadge (D)

    Sam Nunn (D) - Elected to fill Richard B. Russell’s seat, D Hold


    Daniel K. Inouye (D)

    Spark Matsunaga (D)


    Frank F. Church (D)

    James A. McClure (R) - Elected to replace retiring incumbent, R Hold


    Charles H. Percy (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold

    Donald Rumsfeld (R)


    Birch Bayh (D)

    Richard Lugar (R)


    Jack R. Miller (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold

    Harold E. Hughes (D)


    James B. Pearson (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold

    Bob Dole (R)


    Marlow W. Cook (R)

    Walter B. Huddleston (D) - Defeated Republican for open seat, D Gain


    Russell B. Long (D)

    Elaine Edwards (D) - Elected to a term in her own right, D Hold


    Margaret Chase Smith (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold

    Edmund Muskie (D)


    Charles Mathias Jr. (R)

    John Glenn Beall (R)


    Edward M. Kennedy (D)

    Edward W. Brooke III (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold


    Philip A. Hart (D)

    Robert P. Griffin (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold


    Hubert Humphrey (D) - Reelected in 1972, D Hold

    Eugene McCarthy (D)


    James O. Eastland (D) - Reelected in 1972, D Hold

    John C. Stennis (D)


    W. Stuart Symington (D)

    Thomas F. Eagleton (D)


    Michael J. Mansfield (D)

    Henry S. Hibbard (R) - Defeated incumbent Metcalf, R Gain


    Roman L. Hruska (R)

    Carl T. Curtis (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold


    Alan H. Bible (D)

    Howard W. Cannon (D)

    New Hampshire

    Norris H. Cotton (R)

    Thomas J. McIntyre (D) - Reelected in 1972, D Hold

    New Jersey

    Clifford P. Case (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold

    Harrison A. Williams Jr. (D)

    New Mexico

    Joseph M. Montoya (D)

    Pete Domenici (R) - Defeated Democrat for open seat, R Gain

    New York

    Jacob K. Javits (R)

    Robert F. Kennedy (D)

    North Carolina

    J. Terry Sanford (D)

    Jesse Helms (R) - Defeated incumbent Jordan, R Gain

    North Dakota

    Milton R. Young (R)

    Quentin M. Burdick (D)


    John Glenn (D)

    Robert Taft, Jr. (R)


    Mike Monroney (D)

    Dewey F. Bartlett (R) - Defeated Democrat for open seat, R Gain


    Mark O. Hatfield (R) - Reelected in 1970, R Hold

    Bob Packwood (R)


    Hugh D. Scott, Jr. (R)

    Richard Schweiker (R)

    Rhode Island

    John O. Pastore (D)

    John Chafee (R) - Defeated incumbent Pell, R Gain

    South Carolina

    Strom Thurmond (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold

    Ernest Hollings (D)

    South Dakota

    George McGovern (D)

    James Abourezk (D) - Defeated Republican for open seat, D Gain


    Albert Gore, Sr. (D)

    Howard H. Baker, Jr. (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold


    Lyndon B. Johnson (D)

    Barefoot Sanders (D) - Elected over incumbent Tower, D Gain


    Wallace F. Bennett (R)

    Frank E. Moss (D)


    George D. Aiken (R)

    Winston L. Prouty (R)


    Harry F. Byrd, Jr. (D)

    William L. Scott (R) - Defeated incumbent Spong, R Gain


    Warren G. Magnuson (D)

    Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson (D)

    West Virginia

    Jennings Randolph (D) - Reelected in 1972, D Hold

    Robert C. Byrd (D)


    William Proxmire (D)

    Gaylord A. Nelson (D)


    Gale W. McGee (D)

    Clifford P. Hansen (R) - Reelected in 1972, R Hold


    Other Races of Note:

    Centrist, Johnsonian Democrat Lloyd Bentsen fought through a tough primary to ride LBJ’s wave to the Governorship of Texas, succeeding longtime Johnson protege Preston Smith.


    Bentsen pledges himself to continue fighting for more high speed rail lines in Texas, as well as more high tech companies to develop and position themselves there.

    Three term Congresswoman Shirley Temple Black (R) of the California 17th was reelected with 63% of the vote; her largest margin yet.


    The popular, 44 year old Congresswoman is still seen as one of the great rising stars of the Republican Party. After turning down the chance to run for Governor to replace Vice President Reagan in a special election and shifting her views to align more with President Bush’s moderate wing of the party, Temple Black is all but guaranteed to challenge Democrat Alan Cranston for his California Senate seat, which is up for grabs in the 1974 midterms.

    Democrat James “Jimmy” Roosevelt II, son of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is narrowly elected Governor of California in a special election to finish Ronald Reagan’s second term. In his third attempt at the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento, Roosevelt fulfilled JFK’s vision of political success for him after all in the Golden State. He stands for reelection in 1974.


    Texas Lawyer, Educator, Civil Rights Activist, and former Acting Governor Barbara Charline Jordan becomes the first southern African American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives since Reconstruction.


    A former aide and protege to Senator Lyndon Johnson, Jordan has vowed to take the ideals of “a Greater Society” with her as she journeys to begin her term in Washington as a moderately liberal Democrat.

    Democrat Ronald V. Dellums, a former United States Marine, the first African-American to represent Northern California in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a self-proclaimed “Socialist” is reelected by a wide margin to a second term.


    Paleoconservative Republican Phyllis Schlafly is Elected to a Second Term to Represent the Illinois 23rd Congressional District. She calls on Illinois’ and other states’ legislature to reject the Equal Rights Amendment, and for the GOP to continue its shift to the right.


    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: A Brief History of South Asia ITTL
    Chapter 78
  • OOC: A small Christmas Present to make up for the lack of updates of late... ;)

    Chapter 78: Kabhi Tanhaiyon Mein - South Asia, 1962 - 1972


    Above: U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru tour the White House grounds in Washington, D.C. in preparation for a formal state dinner (left). Indian troops prepare to cross the border into Pakistan in the 1965 war over Bangladesh (right).

    The Republic of India, the world’s second most populous nation, and the heir to a rich, fascinating history which reaches back many millenia into man’s ancient past, was beginning to reach its first “growth spurts” toward modern nationhood in the wonder years of the 1960’s. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister and “father” of the Republic was reaching the end of his time in power as the new decade dawned, but sought to do as much good for his developing country as he could before passing the reins to a successor. Pursuing a mixed economy, whose tenets mirrored his foreign policy of non-alignment in the Cold War, Nehru advocated the practical approach of progress for India’s people over strict adherence to either of the world’s predominant ideologies during his time in office. Nehru believed that the establishment of basic, heavy industries such as steel, iron, coal, and power, was fundamental to the development of India’s economy, and thus nationalized these industries, creating a robust public sector to exist side by side with the country’s rapidly growing private sector. His government under the Indian National Congress (INC) heavily subsidized India’s public industries, even as American, British, West German, and Japanese investors rushed to invest in the burgeoning businesses there, in order to prevent “essential services” from ever being controlled by foreign entities again. Nehru’s relatively popular policies led to 4% annual GDP growth for India between 1951 and 1964, the Prime Minister’s last year in power, a vast improvement over what had been achieved during the British colonial period. The people of India praised Nehru for his honest, forthright leadership, and for steering a middle course in the turbulent Cold War world around them. He was not without his critics, however.

    Compared to other industrial powers in Europe and East Asia at the same time, the 4% growth rate Nehru boasted of could be seen as anemic. Nehru may have tripled Indian industrial output from the time he first took office, turning India into the world’s seventh largest industrial economy in the process, but his policies of import substitution industrialization were said to make the country’s manufacturers less competitive on the global market over time. What was more, “economic miracles” in Japan, West Germany, France, Italy, and increasingly, Mexico, seemed to undercut the Prime Minister’s message that he was doing everything he could to bring India into the modern age. State planning, price and wage controls, and strict regulations were argued by some, including American conservative William F. Buckley, Jr., to be severely hampering India’s potential for economic growth, and while India’s GDP would grow faster than the United States’ and United Kingdom’s during the Romney Administration Churchill Government of the early 1970’s, low initial income and rapid population expansion meant that any sort of “catch up” with the west was not possible under Nehru-era growth rates.

    What Nehru had undeniably achieved however, was the lasting legacy of a strong, unified India, brought about by political realignment and reorganization of the country’s many states, agricultural reform via the “Green Revolution”, education investment that would serve to give the country a literate, productive population, and cordial, if not always close relations with the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union. The 1962 Sino-Indian War had shown the Prime Minister that his country was not invulnerable to foreign threats, as China quickly defeated India and claimed Aksai Chin, which had been part of British India, but was considered disputed territory after independence. Thus began a long and expensive build-up of India’s military, aided in part by $5,000,000 worth of jet fighters from the United States, modern radar equipment from the UK, six transport planes from Canada, and another $1.8 million munitions’ credits from Australia. Despite Nehru’s commitment to non-alignment in the Cold War, as he did not want India to be subject to the whims of any of the world’s superpowers, he developed a close personal friendship with President John F. Kennedy near the end of his time in office, and began to drift closer toward American influence as Kennedy managed to keep Pakistan neutral during the ‘62 war and secure arms deals to the Indians for the foreseeable future, despite skepticism from conservatives in Congress who were suspicious of Nehru’s socialist policies and worldview. Despite his old age and failing health, Nehru turned his sights toward the future and began to groom the only person he thought could ever be worthy of succeeding him: his only daughter, Indira Gandhi, with whom he had not been close for much of her life. On May 27th, 1964, Prime Minister Nehru passed away of a heart attack, causing the world, and especially the Republic of India, to mourn. Several days later, a funeral was held in New Delhi, the nation’s capital. Draped in the Indian national Tri-color flag, the body of Jawaharlal Nehru was placed for public viewing. "Raghupati Raghava Rajaram" (a Hindu devotional song popularized by Mahatma Gandhi) was chanted as the body was placed on the platform. On May 28th, Nehru was cremated in accordance with Hindu rites at the Shantivan on the banks of the Yamuna, witnessed by 1.5 million mourners who had flocked into the streets of Delhi and the cremation grounds to see their beloved leader one last time. The announcement of his passing in Parliament echoed Nehru’s own words at the death of Gandhi 16 years earlier: “the light is out.” Leaders around the world from President Kennedy and First Secretary Khrushchev to President Nasser of Egypt eulogized the man, and Prime Minister Harold Wilson declared: “the world has lost one of its foremost visionaries.”


    Nehru was succeeded as Prime Minister by Lal Bahadur Shastri, a Nehru loyalist and pupil who mostly continued his mentor’s policies, including the rapid build-up of the country’s defence budget and armed forces. Much of the second Indian Prime Minister’s early leadership was concerned with foreign affairs. In October of ‘64, Shastri signed an accord with Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, regarding the status of the Indian Tamils. Under the terms of this agreement, 600,000 Indian Tamils would be repatriated, with 375,000 granted Sri Lankan citizenship. The settlement was to be completed by October of 1981, and was seen as a major foreign policy success for the new leader. He followed this up by re-establishing cordial relations with the soviet style military government of Burma, which he visited with his family in December, 1965. Though this decision was controversial, Shastri claimed he did so primarily to aid in the repatriation of millions of Indian refugees fleeing Burma in the wake of the 1962 coup there. Undoubtedly Shastri’s crowning achievement however, was leading India through the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. Throughout 1964 and 1965, relations between India and Pakistan became more strained and tense than they already were. The simmering conflicts over the disputed territories of Kashmir, Rann of Kutch, and other border areas were exacerbated by newfound aggressiveness on Pakistan’s part in the wake of an Indian defeat in the Sino-Indian War. Intermittent skirmishes between both countries’ border police led to larger scale attacks on each others’ bases in the Rann of Kutch in April of 1965, and prompted international intervention to try and prevent a full-scale war. UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson managed to negotiate an end to the initial bloodshed by granting Pakistan 350 square miles of the 3500 square miles of the Rann of Kutch they initially claimed. Feigning acceptance, Pakistan backed off on the attacks and it looked like peace might prevail on the subcontinent after all. Unbeknownst to the world however, Pakistan dealt in bad faith. Believing that the Indian Army would be unable to defend itself against a quick, decisive military campaign in Kashmir, Pakistani President Ayub Khan also believed that the population of Kashmir was generally discontented with Indian rule, and that a resistance movement could be ignited by sending in a few infiltrating saboteurs to get things going. Codenamed “Operation Gibraltar”, Pakistan’s attempt at covert infiltration in Kashmir was only the first step in a larger plan for war with India which President Khan ordered his cabinet to draw up in the spring and early summer of ‘65.

    Early evidence of these plans quickly reached President Kennedy in Washington via the CIA. They made him furious. Personally calling the Pakistani President to dissuade him from carrying through with the plans, Kennedy demanded that Khan uphold the peace he and Shastri had signed with Prime Minister Wilson. JFK was ultimately rebuffed however, with Khan explaining that the opportunity for his country was simply too great to be ignored. Khan had been betting that Kennedy, who was developing a reputation abroad as a “dove” for his peaceful withdrawal from Vietnam, would take the invasion in stride and continue to support Pakistan against the “socialist” India. He could not have been more wrong. President Kennedy’s greatest causes were for peace and justice in the world, not political opportunism. When it became clear that Pakistan was going to carry out its invasion of Kashmir against U.S. demands, President Kennedy alerted Prime Minister Shastri of their intentions, and ordered the CIA to feed intel to the Indian army to help them beat back the invasion when it ultimately came on August 1st. 33,000 Pakistani soldiers crossed the ceasefire line and were met with initially sporadic Indian resistance. Attacking with an overwhelming ratio of troops and technologically superior tanks, Pakistan nearly captured all of Kashmir before being stalled at last by the Indian air force, comprising mostly of U.S. made F-4 Phantoms on the 18th. Pakistan retaliated for the air attacks by bombing Indian air bases in both Kashmir and nearby Punjab, only adding fuel to the fire, and drawing international condemnation onto Pakistan for their war of “aggressive expansion”. Indian forces under World War II veteran Major General Prasad led a massive counterattack which saw India reclaim much of the contested territory, and battle the Pakistanis back to their own international border by September 13th. By this point however, Pakistan was able to mobilize reinforcements and heavy artillery bombardment of Kashmir and surrounding Indian hamlets commenced. Aerial and tank battles, larger than any seen since World War II startled the international community into swift action to prevent the further escalation of the conflict between the South Asian nations. On September 23rd, 1965, President Kennedy and First Secretary Khrushchev made an unprecedented joint announcement in which they demanded peace between the two countries, and wielded significant diplomatic tools to bring both parties to the negotiating table. Geneva, Switzerland played host to the negotiations, which were attended by both Khan and Shastri, Khrushchev’s foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko, Secretary of State Robert McNamara, and UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Michael Stewart. The Pakistani President and Indian Prime Minister agreed to sign the ceasefire agreement, which demanded that both sides withdraw to pre-invasion lines no later than February, 1966. With declining supplies of ammunition, and only tepid support from supposed allies Iran and Turkey, Pakistan feared that the war may be going in India’s favor and reluctantly signed the agreement. Despite massive domestic fervor to continue the war and “repay” the Pakistanis with an invasion of their homeland, the Indian government bent to overwhelming international pressure and signed the agreement as well, with the United Nations Security Council unanimously passing a resolution supporting the ceasefire the very next day. The war ended, at least in terms of territory, with status quo antebellum. The same could not be said however, for the serious shifts in geopolitics which followed.


    For years, the United States and United Kingdom had been dubious at Pakistan’s intentions as a member of CENTO and SEATO, a nominal ally of the west in its fight against the expansion of communism. Well before President Kennedy’s learning of Khan’s invasion plans, the U.S. and U.K. suspected that Pakistan had joined the alliances out of opportunism, and to obtain advanced weapons for a future war against India and worried that its alliance was essentially meaningless. The events of 1965 seemed to be a direct playing out of this narrative and resulting in harsh diplomatic retaliation from the west. Cutting off all military arms sales and financial support to Pakistan, the United States and United Kingdom shifted their collective friendship and support to India, whom the international community largely agreed was the wronged party in the war. President Kennedy and Prime Minister Wilson joined together in celebrating India’s “successful defense of her borders” and both cabled New Delhi to wish Prime Minister Shastri their congratulations. Meanwhile, India had received little to no support during the war from her fellow members of the Non-Aligned Movement, an organization which Nehru had helped to found decades earlier. Indonesia, a fellow founder of the NAM had even crossed over to quietly supporting Pakistan during the war, shattering the trust between the two nations and damaging relations between them severely. Disillusioned that their supposed friends were not there for them in their time of need, Indians began to reevaluate their standing in the Cold War world. Many wished to position themselves as allies to the west, particularly Britain and the United States, and politicians across the political spectrum in India took note as new elections were scheduled shortly after the parades died down. Pakistan, having severed ties with many of its closest friends on account of its ambitions, would ultimately find new allies in the People’s Republic of China, who also had reason to want to contain Indian power, and later, with Andropov’s USSR, who sought to pick up a new ally to counter the new Anglo-American friendship with India.


    The war was ultimately therefore a boon for Prime Minister Shastri. Hailed as a national hero across his country for his strong leadership and the new ties he was forging with the west, Shastri seemed a shoo-in for reelection and a long, successful career in government. It was however, not to be. While negotiating the ceasefire with Pakistan in Geneva, Shastri passed away of a heart attack on January 11th. 1966. He was only 61 years old. His death, wildly unexepected in his home country immediately led to rumors of foul play on the part of the Pakistani delegation. Shastri’s wife, Lalita, insisted that he must have been poisoned before going to bed the night before. This comment fanned the flames of suspicion and nearly led to another outbreak of war before Indian and UN authorities were able to conclusively put the rumors to bed with an official autopsy. With a new, bright future ahead of it, the Republic of India was once again left without a leader. Parliament quickly convened to elect Shastri’s successor, and though Home Minister Mojari Desai at first seemed the frontrunner, he was ultimately defeated in the leadership election by Indira Gandhi, daughter of Nehru. Widely popular among the country’s population but seen as a “puppet” of the party leaders who elected her by the media and political opposition, Gandhi’s status as a woman also left her exposed to accusations of weakness and a hard line to walk in leadership of her country. A shy, lonely child who grew into a suspicious, but driven woman with an affinity toward legendary female leader Joan of Arc, Gandhi would grow to become something of an icon for women’s liberation the world over, and developed a friendship with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy which would last for both of their lives. Kennedy, who visited Gandhi shortly after she took office, advised her thus: “Be proud. I yearn for the day when my country follows your example and elects its first female leader.” The Indian Prime Minister would later credit that kind statement with guiding her as an example for women everywhere. Gandhi’s first decision as Prime Minister was to appoint Mojari Desai, her primary rival, as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, in order to “keep her enemies closer” and try to consolidate power within the Congress. She then faced her first major test as a leader following the 1967 elections, which saw the Congress receive a decreased majority in the wake of widespread disenchantment over rising prices of commodities, unemployment, economic stagnation, and the lingering food crisis which Gandhi hoped friendship with the bountiful United States would help solve. She faced a rocky start to her second year in office with the devaluation of the rupee, which created much hardship for Indian businesses and consumers, but managed to hold on to cheap American imports of wheat, thanks to warm relations with the U.S.


    The 1971 elections found Gandhi trumpeting two themes to her country’s voters: her nationalization of India’s fourteen largest banks in 1969 had been a success, and her slogan: “Garibi Hatao” (Eradicate Poverty). Modeled after the success of President Kennedy’s second term in the United States, Gandhi won a new mandate for continued leadership with independent popularity among the rural and urban poor. This electoral strategy enabled Gandhi to bypass the dominant rural castes both in and of state and local governments; likewise the urban commercial class. And, for their part, the previously voiceless poor would at last gain both political worth and political weight as Gandhi strove to create a “New India” in which “No citizen would be left behind”. Gandhi’s populist message and increasingly strong image played well in election season and 1971 saw two triumphs for her: a massive victory at the polls for her faction of the Indian National Congress, and martial triumph over Pakistan once again in the Bangladesh Liberation War. Though she still had a long way to go toward fulfilling India’s potential promise to Robert McNamara as “the superpower on the rise in Asia”, Prime Minister Gandhi was going a long way toward proving that women could lead major nations, and that the Cold War in South Asia was far more complex than observers twenty years earlier would have dared think. Her eyes turned northward, toward shoring up defenses against Pakistan and China while strengthening ties with Churchill’s Britain and President Romney in Washington. If India were to reclaim her position as one of the world’s leading powers, its journey would begin with her.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: A Look at the Second Heroic Age of Comic Books
    Chapter 79
  • OOC: Howdy all! Here's a brief look into comics ITTL. I'll be the first to admit that I'm woefully uninformed about details when it comes to comic history, so I would be happy to make changes or additions if you all think the chapter needs it.

    Chapter 79: Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me - The Second Heroic Age of Comic Books


    Above: Stanley Martin Lieber, better known by his pen and eventual legal name, Stan Lee, was one of the foremost writers and architects of the “Second Heroic Age” of Comics which ran roughly from 1956 - 1976.

    In the aftermath of World War II, the popularity and circulation of comic books centered on superheroes began to experience a sharp decline. Heroes like the immortal Captain America and Superman who once dominated print pages and captivated the imaginations of young people across the country were afterward replaced in large part by dark, intrigue infused stories of crime and horror through the 1940’s and 50’s. Over time however, controversy began to arise as concerned parents’ groups and the media started to allege links between crime and horror comics and a rise in juvenile delinquency. The 1954 introduction of the Comics Code Authority to “regulate” the content of comics books may now seem like an antiquated exercise in McCarthyite censorship, but at the time it was taken as absolute serious business. In the wake of these developments, publishers began to venture back into the stupendous world of superheroes, a change which began with the publication of a new version of DC’s character the Flash in October of 1956. Initially skeptical of how successful superheroes could be after years in the relative wilderness, DC was completely caught off guard when the Flash became a big hit. In response, the company began to feverishly pump out story after story centering on old classics like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, as well as their collaborative team: the Justice League of America. This shift in the industry: back toward the superhero genre and under the watchful eye of the CCA, led to the perception that a new era in comics had begun: it would be dubbed “the second heroic age”.

    More than simply a return in popularity for superheroes, the Second Heroic Age also marked several other crucial changes in comics. DC Editor Julius Schwartz, who was largely to thank for the revitalization of the Flash in ‘56, was also a great fan of science-fiction, such as the works of Ray Bradbury, and strove to include more sci-fi elements in his company’s stories. It was during this period that science would overtake magic and religion as the source for superheroes’ powers, for instance. This change seemed natural, especially in an age which was rapidly becoming obsessed with the wondrous potential of science, especially in the field of atomic energy. Schwartz himself even became the inspiration for a re-imagined Green Lantern. A character from the First Heroic Age, railroad engineer Alan Scott possessed a ring powered by a magical lantern. His new Second Heroic Age replacement, Hal Jordan however, was a test pilot with a ring powered by an alien battery and created by an intergalactic police force. Another new DC character from the era was “The Manhunter from Mars”, one of the original members of the Justice League and ultimately one of the most powerful beings in the expanded DC Universe. This trend toward alien life in comics would only be further bolstered by the popularity of programs like Star Trek and the joint U.S. - Soviet mission to the Moon near the end of the decade.


    The renewed popularity of superheroes, including the characters of the “First Heroic Age” led to a bonanza of DC merchandising, toys, and eventually a small screen adaptation of Batman as well. Starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the caped crusader and his trusty sidekick, Robin, Batman ran for five seasons on ABC from 1966 - 1971. Considered the network’s biggest challenge at the time to the domination of NBC’s popular, cerebral behemoth Star Trek, Batman broke new ground with its campy nature, morally simplistic tone, upbeat theme music, and humorous dialogue. Never attempting to be high brow, the show instead was dorky, self-aware, and fun, with strong influence from the ongoing counter-culture movement in its colorful visuals and sexy female characters (both Yvonne Craig as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon and Ann Margret as Poison Ivy/Pamela Isley would be seen as major sex symbols and pioneers for female superhero characters throughout the late 60’s and beyond). The show was also popular enough to yield two full-length feature films, the first released in 1966 to introduce the series and the second in 1971 to help wrap it up. Both Batman (the film) and Batman II: Return of the Caped Crusaders (which featured Star Trek star William Shatner as the villainous Harvey Dent/Two Face) received mixed reviews but were commercial successes and turned West, Burt Ward, and Yvonne Craig, into minor motion picture stars in their own right. Fondly remembered today for its silliness, Batman may not have been a favorite of President Kennedy’s like Star Trek, but it was beloved by millions the nation over and helped pave the way for higher budget, more thoughtful superhero adaptations to come.


    DC Comics sparked the return of superheroes to popularity in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, this much cannot be denied. But their work of the time often relied on Batman-esque morality and simple characterization while marketing to its mostly young audience. DC was forever reluctant to change its winning formula and was thus outmaneuvered to some degree in the shifting counter-cultural sands of the 1960’s by another comic company on its way up: Marvel Comics. Captained by Editor and chief writer Stan Lee, Marvel seized on the newfound popularity enjoyed by superheroes and revived interest in the genre further with more sophisticated storytelling and characterization. In contrast to DC and comics of previous eras, Marvel characters were written by Lee to be “flawed, self-doubting, and humanlike” - very much like the members of their readership in every way except for their amazing abilities. Hoping to expand on the example set by the Justice League, Lee and artist Jack Kirby created the Fantastic Four, a superhero team of family members and close acquaintances, who unlike the Justice League often quarreled and developed complex interpersonal relationships with one another. The Fantastic Four #1 released in November of 1961, changed the comic book industry forever with a novel innovation: naturalistic storytelling featuring characters with human foibles, failings, and worries as simple as paying rent money. In contrast to DC’s more traditional, strait-laced heroes, these new Marvel characters ushered in a revolution. As much, if not more of a smash hit than the Justice League, the Fantastic Four led to a myriad of new characters from Stan Lee and artists/co-plotters Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Channeling the new look of “Pop Art” created by Andy Warhol and others in the 60s, Kirby, Ditko, Don Heck, and others joined their dynamic artwork to Lee’s catchy, colorful prose to create a new wave of icons for fans young and old to enjoy. Captain America, a First Heroic Age character originally created by Kirby and Joe Simon back in 1941 as a symbol of American pride and values on the eve of World War II, was resurrected and reimagined by Lee and Kirby as awakening from a decades long slumber in suspended animation in arctic ice, only to have his idealism and heroism challenged by a darker, more morally complex world around him. This version of Cap would go on to lead another superhero team: the Avengers, and became a favorite of President Kennedy’s, as well as millions of others across the country. He would be joined by: Bruce Banner/the Incredible Hulk, a gargantuan, green anti-hero inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Lee’s own fascination with the possible implications of atomic energy; Iron Man/Tony Stark, Marvel’s billionaire playboy/technological genius answer to Bruce Wayne and master of the wisecrack; The Mighty Thor, a Norse God who is punished by his father and must learn to live among mere mortals on Earth; and of course, Lee and Ditko’s most enduring and popular creation: Peter Parker/Spider-Man, the first superhero whose alter-ego was an average teenager, just like most of Lee’s audience.


    These creations were joined in late 1963 by “The Mutants”, a group of superheroes trained by the powerful telepath Professor Charles Xavier, and who did not get their powers through a freak accident or magic… they were born with them. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would later claim that they were only doing the “natural thing” by having a team of “differently born” heroes work together for the betterment of all humanity, but various “out” groups in society, especially homosexuals, minorities, and individuals with disabilities would go on to claim that the Mutants were a big inspiration to them, and helped them form a sense of positive identity in a world that was trying to tell them they were somehow less because they were different. The Mutants, the Avengers, Spider-Man, and Marvel’s other heroes became increasingly popular throughout the 60’s with high school and college students, who felt they could identify with the angst and irreverent humor of a character like Spider-Man. Comics historian Peter Sanderson would later compare DC in the 1960’s to a large Hollywood studio, and argue that after having reinvented the superhero archetype, DC by the latter part of the decade was suffering from a mild but noticeable creative drought. The audience for comics was no longer just children, and Sanderson saw Marvel in the 1960’s as the comic equivalent of the French New Wave in art, developing new methods of storytelling that drew in and retained readers who were in their teens and older and thus influencing the comics writers and artists of the future.

    The First Class of the Mutants

    Cyclops - AKA Samuel Summers (who is black ITTL, a test pilot, and the son of a "Tuskegee Airman", Christopher Summers who served in WWII), the archetypal American hero and leader of the team. His mutation is the ability to emit powerful energy beams from his eyes, which he controls with special eye-ware. Having a black character as the leader of a superhero team was a huge step forward for Marvel and its audience, but with the Kirk-Uhura kiss in Star Trek, this isn't too big of a leap to take for TTL.

    Marvel Girl - AKA Jean Grey, a caring, nurturing "group mom" who also has impressive, powerful powers of telepathy and telekinesis. She will later discover that she is also a physical manifestation of the mysterious and terrifying "Phoenix Force".

    Beast - AKA Henry "Hank" McCoy, a mutant possessing ape-like superhuman physical strength and agility, as well as genius level intellect, he is the "big guy" and the "smart guy" of the group simultaneously. ITTL he is named as a tribute to Dr. McCoy on Star Trek.

    Angel - AKA Wendy Worthington, a mutant possessing a large pair of feathered wings, protruding from her back, which enable her to fly. The heiress to a multi-million dollar fortune, Wendy's privileged background often stereotype her as self-absorbed and unable to deal with hardships. Her character development largely sees Professor Xavier help her grow out of this attitude and toward something more accepting and welcoming of others.

    Iceman - AKA Bobby Drake, a mutant with the ability to manipulate ice and cold by freezing water vapor around him. An early, very controversial arc of the comics (published around 1970) had Jean and Wendy both ask Bobby on a date, trying to settle a bet on which one of them he liked more. In reality, it is later revealed that he doesn't like either of them as anything but friends, and he is in fact, gay. He becomes the first openly homosexual character in comic books, and causes Marvel to have issues with the Comics Code Authority very early ITTL.


    Though the true golden age of superhero movies lay several years in the future, the genre was pioneered in the 1970’s, with a handful of films of varying quality that may not stand the test of time overly well but nonetheless created a blueprint which would be often imitated in the decades to come. By leaps and bounds, the most successful of the 1970’s early superhero flicks was 1978’s Superman. Directed by arguably Hollywood’s biggest rising star, Steven Spielberg, and starring a debuting Christopher Reeve as the titular “Man of Steel”, Carrie Fisher as his “liberated, hard-nosed, and witty” love interest Lois Lane, and Dennis Hoffman as the nefarious villain Lex Luthor, and featuring the beautiful scoring of John Williams, the film is still widely hailed as one of the best in the genre’s now-storied history. Reeve leads the rest of the cast in what The New York Times described at the time as a “brilliant performance full of heart and authenticity… as though lifted straight out of a comic book, with all the movie magic kept intact.” Fisher, hot on the heels of her success opposite Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford in another major blockbuster the year before, was becoming a skyrocketing new star in Hollywood as well. There were hints, rumors, and tabloid speculation around a possible off-screen romance between Fisher and her co-star, Reeve, which only served to help the film’s ticket sales, and were ultimately confirmed in 1983 when the two married in a beautiful private ceremony in Los Angeles (with Fisher’s American Graffiti co-star and close friend Mark Hamill serving as best man). Spielberg, for his part would always consider the film to be among his favorite projects. He returned to work on the sequel: Superman II in 1980, before ultimately passing the torch to his friend Robert Zemeckis, who made his directorial debut with the series’ third and final entry, the critically acclaimed Superman III in 1983. That same year, Spielberg used his newfound freedom to team up with another friend, George Lucas, as well as the aforementioned Fisher to complete another famous movie trilogy which would change sci-fi and the world, forever...


    Contrary to popular belief, Superman was not the first DC hero to be given the big screen treatment in the 1970’s. Three years earlier in 1975, DC made its first foray into “serious” feature films with Wonder Woman, piloted by director Richard Donner and starring singer/songwriter/model Lynda Carter in the titular role. The film codified many of what would become classic tropes in the superhero genre, beginning with Wonder Woman’s origin story as Diana, Princess of the Amazons, and following how she came into contact with the rest of the world through her eventual friend and love interest Steve Trevor, an American fighter pilot in World War II (played by Burt Reynolds). Though the film was not especially well received, earning mostly tepid reviews and barely breaking even at the box office, Warner Brothers Studios felt confident enough in its performance to greenlight Superman and eventually purchase the rights to make movies about other DC characters. Reynolds called the film “a largely forgettable experience”, but Carter disagreed, saying that she loved her first major role and that she would “jump at the chance to reprise the part, if it arose.” Arise it did. First in 1977 with a television series on ABC which ran for four seasons, then again in 1983, when Diana/Wonder Woman appeared in Superman III as an ally to Christopher Reeve’s Man of Steel in his fight against the alien mastermind Brainiac (portrayed by comedian Richard Pryor). That film raised eyebrows by hinting that Wonder Woman had feelings for Superman, a fact complicated by the latter’s marriage to Lois Lane at the end of Superman II. These feelings would remain unresolved and rear their head again in a post-credits scene at the end of 1984’s Batman, where Superman and Wonder Woman’s names are shown on a business card handed to Bruce Wayne by Alfred, accompanied by the phrase: “For Justice”.


    The year after, 1984, brought the third film of the burgeoning “DC comics cinematic universe”: Batman. Piloted by debuting director and animation expert Tim Burton, the film was a smash live-action hit. Originally pitched in the late 70’s after the success of Superman, Producer Michael E. Uslan wanted to create a film which would “make the definitive, dark, serious version of Batman, the way Bob Kane and Bill Finger had imagined him in his 1939 debut. A creature of the night; stalking criminals in the shadows.” After the conclusion of the 60’s TV show, the caped crusader’s popularity with comic book fans and the public at large was waning. The kids who had grown up with Adam West’s portrayal of the character now found him goofy, uninteresting, and one-dimensional, while older fans of the original comics felt that there was little chance of seeing their Batman ever again. Both were proven wrong when the film was ultimately released to rave reviews and record setting box office returns. Burton’s highly stylized, gothic vision for the superhero was a stark contrast to Adam West’s take, not to mention the bright, star-spangled film treatment Superman had received in his trilogy as well. Oingo Boingo’s lead singer Danny Elfman was recruited by Burton to bring a “new kind” of scoring to the film, which gave pop culture Batman’s iconic theme. Many still hear Elfman’s theme as soon as they think of the character today. Starring Shakespearean actor and relative unknown at the time Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman; Kiefer Sutherland as Dick Grayson/Robin; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? co-star Sean Young as Vicki Vale, a Gotham City journalist and Wayne’s love interest; Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent; Tom Skerritt as Police Commissioner Gordon; and the titanically talented Mark Hamill (one of the biggest stars in Hollywood after his run in Star Wars) as Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker, the film redefined the character for a new generation of fans and helped usher in a developing genre of cinema as well: the neo-noir thriller, of which Conroy was considered a pioneering star. Hamill’s Joker also received considerable praise for his perfect balance of maniacal humor and grim, psychological villainy in what is still seen by many as the definitive interpretation of the role. As DC’s films earned massive profits for Warner Brothers and took the pop cultural landscape by storm, Marvel Comics began to look to their own intellectual property and debate which should be taken to the big and small screens…



    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: More Pop Culture in 1972
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    Pop Culture 1972
  • 1972 in Pop Culture - An Offer You Can’t Refuse…


    Above: Marlon Brando stars as Don Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, widely considered not just the best film of the year, but arguably the greatest film of all time.

    Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 Singles of 1972 (Top Ten):

    1. “Burning Love” - Elvis Presley

    2. “American Pie” - Don McLean

    3. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” - Roberta Flack

    4. “The Candy Man” - Sammy Davis Jr.

    5. “Heart of Gold” - Neil Young & Janis Joplin

    6. “Lean On Me” - Bill Withers

    7. “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” - Looking Glass

    8. “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” - The Hollies

    9. “Nights in White Satin” - The Moody Blues

    10. “Go All the Way” - The Raspberries

    News in Music, Throughout the Year

    January 17th - Highway 51 South in Memphis, Tennessee is renamed “Elvis Presley Boulevard”.

    January 20th - British art-rock group Pink Floyd perform their album Dark Side of the Moon live in its entirety for the first time in Brighton. It would not be released for the public to purchase for another year, however.

    January 21st - Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and Rock N Roll legend Chuck Berry perform onstage together at the Hollywood Palladium. They engage in a mock guitar battle and close the latter’s concert with a rousing rendition of “Johnny B. Goode”.

    February 9th - The Beatles perform their first live concert together since 1966, at Wembley Stadium in London. It becomes the venue’s first ever music concert and sells out almost as soon as tickets go on sale.


    February 13th - Led Zeppelin’s planned concert in Singapore is cancelled when government officials will not let them off of their airplane on account of their long hair.

    February 15th - The United States finally grants federal copyright protection to audio recordings. Prior to this, songs were only protected under state laws, and not all states had such protections.

    February 19th - Paul McCartney’s solo single “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” sparks controversy when it is released and banned by the BBC. This only adds to the song’s popularity however and it winds up in UK’s top 10 for several weeks. The song marks a new, more political direction for the band as it prepares for its next album.

    March 29th - Conservative Republican Governor of New York Jim Buckley jokes during a press conference that he considers the Beatles and their fans “nothing more than long-haired trouble makers”. In response, college students and Beatles fans across the state form a movement writing letters to the band asking them to come perform in New York City. John Lennon does one better and offers to schedule a performance in front of the state capitol. The band ends up doing this, much to their fans’ delight, on March 9th, 1973 - the Governor’s 50th Birthday.

    April 17th - Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra make their live debut in downtown London, England.

    April 29th - New York City Mayor John Lindsay writes an op-ed in the New York Times in support of the Beatles over Governor Buckley, angering many of Lindsay’s fellows in the Republican Party.

    May 27th - The Opryland, USA Country Music Theme park opens in Nashville, Tennessee.

    June 10th - Elvis Presley headlines the first of four exclusive shows at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. He sells out all four performances in one day.


    June 14th - Simon and Garfunkel briefly reunite to perform a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden for Democratic Presidential candidate Edmund Muskie. Other performers include Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Dionne Warwick.

    July 24th - Former Cream drummer Ginger Baker is beaten to death in a Chicago bar fight by college students who are later revealed to be associated with the YAF. They claim that they fought Baker because “his hair was too damn long”. The event reflects horribly on the YAF and is condemned by both the organization and its allies in the Republican Party.

    August 5th - Clive Davis signs Boston-based band Aerosmith to Columbia Records at Max’s Kansas City in New York.

    September 29th - Miles Davis unveils his new nine-piece band at the Lincoln Center Philharmonic Hall. Among the members is renowned LA-Detroit saxophonist Billy Clinton.


    December 31st - The inaugural New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, with host Dick Clark airs on NBC, though it will later move to ABC. Three Dog Night is the featured act, with other performances by Janis Joplin, Helen Reddy, Al Green, and Stevie Wonder.

    1972 in Film - The Year’s Biggest

    The Godfather - Crime drama. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, produced by Albert S. Ruddy, and based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel of the same name. Starring Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone, Robert De Niro as Michael Corleone, James Caan as Sonny Corleone, Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, and Cybill Shepherd as Kay Adams. Featuring a dynamite script penned by the original author himself, a stellar cast of predominantly Italian-American actors (as was insisted upon by Coppola), and piloted by arguably the greatest director of the decade, and one of the all-time best, The Godfather was Coppola and Puzo’s baby from start to finish. Reflective of the changing social mores of the emerging decade, the film immortalized the Corleone crime family in 1940’s New York City and through them, brought anti-heroes into the cinema mainstream. Nominated for an astounding 11 Academy Awards, the film wound up winning five: Best Actor (Brando), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (De Niro). The film would ultimately be the first of two, and also launch an off-screen relationship between co-stars De Niro and Shepherd, which would ultimately result in their marriage in 1978.


    The Candidate - Political comedy/drama. Directed by Michael Ritchie and starring Robert Redford and Peter Boyle, the film also boasted an Academy-Award winning screenplay penned by Jeremy Larner, a men of letters and former speech-writer to Senator Hubert Humphrey during his 1968 Presidential campaign. The Candidate tells the story of Bill McKay, a handsome, idealistic Democrat (heavily inspired by President John F. Kennedy) who runs a straightforward, honest campaign against incumbent Republican Senator Crocker Jarmon, of California. Though at first McKay seems to have no chance of winning, careful campaigning and a popular message bring about surprises, all while mocking the political process along the way. In a year that needed a few laughs, The Candidate managed to deliver.

    Cabaret - Musical Drama. Directed by Bob Fosse and starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York, and Joel Grey. Taking place in the Weimar Republic in 1931, under the increasing presence of the Nazi Party, the film is loosely based on the 1966 Broadway musical of the same name. The film was a great commercial success and also bagged six Academy Awards, including best leading actress for Minnelli and best original song/score.

    Deliverance - Thriller. Directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring DeForest Kelley, Donald Sutherland, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox. Based on the 1970 novel of the same name, the film was wildly successful and widely acclaimed, earning three Oscar nominations and five Golden Globe Award nominations. Considered by many critics to be a “landmark film”, Deliverance is noted for its opening “dueling banjos” scene, as well as an infamous, visceral male rape scene. In his role as protagonist Ed Gentry, it was also Star Trek alumnus DeForest Kelley’s “breakthrough role” in major motion pictures.


    Everyone’s Favorite Television Programs in 1972

    M*A*S*H (premiered this year on CBS) - A war-drama/comedy series based on the novel and movie of the same name, M*A*S*H follows a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the “4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital” in South Korea during the Korean War. In what would go on to be one of the highest rated programs in the history of television, the show commented on the War in Cambodia without taking place explicitly during it. The show would become a commentary on America’s place in the Cold War, and followed our main character, Hawkeye (portrayed by Alan Alda) as he attempted to navigate the war with his mind, and sense of humor, intact.

    All in the Family - Starring Carroll O’Connor. Now the biggest hit on television, the show began to explore the Bunkers’ relationships with their neighbors, and extended family, including Edith’s cousin, Maude (portrayed by Bea Arthur), who would later get her own spinoff series, titled Maude on ABC.

    The Price is Right - Game show, featuring Bob Barker as the host. As of 2018, it is the longest running game show in American television history.

    Sanford and Son (premiering on NBC this year) - a sitcom known for its edgy racial humor, running gags, and catchphrases, the series was adapted by All in the Family producer Norman Lear from the BBC series Steptoe and Son. Considered NBC’s “answer” to the aforementioned All in the Family, Sanford and Son was a ratings hit throughout its six year run and is considered by many to be the forerunner of future African-American sitcoms. Starring Redd Foxx as the show’s sarcastic, streetwise, scheming protagonist and an ensemble cast to join.

    News in Television and Film, Throughout the Year

    January 3rd - Show Boat is shown for the first time on network television, on NBC.

    January 13th - While riding to a party to celebrate the premiere of his new western film, The Cowboys, John Wayne and his wife, Pilar Pallete were killed instantly when their limousine was struck by a drunk driver. Though a controversial figure both in and out of the film industry, few could deny the magnitude of Wayne’s star, or his symbolic power as the embodiment of the American West, and millions of fans across the nation mourn his passing. He was 64 years old.


    January 21st - The first convention of Star Trek fans is held in New York City’s Statler-Hilton Hotel. Former stars of the show including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, and James Doohan attend for panels and interviews, as does the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. The writer and showrunner takes the opportunity to announce that he has begun talks with Desilu Productions and NBC to begin working on his concept for the next project in the franchise, Star Trek: Phase II, but that fans will likely not see the new show for several years.


    Mid February: John Lennon and Ursula Andress co-host an entire week on The Mike Douglas Show.

    February 19th - Sammy Davis Jr. Makes a cameo appearance on All in the Family.

    May 3rd - Janis Joplin appears to perform “Bell Bottom Blues”, a cover of an Eric Clapton song on The Johnny Cash Show. It is Joplin’s first major television appearance since entering rehab. Cash proclaims that her voice is “stronger and more powerful than ever” and congratulates her on her brave recovery.

    May 7th - The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson permanently relocates its production studios from New York City to the NBC Studios in Burbank, California. The Tonight Show would remain there until relocating back to New York City under new host Conan O’Brien in 2014.

    August 1st – Three years after it was first filmed, the Israel Broadcasting Authority finally agrees to screen Barricades, a controversial documentary film which offered a sympathetic portrayal of Palestinians expelled from their homes in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

    October 27th - The 5,000th episode of Captain Kangaroo airs on CBS.

    November 8th - Home Box Office (HBO) is launched, in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania.

    November 21st – In the second part of a two-part story which began the previous week, Beatrice Arthur's character, Maude Findlay, on the television sitcom Maude, decides to go through with an abortion, in a move that shocked CBS executives and Maude advertisers. The episode would go on to be seen as the beginning of a “culture war” in television, as evangelicals and devoutly religious Americans would protest at “loosening social mores” on television. They would of course, be opposed by other, more progressive Americans, who applaud the transition and appreciate the authenticity of its representation of modern American culture.

    December 31st - The inaugural installment of Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve airs on NBC, beginning an annual New Year’s tradition.

    1972 in Sport

    Superbowl VI - Quarterback “Captain America” Roger Staubach leads his Dallas Cowboys to a 28 - 3 rout of the Miami Dolphins.



    The Washington Senators relocate to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas to become the Texas Rangers.

    The World Series - The Cincinnati Reds, led by Left-fielder Pete Rose, Catcher Johnny Bench, and Second Baseman Joe Morgan pull off a last minute upset to defeat the Oakland Athletics 4 games to 3.


    On New Year’s Eve, Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente narrowly survives a plane crash near Puerto Rico, while on his way to Nicaragua to deliver supplies to victims of the recent Earthquake there.

    NBA Finals

    The Los Angeles Lakers triumph over the New York Knicks, 4 games to 1.


    The Stanley Cup - The Boston Bruins win 4 games to 2 over the New York Rangers.


    Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” - George H.W. Bush, 37th President of the United States - For his inheritance of power during a moment of intense national trauma and a successful election to a term of his own.


    Other Headlines, Through the Year

    February 3rd - 13th - The XI Olympic Winter Games are held in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan - the first Olympics to be held outside of Europe and North America.

    September 5th - Eight Members of “Black September”, an Arab Militant Group, are apprehended by German police at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich for attempting to kidnap or murder Israeli athletes. West German Chancellor Willy Brandt praises the work of the police, though Arab-Israeli tensions are still inflamed by the incident.


    August - Ugandan President Idi Amin seizes property in the country owned by foreign nationals and issues a decree expelling 50,000 Asians who were British-passport holders. British PM Randolph Churchill decries Amin’s actions as “despicable” and joins with Gandhi’s India in severing all diplomatic ties with Uganda.


    Atari released Pong, the first video game to achieve commercial success.

    The first digital watch is introduced.

    The Volkswagen Beetle Becomes the most popular car ever manufactured, with more than 15 million sold.


    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: A New Day in the United States of America
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    Chapter 80
  • Chapter 80: Morning Has Broken - George H.W. Bush is Sworn In and a New Year Begins


    Above: President Bush began his first full term in office on January 20th, 1973 with a 64% approval rating and he hoped, plenty of political capital. With a razor thin Republican majority in the House and what he called a “fighting minority” in the Senate, Bush wanted to get to work immediately on creating the “kinder, gentler nation” he had promised in his RNC acceptance speech.

    A cloudy, windy, but warm Saturday morning greeted the 37th President of the United States and his entourage as they proceeded to the Capitol for the start of the inauguration ceremonies in their black Lincoln Continental. The festivities were, as ever highly anticipated, and though former President Harry S. Truman had passed away in December, former President John F. Kennedy would be among the many honored guests to attend. With a projected afternoon high of 43 degrees, President Bush felt confident in his ability to deliver his address without an overcoat, but gripped the First Lady’s hand tightly just the same. The President was nervous, though he’d never admit it if asked. He prayed that the assembled crowd on the national mall and the millions of Americans watching on television would like it as much as Babs and the kids had when he read it to them the night before. The speech was, much like the President himself, full of good humor, appeals to national unity and bipartisan solutions to the country’s challenges, and a quiet sort of strength he modeled after his former boss, President Romney. Watching the familiar sights of Pennsylvania Avenue pass by in the window of their car, Bush cleared his throat and whispered to his beloved wife, Barbara. “Lots riding on this today,” he gestured to the folder of papers on the seat next to them with his free hand. “Is Junior sticking around for the ball tonight?” The President, while clumsy on the dance floor, was a tremendous fan of embarrassing himself in front of his family with his awkward movements. He thought talking about something besides the speech would help settle his nerves. Babs confirmed that George and Hillary would in fact be attending the inaugural balls… all seven of them, alongside the First Couple. Bush grinned and let his mind wander to the fun he anticipated he would have later that night. Besides stage fright, there was plenty for him to get his mind off of.

    Though he had not even been inaugurated for the new term yet, there was already contention and bickering waiting for him both within his own party and among the Democratic opposition. Though Bush had had an easy enough time deciding on Dick Cheney as his replacement for Lenny Hall as Chief of Staff, the new term brought the need for an entire cabinet reshuffling to fill out his administration and it seemed that everyone desired a say in who got picked. Vice President Reagan and his paleoconservative backers among the National Review crowd demanded that Secretary of Treasury Nelson Rockefeller, long the scion of the “Eastern Establishment” they so loathed, be removed from his position and replaced by, in Bill Buckley’s words “a real economist”. Bush was initially tempted to go to bat for Rockefeller. The long-time New York Governor had been absolutely critical in getting President Romney elected in ‘68, and still wielded tremendous clout with the liberal and moderate wings of the party, who were themselves increasingly disquieted in the wake of Romney’s (and now Bush’s) slow lurch to the right. The last thing Bush needed was a rebellion on his left now that he’d managed to put one down to his right. Further, the President wanted to make it clear to the Vice President that even though he would have a large part to play in shaping and selling administration policy, it was not his place to be so bold as to dictate policy or cabinet picks to the Commander in Chief. Reagan had a big personality and ambition that was larger still. Bush knew that his number two couldn’t wait for the chance to run for the big chair himself again in 1980. Thankfully for him, Rockefeller made the decision much easier by tendering his letter of resignation shortly before the end of December and asking for a new job in its place: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Long an ardent anti-communist, Rockefeller felt that he had done enough to help set domestic policy. Now he wanted to leave an impact on the world stage, and felt that his eloquence and flair for the artistic could be put to good use in the General Assembly. Bush needed someone to fill this position anyway and was happy to accept the proposal. To replace Rockefeller at Treasury, the President reluctantly took Buckley and Reagan’s advice and offered the position to renowned Monetarist theorist Milton Friedman, who readily accepted and made his way to the capital to serve. Friedman was hailed by many as the answer to the shortcomings of Keynesian consensus and seemed to have solutions to the nation’s rising inflation woes, something Bush was also eager to put to rest.


    Bush sought to shed any public image of himself as a “wimp”, a word he now despised down to his very core, and so took an active, central role in selecting who would serve in his White House. He carefully pored over candidates with Cheney, whom he began to treat as something like a surrogate son, and hand-picked those he thought could accomplish two key objectives: make the federal government as efficient and well-run as possible; and keep him well-informed about the goings on within and without the country. Loyal, intelligent, patient, and fiercely competitive by nature, Bush wanted his cabinet to subscribe to the same philosophy of honest public service he and President Romney had for their entire public lives. He also sought to combat the developing narrative from the election cycle that the GOP was “less encouraging of diversity” than the Democrats. In response to this particular claim, Bush hired two women for his cabinet (Carla Anderson Hills for HUD Secretary, and Charlotte Reid for Commerce); tapped former Romney HUD Secretary Hiram Fong, an Asian-American, to be his Secretary of Labor; and in perhaps one of the great legacies of his Presidency, nominated the first African-American to serve as Attorney General. Senator Edward Brooke III of Massachusetts had already made quite a national stir when he was elected to the Upper Chamber of Congress back in 1966. The first African-American to be popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, Brooke aligned himself firmly with the liberal wing of the party, and earned his legislative stripes by co-authoring The Civil Rights Act of 1968 to end housing discrimination in the United States. A close personal friend of former President John F. Kennedy and his brother, fellow Massachusetts Senator, Ted, Brooke had a penchant for bipartisanship and common sense. He was devastated by the death of President Romney, and Bush considered him his kind of Republican. Though Brooke had just been narrowly reelected to his Senate seat over Democratic challenger John J. Droney and had every indication of a desire to continue serving his fellow Bay-Staters in that manner, Bush nonetheless insisted on offering Brooke the nomination. In the wake of the highly damaging Hoover Affair, which had revealed decades of misdeeds by the FBI and Justice Department against the Civil Rights Movement and black communities in general, the President believed that replacing Hoover and Tolson with Frank M. Johnson as FBI Director had not gone far enough in “cleaning up that pile of muck”. He believed that Brooke: black, nationally respected, and with tons of experience in the law and with civil rights in particular, would be perfect to lead what Bush was calling “the second civil rights movement”, to enforce the laws of the first and monitor that discrimination truly was being brought to heel. The Massachusetts Senator was also moderately pro-choice, a position Bush knew would be important when the legal battles between states and the federal government over abortion inevitably erupted. A final nod from Bush to Cheney on the subject produced a calculated “short-list” which was subsequently leaked to the press while Cheney began the actual courtship of Brooke. At first, Brooke played things cool. He dodged invitations to a private oval office meeting with the President while he talked things over with his family and a close friend, former Massachusetts Governor John Volpe, who had served as Transportation Secretary under President Romney and was now on his way to Italy to serve as U.S. Ambassador there. Volpe assured Brooke of Bush’s good intentions and encouraged him to accept the position. Brooke’s seat would be filled by Governor Francis Sargent, Volpe’s successor and fellow liberal Republican, and it could be a gigantic step forward for the African-American community if he did. After several weeks of dancing delicately around a direct answer to the question, Brooke at last caved and agreed to see the President. In an oval office corral only two weeks before the inauguration, Brooke put an end to the media speculation and accepted the offer. Though not confirmed unanimously, as Bush would have liked, Brooke was nonetheless approved by a vote of 91 - 8 in the Senate. He would be replaced by Congressman Silvio O. Conte, a moderate-liberal Republican who had represented Massachusetts in the House since 1959.


    Brooke’s appointment delighted moderate and liberal Republicans, as well as many Democrats, and was seen as a watershed moment in American politics. John Lewis, former Freedom Rider and Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s chief of staff openly wept as the final vote for Brooke’s confirmation was cast. As head of the Justice Department, Brooke would go on to tirelessly crusade for civil rights, equal protection under the law, and prosecute a number of high-profile cases against the wealthy and powerful in the name of the little guy. Perhaps the most famous of these would come in October of 1973, when the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil rights suit against the Trump Organization (with Fred Trump as chair and his son, Donald as President) for violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968, of which Brooke was a proud co-author. Court records later showed that four superintendents or rental agents confirmed that applications sent to the Trump organization’s central office for acceptance or rejection were coded by race, a highly illegal practice. A rental agent testified that Fred Trump had instructed him “not to rent to blacks” and to “decrease, if at all possible, the number of black tenants” by encouraging them to find housing elsewhere. After years of legal battles between Attorney General Brooke and the Trumps’ personal lawyer, former McCarthy Committee attorney Roy Cohn, a verdict was finally reached in the case between the Department of Justice and the Trump Organization. This was handed down on June 10, 1975, with Brooke and his expert legal team ultimately swaying public opinion to their side and enjoying the last laugh. The courts ruled against the Trump Organization, finding them guilty of several instances of violating The Civil Rights Act of 1968, and sentenced them to pay fines of several hundred thousand dollars to disgruntled would-be residents who had been turned away on the basis of race. Furthermore, the DOJ's housing division received praise from the Civil Rights Movement for the case being "one of the most far-reaching ever settled.” It personally and corporately prohibited the Trumps from "discriminating against any person in the ... sale or rental of a dwelling in the future," and "required Trump to immediately advertise vacancies in minority papers, promote minorities to professional jobs, and list vacancies on a preferential basis with the Open Housing Center of the Urban League.” Finally, it ordered the Trumps to "thoroughly acquaint themselves personally on a detailed basis with ... the Fair Housing Act of 1968.” The whole incident was an absolute media spectacle, and not only made a public hero out of Attorney General Brooke, but also represented the beginning of the split between Donald and Fred Trump, with the son blaming the father for the whole scandal and claiming in a Playboy interview that he had “nothing to do with it”. By 1979, Donald was able to orchestrate an internal coup and force his father out as Chairman of the Board of the Trump Organization. Donald would thereafter replace Fred, leaving a gaping, open wound between them which would last until his father’s passing in 1999, when they reconciled, albeit at the last possible moment. It was, in the end, a victory for the younger Trump, and for racial equality all in one swoop. Attorney General Brooke was simply glad to see the law enforced.


    The Bush Administration (As of Jan. 20th, 1973)

    President: George H.W. Bush

    Vice President: Ronald Reagan

    Secretary of State: Richard Nixon

    Secretary of Treasury: Milton Friedman

    Secretary of Defense: James R. Schlesinger

    Attorney General: Edward W. Brooke III

    Secretary of the Interior: Rogers Morton

    Secretary of Agriculture: John R. Block

    Secretary of Commerce: Charlotte Reid

    Secretary of Labor: Hiram Fong

    Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare: Caspar Weinberger

    Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Carla Anderson Hills

    Secretary of Transportation: Frederick B. Dent

    Chief of Staff: Richard Cheney

    EPA Administrator: William Ruckelshaus

    Director of the Office of Management and Budget: Roy Ash

    U.S. Trade Representative: William Denman Eberle

    U.S. Ambassador to the UN: Nelson A. Rockefeller

    National Security Advisor: Henry Kissinger

    Back on January 20th, 1973, the big moment had arrived. President Bush and the First Lady were escorted by the Secret Service to the grandstand alongside the western side of the Capitol Building, where awaiting their arrival were the former President and First Lady Kennedy, Speaker of the House Gerald R. Ford (R - MI), Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D - MT), Vice President Ronald Reagan, Senator Lyndon Johnson (D - TX), and other distinguished guests. Bush was a terrible mixture of elated and nervous as he made his way to the podium, shaking hands with President Kennedy and Senator Johnson along the way. At last he came to the forefront of the ceremony, the crowd roared, and Chief Justice Paul Freund asked the President to repeat after him in swearing the oath of office. In a calm, steady voice, Bush swore the oath, asked the Almighty for his providence, then allowed for a minute of applause before unveiling his speech and beginning, striving to ignore the wind tossing the sheets back and forth as he orated.


    “Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Reagan, Senator Mansfield, Speaker Ford, Senator Scott, Congressman O’Neill, and fellow citizens, neighbors, and friends: There is a man who could not be here today who has earned a lasting place in our hearts and in our history. He was taken before his time, but his presence is felt among us today, nevertheless. I regret that I cannot express my endless gratitude to our fallen friend, President Romney. All that I can say is that on behalf of our nation, I commend him for the wonderful work he accomplished for us all and know that he continues to watch over us from a better, more peaceful place.

    I’ve just repeated the word for word oath taken by George Washington nearly 200 years ago, and the Bible on which I placed my hand is the same Bible on which he placed his. This is appropriate, as Washington is still the father of our country, and the republic he helped to build is approaching its much-celebrated bicentennial. I believe he would be gladdened by this day, as the government he and the other founding fathers constructed those centuries ago, stands still, stronger, and more free than ever.

    We meet in the city that bears his name, democracy’s front porch. A good place to talk as neighbors and as friends. For this is a day when our nation is made whole, when our differences, for a moment, are suspended, and we come together to celebrate our common values. And my first act as President will be to pray. I ask you all to please bow your heads.

    Heavenly Father, we bow our heads and thank You for Your love. Accept our thanks for the peace that yields this day and the shared faith that makes its continuance likely. Make us strong to do Your work, willing to heed and hear Your will, and write on our hearts these words: ‘Use power to help people.’ For we are given power not to advance our own purposes, nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power, and it is to serve people. Help us remember, Lord. Amen.

    I come before you and begin my first full term as your President at a moment fraught with uncertainty, but also rich with promise. We live in a time of change, change which we hope will bring progress. At home, the hostilities and clashes of old are giving way to acceptance and a common brotherhood through our American creed: liberty and justice for all. And around the world, the guns of war are giving way to the difficult, but fruitful process of peace and understanding. Even as I speak to you this morning, members of this administration are in Paris, tirelessly negotiating an end to the war in Southeast Asia. We are, of course, relieved to hear that peace is on the way. But we must never forget the common cause of freedom that sometimes requires of us the most painful sacrifices. Our friends and allies call us to stand by them as they combat tyranny around the world. In the spirit of good neighborliness and true friendship, we cannot stand aside in their hour of need.

    It pains me to think of another war for our country. Not yet two years ago, my own son, George Jr. returned from the jungles of Cambodia bearing scars both seen and unseen that are recovering, but will likely never fully heal. I have seen first hand the terror that war is, have seen it come clawing for my life and that of my son, I know its horror. Yet, when freedom calls for our aid, we must be ready to answer her. As we always have been, from the fields of Lexington and Concord, to the beaches of Iwo Jima and beyond.”

    “Here in America, we know that freedom works. We know that it is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on Earth: through free markets, free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state or public intimidation. For the first time in this century, for the first time in perhaps all of history, man does not have to invent a system by which to live. We don't have to talk late into the night about which form of government is better. We don't have to wrest justice from the kings. We only have to summon it from within ourselves. We must act on what we know, and solve the challenges facing us together. I take as my guide the hope of a saint: In crucial things, unity; in important things, diversity; in all things, generosity.

    Some see leadership as high drama and the sound of trumpets calling, and sometimes it is that. But I see history as a book with many pages, and each day we fill a page with acts of hopefulness and meaning. The new breeze blows, a page turns, the story unfolds. And so, today a chapter begins, a small and stately story of unity, diversity, and generosity - shared, and written, together.

    Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.”

    As the President welcomed the wave of applause sent his way by the crowd, he felt a presence behind him. A wizened Massachusetts accent beckoned: “A fine speech speech, Mr. President”. John F. Kennedy offered his hand once again to George H.W. Bush, who accepted and shook it with vigor. “Our hopes and faith are with you now.”

    Bush grinned like a school boy. “You honor me, Mr. President.”

    “Good luck.” Kennedy let go and took his wife’s hand as they prepared to depart the Capitol. “You’re going to need it.”


    One week later, Secretary of State Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger completed the long, arduous process of bringing “peace” in Southeast Asia. It did not come easily. President Romney’s gaffe in Helsinki seemed ages ago in the American consciousness, but it had fixed itself firmly in the minds of the North Vietnamese and their Soviet backers. Even after his untimely passing, the communists’ uncertainty did not abate. This new President Bush simultaneously vowed to be a “patient diplomat” and “to always answer freedom’s call”, seemingly contradictory statements to Giap’s advisers, who warned him that should he be too quick to make peace, the Americans would pay him back with a surprise attack. Paranoia run rampant at the negotiations, and Nixon and Kissinger were hardly making the situation any better. The Secretary of State was partially happy to hear that the Republican ticket had been re-elected for four more years. He’d be given more time to architect the foreign policy agenda he wanted to build. He was less thrilled however, about the new Commander in Chief. For the previous four years, Nixon had been given virtually a blank check to spread his vision around the globe by President Romney, who though well-intentioned, was vastly out of his depth at times in complex geopolitics. With Kissinger at his side, Nixon worked subtly to undermine the Kennedy Doctrine of detente, more out of spite for the man who’d denied him the White House in 1960 than in the pursuit of any coherent diplomatic goals. President Bush’s election to a term in his own right threatened to undermine that plan, and Nixon’s unilateral control of his policy department. Unlike Romney, who was a domestic politician forced to look abroad, Bush was undoubtedly a diplomat first. The Texan adored the patient struggle to build a better world, and would want, no, demand more direct control of the nation’s foreign policy than his predecessor had. Add to this the fact that Nixon considered Bush an amateur, another spoiled, rich bastard from New England who never had to earn a damned thing in his life, and it was easy to see why the head of the State Department loathed the new President and turned increasingly to drowning his sorrows in bottles of scotch and gin. On the morning of January 27th, he forced himself out of bed and tried to remember why he’d accepted the position of Secretary of State in the first place.

    Kissinger, for his part, managed to keep a cooler head than his Californian comrade. Less personally invested, more a supporter of realpolitik, the National Security Advisor was not angry when President Bush announced his support for the Jackson Resolution. Indeed, even though it ran counter to his own initial strategy, Kissinger saw the wisdom in the decision. By holding negotiations with North Vietnam while communist guerrillas were put down alongside the British in Rhodesia, the U.S. would be able to show strength without hurting the people they were trying to deal with directly. “This could be you.” The action seemed to say. “But we’ve decided to cut you a deal. Why not take it now, while you still can?” To Kissinger’s delight, the Resolution seemed poised to overcome resistance in both Houses of Congress, as Senator Johnson, Bush’s opponent in the election, had come out in support of it, bringing with him the southern and populist wings of the Democratic Party. In all likelihood, U.S. troops would begin to arrive in Rhodesia by as early as March. A show of strength, the iron fist in a velvet glove was exactly Kissinger’s style. British Prime Minister Randolph Churchill personally called on President Bush to thank him on the day of the final Senate vote, as Senator Eugene McCarthy delivered an impassioned speech outside the Capitol, decrying the new war as “a damned shame” and postulating that “if neither party is going to stand up to this kind of warmongering, I will!”


    Senator Eugene McCarthy (D - MN)

    The deal offered to Hanoi itself was simple, to the point. In exchange for the return of all remaining U.S. and South Vietnamese POWs, the U.S. and South Vietnam would issue an immediate order of ceasefire between them and the North, similar to the agreement which halted the War in Korea twenty years prior. Though neither state would recognize the other, each continuing to claim that they were the true nation of Vietnam, they agreed to host a new referendum on whether or not the two countries should be unified in January, 1983. Both President Khanh and Premier Giap gave the agreement their approval, and in front of the news cameras and the world, Kissinger and Nixon announced that they had secured “a noble, lasting peace” in Southeast Asia. Curiously absent, in the minds of the media, was discussion of the ultimate fate of Pol Pot and other leaders of the Khmer Rouge, who had perpetrated much of the violence against American soldiers in Cambodia. President of the Khmer Republic, Lon Nol, dismissed the matter as “unimportant”, though in reality Giap had insisted on keeping Pol Pot around at the behest of his Soviet supporters. In the years which followed, the Kampuchean communist would rebuild his network of saboteurs and insurgents, who would continue to wage war over the tiny nation of Cambodia. The war would be slow, secret, and measured in small victories, not the grand offensives that Pol Pot, but it would be a continued struggle nonetheless.


    Meanwhile, change was coming once again to Latin America as well. During the last years of President Kennedy’s second term, there had been considerable effort at rapprochement between the United States and Cuba, the island-republic only 90 miles off the coast of Florida that had nearly led to World War III in 1962. Knowing that Castro’s popular movement had been as much about nationalism as it had communism, and correctly suspecting that Castro’s true interest was in providing the best foreign aid package possible for his people, rather than strict adherence to communist dogma, JFK attempted to open back channel, top secret negotiations to reopen relations between the two countries and end the trade embargo Kennedy himself had instituted in an act of political expediency. At the time, 1968, Castro desired rapprochement. His people were suffering as Soviet and Chinese aid became harder to come by under the thumb of new leaders Yuri Andropov and Lin Biao. The Soviets and Chinese alike were demanding that more and more of Castro’s country’s already scarce resources be put into encouraging communist revolution abroad, rather than nation-building and infrastructure at home, which Cuba desperately needed. He took the proposal to his top generals and advisers, however, and as Kennedy surely would have been should he have shared his plans with anyone, Castro was brutally shouted down. Raul, El Presidente’s own brother, agreed with Che Guevara, who felt that the Americans could not be trusted. Though Raul lacked Guevara’s fanatical devotion to Marxism, the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis scared him into his own unique brand of paranoia and distrust. Shortly afterward, the 1968 Presidential Election came in the U.S. and President Kennedy’s second term concluded before his plans for U.S. - Cuban relations could come to pass. Both JFK and Castro regretted this for the rest of their days, with Kennedy writing in his bestselling 1971 memoir, A Time for Greatness, “The greatest tragedy of the post-colonial world can likely be seen in Cuba. It is perhaps the world’s clearest proof of a claim I made in the Senate in 1957: that the great enemy of that tremendous force of freedom is called, for want of a more precise term, imperialism. All of the heartbreaking poverty, the sorrow that the Cuban people experience can be traced back to a truly barbaric treatment by the imperial Spanish. I only wish that President Castro and I had had more time to set things right between us. We could have achieved so much.”


    As another administration came and went with the death of President Romney, and another Presidential election in the States as well in ‘72, Castro saw reason for hope of another chance at reconciliation in President George Bush. A young, ivy-league educated leader with a reputation as a shrewd, but fair diplomat, Bush seemed to once again be the sort of man that Castro could strike a deal with, as long as both sides were willing to play fairly with each other. The Cuban President knew however that any such proposals could not be sent through the State Department. Secretary Nixon was a hardliner against Cuba, as was NSA Kissinger, and any missives received by them would be immediately thought to be treacherous in nature and ignored. If he could reach the new President directly, perhaps through the same CIA back channels he had used to communicate with President Kennedy, then maybe rapprochement could be possible. Early “interest probes” were sent through mutually agreed upon means and President Bush considered the implications of such a decision. Though he too possessed a desire for peace and renewed relations with Cuba, he knew that doing so without making harsh demands in exchange would wound him politically, perhaps fatally. If Castro were willing to decentralize his regime, end one-party rule, and allow for free and open elections, Bush replied in a heavily classified private letter to the Cuban Dictator, then Bush would call for an end to the embargo and restore relations between the two countries. Castro responded that this would be a step that the Cuban people were not yet ready for. He feared the influence of the American CIA, and American money on the ethics and reliability of “open” elections. The American Intelligence Agency had tried, and failed to assassinate him hundreds of times in the preceding decade, and he was beginning to lose hope in his efforts toward friendship with the United States. Having reached an impasse over the need for more democratic rule however, President Bush assured him that “no agreement between us can be reached until you are ready to liberalize.” Disappointed, Castro turned his hopes for the time being toward strengthening the Non-Aligned Movement, which was desperately searching for a new symbolic leader after the death of President Nasser, of Egypt in 1970 due to a heart attack. Around the same time that Castro began to reexamine his options, President Bush was about to step into another major foreign policy decision early in his Presidency: What to do about Chile and its socialist President, Salvador Allende…


    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Prime Minister Churchill Catches a Break

    OOC: Salutations all! :D I hope you enjoyed this update and are having a great 2019 thus far. I'm about to embark on a major trip abroad with my girlfriend to celebrate the holiday and so will not be posting very frequently for a while. I should be back in a few weeks or so, though. Best wishes!
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    Chapter 81
  • Chapter 81: We’re an American Band - The Anglo-American Alliance Wins the War in Rhodesia


    Sgt. Angus MacDonald of the Royal Marine Corps knew that this mission was going to be different than any he’d undertaken before. For one thing, it was his squad’s first assignment of the year, not to mention their first time working alongside the Yanks, who’d just begun to arrive a few weeks before. Word had come down through the chain of command that the Americans weren’t messing around. They were sending members of their own Marine Corps, some of the best trained bastards they had, in small numbers for “high risk, high reward” objectives, aimed at turning the tide and winning the war. Given the news of protests in London and New York he’d been hearing on the BBC Empire Service every night on the radio, Sgt. MacDonald was less than shocked that the powers that be would want to end the war as quickly as possible. He received word that he and his fire team: himself, Lance Corporal Adrian Poole, Gunner Bernard “Buddy” Carr, and Sapper Albie Richards, were to report for orders at Commando HQ early on the morning of March 11th. His Commanding Officer made it clear that whatever it was they were being summoned for, “it was bloody well important”. MacDonald was a quiet, private sort of man, a rarity, his men liked to joke, in his native Scotland. Of middling height, average build for a well-trained military machine, and with ruddy brown eyes, his only defining physical characteristics were his fiery red hair and his knack for long-distance shooting. If he and his boys, nicknamed “Agincourt”, were being summoned, then the assignment likely involved some kind of search and destroy, their specialty. He arrived at Commando HQ just outside of Salisbury, where he was greeted by two men: his CO, Captain Daniel Turner, and a square-jawed American, just under six feet tall, with a golden garrison insignia and multiple battlefield medals on his uniform, a Major.

    Sgt. MacDonald saluted and was instructed to stand at ease. “Morning, Sarge.” Captain Turner grunted in his Manchester sneer. “As promised, I have a special assignment for you, handed down straight from the top.” He handed MacDonald a manilla folder, with all the trappings classified military secrets can bear. “This dossier contains highly sensitive intelligence, recently gathered by MI-6 and the CIA. We want you to review this information over the next few hours, and prepare your team for a covert operation. Here to help explain it all to you is your coordinating officer on this mission.”

    The American’s lips creased tightly. MacDonald could tell from his expression and the great number of medals on his chest that he meant business. “Major Robert S. Mueller, U.S. Marines.” He introduced himself with a firm handshake. “And I won’t just be coordinating for this mission, I’ll be joining you in the field, as well.”


    Maj. Mueller lead the Sgt. to a larger briefing room, then went on to explain the gist of the assignment to MacDonald, his men, and the Americans they would be working with in tandem for this mission, including Mueller’s Second-in-command, Captain James N. Mattis. CIA spy planes had recently spotted ZANLA head Robert Mugabe, the unofficial leader of the Zimbabwean militia movement, as he traveled via covered convoy to a new hideout near the South African border. Photographs taken by the planes were sent to Scotland Yard, where a positive ID was established on Mugabe and word went out to MI-6 agents in Rhodesia to confirm the location of the hideout. This was achieved within a few days, and approval came down jointly from 10 Downing Street and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a joint mission to be ordered for Mugabe’s capture, believing it would bring about a steep decline in morale for the militia movement and ultimately result in a lasting peace in the country. “Our objective is to capture the target,” Mueller instructed, his voice like wrought iron. “Though we have license to kill any enemy combatants, including the target, if we believe not doing so will compromise our safety or the greater success of the mission. I know that capture is not necessarily the most attractive of actions conducted in a war, but if we manage to pull this off, we’ll save a great number of lives from continued insurgency. Any questions? No? Good. Our go time is 1800 hours. We’ll be flown in two CH-37 Mojave helis to one mile outside of the target’s compound, from there we proceed on foot, secure the target, and withdrawal to the drop point for extraction. We want to minimize enemy contact as much as possible, so consider this, for all intents and purposes a stealth mission.” Sgt. MacDonald took all of this in and stretched his trigger finger. Despite Mueller’s claims that this was supposed to be quiet, he had the sneaking suspicion that things would be louder than anticipated.

    1800 hours came and MacDonald, Mueller, Mattis, and their men were loaded into the choppers as planned. It was a hot, dusty night on the savannah of southern Rhodesia, and MacDonald found the silence, interrupted only by the chopping of the rotary blades, tiresome for once. He closed his eyes and, cliche though it might be, he thought of home. Just before the bloody war broke out, he and his highschool sweetheart, Molly Burns married in their hometown of Aberdeen and surprised their families when they announced she was pregnant with their first child. They were starting to think about picking out names when Sgt. MacDonald learned he would be heading to Africa to fight the communists. It upended his life. Molly wept for hours when she heard the news, but Angus knew that this is what he should have expected when he signed up for the RMC. He promised her that he would make it home alive, that he would see her and their child, and hold them in his arms as soon as he possibly could. Besides, he reasoned, he hoped that little Carson or Nellie, whichever it would be, would one day be able to look up at their old man and be proud of what he achieved for his country and for the Commonwealth. He’d read recently in a letter from home that he’d have two pairs of eyes looking up at him when he returned. Molly’d had twins: both a Carson and a Nellie. He called as soon as he could, told his wife he loved her, and that he wished he could have been there with her to hold her hand. Back in the present, Sgt. MacDonald felt a different hand on his shoulder. He opened his eyes and found Major Mueller giving him a look of understanding and near brotherly comfort. “My Ann and little girls are waiting for me in Pennsylvania, too.” The American smiled fondly. “Stay sharp tonight, that’s an order.”


    “Yes, sir.” MacDonald replied, and anxiously checked the sights on his L42A1 sniper rifle. Every man in his firing team had a pre-battle ritual. Poole repeated a list of names over and over to himself. Rumor had it that they were the names of all the girls he’d ever slept with. Saying them out loud made him feel like more of a man before he had to charge into the thick of things. Richards was deeply religious. Born and bred into the Anglican church, he prayed with his eyes closed, his hands pressed behind his back or making the sign of the cross. Carr stretched his muscles and exercised. He reasoned that if he was going to be jittery anyway, he might as well do something to get his body ready for what was to come. MacDonald thought these were all well and good, but he wasn’t particularly fit, though he played football with his mates for fun; religious, though he attended church every now and again; or promiscuous (Molly was the only woman he’d ever been with). Instead, he fiddled with his rifle and went over the plan again.

    The choppers landed shortly and the Major led the men to repel down to the drop point. Four Americans, four Brits, should be plenty to overpower Mugabe and the four guards he had with him, MacDonald thought. According to the intel, Mugabe would take short trips like these to private, secluded hideaways for purposes of “intellectual meditation”. He was a voracious reader, devouring books on a diverse array of subjects, and was apparently also prone to distraction, thus the need for seclusion and a limited security detail with him. As the Allied marines approached the outskirts of the compound, MacDonald got a better look at its makeup. A modest cabin, secured by a guard outpost and two large military trucks in front and another guard post out back, the hideout was also hidden under a light canopy of trees, providing shade in the daytime and blocking out spy planes at night. Apparently Mugabe had thought of concealing his home, but not his movements. Seeing that the guard posted out front was armed with a Soviet-made AK-47 and looked absolutely alert, Sgt. MacDonald got down onto his stomach and lined up a shot, just in case. With approval from Mueller, the Sgt. ordered his Lance Corporal, Poole, to take Carr and two Americans with him around back and see if the rear guard was as ready as the front one was. If so, they were given permission to engage with force. The ZANLA leader needed to be taken in. Mueller and the remaining men meanwhile would secure the trucks and cut off any route of escape. The last thing the marines wanted was Mugabe getting away in the confusion of a firefight. If he learned that he had been discovered, Mugabe was unlikely to ever take a risk like this again. This could be their only chance at capturing him. As the soldiers dispersed and went about their assigned tasks, MacDonald kept his eye locked on the front guard. “Alright, you bloody bastard…” He whispered to himself. “Don’t you dare feckin’ move…”

    Moments passed which dragged on for centuries. Due to the stealthy nature of the mission, the team’s radios were to be set to silent unless communication was an absolute necessity. Until something happened, Sgt. MacDonald would have no way to know what was going on. Finally, after an excruciating minute or so, a quiet crackle came over the radio. “The back guard is awake.” It was Lance Corporal Carr. “Major, are the vehicles secure, sir?”

    “Roger that, vehicles disabled.” Mueller’s voice, so sure, so confident, calmed MacDonald’s nerves a little, helped him focus. “Corporal, would it be possible to apprehend the guard? We would rather take prisoners than leave body bags.”

    “Unclear at present, sir. We’re -” Poole’s smooth, hip London vernacular was cut off abruptly by the rat-tat-tat-tat-tat of assault rifle fire. “Oh, shit!” The Lance Corporal had never sounded so afraid to MacDonald before. “Sir, there’s more of ‘em than we expected! He’s got at least four guards back here, sir!”

    An explosion rattled the Sgt.’s ears and he saw the front guard spring to life. Rather than wait to see if he was going to warn the target or get backup or what, Sgt. MacDonald took a deep breath, centered his crosshairs on the guard’s torso, and thought of Molly. She was a beautiful girl, his sweetheart. Long, curly auburn hair and eyes as blue as the sea… Do it, honey. She whispered in his mind. Do it for Carson and Nellie and me. The Sergeant squeezed the trigger and the guard fell to the ground, dead instantly. MacDonald tugged at the bolt of his rifle and chambered the next round, scanning the horizon for enemies. He got on the radio to relay the news to Mueller. “Major, I’ve got one confirmed kill, what is your status, over?”

    Mueller responded instantly, cool as a cucumber. “Fine, Sergeant. We’ve got two bogies here. Both surrendered as soon as they saw us, over. Captain Mattis, Bravo team what is your status?”

    This time there was no reply, just the sound of more gunfire and a grenade going off out back. Somewhere, one of the guards screamed a string of words MacDonald could not understand. Through his scope, he saw a door inside the compound open and Robert Mugabe, leader of the militia movement, step out and hastily put on a black bathrobe. Past Mugabe, he saw a young woman, her eye blackened and her body mostly naked, struggle to get back into clothes as Mugabe shared short, intense words with a man in smuggled desert khakis. MacDonald gasped, despite himself. This was it, this was his shot. “Major, I have visual on the target, permission to fire, sir? Over.”

    “Not granted.” Mueller’s words were colder than before. “Bravo team, do you copy?”

    No response. MacDonald fell back into himself as the seconds dragged by and Poole’s team still did not respond over the radio. Again, MacDonald requested permission to fire, and again Mueller ordered him to wait. The Major was insistent on sticking to the mission until they had absolute confirmation that there was no other way but to kill the target. Inside the house, Mugabe pulled on a pair of trousers and turned back to the woman, who was by now wailing in terror. MacDonald struggled to restrain himself from firing when he watched him strike her again. The tension was at last broken when Captain Mattis called, haggard, over the radio: “Four confirmed kills, I have two soldiers down. Gonna need a medevac asap!”

    MacDonald felt relief and horror and watched the house as Poole and Mattis stormed the back door, both with their rifles poised to fire should any of the inhabitants move incorrectly. Major Mueller seemed to notice this as well and called out over the radio: “Well done, Bravo team. Poole, keep your rifle on them, Mattis, put them in handcuffs.”

    “Yes, sir.” They replied in unison, as Mueller’s other soldiers ran around back to put the two wounded marines on stretchers.

    Over the next hour, the two teams worked to secure the compound and radioed back to Commando HQ that the objective had been successfully completed. As they climbed into the chopper to fly away, Sgt. MacDonald tried to apologize to the Major for his itchy trigger finger, but Mueller stopped him with the wave of a hand. “It’s alright, MacDonald. It’s not your fault. War does these things to people. It tears us up, makes mincemeat of us. We’re lucky to get out of this place alive.” The American looked out over the countryside as the door beneath them closed and they prepared to fly back to Salisbury with their prisoners in tow. “I’m getting out after this.” He said at length to the Scot. “I’m going to school to get my law degree. I’m going to help people, put the bad guys behind bars and protect the innocent, you know?” He smiled to his comrade. “Then I’ll feel like I earned this, surviving all the horror. I want to give all of it back.You got plans?”

    The Scotsman nodded. “Aye sir, thinking about becoming an engineer.”

    Mueller looked pleased. “That’s an honorable profession. Good luck to you, Sgt. MacDonald. I hope we see each other again someday.” They flew back for the rest of their trip in silence, a newfound friendship developing between brothers-in-arms. Both were true to their word, and thirty years later, when MacDonald brought his family to America on holiday, they stopped by the national’s capital to visit his old war buddy, Mueller at his work.


    As predicted, the capture of Robert Mugabe by a joint US - UK team of special forces on March 11th, 1973 started to tip the balance in the War in Rhodesia against the Marxist militias. All of the aid from Havana, Moscow, and Hanoi combined could not help a movement without its leader. For without Mugabe calling the shots, the various left-wing factions which made up the anti-government forces began to splinter and fight amongst themselves for control of the movement. In Salisbury, London, and Washington, D.C., the news was met with celebration and Prime Minister Churchill declared: “The ship of state shall soon land on victory’s shore!” New Parliamentary Elections were called in the Commonwealth of Rhodesia on April 14th, as part of the UK’s hopes that Mugabe’s capture and upcoming trial for treason and insurrection would lead to a government overwhelmingly friendly both to British interests and securing majority rule in the country. Churchill’s hopes were met when the centre-left United African National Council (UANC) and its leader, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, a member of the country’s black majority, were swept into office in a landslide on promises of reform and strong relations with the Democratic west. In his first speech as Prime Minister, Muzorewa promised “peace and good will between all people of our country” and thanked the United States and UK for their part in bringing the larger scale elements of the conflict to a close. Hostilities were formally declared to be over on September 17th, 1973. Nearly six years after Lt. Archer Douglass was first shot down off the HMS Ark Royal, most British soldiers stationed in Rhodesia would finally be coming home and the world celebrated. Some troops, about 2,500 would remain behind, matched by 1,500 from the U.S., who would remain until both countries were “confident” that the young country could protect itself from any future rebellion or incursions from the militaries of apartheid South Africa and Mozambique, both of which wanted to see Rhodesia fail. Across the Pond, President Bush praised the bravery and skill of British, Australian, American, and Rhodesian soldiers, and announced that “this year shall be one of peace!” He need only have looked to the Middle East or the continuing Troubles in Northern Ireland to see that such a claim was perhaps too bold to make.


    Meanwhile, back in Britain, the Conservative government experienced a much needed shot in the arm in terms of its popularity. As the Royal Armed Forces sent the boys home and the Union Jack flew high from seemingly every home in the country, Prime Minister Randolph Churchill was hailed as a vindicated hero of the nation, perhaps not quite to the scale of his famous father, but enough to earn a place in history and the hearts of his people. Weaning himself for a second time off of the bottle and elated with approval numbers as high as 78%, Churchill threw himself with renewed vigor into the building of a United Kingdom he wanted to leave behind. Fulfilling a process which had been in his mind “needlessly” delayed several times by France over the years, the UK, Ireland, and Denmark joined the European Economic Community shortly after the end of the War. Though opposed by many in the Labour Opposition and ex-Tory firebrand Enoch Powell (who was now an MP as an Ulster Unionist), EEC membership had been a major goal of Churchill’s since taking office and with victory on the people’s minds, he now had the political capital to achieve it. Though increased trade with the continent and war hero status were a nice change of pace for the Prime Minister, he had to admit: bringing a successful end to a “Wilson’s Folly” of a military campaign and managing a nation’s affairs for three years had been long and tiring. There was a part of him already that felt the age in his bones and longed for a retirement to the West Indies, where he could return to journalism, commenting freely on world affairs without the worry of actively playing a part in them. That being said, he realized that in order for his legacy to be secure in the aftermath of his premiership, he would need to pass the reins off to someone he could trust to continue the good work he began. Churchill believed he knew just the person to serve as his successor. They did not see eye to eye very often on economic policy. He was a Keynesian consensus believer, she a devout monetarist. They differed on a comprehensive response to rising inflation and unemployment in the country, which they knew would be major issues in the time to come. But they agreed on principles of foreign policy, which the PM felt were most important. And so, on June 18th, 1973, Randolph Churchill met with his Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Margaret Thatcher, to let her know that he would be stepping down as Prime Minister in one year’s time, exactly four years to the day after he was first elected PM, and that he wanted her to succeed him in the Tory leadership election that followed. “It will not be easy.” He promised her. “But nothing in your life has ever been easy. I know that you will make us all proud.” Thatcher agreed immediately and replied that she only hoped she could live up to her boss’s vision for her future.


    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: The State of Space, 1973
    The BSiC Wiki - Courtesy of TheDetailer
  • With only 8 pages to it, I officially announce the BSiC Wiki!

    If you wish to contribute to site, and help new members catch up on the timeline, or expand upon the info of events, people, or things, then you can contribute to that by clicking the link above!

    @President_Lincoln If you want, a threadmark could help!
    Chapter 82
  • Chapter 82: Rocket Man - The State of Space in 1973



    Above: Logos of the Space Agencies for the six participating countries in the Skylab-1 Project; The CSA (Canada - founded 1971); NASA (United States of America); NASDA (Japan); UKSA (UK - founded 1971); Interkosmos (Soviet Union); and CNES (France).

    President Bush made his vision for American space policy very clear after being sworn in to a full term of his own. In a word, he would make sure his country was “committed” to continuing its ambitious exploration of the stars. Seeing the opportunity space represented as a vehicle for detente between the superpowers, not to mention further developing relations with whom the U.S. were already considered friends, the President vowed to make good on his predecessor’s promises to First Secretary Andropov in Helsinki. In fact, he would do one better. Shortly after his inauguration, Bush invited the crew of the last Apollo-Svarog mission to the Moon to the Oval Office for a photo-op and two major announcements. First, the President was nominating former A-S XI Astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin to be NASA Administrator for his administration. This was big news for proponents of space exploration, as Aldrin had publicly come out in favor of expanding, not shrinking NASA’s budget, as well as pursuing an American manned mission to Mars. Second, the project Romney and Andropov had spoken about at their summit, a permanent international space station named “Skylab” was given the green light and work with scientists from the U.S., USSR, Canada, UK, Japan, and France would begin in earnest that year. Shortly after Aldrin was named head of NASA, Yuri Gagarin would be given a similar role in the Soviet Space Program. It seemed that Moscow did not want to be outdone when it came to giving accolades to its heroic figures. The space race may have been over, but two new drives, one forged in cooperation and the other in ambition, began.


    Of the two major projects, the American Mission to Mars would largely have to remain theoretical for the time being. Rocketry genius Wernher von Braun had postulated in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s that nuclear powered rockets could easily have the propulsion power and fortitude to take a crew of humans to Mars, or at the very least that they would be significantly more effective than their chemically powered peers. Some basic experimentation was conducted at the micro scale toward this end, though the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty by President Kennedy made further research impossible and the project was abandoned by 1965. Following the success of the Apollo-Svarog missions however, von Braun believed that he may have been able to use a Saturn V missile to launch nuclear-powered (NERVA) upper stages that would power two six-crew spacecraft on a dual mission by the early 1980’s. This proposal was considered by President Romney, but ultimately tabled, as he believed it sounded too expensive, since von Braun wanted to “go it alone” without the Soviets paying for half of the costs. President Bush did not give von Braun and his cohorts the go-ahead completely to start building prototypes and so forth, but he did authorize teams of mathematicians and engineers to “do the math” and see if they could, in theory, produce such equipment. Though this research was slow going and often tedious throughout the 1970’s, it would pay dividends during another administration, decades later, and ultimately lead to one of man’s most breathtaking achievements.


    “Skylab” produced results much more quickly, with plans having been drawn up by NASA for a manned space station as early as 1963 coming to fruition in lucrative aerospace contracts for the McDonnell Douglas corporation in 1969. Over the next several years, American and Soviet engineers designed a station large enough to host six explorers, one from each of the participating countries, who would remain aboard the station for several weeks at a time, performing experiments and recording the experience of long-term occupation of outer space as opposed to Earth. Large amounts of time and money were spent developing “quality of life” improvements for the station, this mostly at the insistence of Buzz Aldrin and Valentina Tereshkova, who both complained in the past about the “dreadful” quality of astronaut/cosmonaut food. A special shower was designed so that the explorers could wash after exercise in zero gravity at least once per week, and students from all over the world submitted experiment proposals they wanted to see performed. These ranged from measuring the Sun’s electromagnetic pulsations to observing a spider’s effectiveness at spinning its web in zero gravity. Ultimately, hundreds of such tests would be performed by the crew of Skylab-1, captained by American Commander Pete Conrad and Soviet Science Pilot Gennadi Strekalov. The world was captivated as images were beamed back of the explorers performing space walks along the laboratory’s outer hull, and installing additional solar panels to power a small movie theater and “music listening station” for the crew to enjoy. Other amenities included tiny but private sleeping quarters the size of small walk-in closets, an airlocked toilet for the removal of waste, and plenty of books and vinyl records for entertainment. Though Skylab-1 came to a close on July 17th, 1973, after the explorers spent only four weeks in space, the mission was hailed as a tremendous success. The six participating nations prepared to send a second crew, and opened talks to construct a more permanent, advanced station, with its experimentation geared toward answering the questions necessary for the construction of an international research base on the surface of the Moon as well. Cooperation in space was continuing and growing in its purpose and scope. All of this progress led an enchanted creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry to exclaim: “Science fiction, far faster than any of us could have anticipated, is becoming science fact!”


    Meanwhile in Moscow, the first woman in space and on the Moon was making great strides in her new, more terrestrial realm: Soviet politics. Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was born in the village of Maslennikova in Tutayevsky District, Yaroslavl Oblast, Central Russia on March 6th, 1937. Her father, a tractor driver, and her mother, a textile mill worker, had emigrated from Belarus and encouraged their daughter to pursue a better life through a rigorous education. This occurred first in 1945 through school, then through correspondence courses when she turned 16. Interested in skiing, skydiving, and parachuting from a very young age, it was these talents, combined with her “proletarian background”, and her status as the daughter of Vladimir Tereshkov, the renowned Tank Sergeant Hero of the Winter War with Finland, that made Tereshkova a prime candidate for the cosmonaut program in the 1960’s. Prior to her famous time spent in space, she had worked as a textile mill employee, like her mother, and after returning to Earth from her first flight among the stars in 1963, she attended and graduated with distinction from the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy in cosmonautical engineering. Offered a position in the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in 1966 due to her prominence, Tereshkova initially declined so that she could participate in the Apollo-Svarog Program with her fellow cosmonauts, and of course made history again by becoming the first woman to walk on the surface of the Moon. After a triumphant tour of Russia upon her return in the Autumn of 1969, Tereshkova was offered the position in the Supreme Soviet again, this time as an honored recipient of the title “Hero of the Soviet Union”. Already 32 years old and with her career in space likely over as the hypocritically moralistic expectations of Soviet society began to set in, this time the cosmonaut decided to accept the post. Working to craft effective legislation and combat bureaucratic loopholes and corruption which ran rampant in the wake of Yuri Andropov’s rise to power, Tereshkova soon established herself as a moderate but widely admired reformer.


    Alexei Kosygin was still serving as Premier when Tereshkova entered politics in 1969, and his decentralization reforms, while limited, had had a tremendously positive impact on the Soviet economy. For the first time since the early 60’s, living standards were rising, as were the availability and quality of basic goods to the Soviet people. Born to truly modest means herself, Tereshkova sympathized strongly with the proletariat, and decided that she would do everything in her power to become their representative in the Kremlin. To really get ahead in Soviet Politics in the late 60’s/early 70’s required the development of a particular and diverse set of skills. One needed to be competent, without appearing prideful or show-offish. There was a very real phenomenon in the Soviet government that the “tall flowers” - those who performed so well as to make their superiors look bad, would be cut down and made an example of, creating a thick cloud of enforced mediocrity at all administrative levels. Andropov’s KGB-influenced style of leadership - cold, calculating, and eternally paranoid, trickled down into the thinking of his ministers and other officials, generating a hostile work environment to say the least. Everyone was suspicious of everyone else, and being noble or patriotic was just as likely to appear stuck up it was to be rewarded. Tereshkova nonetheless insisted on punctuality, responsibility, and the utmost quality in her work, and developed a remarkable talent for keeping her head down when “the clippers” came around to check on individuals progress. Despite being a feminist icon around the world, in her native USSR, Tereshkova was still looked upon with envy and doubt by her male counterparts, who would sometimes dismiss her ideas or imply that they believed political leadership to be a “men’s business” - something Tereshkova had no place being involved in. Against all of these obstacles, Vladimir’s daughter persisted. She knew in her heart of hearts that no matter the cost or the annoyance, her father would never have given up. He died cold and lonely on the snow drifts of Scandinavia for the Motherland. Surely she could put up with traditional misogyny. Her own daughter, Elena, was born in 1964 to she and her husband, fellow cosmonaut Andriyan Nikolayev, becoming the first child to have both their parents have been in space at one point or another. For Elena’s sake, Valentina longed to set an example, to be as bold and as brave as her father had been, and change her country for the better.


    Slowly but surely, her work began to pay off. In April of 1972, at the annual Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Tereshkova was shocked, and honored, to learn that she had been “elected” to the CPSU Central Committee, the executive leadership of the Communist Party, and the elite group responsible for decisions and appointments at the highest levels of Soviet Government. Here, along with 286 of her fellow politicians, Tereshkova would play a major role in shaping the policies of her country, as well as potentially have a say in choosing the next First Secretary of the CPSU, the de facto leader of the Soviet Union. She quickly discovered however that the divisive, distrustful nature of the Committee was hardly better or more palatable than life had been in the Supreme Soviet. Andropov and his cronies in the Politburo monitored Committee activities like overzealous hawks, and appointed an overwhelming number of hardliners and borderline Stalinists to balance out “starry eyed dreamers” like Kosygin and, by implication, Tereshkova. The cosmonaut was dismayed to learn that her appointment had likely been a token gesture toward moderate, political reformers in the committee, and not a promotion on account of her toil and effort in previous posts. Furious, Tereshkova nursed a quiet resentment of Andropov for the rest of his time in power, though she never dared voice such opinions to others, nor did she do anything which would overtly reveal her disquieted feelings about her new position. Instead, she remembered her father once again, and bore the burden, silently raising her daughter and calling for incremental change, focusing on building connections with her fellow politicians in an attempt to help influence the selection of the next leader when the time came. She became quite adept at learning who carried on with a mistress in their office when they thought no one was looking, who would underestimate her for her sex, and who would level with her as an equal. All the while she kept detailed notes on “the boys” and waited for her time to strike.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Domestic Issues in 1973
    Chapter 83
  • Chapter 83: Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) - President Bush Tackles Domestic Policy


    Above: President George Bush largely resisted pressure from his party’s right wing to become a “conservative crusader” in his first full year in office. Instead, he doubled down on his moderate-centrist politics, and attempted to craft bipartisan solutions to an ever present list of national issues.

    It was January 25th, 1973, and The President of the United States rubbed his temples in vexation. He silently prayed to God Almighty that someone important would step into the Oval Office and end the absolute misery that was this phone call. “Phyllis, I don’t mean to sound rude, but I believe I’ve made myself very clear. First, I’m for the Amendment. I’m glad to see how well it’s been doing and I expect it to be ratified very soon. Second, I think you’re walking into a hornet’s nest by coming out against the Court on this. We’re earning a reputation as the party of women. Surely, you can see the value in that?”

    On the other end of the line was paleoconservative firebrand and recently reelected Illinois Congresswoman Phyllis Schlafly. For years the most outspoken opponent of the ERA in the Republican Party, Schlafly was distraught when word reached Washington that a few days earlier, her own home state, the Land of Lincoln, had approved the Amendment, becoming the 37th State to do so of the 38 required for ratification. Nevada’s legislature, a state hotly divided on the issue, was set to cast their votes yay or nay within the next few weeks, and Schlafly had called the President to beg him to reconsider his support for the Amendment. Bush’s approval rating was sitting pretty at a cool 57% according to a recent poll by Gallup, and him rescinding his backing could be all it took to see the thing defeated. Schlafly had already rallied the more conservative elements of the South and Midwest against passage, so this would be her last stand on the issue. Bush categorically refused, adding fuel to Schlafly’s fury in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s landmark 7 - 2 decision in the case of Doe v. Bolton on abortion rights, which was also handed down only days earlier on the 22nd. The Illinois Congresswoman later called Doe v. Bolton, “the worst decision in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court … a shameful act which will be responsible for the killings of millions of unborn babies.” Needless to say, she and millions of paleoconservatives the nation over were incensed.

    The case concerned an anonymous plaintiff, who was referred to only as “Mary Doe” in court documents to protect her identity, who sought an abortion in Georgia, a state which under Governor Jimmy Carter (D) had passed severe legislation banning the practice, except in cases of “rape, severe fetal deformity, or the possibility of severe or fatal injury to the mother.” Other restrictions under the law included the requirement that the procedure be approved in writing by three physicians and by a three-member special committee that either: 1, continued pregnancy would endanger the pregnant woman's life or "seriously and permanently" injure her health; 2, the fetus would "very likely be born with a grave, permanent and irremediable mental or physical defect"; or 3, the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Further, only Georgia natives could receive abortions under this legal framework; non-residents were not permitted an abortion in Georgia under any circumstances. Doe and her crack team of lawyers, lead by ACLU General Counsel Ruth Bader Ginsburg, argued that the Constitutional right to privacy should be broad enough to include a woman’s right to decide to terminate a pregnancy. The defenders of the Georgia law, led by Attorney Jay Floyd, argued that such an argument was a gross over-expansion of any “right to privacy” implied by the Constitution. The case had been deferred by the Court several times, beginning in 1970, but by ‘73, they felt that the time had come to hear arguments and pass down a ruling.


    The defense immediately got off to a rocky start when in his opening argument in defense of the abortion restrictions, attorney Jay Floyd made what was later described as the "worst joke in legal history.” Appearing against Ginsburg and two other female lawyers, Floyd began, "Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court. It's an old joke, but when a man argues against three beautiful ladies like this, they are going to have the last word." His remark was met with cold silence; one observer thought that Chief Justice Freund "was going to come right off the bench at him. He glared him down." After only one round of arguments, seven of the nine justices tentatively agreed that the Georgia law should be struck down, albeit on different grounds. Chief Justice Freud assigned the task of writing the majority opinion in the case to Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg, who began drafting a preliminary opinion that won the general support of his numerous liberal colleagues on the court, as well as the conservative Justice Berger, who also sided with the majority. The Court, through Goldberg’s opinion and the concurring opinions of several of his contemporaries, asserted that the “right to privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the district court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”

    Justice Byron White, a Kennedy appointee and generally seen as a moderate voice on the Court, wrote the senior dissenting opinion. He was joined by William Rehnquist. White’s dissent was emphatic, stating: “I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court's judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant women and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.” Rehnquist added that abortion-banning laws had existed in the United States since the early 19th century, and that if the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment had intended for it to also protect a woman’s right to an abortion, they would have stated so explicitly. He did not think it a moral precedent to “invent” new rights for citizens whole-cloth out of judicial review, which ironically, put him into a strange point of near-agreement with Ginsburg, the leading attorney for the plaintiff in the case. The ACLU General Counsel recognized that the Court’s decision could be subject to change or being overturned, and strongly believed that the best way to protect the right to choose was through legislation or a Constitutional Amendment. For the time being however, she and her team celebrated their victory and the American political landscape was rocked to its core by the Doe v. Bolton decision.


    The divide over abortion rights in the United States was already quite pronounced by the time the Supreme Court got around to deliberating on it. Several states had passed anti-abortion legislation similar to Georgia’s, all of which would now be struck down in the wake of the sweeping judicial action. Millions across the country rejoiced, while others immediately began to organize protests and scream bloody murder. Feminists held that for the first time, all American women would have complete control over their own medical decisions, as was their right. Pro-Life forces argued however that that freedom came at the cost of the lives of unborn children, who did not have any say in the matter. Tempers flared on both sides and it wasn’t long before all major politicians in the country had to say something about “the verdict heard round the world”. Both Republicans and Democrats played home to a diversity of opinions on the subject of abortion. Generally, more socially conservative factions in each, represented by Vice President Ronald Reagan and Senator Lyndon Johnson, respectively, opposed legality of the practice on any grounds, while more liberal politicians, personified by Attorney General Brooke and Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm for instance, supported a woman’s right to choose in any circumstances. In between lay a wide spectrum of positions on the subject, though many were summed up in the response of Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D - NY), who as the de facto leader of the liberal, “New Frontier” Democrats, not to mention a devout Catholic, needed to find a way to square himself and his beliefs in this new social and political reality. In a press conference held shortly after the landmark decision, Kennedy and his brother, Ted formed the basis of what would become the go-to liberal Catholic position on the issue: “I am personally and spiritually opposed to the practice, but the law is the law, and I will not interfere with that by bringing my personal feelings on the matter into the equation.” This dodge was widely accepted by the political mainstream, though it did create a chill in relations between the Kennedys and their Catholic base somewhat. More socially conservative Catholics like Senator Ed Muskie (D - ME) and Governor Jim Buckley (R - NY) accused the Kennedys of “abandoning their church”, and the larger trend of Catholics spreading themselves relatively evenly between the two political parties, a phenomenon brought about by a multitude of socioeconomic factors, would continue throughout the 1970’s. Irish Catholics however, largely remained true to the party of JFK, and Bobby and Ted retained 80% approval numbers from them, according to Gallup.


    As he did in his phone call to Rep. Schlafly, the President largely avoided the abortion debate as 1973 got under way and he entered his “honeymoon” period. Bush knew it was prime time and fertile ground for a new Chief Executive to pass his legislative agenda, and he did not want his political capital getting bogged down in some quixotic fight to end abortion, much as it may have pleased some in his paleoconservative base. He and Senator Barry Goldwater (R - AZ) agreed: there were more important matters to attend to in Congress. Despite his pronounced and famous libertarian, anti-government attitude, Goldwater did have some areas where he felt regulation and oversight were necessary. Chief among this shortlist was environmental protection, which the Arizona Senator believed the free market would not do on its own. Shortly after the 93rd Congress convened in the nation’s capital, Goldwater and his Democratic colleagues Ed Muskie and Scoop Jackson got to work crafting bills which would later become The Endangered Species Act and The Oil Pollution Act of 1973. A largely bipartisan issue, environmentalism experienced a new wave of popularity and public support in the 1970’s. The EPA, founded under the watchful idealism of John F. Kennedy, was expanded and strengthened by pragmatic Presidents Romney and Bush, given broad regulatory powers, and taken seriously in hearings and reports by Congress. Though there was some concern about the new oil regulations from Congressmen representing the big oil producing states, Senator Johnson of Texas, encouraged his fellows to vote for the legislation, saying: “We’ll give the oil companies new pipelines, new highways, new trucks… the least they can do is keep their mouths shut while we go down there and wipe their assses for them.” This promise, of greater infrastructure investment to encourage commerce and connectivity and combat rising unemployment was also fulfilled via The Federal Highway Act of 1973, The Domestic Volunteer Services Act, and President Bush’s personal pet project: The Amtrak Improvement Act - which finally brought about new high speed rail lines connecting Los Angeles to Boston, with stops in Tucson, San Antonio, New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York. “The Second Infrastructure Revolution” which came about in Bush’s first full year in office was a monumental step forward for the United States, but it also carried a hefty price tag. Budget hawks in his own party and among the opposition refused to appropriate the bills on the national credit card, and so pressured Bush into a compromise. In exchange for the increased infrastructure spending, Bush would authorize very modest tax increases on Americans in the highest tax brackets. Tip O’Neill and Speaker Ford were satisfied to see the budget balanced. Vice President Reagan and the GOP’s right wing were horrified. For the time being, Reagan managed to bite his tongue, and avoid criticizing his boss to the press, but privately, the Vice President complained to his wife, Second Lady Nancy Reagan: “I should have known taking this job was going to be tricky.” Non-administration Republicans were less kind. Congresswoman Schlafly and Congressman John Ashbrook (R - OH) gave speeches decrying the “tax and spend” policies of the White House in Congress, and Ashbrook even exclaimed to one reporter: “One can hardly tell there’s a Republican majority around these parts.” The President took such criticisms in stride, and argued that the GOP was “the party of fiscal responsibility”, not “cuts for the sake of cuts”.


    President Bush had another chance to test his leadership and negotiation skills on February 27th, when 200 Oglala Lakota Indians and followers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) seized and occupied the small town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The protest resulted from the failure of an effort of the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) to impeach tribal president Richard Wilson, whom they accused of corruption and abuse of opponents. Additionally, protesters criticized the United States government's failure to fulfill treaties with Native American people and demanded the reopening of treaty negotiations to boot. What started as a small protest soon ballooned into a siege, with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies cordoning off the area after they heard rumors that the Indians were “armed”. In truth, only a few rifles were ever found in the possession of the Natives, but it was enough for heavily armed law enforcement to show up en masse. The town was chosen for its symbolic value, the site of the 1890 massacre of Wounded Knee, and it did not take long for violence to break out between the protesters and the U.S. Marshals who had arrived to assist the FBI. After two weeks of the stand off, two Native Americans lay dead and 1 Marshal had been wounded as a result of a short firefight. Some in the media criticized the Indians for the violence, but overwhelmingly, the American people sided with the Natives, as celebrities and personalities such as Johnny Cash, Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, and others arrived on the scene to picket and to show their support. Cash even put on an impromptu free concert near the town, performing songs from his Bitter Tears album, and drawing the attention and solidarity of former President Kennedy, the Senators Kennedy, and the Congressional Black Caucus, led by Representative Ron Dellums (D - CA). The Department of Justice initially refused to allow the media access to the scene, but Marlon Brando got around the ban by having Sacheen Littlefeather, an Apache actress, speak for him at the Academy Awards and accept his award for Best Actor for him. From there, national pressure mounted, and news cameras were allowed at the scene. Senator George McGovern (D - SD), Senator Robert Kennedy (D - NY), and Congressman Dellums (D - CA) led a congressional delegation to the site, where they hoped to negotiate a peaceful ending to the protests. By then, the town had been occupied for 41 days and the locals were growing weary. Violence seemed poised to explode and military intervention would be used to break the siege. Though some paleo Republicans called for such action, Bush flatly refused and instead opened negotiations with the natives, asking Senator McGovern to serve as a mediator. He firmly believed that middle ground could be found, but only if everyone laid down their weapons and listened to one another. Historians would later credit the public awareness raised by Cash, Brando, and others with forcing the President’s hand and preventing any sort of military intervention.

    After 51 days and the Marshal service threatening to employ harsher tactics, such as cutting off water and power to the town in the middle of a South Dakotan winter, Senator McGovern managed to convince AIM to come to a resolution. In exchange for disarming and ending the occupation, the Natives would receive a comprehensive investigation of their tribal elections by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Commission, and the families of the two dead natives would be compensated for any and all funeral costs. As a personal show of gratitude, McGovern and his fellow Congressional delegates also vowed to attend the funerals, and to continue to fight for Native Americans and their rights on Capitol Hill. A year later, Dick Wilson would be removed from office and the Natives’ protest would be proven a total success, to the celebration of the movement. President Bush applauded the compromise and an end to the violence, but was criticized by many on the left and center for his seeming apathy to the issues of the Natives until it came to the point of violence. Further, liberals claimed it was Senator McGovern, not President Bush who really deserved the credit for the peaceful conclusion to the siege, and some began to speculate at a second, more substantial Presidential run by the South Dakotan in 1976. If Native issues were going to grow in importance as the decade went on, Democrats reasoned, then perhaps someone with their finger on their pulse should be in the White House. Though it was of course, far too early to put such thoughts in any category but pure conjecture. By the end of the spring, Bush’s approval ratings had sunk to 52%, a decline many blamed on the Wounded Knee protests.


    Throwing a bone to his more conservative colleagues and hoping to push his approvals back in the right direction, the President did take decisive action in another area: ramping up his predecessor’s efforts in the so-called “War on Drugs”. On July 1st, President Bush announced the establishment of the Drug Enforcement Administration, as part of “Reorganization Plan No. 2” signed by Bush into law later that month. It proposed the creation of a single federal agency to enforce all federal drug laws, as well as consolidate and coordinate the government’s efforts toward drug control. Congress accepted the proposal, as conservatives and moderates were concerned with the growing availability of drugs to the American public, as well as growing crime numbers in major cities. As a result, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE), 600 Special Agents of the Customs Bureau, and several other small federal offices were merged to create the DEA. Heavily armed and trained in not just drug enforcement, but active investigation and destruction of existing narcotics networks within the U.S., the DEA would become the bane of many a criminal organization, and first time, mostly minority offenders over the next several decades. The President also began to push for the military and CIA to be involved in drug interdiction, escalating the entire process and elevating it to a more violent level. “Drugs are a scourge on this great nation.” Bush said in his DEA announcement address. “It is my overriding goal to remove dangerous drugs from our streets and neighborhoods, and to teach young people that crime does not pay.” Across the nation, a wave of college students and protesters were arrested on drug possession charges for small amounts of marijuana and LSD. This prompted further outcry from the left, but rounds of applause from the right. It seemed that even if Bush would not “crusade” for right-wing ideology, he would at least take up the mantle of drug warrior from his predecessor. Bush grew tired of these domestic quarrels, however. These were not, nor had they ever been, the issues he’d gotten himself elected to solve. Bush was a diplomat first and foremost. He had staked his political career on a penchant for foreign affairs. The success his planning brought to the fight against communism in Rhodesia emboldened the President and encouraged him to flex his muscles as an international intervener further. Fortunately for Bush, he soon got his chance. Three major foreign policy concerns arose in the second half of 1973 which required his immediate attention: a developing political crisis in Chile; another war in the Middle East; and the screaming elephant in the geopolitical room, the People’s Republic of China.


    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Allende, Zhou Enlai and Yom Kippur…

    … But first - A Brief Check in with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!


    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was no stranger to the long, difficult process of trying to foster societal change. He had made his bones and built his immense legacy as perhaps the central figure of the American Civil Rights Movement only through decades of hard struggle against entrenched ideologies and bigotry, and against a culture naturally skeptical of rapid reform. Even against all of these obstacles, King’s movement prevailed. His philosophy of nonviolent protest, inspired by the works of Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi, had spread to all corners of the United States and beyond, and brought about at long last, real, meaningful action by the federal government on the passage and enforcement of robust civil rights legislation. King was hailed as a hero by black and white communities alike, and even the revelations which came out about him as a result of the infamous Hoover Affair could not seem to strike down this behemoth of the American socio-political landscape. The question remained, however: what was next for the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference?

    Some naturally suggested politics. There were both a Governor’s mansion and a Senate seat up for grabs in his home state of Georgia in the 1974 midterms, and though in the past the thought of a black man running for political office in the deep South had seemed like little more than a reconstruction era pipe dream, Dr. King was no ordinary African-American. He was arguably the most respected African-American in the country and had name recognition that few opponents, regardless of race, could ever hope to compete with. Additionally, the rise of Lyndon Johnson’s “New South” in the wake of his 1972 nomination to the Presidency seemed to also improve King’s odds should he decide to run for office. White southerners were beginning to awaken to the decades long system of race-baiting politics which had kept them from real material advancement and left them, in Johnson’s words: “exploited” by the wealthy. Those close to King say he seriously considered throwing his hat into the ring and running for either office to bring about change himself, but was given some terrible, unexpected news from his doctor during a routine physical in the midst of his deliberation. Judging by the extreme hypertension and irregular heartbeats he was displaying, Dr. King’s heart was in terrible condition for a man of his age. His doctor attributed this poor cardiovascular condition to two decades of stress from managing and leading the Civil Rights Movement and suggested that only rest and a lighter schedule could help elongate his life beyond another decade at best. Realizing that a career in elected office would only burden the Reverend with further stress and exertion, his physician gave his professional opinion that King should not run in ‘74. Despite the wishes of many in his movement, Dr. King decided to follow this advice, and remained an activist, influencing policy from the sidelines and the public masses.

    As the issues of civil rights and fair housing policies were addressed in 1964 and 1968, respectively, Dr. King increasingly turned his attention to new issues facing the African-American community as well as the larger demographics of the American poor and working class: wealth inequality, systemic exploitation, the need for greater pacifism in American foreign policy, and an end to the rampant military-industrial complex. These positions were seen as somewhat radical to many of King’s moderate liberal supporters, who were worried his new stances would disrupt the society at large, but they did win King new backers who had previously believed him uncaring on economic issues. He began to turn once again to his skills as a Baptist reverend and preached a new gospel across the United States for all to hear: the gospel of social democracy. Based largely on the developing mixed economies of many European countries, with robust social welfare states, reasonable arms spending for defensive, if not offensive purposes, and a greater societal emphasis on equality and ensuring that no one had to go without. King insisted that President Kennedy had made a bold first step by implementing guaranteed universal income for working American families back in 1968, but that there was still much more work to be done to bring real opportunity for a better life to all Americans. In this fight, Dr. King found a staunch ally in Congressman Ron Dellums of California, the founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and a devout social democrat. Dellums began his second term in the House of Representatives in 1973 by speaking vigorously and passionately against the Jackson Resolution to send American soldiers, many of them young black men, to Rhodesia just as many more were being sent home from Cambodia. King also found another ally in junior Vermont State Assemblyman Bernie Sanders, a little known democratic socialist, originally from New York City, who had attended the March on Washington in 1963, and showed great promise as a left-wing leader when he traveled with Dr. King to Boston to speak on the need for a “new American Revolution in politics” on the Fourth of July, 1973.


    Dellums, Sanders, and King received plenty of backlash when they first began preaching the social democracy gospel from Republicans, and also fellow Democrats and Independent Liberals. Many claimed that these men and their allies were “radical”, “too far left” and “unfit to shape public policy” in the words of conservative firebrand Strom Thurmond (R - SC). Others however, listened to what they had to say and more importantly, they heard. Though it would take decades to truly come into its own as a political movement, social democracy in the United States began to plant its roots in the economically uncertain 1970’s. Further, both Sanders and Dellums would ultimately play a large role in the movement’s development and in the future of the Democratic Party and the United States as well.
    Chapter 84
  • Chapter 84: No More Mr. Nice Guy - A Brief Trip through 1973 Abroad


    Above: Democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende faced a series of crises in the summer of 1973 which served to destabilize his country and threatened not only his government, but his life as well.

    In the Autumn of 1970, the people of the Republic of Chile headed to the polls to participate in their sexennial Presidential election. Continuing their recent trend of demanding more state intervention in the economy, Chileans elected the perennial candidate of the Socialist Party, a Marxist former Physician named Salvador Allende. Elected as leader of the Unidad Popular (Popular Unity) coalition, Allende narrowly edged out his opponents by bringing together communists, socialists, social democrats, and disaffected christian democrats, all of whom wanted “real change” and nationalistic efforts to lessen direct U.S. influence over the country. Indeed, Allende referred to his electoral platform as La via chilena al socialismo - the Chilean path to Socialism. This involved: nationalization of large-scale industries (primarily copper mining and banking); government administration of the healthcare system; a reformed, better educational system (with the help of Jane A. Hobson-Gonzalez, an American educator from Kokomo, Indiana); a program for free milk and lunches to the children in the schools and shanty towns of the country; and an expansion of the land reforms already begun by his predecessor, in line with the plans laid out by the Alliance for Progress. Allende also aimed to improve the general welfare of his citizens, first by reforming the social welfare state, and second by providing reliable, gainful employment in the nationalized industries and through public works projects. The President also labored to provide scholarships to Mapuche children, to integrate the Native American minority into the educational system and Chilean culture. Many leaders around the world praised Allende for his thoroughly forward thinking policies, and efforts to make his country a better place. Secretary of State Richard Nixon and NSA Henry Kissinger were not among those leaders.

    Immediately suspicious of the leftist leader due to his ideology, Nixon and Kissinger advised then-President Romney to give the Republic of Chile the cold shoulder for as long as Allende was in power. Indeed, they asked for his authorization to perpetrate an “economic war” on the country, to put pressure on Allende’s government and turn his people against him. They argued that “cozying up” to any “Marxist-inspired” government in the western hemisphere could be a surrender of character in the great twilight struggle of the Cold War. To an impressionable leader like George Romney, well meaning but inexperienced in foreign affairs, this argument seemed to hold a lot of water. What Nixon did not tell Romney was that he had received great pressure from corporate entities of the American private sector, many of whom possessed assets in Chile which were now being nationalized by the socialist government, severely hurting their profit margins and robbing them of valuable property. The ever ambitious Nixon had relied on companies like these for campaign contributions in the past, he may rely on them again in the future, and for right now, he owed it to them to do everything he could to help their case abroad. With the Commander in Chief’s permission, $10 Million was authorized for the CIA to encourage truck drivers’ strikes in Santiago and spread anti-Allende propaganda to help de-stabilize the country. Meanwhile, Nixon’s diplomats mingled with CIA agents to feel around the high command of the Chilean military to see if any of the leading officers would be interested or willing to perpetrate a military coup. Once again, the bitter Secretary of State was attempting to replace the Kennedy Doctrine of encouraging democracy and self determination with a new, more brutally anti-communist one.


    Nixon’s plans to stop an Allende victory met their first roadblock about a month after the ballots were cast, as the Chilean Senate convened to hammer out negotiations between the Unidad Popular and the Christian Democrats to decide the winner. General Rene Schneider, Commander in Chief of the Chilean Army, narrowly escaped an attempted kidnapping by junior officers beneath him in the chain of command, who, it would later be revealed decades later, were egged on by CIA offers of money and support if they would eventually go on to overthrow an Allende government should one be formed. Schneider was targeted because he was a loyal defender of the “constitutionalist” doctrine which stated that the army’s role was exclusively professional, its mission being to protect the country’s sovereignty, and never to interfere in politics. Schneider was popular among the Chilean people and the attempted kidnapping seemed a tip off that some officers in the military were considering a coup, or at least taking the first few steps in that general direction. Allende was shortly thereafter confirmed by the Senate and Schneider stayed on as the Army Chief of Staff, Nixon’s plans received a major wrench in their works indeed. This however was not enough to stall his schemes forever. Under Nixon’s direction, the United States continued to foster labor agitation throughout the country, spreading dissent, and closing off potentially lucrative trade deals with the country. The State Department convinced President Romney to largely curtail Chile’s share of funding from the Alliance for Progress, and at a meeting of the OAS, Romney worked the line “the need to fight Marxism, that most insidious ideology” into his speech before the Latin American leaders. No matter what the Chilean President did, Nixon was dead set on bringing about his ruin.

    Nevertheless, Allende did what he could to maintain an independent path in the Cold War World. As much as he distrusted the Estados Unidos, his feelings for the Soviet Union were nearly as frosty. He considered Yuri Andropov little more than a lion in sheep’s clothing and did not want to trade a western imperial yolk for an eastern one half a world away. His attention remained firmly inward, and he worked on his vision for a stronger country through socialism. By 1973, Allende was finding much more success than he was failure. Chilean culture flourished through the publication and distribution of new literature, now able to be read by an adult population with an illiteracy rate dropped to less than 10%. University enrollments in the country rose by nearly 90% , and millions of young people attended publically funded, secular secondary schools for the very first time. Social spending on housing, education, and health care dramatically increased and a conscious effort was made to redistribute wealth to the poorest of Chile’s citizenry. A new phenomenon in Chilean life, the people of the country began to feel like they were in control of their own destiny. Realizing that his country’s constitution limited him to only one six year term, Allende hastened to restructure the economy and create as much change as he could as quickly as he could. He hoped that by the time he left office, his reforms would be so ingrained in Chilean society that no successor would ever be able to undo them, similar to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the United States. Despite these successes however, as well as the love Allende enjoyed from many Chileans, his government was still facing immense opposition from the Chilean Congress, dominated by his rival Christian Democrats, and from the Nixon State Department, which continued to exercise economic pressure on Allende’s government through multilateral organizations. A general strike took place in May of 1973, which Allende’s cabinet quickly planned to end through negotiation. While the strike dominated headlines however, an ambitious Tank Commander named Colonel Roberto Souper surrounded the Presidential Palace, La Moneda, and attempted to depose the government, once again with implicit backing from the CIA.

    The traitorous tank regiment was soon dispersed by General Schneider and the rest of the army, saving the Administration, but this time, prisoners taken during the counterattack revealed the encouragement they had received from American Intelligence agents operating out of the U.S. embassy in Santiago. Word of this reached President Allende, who immediately contacted the New American President, Bush, something he had been loathe to do, assuming he would be exactly like his predecessor, fellow Republican President Romney had been. Though Romney and Bush had many similarities, this was one area on which they differed greatly. Bush was not just disappointed to learn that American agents were once again actively trying to undermine and overthrow a democratically elected government, he was furious. He had issued an internal memo earlier in the year against this very sort of action as “dishonest” and “unamerican” and apologized profusely for the behavior of his countrymen. Allende remained distant, but implored Bush to “end the unnecessary and destructive economic situation between us” and implied the existence of the possibility of a closer US - Chilean relationship in the future if the situation could be rectified and the Americans would cease subversive action in his country. Bush agreed to these terms, in exchange for a personal pledge from Allende that he would not “align himself with the Cuban-Soviet bloc” and that he would be “an honest and forthright friend always to the people of the United States”. The first, tentative steps toward warmer relations had been taken, Allende’s government was secure, and now the ball was in Bush’s court. How would the Leader of the Free World stand up to defend that title from claims that he was merely a puppet of predatory, imperialistic businessmen? The answer was swift. As The Washington Post, The New York Times and other leading papers across the U.S. ran stories detailing the coup attempt and its American support via the State Department, which served to damage America’s reputation abroad with left-leaning and unaligned nations, the President called Nixon and Kissinger, the plan’s architects, into the Oval Office with Chief of Staff Dick Cheney at his side and a grim look upon his face.


    “Gentlemen,” the Commander in Chief dispensed with any formalities as he began to speak in his trademark drawl - half Fred Rogers, half John Wayne. “I’ve called you in here to ask you to explain yourselves. This business in Chile. Now I understood economic pressure to make sure Allende didn’t stray too close to Castro-land or the Kremlin. But governmental sabotage? Trying to assassinate a foreign head of state and overthrow his government when they pose no direct threat to the United States? Excuse my language, but what the hell were you thinking?”

    Kissinger, calm as ever, took a deep breath. “Mr. President, it was our understanding that you were in agreement with us about Senor Allende. Tolerating a red nation on our doorstep on pain of possible nuclear annihilation is one thing. Allowing a second red state in our backyard? If we follow this path, we paint a very vivid picture to the rest of the world, sir. One of weakness, one of half-hearted ideals and vague foreign policy. Could you stomach having another Moscow puppet so close to home? I think not-”

    “I’ve seen little and less to persuade me that Senor Allende is anything resembling a Soviet puppet.” Bush interrupted, his impatience growing. “Gosh Henry, we just starting cleaning up the shit we left in Helsinki and now you two ‘cold warriors’ have to go and drop this one on me too?” The President leaned back in his chair and looked in despair toward the Heavens. “You know, I was asked by the press corps today if I had given the go-ahead on the coup attempt. Now every diplomat from here to Timbuktu thinks that that is how George Herbert Walker Bush goes about doing business. This is gonna set any future negotiations with the rest of the world way back. I just want to know: did you ever think of asking me before you encouraged a coup against a democratically elected government?”

    Sick of this little lecture already, Nixon interjected. “With all due respect Mr. President, President Romney, Henry, and I had reached this understanding years ago. We figured you had enough on your plate with the legislative slate and other concerns… this would just be one less thing to worry about if we stayed the course.”

    “Well I wasn’t worried about it until a reporter threw it in my face this morning, Dick!” Bush snapped. He ran his hands through his chestnut colored hair and tried to maintain his composure. “I admired President Romney above most other men. He was like a second father to me.” The President let his eyes pass from Nixon to Kissinger and then back again. “But I am not him. And I will not let my foreign policy, an area near and dear to my heart, be dictated by the desires of two men who serve at my pleasure.”

    “If I may ask sir,” Kissinger inquired. “What would your pleasure be, in this situation?”

    “For you to tenure your resignation and get the hell out of this office!” Bush replied in a near-yell. “All these schemes, these escalations… they all come back to you and they are not necessary. Meaning no offense Henry, but I’ve had about enough of your realpolitik nonsense. It’s about time we brought some principles back to the way we do business with other countries.” Bush watched a shocked expression finally break the perfect placidity of Henry Kissinger’s face. “Freedom works.” The President echoed his inaugural address. “And freedom means being given a choice, not just doing whatever your big neighbor to the North thinks is best.” He shifted his focus back to the Secretary of State once more. “And as for you, Dick, I think you’re an able servant of this country when your face isn’t buried in a bottle or your mind isn’t wandering to ‘what could have been’. It isn’t 1960 or ‘68 anymore. You lost. Move on and help me make this world a better place, or you should get out of here too. You understand?” Shivers ran up the President’s spine. He had never been more apprehensive about a confrontation in his public life. Henry Kissinger and Dick Nixon were two of the most powerful men in the world, not some Senatorial interns he could give a talking to if they gave him lip. Yet he felt the principle was the same. Bush was renowned for his personal loyalty. He was loyal to his state in the Senate, loyal to the Republican Party come voting time, and as Vice President he had been loyal to the point of putting another man’s dreams and ambitions above his own. Yet he had broken that sacred fidelity to Babs when he took the company of another woman outside the marital bed. And though the love of his life, not to mention the public had forgiven him and stood by him, he could never quite let himself off the hook for his sin. If John F. Kennedy was a Frank Capra film’s hero sprung to life in the White House, then George Bush was the protagonist of a lost play by Arthur Miller. And so he demanded loyalty and honesty from his underlings. These two, a scheming German Machiavelli wannabe and a miserable, self-pitying drunkard who envied him for being in the big chair, were he felt, no longer fit to serve the greatest country on Earth. The President wanted them gone. He wanted to feel moral and righteous again.

    Stunned to silence, Nixon swallowed his infamous pride and vitriol for the moment and apologized for his prior behavior, looking and sounding like a scalded schoolboy. He informed the President that he had no excuse for his actions, other than that he thought he was simply acting in the best interest of the people of the United States. He asked if the President did not wish him to continue to serve as Secretary of State if there was some other position he thought could be suitable for a man of Nixon’s talents. The President sighed and responded that there was. The Ambassadorship to the United Kingdom, arguably the most sought after in the entire State Department corps of Diplomats, had recently opened up and Bush thought the job suitably prestigious and meaningless politically for Dick Nixon. Nixon thanked the President for his kind suggestion and shortly thereafter Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon were no longer directly working for the President of the United States. Replacements would come for their positions quickly, which was critical in a year with so much of importance happening overseas. In the meantime, President Bush was able to feel good about himself and turned his attention to another exploding powder keg: the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the wider issues of the tumultuous Middle East.


    George P. Shultz, Richard Nixon’s Replacement as Secretary of State


    Brent Scowcroft, Henry Kissinger’s Replacement as National Security Advisor


    King Mohammed Zahir Shah had ruled the mountainous nation of Afghanistan, “the graveyard of empires” since first ascending the throne in 1933. Hailed by many in his country as “the father of the nation”, Zahir Shah established friendly relations with many other nations during his reign, including both sides of the ongoing Cold War, and beginning in the 1950’s, he started his Kingdom on an assertive path toward modernization, westernization, and reform. Accepting generous foreign aid from both the United States and Soviet Union, the King oversaw the writing and implementation of a new constitution in 1964, which turned Afghanistan into a modern, democratic constitutional monarchy. It introduced free, open elections; a parliament; civil rights; women’s rights; and universal suffrage, and encouraged a more strict separation of church and state to encourage secular thought. Between these changes and the peace and stability he brought to Afghanistan, there was little doubt within his country and without that he would enjoy a long, bountiful reign until his eventual passing away. The world would be shocked when this did not turn out to be the case.


    In July of 1973, the King was abroad in Italy receiving medical treatment for his lower back pain and surgery for issues with his eyesight. There had been growing discontent among the nation’s populace over what they saw as the King’s poor response to the famine of 1971-72 and unfair promotions in the army. The King had also angered his cousin and long time Prime Minister, Mohammed Daoud Khan, by rewriting the 1964 Constitution to ban members of the Royal Family from serving in the elected government. Many believe the King had implemented this change on account of his cousin’s strong pro-Pashtunistan views, something he found to be too radical. Whatever the case, Daoud Khan and then Army Chief of Staff General Abdul Karim Mustaghni stormed the capital city of Kabul on July 17th and overthrew the Afghan monarchy in a relatively bloodless coup. Though he was a member of the Royal Family himself, Khan thought it better to rewrite the constitution once more and transformed the country into a Presidential republic instead, declaring himself President, foreign minister, and head of the army. Flabbergasted by his cousin’s abrupt usurpation, the King thought it best to spare his people the potential for a bloody civil war. To this end, he abdicated, and agreed to live his life in exile in Italy, though he hoped he could one day return to the homeland he loved.

    Attempting to quickly consolidate power around himself, President Khan also added a provision to the new constitution which turned the new republic into a one party state, banning any political organizations which opposed his rule, including the widely popular People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a far-left communist party which fought for the rights of the commoners against an increasingly authoritarian government (and also advocated for the overthrow of Khan’s government, either through elections or more violent means). Due to Khan’s paranoia and personality, as well as his unwillingness to allow anyone else to handle foreign affairs, Afghanistan’s reputation abroad suffered and foreign aid began to dry up. Most furious were the country’s nearest neighbors. Pakistan feared that Khan, a Pashtun nationalist, would seek to form “greater Afghanistan” or “Pashtunistan”, a proposed nation-state which had been floated about in the past, and exploit Pakistan’s weakness following their 1971 defeat to India and “abandonment” by their so-called allies in the West. The Soviet Union, economically back on its feet once more under Andropov, was angered by the Afghan’s banning of their nation’s communist party. It made the USSR look weak and insincere, the former KGB-head felt, to have a fellow group of anti-imperialists forced from their country on the Soviet Union’s very doorstep. Behind closed doors, Soviet foreign minister Gromyko, Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and head of the PDP, Nur Muhammad Taraki commenced discussions about what could be done about their “mutual problem in Kabul”. Gromyko, increasingly hard-line against anti-communists the older he grew, made a suggestion which would proceed to heat up the Cold War and challenge detente once more: “the best way to deal with a bug,” he described the Afghan leader, “is to crush it.” Along the Soviet-Afghan and Pakistani-Afghan borders, the newfound allies would soon have a chance to test their friendship in the crucible of yet another war.

    Just before his dismissal from the State Department in July of 1973, Secretary Richard Nixon made an offer to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to try and end the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Nixon proposed returning the Sinai Peninsula to Egyptian control and an Israeli withdrawal from all of Sinai, except for a few key strategic points. The Egyptian Ambassador, Ismaili promised to return to Washington shortly with a response from his President, but never did. By this time, Sadat had already decided to go to war once again with Israel. Beginning the year before, Egypt was, in Sadat’s words, “ready to sacrifice a million Egyptian soldiers to win back her lost sovereign territory.” The Arab republic started a concentrated effort to rebuild its decimated armed forces. Toward this goal, Egypt received MiG-21 jet fighters, SA-2, SA-3, SA-6, and SA-7 anti aircraft missiles, T-55 and T-62 tanks, RPG-7 anti tank weapons, and additional guided missiles from the Soviet Union, and improved its military tactics, based on contemporary Soviet battlefield doctrines. Sadat also cleaned house in the upper command of the army which President Nasser had been responsible for. “Political generals”, largely responsible for Egypt’s rout in the Six Day War of 1967, were sacked and replaced with competent ones. Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov, now aware that plans were being drawn up for a joint Soviet-Pakistani invasion of Afghanistan in the near future (which would surely inflame relations with the United States to begin with), warned Sadat that any Egyptian military action against Israel, which could destabilize the Middle East and further escalate Cold War tensions, would be condemned and utterly unsupported from Moscow. Sadat was not deterred. He was convinced that if he could perpetrate even a small victory in a short war with the Israelis, he could create an international crisis which would force the U.S. and USSR to intervene and pressure Israel to the negotiating table before Israeli nukes started going off. It was a bold plan to be sure, but after years of “ineffective action” from Nasser, Sadat was convinced that his gamble would pay off.


    Early on the morning of October 6th, Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir met with her Minister of Defense, Moshe Dayan, and Chief of General Staff David Eleazar in Tel Aviv. Israeli intelligence had, for months, been predicting an imminent attack by Egyptian forces and their Syrian allies to the north. The purpose of the meeting was to determine if, as they had in 1967, Israeli should respond to the situation with a preemptive attack. Dayan opened the meeting by insisting that war was not yet a certainty, and the Israeli government should exercise restraint. Eleazar countered that a pre-emptive attack was what had saved the country six years prior, and urged the Prime Minister to strike at Syrian missile sites before an attack order could be given by Sadat and Syrian President al-Assad. When the presentations were done, Prime Minister Meir hesitated for a few moments. She realized the very fate of her nation, one of the proudest and most ancient in the world, rested on her shoulders. After careful consideration, a firm decision was made, to side with Dayan. There would be no preemptive strike. Most western nations were fearful that backing Israel in any conflict would result in member nations of OPEC embargoing their oil to them. This would be catastrophic to already anemic western economies, and only the United States under President George Bush had promised to support Israel. Even U.S. backing had come with a condition, however. President Bush had warned Prime Minister Meir earlier in the year that if Israeli forces started a war with a preemptive attack, they could not “expect so much as a nail” in the way of material aid. Meir knew that in order for Israel to come out on top of any conflict with the Arab states, they would need America to remain in their corner. Thus, she prioritized the strategic over the tactical and did not launch an attack. When war did come later in the day, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, former Senator Kenneth Keating thanked Meir for “keeping her head”.

    The awaited attack came at 14:00 hours in the Golan Heights from the Syrians, and in the Sinai from the Egyptians, consisting primarily of infantry divisions from the latter, and artillery bombardment from the former. Armed with the aforementioned anti tank equipment from the Soviet Union, Sadat’s troops wreaked havoc on the Israeli counterattacks, which were mostly comprised of the armored divisions which had served the IDF so well in the past. Israeli air bases, hawk missile batteries, three command centers, artillery positions and radar installations were hit by simultaneous strikes from more than 200 Egyptian planes and some 2,000 artillery pieces. The Egyptians hoped to knock out Israeli intelligence gathering infrastructure so future counterattacks would be unable to reclaim any lost territory. Under cover of this aerial assault, 34,000 Egyptians began to cross the Suez Canal and into the Sinai proper. The invasion of Israeli territory had begun.

    Caught off guard by the force of the Egyptian offensive, the IDF reeled backward and were further disturbed when their initial attempt to push back the invaders was swiftly repelled by superior Arab firepower. The Israeli government knew that Egypt did not want to win this war. Sadat merely wanted to push far enough into Israeli territory to provoke the superpowers and weaken his enemy’s position at the bargaining table. Nonetheless, the IDF did not want to show weakness to Arab opponents. Living under constant fear of conquest by their neighbors, Israel needed to show strength, even in the case of a relatively limited war goal. Fighting went better in the Golan Heights, as IDF forces pushed back the Syrians and even managed to cross international borders into Syrian territory. Meanwhile, the Israelis licked their wounds in the Sinai and planned for a major counteroffensive that would hopefully take them back across the Suez Canal and into Egypt, flanking the invading Egyptians, who had little in the way of armored support.

    Time it seemed, was on the side of Israel in this war, and Prime Minister Meir’s decision to play defense began to seem more and more prudent. As the weeks wore on, Sadat’s soldiers overran their supply lines and were bogged down in the intense, arid Sinai heat. Their offensive ground to a halt and the Israeli air force arrived en masse. Before long, the Israelis won superiority of the skies and began to harass the invades from the air. Internationally, pressure began to mount on the two sides to end the conflict, as the United States, Soviet Union, and their respective allies feared that the war would escalate geopolitical tensions and lead to a confrontation between eastern and western blocs. The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 338 on October 22nd, a document largely negotiated by the United States’ Representative to the UN, Nelson Rockefeller and his Soviet counterpart, Yakov Malik. It called, in no uncertain terms, for all belligerents to immediately cease all military activity. When it became clear that the Israelis who had made it across the Suez would likely have an unimpeded path to Cairo should they be allowed to continued, Sadat reluctantly agreed to sign the ceasefire. Had he refused and stubbornly continued to fight, it is likely that Israel would have reached the Egyptian capital and forced an embarrassing surrender, which would have in turn been a death sentence for Sadat’s rule. On the morning of the 26th, most fighting ceased along the front lines and recently confirmed Secretary of State George P. Shultz appeared on American television to announce that hostilities between Egypt/Syria and Israel were now at an end.

    Though the Yom Kippur War was short and resulted in few immediate changes in territory, it still marked a major event in the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, and is historically seen as the antecedent to the beginning of the long and difficult peace process in the Middle East. Israel was battered and surprised by how difficult the war had been, and realized that they could no longer expect to single handedly defend themselves from all of their Arab neighbors if the need arose. Meanwhile, Egyptians were disappointed by their military defeat, but encouraged that they were able to overwhelm the Israelis in the first place. The war undid much of the psychological damage which Egypt had suffered in the aftermath of the Six Days War and convinced President Sadat that he could now deal with the Israelis as equals, no small feat in of itself.

    The war also had a tremendous impact on the rest of the world as a result of whom various nations decided to support when it came time to choose sides. The most obvious of these issues had to do with Middle Eastern oil. In response to U.S. support of Israel, the Arab members of OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, decided to reduce oil production by 5% per month on October 17th. Unwilling to seem weak or beholden to the interest of the Arab oil-producing nations, on October 19th, President Bush doubled down on his prior decision and authorized a major allocation of arms supplies and $2.2 billion in appropriations for Israel to “further prosecute their war effort”. In response, Saudi Arabia declared an embargo against the United States, later joined by other oil exporters and extended against the Netherlands and other states as well. This embargo would be the primary catalyst for the 1973 energy crisis and would be one of the primary drivers of the soon to come “Great Recession” of the 1970s, a major legacy of the Romney-Bush era.


    Above: House Speaker Gerald Ford (R - MI), Vice President Ronald Reagan (R - CA), and President George Bush (R - TX) celebrate an Israeli victory in the Yom Kippur War, even as the Arab World promises economic repercussions for U.S. support of Israel. Bush’s foreign policy in the Middle East was largely driven by pragmatism, as the President felt uncertain as to whether or not Egyptian President Sadat could be dealt with in good faith.


    Chairman Lin Biao had taken the news of an official ceasefire in Cambodia and Vietnam as tremendous news for the People’s Republic of China. While the forces of imperialism wound to a halt on his doorstep, the fires of the cultural revolution continued to burn at home and Biao felt ever more secure in his position at the top of the political sphere. Few, he felt, could touch or threaten him now, especially in the wake of Jiang Qing’s untimely death in a plane crash back in 1971. There had been whispers among the upper echelons of the Communist Party that foul play had been involved in Madame Mao’s passing, but the official line ruled her death the same as her husband’s had been three years earlier, an unspeakable, unfortunate tragedy. Few among the people could spare the emotion to mourn her. Many in Beijing and beyond had their own troubles, and increasingly saw the revolution she helped to create for the horrible, monstrous thing that it was. China’s economy suffered both slowdown and brain drain as intellectuals and visionaries fled the country, including Sun Weishi, the first female director of modern spoken drama in Chinese history and an outspoken critic of the Maoist purges. Unique also about Weishi was the fact that her adopted father was none other than the internationally famous Zhou Enlai, member of the PRC’s politburo, Premier of the People’s Republic, and Vice Chairman of the Communist Party, second only to Chairman Biao himself. News of her escape from the PRC to South Korea and from there to the United States had been a boon to the west and the USSR, China’s enemies and rivals, and brought her father much joy, though he condemned her departure in a speech to the official press. Quietly, in private, Zhou began to see his daughter’s escape to the west as the last straw for his support of what he saw as a backward, barbaric government. He had always been skeptical, at best, of Mao’s cult of personality and hardline enforcement of Marxist-Leninist principles, and throughout his time in public office had encouraged peaceful coexistence and tolerance with the west, whom he saw more as potential business partners than ideological devils. With Weishi gone, his ally Deng Xiaoping purged, his more moderate ideals being targeted by the ever-more violent red guards, and he soon found out, his health starting to falter, Zhou started thinking about his legacy and what he could do to right the wrong direction he believed his ship of state was on.


    Back in 1968, Zhou had been the member of the Politburo to argue most strongly for accepting President John F. Kennedy’s offer of rapprochement. He believed that because of the Sino-Soviet split, the People’s Republic would be better suited aligning itself more closely to the United States than trying to “go it alone”. Zhou managed to convince even the aging Chairman Mao, once the purist of ideologues, to go along with his idea, but Lin Biao, Jing Qing, and their damned gang had killed him before he’d had the chance to end the revolution and do right by his people in his old age. All of the victors of 1949 were getting old now, and their children were finally beginning to awaken to the realities of a post-Stalin, Cold War world. They wanted change, they wanted reform, and they wanted freedom. If the Communist Party wasn’t careful to provide those three things in controlled, limited doses, Zhou reasoned, then the country was liable to face a massive, popular political upheaval. He wasn’t sure the PRC could withstand such a movement, not in its current, weakened state. Biao was never going to change. The intensifying purges and death of Madam Mao seemed to confirm this, and Zhou had had enough of watching his people suffer. Throughout 1971 and 1972, the Premier began to work, in quiet, to feel out the loyalties of other members of the politburo, as well as the top generals in the Red Army. It turned out that his sentiments, that China was headed not toward power and prestige, but only a long, painful road to self-destruction, were shared by many of his fellow elder statesmen. They agreed that something needed to be done, and promised to back Zhou when the time came.

    Come it did on November 16th, 1972, while Chairman Biao was dining alone at his offices in the Forbidden City. Around 9pm local time, a battalion of Red Army soldiers arrived with Zhou in tow, and informed the Chairman that by general order of the Politburo, he was to be removed from office immediately, with Zhou to serve as acting Chairman until such time as a new one could be elected. Biao protested, declared that the lot of them were bourgeois traitors to Mao’s revolution, and should be shot where they stood. The soldiers, some of whom had lost friends and family to the dreaded red guards, disagreed strongly with this assessment, and were more than happy to lock Biao in handcuffs to await a treason charge of his own. Over the next few days, a whirlwind of activity rocked the People’s Republic. Zhou Enlai was swiftly sworn in as the new Chairman of the Communist Party of China, while also retaining his position as Premier, the head of State and head of Government both. He immediately gave an order for the Red Guards to stand down, or else they would be seen as enemies of the state and dealt with accordingly by police and military authorities. Though some groups refused to relinquish their vigilante power and came into violent clashes with the army, most were wise enough to know that with the death of Jing Qing and the removal of Lin Biao, their time to bring vengeance to the bourgeois was over. After 6 long, destructive years, the cultural revolution was at its end and with it, the Middle Kingdom’s long, national nightmare. In streets of major cities, and in the fields of the countryside, peasants and intellectuals, bureaucrats and soldiers alike all joined in celebration of a new day for China and her people, and the international community too looked on in approval. Former President Kennedy’s dreams of reaching out to China now once again seemed a distinct possibility. Jackie Kennedy later reported that he leapt from his armchair when he heard the news of Zhou’s successful coup on the CBS Evening News. “It’s happening, my love.” He said with triumphant rapture. “It’s happening!”

    That night JFK got on the phone and dialed his old place of residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He spoke to President Bush’s personal secretary and asked her if the Commander in Chief was available for a talk. She replied that he was, though she wasn’t sure how long he could stay. He was very busy with transitioning to a full term of his own before the inauguration. Kennedy replied that he didn’t think this would take long at all.

    She patched him through and President Bush greeted President Kennedy’s call with a smile. “What can I do for you, Mr. President?” Bush asked from the Oval Office.

    “Thank you, Mr. President. But this call is about what I can do for you, and for our country.” The former President made an offer to the sitting one: that JFK would lead a second American delegation to the People’s Republic, as the first in a series of steps toward rapprochement, which he hoped would ultimately lead to closer, more peaceful relations between East and West and once more swing the Cold War in the United States’ favor. “We can create a better world.” Kennedy said with fire in his voice. “Let me take this first step.”

    Initially unsure, Bush told Kennedy he would have to consider his offer and get back to him, which he did shortly thereafter. A talk with then Secretary of State Richard Nixon, who supported the idea despite his hatred of Jack Kennedy, sealed the deal for Bush and set forward a momentus chain of events in Sino-American relations. On January 17th, 1973, former President John F. Kennedy, Secretary of State Richard Nixon, and several other high-ranking members of the American government went to Beijing and had dinner with Chairman Zhou Enlai. Photographs of the Americans and Chinese leaders walking side by side around the Forbidden City captivated an uncertain world and filled it with hope that maybe, just maybe, the world could be made a better place after all. President Bush would later become the first sitting President to visit China in November, when he spent Thanksgiving there with his family. In the end, it seemed that a statement previously thought false was actually true: only Kennedy could go to China.



    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Pop Culture in 1973
    Pop Culture 1973
  • 1973 in Pop Culture - A Most Frightening Power…


    Above: 1973 saw the release of Carrie, the debut and big break for aspiring novelist Stephen King. Before Carrie and his subsequent work would make him a household name, King was barely making ends meet as a high school English teacher and before that, as an activist for the Presidential campaign of Maine Senator Edmund Muskie in 1972.

    Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 Singles of 1973 (Top Ten):

    1. “Dream (A Brotherhood of Man)” - The Beatles

    2. “Why Me” - Kris Kristofferson

    3. “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” - Jim Croce

    4. “Let’s Get it On” - Marvin Gaye

    5. “Stuck in the Middle With You” - Stealers Wheel

    6. “Pancho and Lefty” - Townes Van Zandt

    7. “Crocodile Rock” - Elton John

    8. “My Love” - The Beatles

    9. “Dancing in the Moonlight” - King Harvest

    10. “Rocky Mountain High” - John Denver

    News in Music Through the Year

    January 14th - Elvis Presley’s Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite television special is broadcast in over 40 countries around the globe. During the concert, the King announces that he and Ann Margret are expecting their second child.

    January 18th - The Rolling Stones play a benefit concert for the victims of the recent Earthquake in Nicaragua, raising over $500,000 for disaster relief in the Central American country.

    January 30th - Wicked Lester, a New York City based rock group led by friends Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley play their first gig with new members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. Shortly after the show, they change their name to something a little catchier: KISS.


    February 14th - King of Glam David Bowie collapses from exhaustion after a show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He survives the incident, but decides to take a break from touring for a few months to recover.

    February 18th - Recently returned from decorated service as a medic in Cambodia, Bruce Springsteen makes his live debut alongside the “E Street Band” in Newark, New Jersey. Later this year, Springsteen would release his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, which though critically acclaimed, would be a commercial flop.

    March 1st - Leonard Bernstein conducts Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto for the very first time with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

    Pink Floyd releases The Dark Side of the Moon on Apple Records - which goes on to become one of the highest selling records of all time. The Album becomes the best selling in Apple Records' history.

    March 7th - Despite the commercial failure of Greetings from Asbury Park, Bruce Springsteen is signed to a multi-year contract by Columbia Records. The company’s director of talent acquisition, John Hammond, is convinced that Springsteen can turn his wartime experiences into a real hit.

    March 8th - Beatle and Apple Corps. CEO Paul McCartney is fined $250 after pleading guilty to charges of growing marijuana on his and Jane Asher’s farm in Scotland. The same week, Apple Corps artist Elton John hits number one in the UK with “Daniel”.

    April 2nd - The Beatles release their fourteenth studio album in the “core catalogue” - Power to the People. A decidedly political, folksy-acoustic sounding record, Power to the People was hailed by critics as a “calculated attack on the consumerist trends of the late sixties, and established the “biggest band in the world” as activists and powerful voices for change. The record's jangly, acoustic sound would influence mainstream Rock for decades to come, as well.

    Track listing - Title - Songwriter(s) (Lead Vocalist)

    1. Dream (A Brotherhood of Man) - Lennon/McCartney (John)

    2. Try Some, Buy Some - Harrison (George)

    3. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) - Harrison (George)

    4. Mrs. Vanderbilt - Lennon/McCartney (Paul)

    5. Power to the People - Lennon/McCartney (John)

    6. Working Class Hero - Lennon/McCartney (John)

    7. Living in the Material World - Harrison (George)

    8. It Don’t Come Easy - Harrison/Starr (Ringo)

    9. Governor Jim Buckley Blues - Lennon/McCartney (Paul)

    10. Happy Xmas (War is Over) - Lennon/McCartney (John)


    April 13th - Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Album Catch a Fire makes them international superstars and brings reggae music to mainstream audiences.

    May 4th - July 29th - Led Zeppelin embarks on a tour of the United States, during which they set the record for highest attendance for a concert in the U.S., with 56,800 at Tampa Stadium, smashing the record set by the Beatles nearly a decade earlier at Shea Stadium.

    June 29th - West German Rock Band The Scorpions play their first gig with lead guitarist Uli Roth in Munich.

    July 13th - Queen, one of the greatest and most popular rock groups of all time, release their eponymous debut album on Apple Records. The leading single “Seven Seas of Rhye” peaks at #5 in the U.K. but provides the band with their first major hit.


    Behind the scenes, the Director of Talent Acquisition for Apple, Brian Epstein, and one of the label’s biggest stars: Elton John, begin a secret romantic relationship.

    July 28th - Summer Jam at Watkins Glen Rock festival is attended by more than 600,000 fans who see the Band, The Allman Brothers Band (including lead guitarist Duane Allman), Chicago Transit Authority, and the Grateful Dead.

    July 30th - Soviet officials grant permission for Gennadi Rozhdestvensky to accept a three-year appointment as chief conductor of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the first time a Soviet orchestra conductor has been allowed to take up such a position outside of the Eastern Bloc.

    August 6th - R&B star Stevie Wonder is seriously injured in a car accident and spends the next four days in a coma.

    August 25th - Country/folk singer-songwriter John Prine, who was discovered by Kris Kristofferson in 1971 and is widely hailed by critics as “the next Bob Dylan” releases his third studio album, Sweet Revenge to commercial and critical acclaim. To promote the record, Prine embarks on a tour of the United States with fellow country star Townes Van Zandt, who also released the biggest hit of his career this year so far with “Pancho and Lefty”.

    September 1st - The Rolling Stones begin their European tour in Vienna, Austria.

    September 20th - Jim Croce, Maury Muehleisen, and four others die in a plane crash in rural Louisiana. In a love letter to his wife, Croce revealed that he had been thinking of giving up songwriting to focus on a career as a short-story author or screenwriter.

    September 23rd - The Roxy Theater opens in Los Angeles, California.

    October 20th - Queen Elizabeth II opens Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia.

    November 1st - KISS becomes the first act signed by producer Neil Bogart to his brand new label, Casablanca Records.

    November 20th - The Who open their Quadrophenia US tour with a concert at San Francisco's Cow Palace, but drummer Keith Moon passes out and has to be carried off the stage. Pete Townsend asks for a volunteer from the audience to replace Moon and gets one; nineteen-year-old fan Scot Halpin, who finishes the show. Halpin says backstage after the show: "I really admire their stamina; I only played three numbers, and I was dead!"

    December 31st - Scottish-Australian brothers Angus and Malcolm Young perform under the name AC/DC for the first time at the former Sydney nightclub “Chequers” for their New Year’s Eve Party. They will soon be joined by lead singer Bon Scott and adjust their sound from glam to more heavy, hard, blues-influenced rock.

    1973 in Film - The Year’s Biggest

    The Exorcist - Supernatural Horror adapted from the novel of the same name. Directed by Arthur Penn and starring Marilyn Monroe, Jodie Foster, Max von Sydow, and Jack Nicholson.

    American Graffiti - Coming of age comedy. Directed by George Lucas and starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Ron Howard.

    The Way We Were - Romantic drama. Directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford and Sharon Tate. Arthur Laurents wrote both the novel and screenplay based on his days studying at Cornell University and his experiences with the House Un-American Activities Committee. Considered one of the finest love stories ever told, The Way We Were would also earn Tate her first Academy Award nomination for best actress, though she would end up losing out to Marilyn Monroe for her role in The Exorcist.


    The Snow Queen - Disney Animated Musical. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman and starring Julie Andrews as Gerda, Brian Bedford as Kai, and Eleanor Audley as the titular villain. Originally stuck in development Hell since Walt first conceived of adapting Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales in 1937, The Snow Queen quickly found its footing once again after the success of 1970’s The Aristocats put the studio back on the road to success.


    News in Film and Television, Throughout the Year

    March 5th - Five Fingers of Death is released in the United States and United Kingdom, launching the 1970’s Kung Fu craze.

    April 11th - Kim Jong-Il son of Kim Il-Sung, the Supreme Leader of Communist North Korea, publishes On the Art of Cinema, his treatise on filmmaking.

    May 10th - Martial Arts Legend Bruce Lee is rushed to the hospital after he is believed to have suffered an allergic reaction to pain medication. Thanks to swift reaction and a relatively low dosage, Lee manages to survive and tour America for the upcoming release of his masterpiece, Enter the Dragon.

    August 11th - Programme One airs the first part of the Soviet Television miniseries Seventeen Moments of Spring, which would run until the 24th. With an audience of more than 80 million viewers, it becomes the first successful television show from the Soviet Union.

    August 18th - Sir Alec Guinness ends his four year tenure as The Doctor on Doctor Who when he regenerates into the Fourth Doctor, to be played by the much younger (and more esoteric) Tom Baker, who will go on to become an all time fan favorite. Though Guinness’ run was short, he left an indelible mark on the character, and his catchphrase: “So uncivilized!” would be used again and again by various incarnations of the Doctor for years to come.


    September 15th - Betty White makes her first appearance as Sue Ann Nivens in The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s fourth season opener, “The Lars Affair”.

    September 20th - The Battle of the Sexes: Billie Jean King trounces Bobby Riggs in a televised tennis match at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Worldwide, nearly 100 million people were watching.

    November 21st - The Sci-Fi film Westworld becomes the first feature film to use digital image processing, forever changing the future of cinema.

    December 26th - Arthur Penn’s The Exorcist and George A. Romero’s Martin cause an explosive resurgence in the horror genre.

    1973 in Sport

    Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson becomes the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season, smashing the previous record.


    The Miami Dolphins head into Super Bowl VII as the only undefeated team in the post merger era of the NFL, but cannot bring it on home as they come up short against Billy Kilmer’s Washington Redskins 21 - 7.


    A charter plane carrying the Atlanta Braves to an away game at Shea Stadium crashes in a storm over southern Pennsylvania. Several players and staff are tragically killed, including Legendary outfielder “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron, who was poised to overtake Babe Ruth’s all-time Home Run record. Aaron would pass away with 708 career home runs, second on the all-time list.


    The World Series - The Oakland Athletics avenge their loss the year before and win 4 games to 3 against the New York Mets. Oakland Outfielder Reggie Jackson serves as MVP.


    The New York Knicks win the NBA Finals over the Los Angeles Lakers, 4 games to 2.


    The Stanley Cup - The Montreal Canadiens defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 4 games to 1.

    Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” - Zhou Enlai, Chairman of the Communist Party of China and Premier of the People’s Republic. - For his rise to power and the promises of reform and western rapprochement his rule represented.


    Other Headlines, Throughout the Year

    Federal Express (FedEx) began operation in the United States.

    Burger King debuts its slogan: “Have it Your Way”.


    Women were finally allowed to serve on juries in all 50 States for the very first time.

    Homosexuality was removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders in 1973.


    In “the Meeting of the Titans” Elvis Presley and his French Counterpart, Johnny Hallyday play together in Hawaii, then begin a worldwide tour starting in the United States and carrying them all across Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The tour results in Hallyday finally breaking into the music scene in the English speaking world and making him a truly international star.


    Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson publish the inaugural edition of Dungeons and Dragons, the world’s greatest role-playing game.


    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: The Kennedy Family Hits Hard Times
    Chapter 85
  • Chapter 85: Please Come to Boston - The Kennedy Clan Struggles in the New Decade


    Above: Former President John F. Kennedy’s health and physical appearance began to deteriorate in the mid-1970s, as the effects of Addison’s Disease and his other conditions worsened (left). The Kennedy Family Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts - home to the former President and his family as well as the seat of power for America’s preeminent political dynasty (right).

    Jack Kennedy did not like growing old. He was no stranger to the laundry list of physical ailments which hounded him in every one of his waking hours. Indeed, he had faced them bravely and with grit and resilience for all of his 56 years. He had managed to lead the most powerful nation in history for eight of them, even while being in the most precarious health of any Commander in Chief since Franklin Roosevelt. There it was again. Much as JFK absolutely cherished being compared to FDR, this was one area in which he would have preferred to be a little more different than his political role model. Days were often shorter for the former President than they used to be. Just after leaving the White House, he would spring out of bed early in the morning to swim laps in the family pool, a daily ritual he had continued in Washington to keep in shape and work out his muscle aches, on recommendation from the best of his personal physicians. After this, Kennedy enjoyed eating a hearty breakfast before spending the afternoon sailing and fishing with his four children, writing more of his books, and taking long walks on the Massachusetts shore line with Jackie. Even as he passed 50, Jack remained an old horn dog at heart. There was nothing sexier to him than making love to his wife, the most beautiful woman in the world as far as he was concerned, at the very edge of the American continent, with the sun passing overhead as it headed for California and the ocean seemed to wash away his cares with the tides. 1974 marked 11 years of devotion and utter fidelity in their marriage. Jack had been a very good boy, indeed. But even the best behaved, most loving of husbands had to eventually come to grips with their own mortality. Even a living legend like John F. Kennedy could not escape the looming specter of death, much as he had been proving the bastard wrong throughout his life.

    By ‘74, something had changed in him, he could tell. He was no longer springing out of bed in the morning. His laps in the pool grew ever harder to maintain until eventually, he stopped trying to do them altogether, and contented himself with just soaking his horribly aching muscles in the tub for hours at a time. More than the aches, Kennedy was frustrated by just how weak he felt. Even walking up and down the stairs seemed to leave him winded, and his previous stomach issues returned until they became a nearly constant nuisance. Even with access to the best doctors money could buy, the best the former President could get was: “this was going to happen eventually.” Modern medicine had performed several minor miracles on Jack Kennedy. His Presidency had been one, as had his heroics in World War II. Money and connections, personal courage and a strong moral compass, all these had served him well, but the physical makeup of his body was tired and his natural defenses were beginning to give out. Addison’s and his other conditions sapped him of his energy, and by the end of the year, he would largely be confined to a wheelchair, as his father had been near the end of his life. Jackie insisted he cut back on his public appearances severely, which also frustrated him to no end. The former President loved to see the American people, absorb the love and adoration they had for him written plain across their faces. He was their conquering hero, and he never grew tired of fighting for them, for their causes. Whether appearing to speak in person at events to benefit charities and veterans’ groups, or calling Bobby or Ted to pitch ideas for legislation to them, President Kennedy’s retirement had never been anything but an active one. Only medical necessity could ever force that to change, and unfortunately, it did. Increasingly reclusive, and forced to dictate the remainder of his book, The People’s History of the United States of America (which would go on to be a bestseller and win Kennedy his second Pulitzer Prize when it was released on the nation’s bicentennial on July 4th, 1976) to a scribe, the former President made the decision to address the issue of his health with his brothers when they came to the Kennedy Compound for his 57th birthday, on May 29th, 1974.

    As always with the Kennedys, appearances were kept up and emotions were deeply buried until the brothers could meet behind closed doors. JFK smiled, joked, and led the family in grace before supper, sang with them after dessert was carried away, and even threw the football around with his nieces and nephews a little before he was taken to his wheelchair by Jackie and led to his office, which had once belonged to his father, so he could speak to Bobby and Teddy in private. Once the children and wives were away, outside playing in the late spring warmth, and Jack felt he could speak freely, he flatly laid out his condition. He began his explanation with an apology, telling his brothers that this was likely the last family event he would be able to fully put together himself. Jackie would continue to be a big help, as would Caroline and John Jr., now 17 and 14 respectively, but he admitted that he no longer felt like he and his immediate family could handle the job of Kennedy Family Patriarch alone. Keeping accounts not just on personal matters, but business and political careers of the various branches alone was a monumental task. Add in JFK’s feeling that he had to give freely of himself as a piece of political capital to each of his family members’ campaigns and initiatives, and it was a wonder that he ever had any time for himself to begin with. He apologized also more specifically because he knew, “I’m about to make each of your lives harder.” Bobby and Ted were both up for reelection to their senate seats in ‘76, and unlike he had four years earlier, Jack would not be able to actively campaign for either of them in the race to come. “I wish things were different, believe me I do.” Jack’s gray-green eyes were replete with bitter sadness as he spoke. “But it seems advice is going to be the best that I can offer this time around. Maybe appear in a TV spot if Jackie lets me out of this damned chair.”

    Bobby kept his face nondescript, a skill he’d become quite adept at over his years of working with Jack and living with their father. “It’s alright, Jack. Your health and comfort are the most important things, now. You’ve done so much for us already.” He put his hand on his elder brother’s shoulder and could feel his sorrow through his Harvard sweater. “We’ll make you proud out there. I promise. Won’t we Teddy?”

    The youngest Kennedy boy averted his brothers’ eyes. It didn’t take a room of intellectually gifted statesmen to tell that he was deeply uncomfortable with everything going on around him. Bobby took note of this, though he said nothing for the time being. He didn’t want to burden Jack with this even as his life seemed to be coming apart around him. The Senator from New York hugged his brother and told him that he would always be there if there was anything, anything he ever needed. Jack thanked him and looked him hard in the eye. “There’s a storm coming for us, Bobby.” The former President said with a strong note of foreboding. “I only hope that we’re strong enough to weather it.” Perhaps heroically, perhaps foolishly, he tried to smile. “I suspect however, that we are.” Jack’s brothers said goodnight to him and kissed Jackie on the cheek as they thanked her for a wonderful evening and watched her lead her husband off to bed.


    Bobby rolled up his shirtsleeves and ran his hands through his hair. He was tired, stressed, and more than a little angry at his little brother’s behavior. He turned and watched as Ted filled up a glass with Jameson whiskey, his hand shaking nervously the entire time. “Teddy,” he barked. “What the hell is wrong with you? That was our big brother in there and you wouldn’t even look at him!” Ted said nothing, but met his brother’s eyes for a second, then took a drink from his glass. The middle Kennedy went on. “This is hard on all of us, but don’t you think it has to be hardest on him? He went from the leader of the free world, the most powerful man on Earth, to hardly being able to walk without his wife’s help. How do you think that would make anybody feel?”

    Ted knocked back the rest of the whiskey and fired back with vitriol. “I don’t know Bobby, you’ll have to tell me! You and Jack were always the smart ones. You’re the one that’s going to carry his name all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in a few years. Then, some distant day, you’ll be in the same place he is, and I expect you’ll be able to give a great lesson on how hard it is to be nearly universally loved.”

    Bobby took a step toward his brother. “What is that supposed to mean?”

    The youngest Kennedy laughed and poured himself another drink. “I’m just the boozy, nice guy Kennedy. You and Jack got to inherit all of Dad’s good sense and Mom’s restraint, but it seems like I’m the one who gets the short end there too.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    Another gulp, another pour. “I’m not a great man, Bobby. I know Jack wants me to be, but I’m not. I’m a fun, likeable guy you feel like you could have a beer with. I don’t inspire anyone, I don’t rewrite the course of history. I go down to Congress and schmooze and get budgets passed on time. Now that’s good enough for just about any Tom, Dick, or Harry, so long as their last name isn’t Kennedy. But your brother becomes the most successful President in thirty years and all of the sudden, everyone thinks you’re Superman. They expect you to throw your weight around and change the world as we know it. It’s too much.” Another attempted gulp. Bobby stopped him.

    “Teddy, I think you’ve had enough.”

    Ted laughed again. “Oh do you, Bob? Let me ask you this: you and Ethel still fucking every night?”

    Bobby’s face went red, ever the First Irish Puritan. “What does that have to do with anything?”

    “It’s been a while since you’ve had a kid, that’s all.” Ted shook his head and had his drink, swallowing hard. “There again, I fail to measure up to my famous brothers. You and Ethel have always been happy as a pair of clams. Even Jack and Jackie managed to sort things out after Patrick passed.” He paused, tears forming in his eyes. “Bobby, it’s been a month since Joan would even sleep in the same room as me. She says I disgust her, that I’m a disappointment and she wishes she never married me at all. Bobby, our marriage is failing.”

    The anger melted from Bobby’s face and was instantly replaced with sympathy. “Oh Teddy…” He tried to put his arms around his brother and comfort him. “It’s going to be okay. You’re not a disappointment to anyone. We’re all just… good at different things.”

    Ted backed away. “Easy for you to say when you’re good at everything. Your bills get passed, your voice is wanted on every appointment. Not everyone likes you, but everyone in the Beltway respects you, whether they’ll admit it or not.” He wiped away his tears and set down his glass. “I’m not good like you and Jack are either. I’m the reason my marriage is failing, and pretty soon…” He looked out the window at his wife, who was making small talk with Ethel and trying to pass as contented. “The whole world is going to hear about it.”

    A little more than a year earlier, the Kennedys, Bobby and Ted, had been in Los Angeles to help longtime family friend, Jimmy Roosevelt campaign in the recall election against Ronald Reagan’s successor as Governor, Republican Edwin Reinecke. Polls were definitely in Jimmy’s favor, and for the first time in the long, difficult career of FDR’s eldest son, it looked like his fortunes were finally about to change. A weekend-long trip of the state for the brothers included speeches at various organizations and whistle stops in several of the major cities and concluded with a massive fundraiser party to be held at the home of Frank Sinatra, a longtime Democratic Party supporter and friend of the Kennedy Clan. At the party, Bobby handled a lot of the heavy political deal making while Teddy enjoyed the offerings at the bar and generally had a good time. He chatted up Sinatra, made a strong first impression on jazz saxophonist Billy Clinton (whom he suggested should one day run for Mayor of Los Angeles), and finally, met a woman who would change his life forever. Sharon Tate Polanski was 31 years old in the spring of 1973, 11 years Ted’s junior and just as beautiful as ever. Hot on the heels of her success in such films as 1973’s Westworld, 1972’s Henry VIII (as Catherine of Aragon), and 1971’s Johnny Got His Gun, an adaptation of Dalton Trumbo’s acclaimed anti-war novel of the same name, Tate was seen as one of the preeminent “smart beauty queens” of early 70’s Hollywood, and she captivated Kennedy from the moment he met her. Not only was she blonde, buxom, and beautiful, she had a wit and personality about her that left the youngest Kennedy spellbound. He spent much of the evening conversing with her about her political leanings and sharing glass after glass of champagne. Gradually, their conversations turned flirtatious, one thing lead to another, and by the end of the night, the two were in a guest room of Sinatra’s mansion making manic, passionate love to each other. Though for most politicians, this would have been little more than a (particularly noteworthy) one night stand, for Kennedy this only the first night of a long, torrid love affair. The depth of Tate’s feelings for the Senator are difficult to discern entirely, though they appear to have been genuine as well, as she made the effort to vacation near the capital or Massachusetts whenever possible. She would make an excuse to her husband, Director Roman Polanski, about “wanting to see the Atlantic” or “take in the nation’s capital”, but the reality was much more scandalous, and a one-time fling in a Sinatra guest room turned into something much deeper and more potentially damning.


    Joan Kennedy caught on before Roman Polanski did. The director was often preoccupied with his rather busy filmmaking schedule and hardly paid any mind to the thought that his wife might be having an affair. For Kennedy’s wife however, the prospect was all too real from the very first time she saw her husband and Tate photographed together at that party in Los Angeles. She had heard from Jackie how awful Jack had been to her early in their marriage, and had even heard the rumors that Bobby was a bit of a flirt in his day as well. Joan also remembered the inappropriate and disgusting advances Ted’s father had made on her on their wedding day of all times. Joan was privy to one of the sad, dark realities of being a man in the Kennedy family: sexual conquests were seen as a mark of power, prestige, and manhood. Jack seemed to have outgrown his adolescent attitudes toward sex through the painful shared trauma he and Jackie had gone through in ‘63, and Bobby’s religiosity seemed to keep his in check to begin with, but her husband seemed to have no such qualms and so happily carried on his father’s “sinful little habit”. Even after Joan confronted Ted about the affair, having hired a private investigator to tail the senator one night after work to a hotel in D.C., who caught more than one damning photograph of he and Tate in each other’s arms, she discovered that Sharon Tate wasn’t the only woman her husband was seeing behind her back. Joan was heartbroken and immediately demanded a divorce. Ted tried to reason with her. He insisted that this was not as big of a deal as she thought it was. “I don’t love her the same way I do you.” He claimed. “She’s not the mother of my children, you are.” These excuses did little to stem Joan’s anger, but they did keep her from telling anyone about what she knew for the time being. That is, until her PI recorded a conversation between her husband and Tate, in which Kennedy told Tate: “I love you more than anything. More than my job, more than my wife, all of it. Sharon, you’re my everything.” That was on May 23rd, 1974, and Joan told Ted that not only was she filing for a divorce, but she had instructed her PI to take the story to the press. For the second time in three years, the Kennedys would be at the center of a national sex scandal. And unlike his beloved brother Jack, Ted had neither titanic public achievements nor a consistent track record of repentance to hide behind. His dirty laundry was about to air out in the open for all to see, and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do to stop it.

    Ted’s marital troubles were surely going to come up as a campaign issue as he faced reelection, but he wasn’t the only Kennedy who would have troubles on the road to 1976.


    If there was a single Democrat in the United States Senate who enjoyed, even relished being a maverick from the party’s establishment in 1974, it was the junior Senator from Minnesota, Eugene McCarthy. A fierce dove on foreign policy, McCarthy had been proud to be one of only two dozen Senators to vote against the Jackson Resolution to send American troops to Rhodesia, and was consistently critical of both the New Frontier Liberal and Southern Populist wings of his own party, not to mention a near constant critic of the Bush Administration and its “Republican enablers” in Congress. Though widely disliked in Washington for distancing himself from both of the party’s preeminent factions, McCarthy’s star began to rise significantly after the 1972 Election, where the Southern wing had failed to stop the GOP and the “New Frontier Coalition” had failed to stop Lyndon Johnson from securing the nomination. Though he and Senator Robert Kennedy agreed on many key areas of policy, there was great personal animosity between the two men. McCarthy considered the Kennedy family “a bunch of phony Catholics, giving all Irish-Americans a bad name with their ‘slick’ version of democratic principles and ‘made for TV’ politics.” He was a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, who supported the principles of the New Deal and the New Frontier, though he would never credit the Kennedys with the creation of the latter, a peaceful foreign policy and continuation of the war on poverty, and on the big social issue of the day was against abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the health of the mother. He claimed that the Kennedys’ refusal to oppose abortion proved his claim about the “phoniness” of their Catholicism, and confirmed that they put political achievement over ethical rightness. McCarthy was also virulently anti-immigrant, and complained that "illegals have the potential to wreck our already fragile industries." Needless to say, he was a complicated man.

    As 1974 wore on, the worsening energy crisis caused the recession to deepen and President Bush’s approval ratings to finally dip after nearly a year of relative highs. The midterms were approaching, and then the next Presidential election would be here before anyone knew it and the President was looking not only beatable, but downright weak. Democratic party insiders were already scouting their ranks for names of potential candidates, especially as that of Robert Kennedy seemed to loom large over all the others, a colossus waiting to be laid low or else coronated. McCarthy was not about to stand by and let another Kennedy nomination happen, not without a fight anyway. The Minnesotan began to grow his political star by appearing more frequently on Beltway talk shows and speaking with increased frequency and passion on the issues which seemed to divide himself from Kennedy and other liberal Democrats ahead of ‘76. He gave speeches stressing his opposition to U.S. aid for Israel, which he considered the leading cause of the oil embargo and the current economic woes crippling the United States with fear. “Ours is currently a foreign policy of what is convenient instead of what is right.” McCarthy said to a crowd of cheering college students at UC Berkeley when he visited the College in June of ‘74. “This must change if we are ever going to claim to be the leader of the free world again.” New Frontier Democrats were getting nervous. As McCarthy’s star continued to rise, the Ted Kennedy-Sharon Tate scandal hit the front page of every major paper in the country, and Ted’s messy divorce seemed to drag on for months leading to the midterms. Every Republican in the country made an effort to drag the Kennedy name through the mud, associating it with decadence and “moral corruption” and forcing every Kennedy-aligned Democrat to either distance themselves from that label or defend it, neither a particularly appealing option in what was poised to be a tight election year. In the midst of all this, and just as the summer of 1974 was hitting its hottest, a veritable political gold mine was dropped in McCarthy’s lap by an anonymous source from within the Department of Justice: evidence that Robert Kennedy had clamped down on civil liberties, and given disgraced former FBI Director Hoover permission to wiretap thousands of Americans, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders during Kennedy’s time as his brother’s Attorney General in the early 60’s. McCarthy had been hoping for just this sort of story to discredit Kennedy’s candidacy before it even began. He could not have asked for anything better.

    At a highly publicized press conference on July 27th, McCarthy revealed the evidence he had been given and called for the U.S. Senate to investigate Senator Kennedy for his possible abuses of power during his time at the Justice Department. The initial findings of McCarthy’s source were sparse, but damning. It seemed that until he had “wisened up” on Civil Rights around 1963, Robert Kennedy had been just fine with signing off on Hoover’s bullying, dictatorial tactics in order to save his brother’s reputation and chances for reelection from whatever documentation Hoover had on JFK. In the time since, Bobby had long cultivated a reputation as a tireless fighter for American minorities. Much of his base of support came not just from Irish Catholics, but from Latinos, African Americans, and women, all communities who would likely be devastated by these revelations about Kennedy’s conduct. Though he and Jack had both personally come a long way toward being two of the nation’s most tireless champions for civil rights and civil liberties during their time in office, RFK could not deny that the findings about his first two years as Attorney General were mostly true. Later that same day, Senator Kennedy and his chief of staff, civil rights icon and former Freedom Rider John Lewis called a press conference of their own, where Kennedy solemnly and sincerely apologized for his past behavior and submitted himself for investigation if the Senate wished to have one. Republicans and Southern Democrats rejoiced and pounced at the opportunity to take “Prince Bobby”, arguably the most popular politician in the country, down a peg. Though the eventual three month long investigation would turn up nothing which would damn Kennedy any more than the initial report had, his reputation and image did take a massive, direct hit from McCarthy’s well researched and well planned attack. The story was a bombshell and forced Kennedy into a defensive position before he’d even decided for sure whether he was going to run for President or not in 1976.


    Bobby was forced to abandon any hopes he had for running for President in the next two years. Between Ted’s nasty divorce filling the tabloids, Jack being too sick to help campaign or dispel the cloud hanging over his head, and the litany of his former allies running for the hills in the wake of the Senate investigation, Bobby struggled to see a clear way he could make it out of this mess and be reelected to the Senate, let alone be elected President. It wasn’t in the Kennedy Family Doctrine of politics to do anything if you didn’t believe you had a good chance of making it out on top. It didn’t seem like a good time to test the wisdom of that dogma, with the family’s fortunes on the downswing and all. He shared these thoughts of despair only with his wife, Ethel, and John Lewis. He refused to tell Jack for fear of breaking his big brother’s heart. Jack still firmly believed that Bobby was going to be President someday, just as he had been. Bobby couldn’t let him down, not now.

    With RFK implicitly out of the picture for ‘76 and struggling to recover as he prepared to defend his senate seat against an invigorated, if yet to be named Republican challenger, the Democratic Party’s field for leadership was suddenly wide open. Though he hadn’t announced anything yet, it would be uncouth to do so before even the midterms, Senator Eugene McCarthy was clearly the biggest winner of Robert Kennedy’s fall from grace, and began to position himself more and more as a possible answer to the prayers of the nation’s liberal dreamers. In this pursuit he was joined by several other prominent Democrats, including Maine Senator Edmund Muskie, whom many saw as a potential candidate for a second go at the White House after his narrow defeat by Lyndon Johnson in ‘72; as well as the recently elected Governor of California, James Roosevelt II, son of the legendary FDR and the last scion of his father’s political dynasty. Though he was already 67 years old in 1974, and had been defeated in numerous high profile races in the past, Roosevelt was nonetheless inspiring millions of devoted followers and evoking memories of his father with his characteristically eloquent, witty oratory, and his calls for reform and government assistance to counter the worsening recession. As the 1970’s turned darker and the people looked for leaders, it was clear that the next few years were going to produce a large crop for them to choose from.


    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Terror Strikes Deep