Due Opposition - Capitulation Over Cuba

I find it funny I was about to post the next Chapter only to see this. I don't have a good sense of humour though, as some may see in the upcoming.


Due Opposition - Chapter Two: Shattered Hopes

“This is an unmitigated disaster, and pardon my language Mr. President, you need to fucking mitigate it.”
  • Unknown, Tape from John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

“General LeMay retires, General McKee to replace LeMay as Air Force Chief of Staff”
  • News Coverage, January 14th

“Kennedy entered into the New Year with both sides furious, hopes in him flung across the gulf and shot dead in Cuba, and his popularity seemingly at its nadir. Yet, his State of the Union would go without note, failing to woo his opponents, failing to satisfy his former proponents. Kennedy’s charm seemed to have dried up.”
  • A. Adams ‘Crisis on our Shores’

"1962 ended as a poor year for Kennedy, 1963 seemed set from the beginning to be worse. Republicans just shredded Democrats in the midterms, and all the blame was set squarely on the President. The Southern Democrats were burning their bridge to prevent themselves from becoming the second Lister Hill, Johnson was throwing a fit about his future behind closed doors, but that could be settled.

What couldn’t was the Elephant in the Room, Richard Nixon, the Leader of the Opposition, to substitute in British Terminology, if the Papers can do it so can I. Instead of being a Governor, Nixon was playing shadow President, dancing about Europe, shaking hands with world leaders while Kennedy was stuck at home pulling Damage Control.

One by one, those who broke away from the Administration would find themselves in a new location. Curtis LeMay, following his early retirement just a day before the State of the Union, overshadowed it in all respects as he flew off to find a new position as “Military Advisor” to Nixon.”
  • W. Richards, ‘In Defense of Kennedy - Context’

“Kennedy was screwed, do I really need to add more context?”
  • D. Philips, ‘stupid essay 23’

  • Mr. Tawly, ‘stupid essay 23’ Response

Nixon was inaugurated to a score of applause in California, instantly earning the bestowed title of ‘Leader of the Opposition’ by the press. Nixon, never quite interested in the role of Governor itself, certainly didn’t decry the label, despite his promise not to run for President come 1964. Certainly the most strange affair was his tour of Europe, meeting with many foreign leaders on an unofficial basis.

“Gaitskell released from Hospital, declined to meet with Nixon to ‘Recuperate Health’”
  • News Coverage, January 30th

“Nixon-Home meetings subject to many rumours, little in hard facts”
  • News Coverage, January 31st

“Nixon to visit West Berlin as final stop on European Tour.”
  • News Coverage, February 16th

Reactions at home were ambivalent to Nixon’s tour, though he met a warm reception abroad. Many, despite his pledge to the contrary, were expecting a run come 1964, with Nixonfavoured in the polls. For Kennedy, that New Frontier of the 1960’s had swiftly turned towards Unfilled Hopes, with the Narrative seemingly beyond Kennedy’s control.

That was due to change, with a month of preparation, Kennedy set forth to restore trust in his administration. A Tour across the nation, to talk with the voters, and hopefully bring back some of the Hope that had been burned away with the Order he had to give. It would be the moment to restore the dream.

But it was not to be.

“Armed Assailant attacks Kennedy Critic, Major General Edwin Walker. Walker Injured, Would be Assassin Dead!”
  • Headline covering the attempted assassination of Edwin Walker

“Inside Report - Could the attempt on General Walker’s life be a move to silence critics by the Kennedies?”
  • Headline covering the attempted assassination of Edwin Walker

“Lee Harvey Oswald, Walker Assailant potentially tied to Mafia? Kennedys?”
  • Headline covering the attempted assassination of Edwin Walker

“Who is Lee Harvey Oswald? The CIA-Mafia-Kennedy Connection”
  • Conspiracy Theory Promoting Pamphlet

“Learn the Truth! The Kennedies sent Lee Harvey Oswald to kill General Walker! All the Facts in one easy to read set!”
  • Conspiracy Theory Promoting Pamphlet

“No, President Kennedy was not at all involved in the attempted assassination of Edwin Walker. That Notion is Preposterous”
  • Michael Tandy, Interview

“While no ties could be made to the Kennedys and the would-be assassin, sensationalist articles went hard on the bad blood between the Kennedys and Walker, possibly stoked in private by Walker himself. It would prove to be yet another in a series of blows to President Kennedy”
  • Loch Morrows, ‘Kennedy Under Siege: the Cuban Crisis and its Aftermath”


For those who wondered if the Kennedy assassination was going to happen on due, I do hope this resolves those questions, less this be relegated to utter ASB and resurrection technology be developed. As well, I subject you to my horrible attempt at comedy with the essay joke, my apologies if that caused any accidental deaths from the pain it might have pushed upon your soul. I do hope you otherwise enjoyed.

I have heard of one US scheme that just possibly might have worked. It involved Marine squads learning Vietnamese, and, deployed to individual villages, lending themselves to all sorts of non-military Peace Corps sort of work to gain trust and confidence, and then drilling up local cadres of villagers to be a self-defensive militia presumably not interested in simply joining the "VC" when the Yankee and Saigon backs were turned; this scheme allegedly worked on a small scale trial basis, but I have to wonder if it could have been undertaken on the necessary mass scale
This is what happened in a way, the local Militia called the Popular Force, and the Regional Force that was a National Guard equivalent for each Province grew in capability, but in no means equipped to deal with a conventional invasion, but by 1970, had the VC/Insurrection problem contained. This was the RF/PF, or Ruff Puffs to US Troops.
a parallel organization was the CIDG, Civilian Irregular Defense Group, that what the Green Berets and CIA was up to, making militia from the Montagnards, the other groups that were not exactly on good terms with the Majority Vietnamese. By time Westmoreland was on the way out, MACV decide that they were too independent, and began rolling them into the RF command structure
This is why I am skeptical, even if one supposes as many do that Nixon for instance was some kind of liberal, that liberal agendas would prevail.
Tricky Dick was very liberal in some ways. I've mentioned in tha past that Noam Chomsky was on record that he thought was the last liberal President the US had.
Tricky Dick was very liberal in some ways. I've mentioned in tha past that Noam Chomsky was on record that he thought was the last liberal President the US had.
Looking at his career overall, and at his candid personal attitudes (and those of his trusted handpicked men) as revealed in various ways post-administration (such as the Frost interviews and interviews with former officials, the tapes, etc) he was first and foremost an opportunist, interested in power for power and glory's sake--to show up the well-off snobs who snubbed him in college back in Whittier and so forth. He was "liberal" to the degree he judged the overwhelming consensus of his age to be liberal, but given an opportunity to turn to reactionary solutions he took it. Whatever would position himself as the great leader was his ideology. Per the Constitution's apologists in the Federalist Papers and so on, this is fine, "ambition checks ambition" and all that, in the liberal quasi-market oriented mindset that holds that a properly designed constitution harnesses self-centered drives just as competitive free markets harness private greed to public good, via the ability of third party prospective employees or customers to walk away from a bad deal and seek out good ones. (Not that the Framers were up on Smith's Wealth of Nations; rather we have here parallel evolution of different aspects of one ideological paradigm developing to account for an emerging liberal world order). I should note I am using the word "liberal" in two different senses in this single paragraph! Formally speaking it is a world view that seemed downright reactionary by the 1960s (and still more so in the 1930s and '40s) strongly expressed by the Jacksonian Democrats of the mid-19th century and the ruling parties of Britain, which had in context radically progressive aspects at the time versus Old Regime type aristocratic authoritarianism and paternalism, but in the context of the concrete grievances and concerns of the vast majority of practically close to propertyless working people in the 20th century was conservative in denying this public legitimate redress in the form of massive social democratic intervention in market outcomes. In peculiar American parlance on the other hand, the labels of "socialist" or even "social democratic" were to be avoided as radioactive as the fundamental "common sense" of American ideology, which say the Libertarian Party captures very succinctly (and in the context of "Reagan Revolution," St Ronnie himself put it as "government is not the solution, government is the problem"). Therefore the New Deal consensus enabled mainstream politicians to embrace the continuities between classic liberal thought and collective ad hoc governmental interventionism and claim (with some justice I think, toward the sentiments if not the logical content of classic liberalism, which politically speaking Americans embraced as an expression of populism) that they were the real liberals. In fact it was the deep conservatives who were most faithful to the logic and formalism of what people like Jefferson and Jackson were driving toward, leading logically to Libertarian claims that "that government that governs least governs best, that government is best that governs not at all." Of course classic conservatives (in the American rather than European context) have and had plenty of vested interests that require a very strongly interventionist state on their behalf--property rights, in Libertarian mythology, defend themselves via dispersed populist self-interest (untrustworthy partners acquire bad reputations and so forth, very bad actors outrage the common-sense proprieties and are put down by vigilante action, etc) but in fact the sort of property rights that emerge from capitalist competition are tightly centralized interests of a vanishingly few people, and a mystique of state majesty is quite necessary to sustain them--the alternative would be something akin to industrial feudalism, as rival gangs of the very rich freely employ mercenary enforcers against each other with a Mafia-like ruthlessness. Society's contradictions cannot be wished away with verbal formulas; institutions exist and the question is, who controls them and to what purposes. The New Deal consensus held that by and large, provided their bad tendencies were kept in prudent check by judicious government supervision and strategic intervention, the evolution of the centralized corporate order served well enough, and we need not be concerned if the masses of people paid little attention to the details of government and left those complexities to collegial deals struck between formal representatives of elected state power and the corporate elites pursuing enlightened self-interest--provided that gross and outrageous forms of private interest were judiciously deterred, the smarter magnates would let their hired managers reach consensus fair deals with legitimate working class interests. That's what Americans meant by "liberal" in the post-war years. We could justify calling Nixon that in that he was consistently pals with the corporate elites all through his career, and inheriting the New Deal consensus that considerable scope for forms of government intervention were legitimate no matter what Thomas Jefferson might have thought about it, there was plenty of scope for his own personal stamp of glory without stepping on his patron corporation toes. But the notion that this somehow guaranteed he'd be what we'd call progressive on issues like racial equity, gender equity, working class prosperity, safety of the public from sharp corporate practices either fiscal or environmental, and so on, involves a leap of faith that should corporate collective interest veer toward raising profits via cutting corners, the Constitutional political side of things would automatically rebuff them. That was the New Deal faith, and the Democratic party was supposed to provide reasonable vigilance in protecting the common citizen from extremes as a quid pro quo for securing the basic right of the privileged to enjoy their wealth and power--for the common good.

I don't think the OTL Nixon Administration gives us much ground for believing Nixon would gainsay sharp corporate practices in favor of profit because of scrupulous regard for the interests of the common citizen. Of course conservatives of his type do believe they have those interests at heart, but they define legitimate citizens who deserve consideration as those who are most cooperative with the schemes of their betters, socially speaking. In the abstract we had Nixon enacting such "liberal" reforms as inaugurating the Environmental Protection Agency for instance, but in practice of course its regulations were honed to step on corporate toes as little as possible, on the theory that win-wins were always the best solution. Of course they are when they are possible, but the point is that in reality they often are not, and when the hard choice has to be made, such people as Nixon will gratify the powerful and leave masses of common citizens to twist in the wind. We know he had some pretty deplorable racial attitudes--not just the generic scorn of African-Americans all too common in the USA, but the whole hierarchal package of ethnic stereotypes, anti-Semitic, scornful of this that and the other specific subgroup of generically "white" people, common to the consistent if monstrous Social Darwinist racism that was forthright early in the 20th century. Again these were in fact largely checked by his ambition for electoral popularity, but in the specific matter of his approach toward African-American relations we see a ruthless tendency to take advantage of majority racism to throw them under the bus. The whole "War on Drugs" that so massively distorts American society to this day was part of Nixonian maneuvers to discredit his "enemies" after all.

So, I am arguing that in the context of the ATL debacle of a rhetorical flirtation of essentially corporatist and conservative "moderate liberalism" with an aura of an alternative form of vaguely leftist "revolution" that OTL had its severe limits but especially under LBJ delivered major advances and gave comfort to those who hoped for a gradual advance toward social democracy, and replacing it with a surge of old time religion classic 19th century style conservatism arguing that the interventions of the New Deal era were already an excessive mistake (if not, as the John Birch Society's founding papers argued forthrightly if absurdly, a full on treasonous conspiracy of One Worlders who secretly ruled both the USSR and USA), Nixon would not pursue an aura of liberalism in the American sense. He would lean on the right wing base of the American Way, not as liberals such as Norman Lear would later defend it as advancing New Dealism, but the actual American Way as developed in the triumphant years of the 20th century by and large--ongoing Jim Crow in the South (he might rhetorically deplore it for his substantial liberal-moderate supporters, but signal effectively to Southern and like minded types outside the South that nothing would be done to further upset them and thus retain their support too--and this is nothing different than the OTL "Southern Strategy" so infamously in play in both the 1968 and 1972 elections after all); no aid and comfort to feminists or other social radicals, no promises of general social safety nets, increased reliance on the magic of the marketplace--indeed, Reaganism 20 years early. When it starts to go pear-shaped in the later '60s we have ample reason, considering the authoritarian and lawless nature of Nixon's responses to political adversity OTL, to suppose he'd double down on "Law and Order" in favor of the Silent Majority. And for a time I think such a strategy would be a winning one.

I am also speculating that with the Great Depression still in living memory, such expedients will be more opposed in the long run by large numbers of citizens leading to a leftist countersurge in later times, by 1980 or so. By then of course Nixon himself might have served out two terms conventionally deemed effective and even glorious, and the blame fall on lesser successors.