Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Drew, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Shock and ... say what?

    Economic Shocks

    Confirmation of the inconclusive election results were broadcast shortly after the New York Exchange opened for trading on Thursday, November 9. Within a few hours the Dow Jones Average, which had been edging toward the 1,000 mark on November 8, fell 125 points (roughly 13% of its value) within the space of a few hours. Widespread panic selling set-in with the initial shock of the news, although by late afternoon the market had stabilized somewhat. The Chicago Board of Trade commodities exchange saw a rise buy orders for precious metal futures, a sign that investors were looking for an inflation hedge. Arthur Burns, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, became concerned about potential capital flight.

    After first shocks, the situation stabilized as investors took a wait-and-see attitude. However, the initial panic had ripples across markets around the world, and opened the door to what was characterised as “a potential cyclical downturn.” The widely reported fall in the Dow average contributed to an overall feeling of nervousness about the economy in the last two months of 1972.

    Global Reaction

    Public opinion around the world was confused about the mechanics of the Electoral College; especially in much of Western Europe where coalition governments were the norm. There were a few instances of pre-mature “Nixon is finished” celebrations before the actual meaning set in. The European press began a process of dissecting the American electoral process. French editorials made much of the merits of their process of directly electing the French President in a two step process (first round and run-off elections) and recommended the Americans do the same. They received back angry retorts to “mind their own business.”

    Pravda ran a series of editorials proclaiming the result as proof that the American people were rejecting the ruling structure. Oddly, they credited George McGovern has having somehow revolutionized the American proletariat and argued that his progressive platform would sweep away “the plutocratic power elite.” The same editorials also warned about “a growing fascist tendency” in the form of Wallace. Pravda expressed the firm belief that the “autocratic command structure (of American government) would fall on the weight of the callous corruption in capitalist contradictions.” (An American observer called this alliteration worthy of Agnew). Official editorial policy in much of the Communist world ran much the same, except for China, whose official press treated it as a non-event. The most The People’s Daily said was that “the choice of the next American President will pass to the Congress,” and left it at that.

    What the Soviet leadership made of the situation is unclear: they had at their disposal well-trained experts who understood exactly what was going on in the United States, but tended to view any such information through their own ideological filters. It was later reported that General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev wondered aloud to Soviet Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Dobrynin if Nixon had engineered this in order to expose enemies in his own Republican Party, as a prelude to a purge. Dobrynin thought the idea laughable, but didn’t dare express it in those terms to Brezhnev’s face. Like many world leaders, the Soviet leadership quickly boned up on John McKeithen, a man most in the Communist and Free World knew little-to-nothing about.

    North Vietnam

    The foreign capital whose reaction was of greatest import that fall was Hanoi. In the fall of 1972 Nixon’s National Security Advisor had been secretly conducting face-to-face negotiations with Central Committee Member Le Duc Tho in an effort to re-start the stalled official peace talks in Paris. The North’s 1972 Easter Offensive had been stopped by American airpower, and had shown the fundamental military weakness of the Saigon regime. The North’s leadership wanted the Americans to get out, as a prelude to the North overrunning the South’s Army once the US forces were gone. In fact, by August 1972, the American troop presences was down to a token level, with air units and special forces remaining the most active in combat. Le and Henry Kissinger were working toward a final settlement as the American election approached.

    The North Vietnamese leadership watched with growing concern as Nixon’s once unassailable lead in the polls collapsed, especially with the revelations made by William Sullivan at the Ervin Hearings (neither Op. Menu nor the 1968 October Surprise came as a surprise in Hanoi; which eroded confidence in the Nixon administration’s ability to keep secrets.]. Unlike their Soviet counterparts, the North Vietnamese leadership took what they read in American newspapers seriously, and combed the editorial pages for indications of what was coming. Their own foreign contacts from outside the Communist world were able to inform North Vietnamese leaders that President Nixon was indeed in serious trouble as Election Day approached.

    From the end of September, Le Duc Tho developed a wait-and-see attitude about the Americans, using the replacement of South Vietnamese President Thieu’s regime with a coalition government as a pre-text. Progressed in the talks halted, frustrating Kissinger, who knew exactly why that was happening, but he was powerless to do anything about it.

    Some North Vietnamese leaders favoured pushing the Nixon administration harder, to see if they could capitalize on the President’s desperation to get an agreement before the election. Le Duc Tho warned against such a strategy; there was still a chance that Nixon would be re-elected and pushing him to the wall might complicate matters in that event.

    Nixon exploded when he heard of Kissinger’s lack of progress. After calming down somewhat, the President ordered Kissinger to release a statement saying that an agreement with North Vietnam was near. Separately he ordered Defense Secretary Laird and Air Force Chief of Staff General Ryan to increase the intensity of bombing in the North - Operation Linebacker, which continued through the election, giving Le further reason to delay coming to terms with Kissinger.

    Kissinger toyed with releasing a statement prior to the election that the United States and North Vietnam were close a final agreement that would end the war. Nixon wanted it to save his election chances. Kissinger decided against it, arguing that if he had done so, and Hanoi had repudiated the announcement, his negotiations with Le would end and Nixon would look foolish on the eve of the election. In a rare moment of agreement, Kissinger, White House Chief of Staff H.R. Halderman and Presidential counsellor Robert Finch were able to persuade the President on this point, and no statement was issued.

    In the immediate aftermath of the election Le Duc Tho became “unavailable” to Kissinger. The North Vietnamese were going to wait until the American election had been decided before committing to anything. McKeithen’s comments late in the campaign about the corrupt nature of the South Vietnamese regime lead Hanoi to believe that they might be able to make a better deal with a McKeithen administration.

    Domestic Public Reaction

    Apart from a general sense foreboding about the economic impact of the election, many Americans were largely dismayed because nothing like this had occurred in living memory; even in close elections like 1948 and 1960 there had been a winner by Wednesday morning.

    By-and-large average Americans were no better informed on the mechanics of their Electoral College than foreigners were. For many this was a jolt in awareness about a part of the election most had taken for granted, or even rarely noticed. Interest in the Constitution, and twelfth amendment in particular, spiked in the immediate aftermath of the election; there was much written about the subject in the popular press. Previous examples of a deadlocked presidential elections, from 1800, 1824 and 1876 received a new airing; with commentators quick to point out that the 1800 precedent was obsolete(else McKeithen and Nixon would have been competing to see which of them became President and which became Vice President).

    The presidential election of 1824, and the vice presidential election of 1836, were the closest analogies. In 1824 four presidential candidates had split the Electoral College vote in such a way that none of them won outright and the election had to be decided by the 18th United States Congress (from among the top three candidates). The House elected John Quincy Adams as the sixth President on the first ballot. (Back then it had been the outgoing lame-duck Congress that decided the election in February 1825; in 1973 it was the newly elected Congress that would do it in January – if it got that far). The 1825 vote had included allegations of a corrupt bargain between Adams and another candidate, Henry Clay, to prevent Andrew Jackson from being elected. Popular speculation started about which modern candidate (Nixon or McKeithen) more closely resembled Jackson or Adams. George Wallace was the latter day Clay, a comparison some Clay scholars found insulting to the memory of one of the greater Americans of his age. Was another corrupt bargain in the offing? [Clay encouraged his supporters in the House to vote for Adams and subsequently became Adams’ Secretary of State; Clay apologists were quick to point out that Jackson – the (very sore) loser in the deal - made that charge, but that both Adams and Clay had denied such a bargain was struck before the House voted]. John Calhoun had won the majority of the Electoral votes for Vice President in 1824 and so he was elected in the Electoral College. The Senate had elected a Vice President only once, in 1836, and that had been occasioned by a sex scandal unrelated to the Presidential candidates in that election. In both cases, the precedents were well out of date.

    ”It’s so complicated,” was a common complaint.

    ”What have we got now, a parliament?” was another comment.

    ”I voted. Everyone else voted. Didn’t McKeithen get more votes? Shouldn’t he be president, like the people voted?”

    ”I hope Nixon sends that crook back to New Orleans for good.”

    In 1877 an arbitration panel composed of members of Congress from both parties, and chaired by a Supreme Court Justice with the deciding vote, had resolved a dispute over the allocation of Electors from the 1876 election two days before the March 4 inauguration of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. The 1877 precedent was relevant because between them both the Nixon and McKeithen campaigns were filing court actions in over twenty states, disputing the certification of Electors in what had been very close races. Recounts were in progress, and would likely be challenged by the losing campaign in court. (Nixon told Halderman “Hire every fucking lawyer you can find and have them dispute everything. I could have done that in sixty, you know, I could have won, shown how the Kennedys fucked me then, but Ike stopped me. Well there’s no Ike now. Get the bastards!”) Some form of arbitration or court intervention seemed likely unless the campaigns cut a bargain.

    ”This means some pinko judge is gonna choose the next president, right?” one person-in-the-street commented.

    Conservatives and strict constructionists in the legal community voiced a similar - if more nuanced- opinion, generally denouncing judicial intervention in elections.

    That was music in the ears of the man waiting in Montgomery.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  2. John Farson The Good Man

    Sep 24, 2009
    Between Sweden and St Petersburg
    Even though he's been crippled and has done much worse EC and popular-vote-wise than in '68, George Wallace has now succeeded where he failed then:

    He's become a king-maker. God help us all.:eek:

    Looking forward to more of this.:)
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  3. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    IOTL Wallace was willing to go on after being shot, but the nomination of McGovern left him nowhere to go. In 1968 he could play off Nixon against Humphrey, but that same game wasn’t possible with McGovern, because there was no way the election was going to be even close. Wallace was in tune enough to know that the party regulars weren’t going to help McGovern and that Meany was going to sit on his hands. Game over before it began.

    Plus Nixon was popular in the South, in part because he talked tough on law-and-order, appointed conservative judges (two of Wallace’s favourite themes) and kept his de-segregation activities low key. Wallace ended-up endorsing Nixon. By 1976, Wallace had been replaced by a new type of Southern leader, of which Jimmy Carter was one example (but not the best), and Wallace himself began to go through political and personal changes .

    ITTL I’ve given him a hand in the game, to let Wallace be Wallace. And let the fun begin...
    Johannes Parisiensis likes this.
  4. RogueBeaver Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2009
    If you want ironic, Wallace even made peace with the Kennedys, through his former nemesis' son, Bobby Kennedy Jr. RFK Jr. served as the Alabama director in his uncle's '80 campaign. :D
  5. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    George Corley Wallace: Burnin' down the house

    Everyday was agony: from the first hour after a restless, medicated night, until he retired, he knew nothing but pain. Since the day Bremer’s bullet had cut him down in shopping mall parking lot, he’d been the prisoner of a half dead body which, like a spiteful hobgoblin, poked him with unending torment.

    In his torture, his brain at times addled with medication that failed to bring full relief, George Corley Wallace’s moods grew darker, his brooding descending into destructive storms. With each shock of agony coursing up his severed spine he swore, like Lucifer cast into the pit, to visit the wrath of hell upon the world around him.

    When he could move, it was only in a wheelchair, an iron prison that hobbled a man who had once been a living dynamo of energy, for whom movement and action had been the very reason for living. Now he rolled into a room, held fast to the spot on his chair like a fly spiked to a collector’s board.

    They had let him speak at the Democratic National Convention, Wallace pinned into his chair before the rabble. He had railed like the Wallace of old against the permissive society, the liberal judges, the intrusive government – all the old, familiar themes – but his once powerful voice had been a weak reed; the of voice judgment reduced to barely a whisper. The effort alone had nearly caused what was left of his body to collapse from exhaustion. His diaper had filled with warm fluid as he spoke – he no longer controlled that either. Jesse Jackson had been visibly moved by his plight, and the memory of that – Jesse Jackson’s pity - festered like a sore in his darkening dreams.

    After the shooting, they had questioned his fitness to be Alabama governor; equating his condition with an unfitness to lead - as if that had ever stopped FDR. They wouldn’t say it to his face, but it was there in the guarded expressions of the legislative leaders and of Lt. Gov. Beasley, who had tasted the job as acting governor while Wallace recovered in a Maryland hospital, and now salivated for more.

    From his bed and then his chair Wallace had fought back, God how he had fought. He’d taken control of the Alabama congressional delegation; he’d caused old John Sparkman and James Eastland a few restless nights with unexpected primary battles. Jim Allen had better be paying attention; his turn was coming in two years.

    With a few phone calls he’d pulled Orval Faubus from that amusement park he was managing and, with an old network of supporters from the 1968 campaign to do the leg work, he’d used Faubus to unseat Senator John McClellan. McClellan had been in that seat for thirty years, but Wallace had taken it away from him. They had all better learn something from that!

    And then there was the Alabama presidential ballot, a naked grab for power thinly disguised as an expression of state sovereignty. It was a long shot; but thirty-six percent of Alabamians went along, and he’d won the right to direct Alabama’s nine electoral votes. But that victory was sour in George Wallace’s mouth; in 1968 sixty-seven percent of his fellow Alabamians had voted for him. On election night, while his friends celebrated a victory, Wallace’s spirit sank to even lower depths with that thirty-one percent drop. “I gave them the keys to America, and over half – over half - turned their back on me!”

    It was to this shrunken, collapsed figure haunting the governor’s mansion in Montgomery that they now came to pay homage. The man who had lost much of what mattered to him in the last few months – vitality, freedom, self-respect – held in his shaky hands the power to make, or break, kings. They wanted it, but in his brooding hatred of the world, he was unwilling to give it.

    The first to come was John McKeithen - “big John” some called him, because he towered over most others at six foot-three with his grandfatherly shock of white hair. He towered over Wallace pinned into his chair, and that got the meeting off to a bad start.

    ”We worked together before George, you and I, as Governors. I’m hoping we can work something out now, to spare our country any more uncertainty.”

    You want it so bad you can taste it. Wait till you taste the kind of dirt that’s in my mouth right now.

    ”I have a simple price, J.J.,” Wallace said, addressing the Louisianan as only his close circle of friends did. Billy Boles shifted uncomfortably on the couch next to ‘J.J.’ when he said it. “No liberals in the Cabinet; no more liberal judges and I want the ICC abolished.”

    ”Abolish the ICC? That’s been around since before you and I were an itch in our daddy’s pants, George. I know,” McKeithen waved a hand to pre-empt Wallace’s objection, “it’s been used to meddle in state affairs these last twenty years. I was a state governor, I’ve felt the bite of that commerce clause being used to interfere with state’s rights on a number of areas, but I can’t just abolish it. Congress would never go along.”

    ”You ever hear of the Freedman’s Bureau? Seen that around lately?”

    ”That was another time, George. I understand how you feel, I understand about the judges. I’ll see to it that any new federal judges here in Alabama are acceptable to you. I might even find a seat on the bench for you; if a state governor isn’t qualified to be a judge, I don’t know who is.”

    ”The Supreme Court?”

    ”Well George, Nixon just filled four seats there, so I don’t expect it’ll come-up much in the next four years, but there’s a lot to consider. Besides, with Earl Warren gone and Nixon’s men on the Court, I don’t think we’ll be seeing too much of that meddling we saw with the Warren court. Were fellow Democrats, you and I, and …”

    ”You might want to consider adding a governor to your Supreme Court list; someone who – unlike those judicial egghead pricks that come out of Harvard and Yale knows something about what real life is like, and knows what the law is for. You might want to think about how that would work out for everyone J.J.”

    ”That’s good advice, George. I will think about that.”

    Wallace watched him dance through the rest of the meeting – like a puppet on his strings, until George Wallace cut them.


    RNC Chairman Bob Dole came as the President’s emissary, along with Nixon’s personal lawyer, Leonard Garment. (He sent a New York Jew? A New York Jew? What was the man thinking?).

    The acerbic Dole got right to his point. “Governor, you and the President agree on judges, on law-and-order issues, on controlling runaway federal spending, even on states rights. I think you can feel comfortable throwing your support behind the President, as you have in the past.”

    Wallace threw out a copy of the Nixon-Mao flyer that had made its rounds during the election. “He supports states rights, does he?”

    ”That’s a distortion, Governor,” Dole said, unflustered. “Democrat propaganda meant to stir-up trouble.”

    ”Senator, Alabama’s nine Electors will not help President Nixon to win, assuming I could influence them to vote your way. And I think it is unlikely that you will win over those three n--- (now George, you can’t use that word anymore, not in polite company) –no-party Electors in DC. You’d need one of them along with our nine.”

    Dole shrugged. “We have a stronger position in the House now. That’s where we can use your help with the Southern delegations.”

    ”I’ll think about it Senator. Lord knows the President and I see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.” He fluttered the Nixon-Mao flyer in the air for effect. “If not everything.”

    Dole smiled. Perhaps they had a deal.

    ”Has the President given any thought as to who he’ll be naming to the Supreme Court during his next term?”

    ”I don’t know Governor. He has already put four Justices on the bench who are more in tune with the Constitution. I assume he’ll continue to name Justices who are not activists, but who know the proper constitutional role of a judge should another vacancy come up.”

    ”He might want to look south, Senator, to a man in tune with the people, like a governor who’s had to live with what those pinko judges have doled—handed out. Someone proven by a national campaign.”

    ”I’ll pass that along to the President,” Dole said.

    ”Oh, and Senator…”


    ”I won’t have to worry about having my taxes audited, now will I?”

    Dole’s expression turned into a nervous smile. “That was a fraud, Governor.”

    ”Oh those letters sure were, a nice trick that, except for the fella who’ll go to jail for it,” Wallace said with a touch of a smile creasing his dour face. “But that fella who was once IRS Commissioner – Thrower was his name, I think – didn’t he say that the President was having some people’s taxes audited?”

    Dole’s face twitched nervously. “I’m sure that’s in the past. Anyway, the President considers you a friend, Governor. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”

    No Senator, I’m not the one whose worried. While we’re at it, I’ll have to see who we know in Kansas who might do well in a Senate election.


    On the flight back to Louisiana, Billy Boles said, “Can you believe that? George Wallace wants you to put him on the Supreme Court? He has to be out of his mind.”

    John McKeithen stared out the window for a few minutes, watching the clouds beneath them. “No, he has a point. I might even be willing to do it. On the Court he’d just be one of nine, and it might appeal to his base of supporters to know ol’ George was up there stopping the liberal-pinko judges from running riot in the courts.”

    "Justice George Wallace? You’d never get it through the Senate.”

    McKeithen turned to his old confidant with a wry grin on his face. “George knows that too. If I made the offer, he’d just announce it to embarrass me. No, we won’t be getting any help from Wallace. He’s practicing a scorched Earth policy that man is.”

    ”To what end? What can he get out of making this go all the way to Congress? I mean, he can’t help Nixon, not with only nine votes. Those three in DC won’t go to Nixon, or to you – McGovern doesn’t even really control them, they’re all about their own thing. It only works if he deals with you.”

    ”Which is why he won’t, Billy. I’m afraid our friend George Wallace has decided that the only way to have the house is by burning the rest of us out of it first.”

    ”I don’t follow.”

    ”He gets Birch Bayh, a liberal, elected as acting President, and presto that’s the opening move in Wallace for President 1976.”

    ”So what do we do about that?”

    ”Well, Billy, it’s like this. This is a three handed game after all, and if I’m right he’ll make the same offer to Nixon’s people, and they won’t find it anymore acceptable than we do. So maybe it’s time we started talking to the Republicans.”


    ”Fuck him!” The President exclaimed after Bob Dole left Nixon’s private office in the old Executive Office Building.

    ”Dole?” A confused Halderman replied. The notes of their meeting with Dole, who had just reported on his trip to Montgomery, were still in his lap. Of course they already had a private report from Len Garment, and in the next room the tapes had recorded Dole’s recounting of Wallace’s demands.

    ”Wallace!” Richard Nixon glowered. “That cocksucker wants to be President, to hell with the Supreme Court. He’s doing this to destroy me! He’ll get that aw-shucks Hoosier in this office, and then he’ll run against him. Stupid backwoods little piss-ant! Who does he think he is?”

    ”How do we stop the little bastard?”

    ”He’s stupid, a real dunce. A backwoods Machiavelli who’ll gut himself with his own sword. You know what I mean, Bob?”

    ”I’m not sure, Mr. President."

    ”They won’t elect that little fucker President. Forty million Americans aren’t going to vote for that little shit, especially not now – goddamn it, he’s a cripple for Christ sake! No, he’ll make sure I’m out of the way, and then Reagan will take it away from him. He’s too stupid to know it, but that little s-o-b is shilling for Reagan. We’re not going to let him, Bob. We’re going to stop him. Is that clear?”

    ”Yes, Mr. President.”


    In Montgomery, George Wallace felt a little joy over derailing both campaigns. A little joy was like a few drops of water on the fire that wracked his body.

    He didn’t want to be a Supreme Court Justice – and he knew that they knew it. He knew no President – not even Washington back from the dead – could get his nomination through the Senate. So now they were twisting in knots trying to get around him. They’d have to make the corrupt bargain between them to do that. When they did, George Wallace, would be ready to denounce it. Like Jackson did one hundred and forty-eight years ago; he’d taken Adams and Clay’s corrupt bargain and rode it all the way to the White House four years later

    Wallace had once said there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties, and now they would prove it for him. Two men - who’d just spent the last year saying the other was unfit for office - would make a deal to parcel out political power between them for the next four years: two crooks dividing-up the loot because neither could make-off with it on his own. And when they did, George Wallace would be ready to represent the little man who’d been screwed by the deal making.

    Then let them reap the whirlwind.
  6. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    November 21, 1972

    Citing sources within the U.S. intelligence community, the Washington Post runs a story detailing how the Shah of Iran made a sixty million dollar contribution to the CRP, and that this money is currently located in a Mexican bank account. Such a contribution from a foreign source is illegal under U.S. law.

    According to the Post's story, at least some of this money has been funnelled to the five Watergate burglars plus E. Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy as "hush money."

    White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler angrily denies the Post's story as "a pack of lies" and "propaganda." Two days later the Shah of Iran calls the matter "communist propaganda" and suggests that the account was set-up by the Soviet government to discredit President Nixon.

    President Nixon's inner circle is now convinced that there is a spy somewhere within their organization. They begin a mole hunt which causes further mistrust and paranoia among the various participants.

    November 23, 1972

    Operation Linebacker: An American B-52 bomber accidentally drops several bombs on the Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi (a.k.a. the Hanoi Hilton) which houses a large number of American POWs: an undisclosed number are killed. The North Vietnamese government uses these for anti-American propaganda by allowing a French TV crew to film a display of several American bodies. Their faces are covered, and the North Vietnamese refuse to disclose the exact number of POW casualties or their identities. The French crew does confirm that the bodies they film are indeed those of caucasians.

    Later the same day the French crew films the bodies of children killed when a bomb destroyed the No.33 primary school in Hanoi.

    The Nixon Administration calls the North Vietnamese display of bodies grisly, and expresses doubt that either incident filmed by the French actually took place. Asked about the caucasian bodies Hoa Lo prison, Press Secretary Ziegler suggests the North Vietnamese executed the prisoners themselves. Ziegler says that the Administration will continue the bombing offensive until the North Vietnamese government agrees to concessions and to "substantive talks rather than pointless stalling."

    Question to Ziegler:"Does this represent a policy of bombing them back into the stone age?"

    Ziegler (clearly annoyed):"The Communists walked away from the talks over a month ago, which indicates that they aren't very serious about coming to terms. The President has determined that the present bombing campaign - the aim of which is to degrade the enemy's ability to re-equip and supply their troops - will continue until such time as the Communists signal that they are ready to return to the talks with reasonable conditions."

    November 24, 1972

    Attorney General Richard Kleindienst announces that the Department of Justice will set-up a special task force to investigate the involvement of organized crime in fixing contracter bids with the Louisiana State Government for public works projects over the period 1960 - 1972.

    The McKeithen campaign says it welcomes the investigation, as it will "fully vindicate" Governor McKeithen. McKeithen's predecessor, Jimmie Davis (Governor from 1960 - 1964), has "no comment."

    November 28, 1972

    Mexico's Secretary of Finance and Public Credit confirms that the account mentioned in the Washington Post story exists, but that without proof of criminal activity he is unable to give out any more information or seize the account.

    Senator Russell B. Long (D-LA), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, states that his investigators will probe the Mexican bank account in question.

    November 30, 1972

    In an interview with the same French television crew which filmed the bodies at Hoa Lo Prison and the No. 33 school, Politburo Member Le Duc Tho says that the North Vietnamese people will stand in solidarity against the "imperialist air pirates" and that no amount of bombing will coerce "the people to abandon their liberation of our nation from foreign, imperialist control." He cites the London blitz as an example and says "we are no less determined than the British people were in 1940 to withstand aggression."

    Asked what his conditions for resuming negotiations are, Le says that the United States must immediately end the bombing and agree to the replacement of "that nest of criminals in Saigon with a legitimate people's government."

    Asked about the American election, Le says "we are not concerned about that; that is a matter for the American people. Today we send our message to President Nixon because he is in command. If another man becomes President, then we will send the same message to him."

    December 1, 1972

    American bombing of Hai Phong Harbor hits and sinks the Soviet freighter Omsk Komsomolets, killing 43 Soviet merchant sailors. The Soviet government immediately protests the murder of its nationals and demands compensation from the United States government.

    The Montgomery Advertiser runs a front page story revealing that Governor George Wallace is the subject of an IRS probe looking into the financing of his Presidential campaigns dating back to 1964. According to the story the IRS is "seeking evidence of irregularites on the part of the Governor and his staff in the collection, reporting and distribution of cash contributions [1] over the period between 1964 and 1972."

    December 3, 1972

    Large groups of protesters gather in Paris, London, Brussels, Munich and West Berlin to march against the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam. Prominently displayed on placards are photos of the dead children at the No. 33 school.

    Wallace gives a press conference at the Alabama State Capitol at which he says "I absolutely denounce these false charges. This is nothing more than a vindictive witch hunt by a President who is losing his grip. Remember those IRS letters this last summer? This is more of the same. This is what they do to someone who stands up for the average working man. They're coming for George Wallace because I dared to say enough; enough of the soft liberal politics; enough of the punishment of honest citizens in order to give a hand-out to punks and criminals. I'm not going to take this lying down. I am going to fight for the people, and I am going to win against this vicious slur."

    December 5, 1972

    Lewis Felton, Charges d'Affairs at the United States Embassy in Paris (and acting Ambassador) is murdered outside his Paris residence by two gunmen firing machine guns from the back of motorcycles. A group calling itself The Revolutionary Solidarity with the Children and People engaged in the historic struggle for a liberated Vietnam claims credit for the assassination. It says it targered Felton to "to protest in blood the illegal and brutal murder of Vietnamese civillians by the air pirates of the United States and to demand an immediate withdrawal of the United States from Asia; and the prosecution for mass murder of the criminals Nixon and Kissinger and their murderous clique of conspirators."

    December 8, 1972

    United Airlines Flight 553 crashes while landing at Chicago's Midway airport. Among the passangers killed is Dorothy Hunt, wife of accused Watergate conspirator Howard Hunt. Over $10,000 in cash is found in her luggage. The FBI and the NTSB determine that the crash was caused by pilot error. No satisfactory explanation is given by Hunt for the large sum of cash his wife was carrying; it is impounded by the FBI. Later investigation determines that Mrs. Hunt had once been an employee of the CIA.


    [1] = OTL Wallace had a habit of reporting $100/plate fundraising dinners as $1,000/plate fundraisers in order to give the impression that he was raising more money than he actually was. He also exaggerated the number of large donors that he had, and inflated the actual amount of contributions they made, in order to make his campaign seem more impressive.
  7. RogueBeaver Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2009
    Nixon's in it knee-deep. He better start demagnetizing quickly. 1968 IOTL was perhaps the culmination of dirtiness for both sides*. Thereafter, the Rove Rules would become the exclusive province of the GOP- as seen in 1972.

    *Humphrey had financial irregularities which went unreported, Nixon's are well-known, and Kennedy oftentimes would "grease the rails", as the only Democrat with near-unlimited funds, with community leaders and bosses. None of these were deviations from period SOP.
  8. Lord Grattan consigned to OTL

    Dec 20, 2007
    Michigan USA
    You've nicely enhanced and brought out both Wallace's and Nixon's darker side in this TL Drew. I can't wait until the EC votes on December 18 and round III of the '72 election begins.

    There is one small detail that I have to quibble over:
    How does a piece of Dorothy Hunt's luggage (suitcase?) came through an airline crash intact enough for its contents and owner to be (apparently) quickly identified? I've seen enough plane crashes on TV and in the movies to know that this is unlikely.
  9. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Good question. This really happened. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_553

    Wallace dark side: His head was in a very nasty place after the shooting, but the circumstances of the OTL 1972 election gave him little to do with it. By 1976 he had adjusted.

    Nixon darkside: This is a reflection of his personal slide into near madness in 1974. I've moved it up. There are accounts of him having similar responses (in private) after he lost the 1960 election, and the 1962 California governor's race (there it came out in public with his "you won't have Nixon to kick around anymore tirade.").

    I'm working on more for this TL.
  10. Lord Grattan consigned to OTL

    Dec 20, 2007
    Michigan USA
  11. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Uncle Sam wants you George

    December 1, 1972

    The increased tempo of Operation Linebacker flight operations (which have been going on since May) requires the Pentagon to call-up additional Air National Guard and Reserve units to fill support roles in Vietnam.

    One of the units called-up is the 187 Fighter Wing, part of the Alabama Air National Guard. A minor scandal ensues when Lt. George Bush jr., son of the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, George Bush sr., tries to avoid deployment by claiming that he is actually a member of the Texas Air National Guard, and that he is only “on loan” to the Alabama based unit, and that anyway he has been suspended from flying since August 1, 1972 because he has not had a physical or attended training since the spring.

    The press latch on to this story as a way to embarrass the senior Bush and the administration. It receives national media attention, and Lt. Bush becomes the poster boy for a privileged son getting special treatment. George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, begins making loud noises about how the “high falutin’ can shirk their duty while the ordinary sons of working people get to go over there and die.”

    Attention also begins to focus on the fact that Lt. Bush, while “on loan” to the Alabama unit, was in fact involved in the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Winton Blount (Nixon’s anti-Wallace Alabama operative), leading to questions about how faithfully Lt. Bush is fulfilling his ROTC service commitment. President Nixon, upset at this latest publicity, orders Lt. Bush be sent to Vietnam with is unit.

    On December 12, 1972 Lt. Bush is ordered by the Secretary of the Air Force to attend a physical, at which he is found to be in good physical condition. He is then subjected to intensive flight “re-training” between December 14 and December 28, and passed by instructors.

    On December 29, 1972, Lt. Bush is deployed to South Vietnam with the rest of the 187th , where he continues to receive “re-fresher” flight training.
    Magnimik likes this.
  12. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Judges Judge, Electors Elect and the lawyers make off like bandits

    The Court cases by December 18, 1972

    A significant number of challenges had been filed in twenty states by both Presidential campaigns. Of these disputes, most were settled by judicial recounts in the six weeks between November 9 (when results had first become available in many disputed races) and Monday, December 18, the date on which the Electors were to meet in their respective State Capitals to cast their votes.
    The fact that so many had been settled did not indicate that the contests had been resolved to the satisfaction of the parties; rather it indicated that the process of emergency appeals had been exhausted and that the ruling of the highest level of court involved (usually the appropriate Federal Circuit Court of Appeals) stood as regard to the acceptability, constitutionality and legality of the various judicial recounts which had been ordered during the litigation process.

    The United States Supreme Court

    Many of these cases were appealed from the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal to the United States Supreme Court by the dissatisfied party. However, the Supreme Court showed an extreme reluctance to involve itself in the election dispute by declining to hear the appeals. While some Justices may have favored involvement in various particular cases, most agreed as a body that the Supreme Court would seriously jeopardize its standing if it were to become mired in a contested election. Chief Justice Burger in particular took a stance that the Supreme Court should stay above the fray as perhaps the last institution in the country not enmeshed in a bitter, divisive fight. The Chief Justice was fully aware that should the Supreme Court become involved, it would invariably have to take a side, and would be accused of partisanship by the losing side as a result. He could see the beginning of the division this could cause on his own bench; Justices Rehnquist and White were eager to intervene on behalf of Nixon; Justice Marshall leaned to intervention on behalf of the Democrats.

    Absent some profound legal flaw which the Chief Justice and his five concurring colleagues (who like Burger suppressed whatever political preferences they might have had for the larger picture) could not possibly ignore, the Supreme Court, through its silence, was going to let the election be sorted out in the lower courts.

    Called judicial wisdom by some, and judicial chicken by many others with an interest in the election’s outcome, the strategy worked for the most part. However, by the time the Electoral Votes were cast, there were three sets of cases which the Supreme Court had little choice but to address because they did have far reaching legal as well as political implications, and the Olympian impartiality of the Justices could not hold together over the issues involved. Moreover, in each case the extent of conflicting rulings in the lower courts required a final verdict by the high court on the issues at hand.

    Nixon, Reagan and Younger v. Brown et al.(California)

    The popular vote in California had been very close: 3,651,295 for Nixon, 3,647,615 for McKeithen (and 844,529 for McGovern), a victory margin for Nixon of 3,679 votes or 0.04% of all votes cast. Both the Nixon and McKeithen campaigns disputed voter registrations in counties carried by the other candidate. What followed was a series of court ordered recounts and appeals. During the recounts Republican and Democratic poll watchers disputed both the admissibility of certain ballots and names on registration lists. This went through the courts between November 10th and December 3rd.

    On December 4th, California’s Democratic Secretary of State Jerry Brown (who had been a McGovern supporter earlier in the year), acting largely on his own authority, sought to throw out five thousand and forty Republican punch card ballot votes in Orange County, arguing that the punch card ballots had been incompletely marked. He then sought to certify California’s 45 Electoral Votes for John McKeithen (which, if Brown’s action held, would have given him McKiethen the Presidency).

    California’s Republican Attorney General Evelle Younger, backed by Republican Governor Ronald Reagan, went to court on December 5th in order to block Brown’s certification. The Republicans argued that Secretary Brown was depriving those five thousand and forty voters of their Constitutional right to have their vote counted, in that on each of the 5,040 punch cards in question the voter’s intent was clear.

    On Dec 9th, the Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sought to resolve the matter by having a Federal Judge review each of the punch cards in question. Both sides objected to four Federal Judges before a fifth Judge agreeable to both sides could be empanelled to conduct the examination, which did not occur until December 14th.

    By this time the “safe harbor” deadline under US Code Title 3, Chapter 1, sec. 5 had passed. This section allowed for the judicial or administrative resolution of disputes over the certification of Electors made up to six days before the Electors voted (December 12 or before in this case) to be the final word on Electoral Voting Day. However, in that it was December 14th before both sides agreed on Federal Judge Charles Merrill to review the ballots, this deadline had been passed.

    On December 15th California’s Assembly, both the House and Senate, both with Democratic majorities, sought to intervene by naming a slate of electors, sighting their right to do so under Article II sec. 2 of the Constitution, arguing that this was the only Constitutionally permissible remedy when no legal slate of Electors had been appointed by the so-called safe harbor date on December 12. They voted along party lines to certify California’s 45 Electors for the Democratic ticket on December 15 and 16, 1972.

    The Republicans immediately appealed this, arguing that the Assembly could not change the rules of the election after the fact, that this represented an Equal Protection violation of all California voters’ right, Democratic and Republican, to have their ballots counted; and that, anyway, the State legislators had falsely interpreted the relevant law in order to promote their partisan end. The emergency appeal for a stay on the Assembly’s certification was denied by the Ninth Circuit Court. The Republicans then appealed to the Supreme Court for a further stay, arguing that a fundamental breach of the Equal protection clause, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had taken place.

    Meanwhile, on December 16, Judge Merrill ruled that all but two hundred of the disputed ballots were admissible, and he ordered Secretary Brown to count the forty-eight hundred and forty Republican votes. Brown appealed, but the Ninth Circuit upheld the Judge Merrill’s ruling. Brown then went to the Supreme Court seeking an emergency stay and reversal of the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling.

    California now had pending two disputed slates of Electors, one Republican, one Democrat, and two cases from the Ninth Circuit which seemed to contradict each other, in that the Republican appeal was against an order to certify a Democratic slate, where the Democratic appeal was against an order which would have led to the certification of a Republican slate. The United States Supreme Court was now obliged to sort this out, and they issued a stay against both certifications on December 17th.

    This meant that on December 18th California had no Electoral Vote results to report, because both slates were enjoined from voting.

    Nixon v. Ladner; McKeithen v. Ladner; Wallace v. Ladner (Mississippi)

    This was a complex overlap of three separate lawsuits which charged that the Mississippi Secretary of State, Heber Ladner (a Democrat) was in violation of the 1965 Civil Rights Act because he was variously discounting the ballots cast for the Democratic, Republican and Wallace (write-in) tickets. This case took on a civil rights element right away because among those voters that Ladner (who had been in office since 1948) appeared to be casting out were those of black Mississippi voters. The McKeithen and Nixon campaigns both found representative black voters who alleged that they had been denied the right to vote on Election Day (for the Democrats and Republicans respectively). In Wallace’s case, he was arguing that Ladner was not counting the write-in ballots he had received at all.

    The vote in Mississippi had been very close: 316,312 for McKeithen, 314,744 for Nixon and 2,031 write-in votes for Wallace (which Ladner, an old Wallace foe (personally but not on the policy of segregation), was not counting). McKeithen’s victory margin was only 1,388 votes, or 0.2% of all votes cast. Nixon and McKeithen were both casting a net to increase their vote totals, with Nixon’s people hopeful that he could overtake McKeithen, while the McKeithen campaign, in addition to getting Mississippi’s 7 Electoral Votes certified for the Democratic ticket, was also seeking to defend their candidate’s reputation on a vital civil rights issue.

    The case made its way through numerous recounts and federal judicial appeals, before landing at the Supreme Court (for a third time; the Supreme Court twice refused to hear it, hoping the lower courts could sort it out) on December 16. As with the California case, and with the added pressure from the civil rights lobby, the Supreme Court felt obliged to hear it the third time.

    While the case was pending Secretary Ladner refused to certify a slate of Electors for Mississippi. His right to hold this up was part of the issues being argued in this case. For his part, Ladner seems to have viewed it as an opportunity for self-promotion, to protest the civil rights movement and possibly to make a name for himself with the idea of running for higher office in Mississippi.

    McKeithen v. Wallace; Nixon v. McKeithen (Alabama)

    The crux of this challenge was that the McKeithen campaign was trying to argue that, since Wallace was a Democrat, and had been a candidate for the Democratic nomination, his name should not have appeared on the Alabama ballot in competition with McKeithen’s at all. McKeithen’s lawyers were arguing in effect that the Alabama vote for Wallace and should combined with his result to select a slate of Democratic Alabama Electors.

    Wallace’s lawyers argued that this was self-serving nonsense (“desperation wrapped in the fine linens of the law, but stinks like an outhouse in July,” Wallace said). Nixon’s lawyers got into the act too, effectively arguing a pro-Wallace argument, while at the same time trying to argue that third parties should be blocked form the presidential ballot altogether (famously Nixon’s lawyers argued, straight faced, that Wallace’s votes should be counted for Wallace not McKeithen, but that Wallace shouldn’t have been allowed on the ballot in one state only in the first place).

    This case did not effect the certification of Alabama’s Electors because most of the courts involved found this suit by both the McKeithen and Nixon camps to be frivolous. Alabama’s Secretary of State Mabel Sanders Amos certified the Wallace slate of Electors, and her lawyers actively fought any efforts by the two major campaigns to block it.

    Nonetheless, because it raised substantive issues over the rights of third parties to appear on the ballot, the Supreme Court felt obliged to pass over the issues raised.

    With the California and Mississippi Electors held-up by litigation, the Electoral results for other States followed much as they had after the initial counts, with the single exception that Washington State, originally called for McKeithen by 912 votes on November 9, had after several recounts and appeals, been found to have gone to Nixon by 404 votes; mostly the result of incorrectly counted spoiled ballots, and the counting of McGovern ballots as McKeithen ballots in one county (a criminal investigation was launched into this).

    The Electoral Vote tally on December 18, 1972 was

    McKeithen-Bayh 251*
    Nixon-Agnew 223
    Undecided 52
    Wallace-Maddox 9
    McGovern-McCloskey 2*
    Hospers 1**

    * One DC Democratic Elector chose to cast her vote for the national Democratic ticket in an effort to stop Nixon’s re-election. The other two cast their Electoral votes as expected for McGovern as a protest over the question of DC’s lack of a vote in Congress.

    ** Roger MacBride, the Virginia Republican Party Treasurer, cast his Electoral Votes for the Libertarian ticket: John Hospers for President and Theodora Nathan for Vice President. Ms. Nathan became the first woman in U.S. History to receive an Electoral Vote.

    When the results are made public the Dow Jones, which has recovered over 80% of its value since the November 9 plunge, fell by sixty points over two and one-half hours, setting-off another round of panic selling on the New York Stock Exchange.

  13. RogueBeaver Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2009
    Keep it coming as usual. :cool:
  14. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Hayrides and Gumbo

    December 19, 1972

    John McKeithen met Senator Russell Long at Rigo’s, a popular restaurant in Baton Rouge. Of course they had a private dinning room, well away from public scrutiny.

    ”Unless this California thing goes our way, J.J., I think we’ll have to play this out in the Congress,” Long said as he nipped away at a plate of Louisiana soft shell crab..

    ”Those aren’t odds I like, Russell,” McKeithen said. “I’ve been counting heads and…”

    ”Not if we can shuffle the deck a little, make ‘em think they’re playing draw and all of a sudden they realize is stud and we’ve got the Ace as our hold card.”

    McKiethen smiled. “How are you going to mark that deck, Russell?”

    Over the next few minutes Russell Long explained what he had in mind, and how between the two of them they could make it happen. McKiethen was stunned, expressing his doubts. Long then added the piece of confidential information which had come his way, information which could change everything.

    ”Tell me something, Russell. When you fed Jim Garrison that b.s. about the Warren Commission being a fraud and got him going after Clay Shaw, were you playing that kind of a hunch too?”

    Long smiled with the expression of a fox. “I did that as a favor to Lyndon. There were too many people asking questions about that damn report, so I got Garrison going. I knew he liked the publicity, so we were sure all the conspiracy nuts would gather round him. When he fell flat on his face – as I knew he would, no hunch there, J.J., - the conspiracy nuts all took a hit with him. I knew my man before I picked him, that’s how I knew it would all fall into line. Same here. Oh, I’ll admit the stakes are bigger, there’s more moving parts; it would have been easier to win in the Electoral College, but that isn’t likely to happen now. But you watch, it’ll all come together.”

    McKeithen didn’t reply. He sipped his bourbon and branch.

    ”Why do you ask, J.J.?”

    ”I was beginning to feel a little like Jim Garrison,” McKeithen said.

    That evoked a laugh from Long. “No. Not at all. We’ve got big plans for you J.J.. The Garrison role, that’s for the other guy.”

    McKeithen left Rigo’s not so much re-assured as anxious; it was so close he could really taste it, and he was beginning to want it more-and-more. Maybe that was why he didn’t stop to examine the full meaning of what they were about to do, or the many ways it could go wrong.

    As he and Long had agreed McKeithen flew to Little Rock to meet with Senator-elect Faubus. John McKeithen knew Orval Faubus better than Long did. Faubus didn’t take much convincing, and he was more than ready to help McKeithen.

    Russell Long met with his colleague Senator James Allen of Alabama, who was also receptive to what he had to say. Allen even had a well-known public point of principle which would make his choice easy. Long encouraged Jim Allen to vote his conscience.

    Long’s next visit, to Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia, wasn’t so easy. Talmadge’s eyebrows went-up after Long had spoken his peace. He dismissed the whole idea as “shootin craps wearin’ a blindfold.” Then Senator Russell Long, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, pulled out one of those many confidential bits of information which came his way. Depending on how it was handled, Herman Talmadge might have a serious problem. Talmadge blustered, he called Long several names. But he had to concede that Long had him in a corner. Long made sure he would remember that when the time came.

    December 22, 1972

    Speaker of the House Carl Albert meets with acting Majority Leader John McFall and Minority leader Gerald Ford to map out how the vote in the House will be conducted. The old rules last used in 1825 have been dusted-off for the occasion.

    The Soviet government secretly deploys a squadron of advanced MIG-25 Foxbat interceptors, to be flown by Soviet “volunteer pilots” and trainers to North Vietnam. They begin operation in North Vietnamese air space around January 2, 1973.

    December 23, 1972

    ”Good afternoon, Senator,” House Minority leader Gerald Ford said when Senator Russell Long was ushered into his office. “How can I help you?”

    ”Afternoon, Jerry,” Long said. Both men had a lengthy acquaintance from their over two decades Washington, often working together on financial bills. “I’m here to talk a minute about the vote it seems likely we’re gonna have.”

    ”Now Russell, it might not be appropriate to discuss…

    ”No, I understand,” Long said. “I just wanted to put a bug in your ear about a couple of things you might want to know. Our committee has been looking into that Committee to Re-elect the President’s financing, and there’s some fire there. Also with that Mexican bank account. I understand Sam Ervin is going to start-up a probe into that Watergate business and he wants to hear more from Sullivan about some of that other stuff.”

    Ford had been puffing on his pipe as Long spoke. “Yes I’ve heard that. So far it is all conjecture.”

    ”Maybe, Jerry. But it might make some of your members nervous, when it comes time to vote, and I just want you to know, they might have good reason to be.”

    ”We’ll stand behind President Nixon.”

    ”No one’s faulting you on loyalty, Jerry, and that’s not my point. I respect you and Senator Scott and the rest of the Republican leadership up here on the Hill. I know you have to be loyal to your man, just as I have to stick by mine. But I just had a thought, just between you and me, as friends, that what I’ve said is something I’d like to know if I were in your shoes. Just thinking about where loyalty to the party takes over from loyalty to the man, that’s my thought. There’s going to be some rough sailing ahead, and it might come to that.”

    Ford puffed on his pipe for a minute. “Thank-you, Russell. But we’ll stay with the President until – unless – circumstances change.”

    ”Okay then. Merry Christmas, Jerry.”

    ”Merry Christmas, Russell.”

    Shows of loyalty aside, Congressman Ford did spend the holidays thinking about what Russell Long had said.

    December 26, 1972

    (from Henry Kissinger, The White House Years)

    The President had decided to stay in Washington over Christmas, so I went to see him in the residence on the morning of the 26th. My news was not happy. Le Duc Tho was still ducking my every effort to re-open talks, demanding that we stop the bombing and replace the South Vietnamese government with a collation that included representatives of the NLF before he would even consider bilateral, much less all-party, talks.

    The day before, on Christmas Day, the people of Hanoi had staged a large patriotic demonstration to affirm their solidarity. The Soviets had even sent a junior member of the Central Committee named Mikhail Gorbachev to stand on the reviewing platform beside the assorted luminaries of the North Vietnamese regime. Although this Gorbachev was a second tier flunky (albeit a rising star given his position at only forty-one years of age) sent ostensibly on a development mission, his real import was as a show of political solidarity from Moscow to Hanoi. Of course the reason this relative nobody got to do the job was because none of the top Soviet leaders wanted to be anywhere near where the bombs were falling.

    I also had to report that our satellites had confirmed that the Chinese were allowing Soviet and East Bloc freighters to dock in Chin-hsien along the South Chinese Gulf of Tonkin coast. From there their cargos could move by road and rail to Nanning, and then into North Vietnam on the Nanning-Hanoi railway. Our Air Force now wanted to concentrated bombing on that railway line, which had always been a touchy subject given the intermingling of Chinese with Vietnamese personnel and rolling stock: we had tried to keep it off the Air Force target lists.

    I found the President sitting by one of the fireplaces in the family residence; Mrs. Nixon and their daughters had gone to New York. He was scribbling furiously in on one of his legal notepads, complaining about the work the lawyers were doing on behalf of his campaign. I also saw a tally sheet of the members of the incoming House of Representatives on a table next to him. He had circled the Republicans, crossed out the Democrats, and then tried to conclude how the vote would go. Two black “X’s” had been drawn through the list before it was cast aside.

    He barely greeted me as I sat down in a nearby chair. A steward brought him another Scotch. He took a sip, and slowly sucked a large ice cube between his front teeth and his tongue. I was offered a drink, but decided one of us should remain clear headed.

    My summary did not please him. He threw his legal pad at the wall and screamed obscenities about Mao and Chou Enlai when I mentioned that the Chinese were giving the Soviets transit.

    ”We had an agreement, Henry. Mao told me he wouldn’t interfere in Vietnam. He hates those little s-o-b’s as much as … the Chinese and the Vietnamese have always been enemies. He’s doing this to stick it to us. To me!”

    ”The Chinese don’t like the Russians either, but they’ve probably seen a way to take a healthy cut of the arms flow going through their ports,” I replied. “From their vantage point ours is the position of weakness, until our domestic problem is resolved. They’re exploiting that.”

    ”The Democrats, Henry, they’re the ones that have done this. They have tried to steal this election - Kennedy, LBJ, Wallace, McKeithen, this punk Brown out in California – his father still hates me from sixty-two – they all conspired to bring me down. Well, they haven’t done it yet, Henry. I’m still here, and I’ll be here long after their gone. Traitors, the whole pack!”

    I was uncomfortable listening to this. I shifted in my chair and waited for him to calm down. What he said next took me completely by surprise.

    ”Henry,” the President said, his eyes staring up into space. “If we dropped the bomb on Hanoi – made it look like Hiroshima did in forty-five – that would stop them. They would all have to think twice then. Fry that bastard Le Duc Tho and his comrades - that would send a message.

    The casual discussion of nuclear weapons made my blood freeze. I knew that the option had been seriously considered by McNamara and Johnson, but they had both backed away from it. It was the kind of escalation that could easily turn this into a world conflict.

    ”Perhaps that’s going too far, Mr. President. Going nuclear could be a step too far.”

    My briefing continued; the President didn’t bring it up again. I hoped it was a passing fancy.

    December 27, 1972

    Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird’s phone rang at 3:35 a.m. It was the special line the Pentagon had installed at his bedside. Startled out of sleep, Laird reached over and answered it. “Yes. Laird here.”

    ”Mel, do we still have those nukes in Okinawa?”

    Laird sat-up when he recognized the President’s voice. The subject of U.S. nuclear weapons stored at the base on Okinawa was a highly sensitive matter; Laird wasn’t sure they should be discussing it even on the secure Pentagon line.

    ”Sir, has something happened?”

    ”I want you to order those nukes moved to our B-52 squadrons,” Nixon continued as if he hadn’t heard Laird’s question. “I want them prepared for use, at least a half dozen.”

    Jesus Christ! Laird hoped he was still asleep and dreaming. “Has there been an attack, sir? Where?”

    ”I want to drop them on Hanoi, maybe have one accidentally hit a Chinese target just across the border. Can you get that rolling?”

    Melvin Laird stared into the darkness around him, completely at a loss for words. His heart was beating so fast it nearly burst out from under his rib cage. The sound of its beats was like a set of tom-toms in his ears.


    ”Yes, Mr. President.” Laird meant that to confirm that he was still on the line, not as agreement with the President’s request.

    As was his habit, Nixon hung-up without saying anything more.

    Melvin Laird needed a drink. He couldn’t go back to sleep, although he still hoped that it had all been part of a nightmare.

    By the next morning, Laird had thought it through and realized Nixon hadn’t been serious, or that he had been drinking too much and that was where the request had come from. Secretary Laird did not pass Nixon’s order along.

    When “Source 2” read a transcript of the conversation he all but fell out of his chair. Nixon really had gone over the edge.

    December 31, 1972

    A USAF B-52 bomber suffers an on-board electrical failure while completing a bombing run over a rail yard at Phu Lang, north of Hanoi. The pilot is then forced to use manual flying to evade fighters sent to intercept his aircraft, and the aircraft suffers further damage from an air-to-air missile hit. Instead of flying Southwest toward the ocean (and Clark Air Force base in the Philippines), the plane veers due north and enters Chinese air space, at which point the crew is forced to eject. The plane crashes on Chinese territory several miles north of the Chinese-Vietnam border, and the surviving crew members are taken into custody by Chinese authorities.

    January 6, 1973

    Lt. George Bush jr., on his first combat sortie flying a RF-4C reconnaissance aircraft in support of bombing operations (“not very competently” one his colleagues later comments), is shot down over North Vietnamese territory and captured. He is not immediately identified as a high value prisoner by the North Vietnamese.
    Magnimik likes this.
  15. John Farson The Good Man

    Sep 24, 2009
    Between Sweden and St Petersburg
    Looks like Bush and McCain are going to have something in common. Maybe they'll become room-mates at the Hanoi Hilton? Wonder what being a POW will do the Bush and his personality? I'm suspecting that with the political chaos in Washington that there won't be a ceasefire in January 1973, so the war may continue for some time yet. Am I wrong?

    That bit about Nixon wanting to turn Hanoi into another Hiroshima was just plain scary.:eek:

    Eagerly awaiting for more.
  16. Douglas Restored

    Sep 12, 2004
    I'd be careful about running with the "Nixon goes crazy" angle, especially since he never did...at least not to the extent that it's usually reported.
  17. RogueBeaver Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2009
    Drew: I agree with Douglas- but I know that you know Nixon too well to go down the "Nixon needs to be committed" route. ;)
  18. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    No White jackets and padded cells, just a life of frustration.

    One of Halderman's jobs was to protect Nixon from the effect of his own frustrations.
    spiderweb55 likes this.
  19. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    IOTL There was a lot of weird stuff going on in Nixon’ last days; his mental state did become shaky under pressure, but he never went off the deep end. Haig's fear of a Presidential suicide was more his own interpretation that reality. Nixon succumbed to frustration at other times in his life – it happened when he lost the 1960 Presidential election and the 1962 California Governor’s race: the second time there was actually a public eruption in his statement to reporters (the famous “you won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore” speech). He blamed the Kennedys and the press for this.

    He was paranoid (but then there really were people out to get him), and at times given to suggesting radical or crazy things, but none of which he actually followed through with. Those are the traits this situation would bring out as he watches the presidency slip from his hands; it's kind of a Chinese water torture of frustration.

    The Vietnam war will continue well into 1973, which will necessitate more call-ups as by mid-1972 most US forces had been pulled out of Vietnam, and of course the Yom Kippur War is on the horizon, and other crises.

    There will also be some other unexpected TL shocks as a result of this. As for GW Bush being a guest of the Hanoi Hilton, that will have significant butterflies on both father and son (the father has been haunted by his own near capture by the Japanese in 1944), along with the rest of the family.
  20. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Courts and Communists

    December 27, 1972: The Supreme Court Decides

    Between December 19 and December 22 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in each of the three election cases presented before it.

    On December 27, after five anxious days (which included the Christmas holiday) the Supreme Court, issued a series of unsigned per curiam decisions which detailed its ruling on the cases before it.

    Nixon et al. v. Brown et al: The Court confirmed that Judge Merrill's examination of the ballots originally dismissed by California Secretary of State Brown was valid, and indicated that Brown had acted precipitously by "endangering the rights of California residents to have their votes counted by the most objective of standards, that being whether the intent of the voter can be clearly inferred from the ballot itself. In as much as Judge Merrill found that on 4,804 of the ballots in question the voter's intent could be clearly discerned by a visual examination of the ballot, we rule that those ballots so identified by Judge Merrill should be included in the total." The effect was to include the 4,804 Republican votes, which retained Nixon's lead in the popular vote in California. The Court then ordered Brown to certify the Republican slate of Electors, and California's 45 Electoral votes were assigned to Nixon (223 + 45 = 268). The Court also reprimanded the California Assembly for trying to insert a slate of Electors that ran counter to the results of the Election. The Court determined that while Article II, Section 2 gave state legislatures wide latitude in choosing the methods of how electors could be chosen, once that method was by law assigned to the residents of the state in the form of the popular vote then the legislature could not take that power back onto itself once the election occurred. This violated the 14th amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The State Assembly remained free to change the method of selecting Electors in future elections, but could not act to undo a past election whose results were not to its liking.

    There was no dissent on this opinion, largely because the language in regard to counting every vote and prohibiting legislatures from changing the rules after the vote pleased the liberals, while affirming the legislature's absolute constitutional power to choose by which method it would select Electors pleased conservatives. Justice Marshall in particular was concerned that if Nixon v. Brown had gone the other way - allowing the California State Assembly to assign an Electoral slate after the election - it could have set a legal precedent for the nullification of minority votes in other States.

    Nixon v. Ladner, McKeithen v. Ladner and Wallace v Ladner: The Court sent this back to the Mississippi Supreme Court with an order that that Court supervise a "uniform recount" in all of Mississippi's precincts and then instruct, by court order if necessary, Secretary of State Ladner to certify a slate of Electors for whichever candidate had the greatest number of votes. The Mississippi Court and Ladner complied, and by January 5, 1973 Mississippi had certified a Democratic slate of Electors, thus leaving the election undecided in the Electoral College (McKeithen's Electoral Vote now stood at 251 + 7 = 258). Wallace's write-in votes were counted along with the rest. Again there was no dissent because both sides, liberals and conservatives could take away what they wanted from this opinion: all votes were to be counted, state institutions were sovereign in determining the vote in their own state.

    Nixon v. Wallace and McKeithen v. Wallace: In its per curiam ruling the Court found that, although he ran as a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, and that he remained a member of the Democratic Party of Alabama, this did not disqualify Governor Wallace from appearing on the Alabama ballot as an independent, provided he fulfilled the laws of Alabama in seeking to be added to the ballot. The Court found that the regular slate of Democratic electors had been clearly listed on the ballot, and that Wallace's independent slate of Electors were also clearly identified, therefore Governor McKeithen's claim to violation of equal protection had no merit.

    The Court also dismissed the Nixon argument that Wallace should not have appeared on the ballot as an independent. It remained up to the States to determine who qualified to appear on the ballot provided the candidate had completed the legal process for being listed on the ballot. The Court also went to great lengths to point out the twisted logic of the Nixon argument (Wallace shouldn't have been on the ballot; but the votes for him should be counted) and then concurred with Nixon's lawyers on the latter point.

    Justice Rehnquist dissented, arguing that Wallace was a de-facto Democrat and that his presence on the ballot had given the Alabama voters two chances to vote for a Democrat, versus only one for the Republican. Rehnquist argued for a strict restriction of third party access to the ballot. He also argued that Wallace had forfeited his right to run as an independent candidate when he registered to run for the Democratic nomination at the beginning of 1972.

    Justice Brennan dissented, arguing that leaving ballot qualification up to the states would only encourage sectional candidates and erode the national character of presidential elections. He was joined by Justice Marshall who argued that the equal protection clause should be interpreted to require a fifty state national standard for registering third party candidates, lest sectional candidates "seriously infringe on the national interests occasioned by a presidential and vice presidential election; Congress being the forum intended by the founders for sectional interests."

    Justice Douglas also dissented, arguing that Wallace should have been stricken from the Alabama ballot because his one state candidacy did not reflect a "national interest" in the election for the only two elected, national offices in the United States, and that his presence on the ballot had damaged the constitutional right of Alabama voters to participate in the national election. Further, Justice Douglas concurred with Rehnquist (an odd pairing) that Wallace had forfeited his right to stand as an independent when he entered the Democratic primaries in January 1972,

    January 2, 1973

    Speaker Albert and Congressional leaders McFall and Ford agreed on a procedure to follow should the balloting in the House prove inconclusive, which all three consider highly likely.

    January 3, 1973

    Washington police attempt to disrupt an anti-war, anti-bombing demonstration outside the White House. Network television broadcasts images of police using riot gear on some demonstrators.

    The 93rd United States Congress convenes.

    TASS Report - January 3, 1973

    It is with great regret that we report the death of Central Committee member Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, along with several other Soviet delegates, in an airplane crash in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of the Chinese People's Republic. Central Committee member Grobachev had just completed a mission to Hanoi, where he expressed to all Vietnamese workers and soldiers the Soviet people's unwavering solidarity with their comrades in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in their liberation struggle against the criminally aggressive imperialistic, capitalistic forces of the United States and its puppet gangster regime. American air pirates have been routinely committing atrocities and war crimes by indiscriminately bombing the peaceful Vietnamese proletariat, killing children and workers with reckless indifference.

    Central Committee member Gorbachev and his delegation brought much needed technical assistance to the struggling Vietnamese proletariat, which included the donation of industrial technology and medical supplies happily provided by the cheerful, industrious Soviet proletariat to further solidarity and fraternal relations with their Vietnamese brothers and sisters in their hour of need.

    Central Committee member Gorbachev had paid a courtesy call on the Chinese People's government prior to completing his return flight to Moscow. Chinese authorities are currently investigating the crash and Soviet authorities stand ready to assist. The cause of the crash remains unknown, although sabotage by counterrevolutionary terrorist forces has not been ruled out. The revisionist clique currently ruling China is known to give domicile to anti-democratic, deviationist counterrevolutionaries and revanchists.

    Mr. Gorbachev and his party were flying in an Illyushin IL-62, the most advanced passenger aircraft in the world produced by the Soviet Union's unsurpassed, world-leading aircraft production industry. Given this fact, an accident caused by technical failure has been declared unthinkable by the Ministry of Aviation.

    January 4, 1973

    A large group of demonstrators march around Capitol Hill calling for a quick resolution to the election dispute. Some of these demonstrators clash with anti-war demonstrators who have also gathered in Washington. The result is more images of chaos in the U.S. capital.

    The People's Daily - January 5, 1973

    Second Vice President Dong Biwu today labelled as "provocative" recent comments by Soviet press organs that the investigation into the accidental crash of a Soviet aircraft bearing Soviet Central Committeeman Mikhail Gorbachev and a party of Soviet dignitaries in Western China was "not effective" and "being pursued with less than full zeal."

    "Such statements are unhelpful," Second Vice President Dong said. "The People's Aviation Safety Bureau is diligently sifting through the evidence at the scene and will soon determine the cause of the crash."

    In response to offers of assistance from the Soviet Aviation authority, Second Vice President Biwu said "The People's Republic thanks the Soviet Union for the offer, however our People's agencies are more than able to manage the situation, and will report with full accuracy on all they find."

    January 5, 1973

    A planned peace march on the Mall in Washington fizzles due to bad weather. A more successful demonstration is held at Columbus Circle in New York City. The New York City march causes traffic havoc.

    Pravda - January 6, 1973

    Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Semyonovich Semyonov today characterised as "suspicious" the reluctance of Chinese authorities to allow Soviet investigators access to the site of a recent crash which took the life Central Committee Member M.S. Gorbachev and a party of Soviet industrial and medical experts.

    "We are astonished by yesterday's statement by Vice President Dong, in particular his assertion that Chinese agencies would report all they find with full accuracy. While not questioning the professional ability of the Chinese investigators, we are still forced to ask why they do not wish Soviet observers or technical experts to view the crash site. After all, it was a Soviet plane and Soviet citizens who were killed. Does this not give us a right to have a look into the matter?"

    The People's Daily - January 7, 1973

    Second Vice President Dong Biwu today called questions about the investigation into a crash by a Soviet jet in Western China raised Saturday by Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister V.S. Semyonov as "baseless."

    "We view with growing concern the provocative language being uttered by Soviets officials in their unfair characterisation of our diligent and professional safety professionals," Second Vice President Dong said. "It is perhaps best if they (the Soviet Union) were to refrain from such comments," the Second Vice President added.

    "I would like to say that while all the findings are not in yet, the People's Aviation Safety Bureau has been able to make a preliminary determination that the cause of Mr. Gorbachev's plane crashing was inferior fabrication of certain parts. It would seem, if this holds true, that the true cause is the inferior quality of workmanship by the Illyushin factory."

    Pravda - January 8, 1973
    "Preposterous," was Deputy Premier Nikolai Aleksandrovich Tikhonov's response to Sunday's comments by Chinese Vice President Dong Biwu, in which Dong tried to place the blame for the crash of Central Committee member M.S. Gorbachev's on "faulty Soviet workmanship."

    "We all know that the production of our Soviet workers is beyond first class and unsurpassed by anyone else on the planet," Mr. Tikhonov told a meeting of the World Socialist Journalists' Federation. "It is clear to us that the ruling Chinese clique is using this provocative language and pointing finger in order to avoid blame in this incident. We must ask again, why are they doing this? What are they hiding?"

    January 8, 1973

    Two American F-111 bombers are shot down by what is believed to be a battery SAM-6 Soviet built surface-to-air missile. This represents the battlefield debut of the SAM-6, one of the newest of Soviet made battlefield weapons.

    January 9, 1973

    After nearly two weeks of silence the Communist Chinese government confirms that they have in custody several "American air pirates" and that the People's government is considering what to do with them. The Chinese note that they have received an extradition request from North Vietnam, on whose territory the pirates "committed acts of terror and violence of the most heinous nature." The United States protests the detention of its personnel in China and demands that Red Cross representatives be given access to its nationals. The Chinese offer no immediate response to the U.S. protest.

    The People's Daily - January 10, 1973

    Second Vice President Dong Biwu today revealed that the purpose of Soviet Central Committeeman M.S. Gorbachev's visit to Hanoi had been to negotiate the placement of "a new generation of advanced weapons into the hands of the North Vietnamese." Second Vice President Dong called this move "destabilizing," and said "we now understand their anxiety to gain access to the crash site. It is clear that the Soviet conspirators wish to search the wreckage and remove any evidence of their provocative activities along our Southern border."

    "If the evidence is that the Soviets shipped advanced weapons with offensive characteristics across our territory, and that they disguised them as something other than what they were to get by our inspectors, then this is a very provocative action which totally disregards our the People's sovereign rights. We would see that as a grave deception by the Soviet patriarchal, deviationist authority, totally against the People's interests and rights."

    Asked about the recent, disturbing events of the sham, capitalist elections in America, Second Vice President Dong said they were "most disquieting. However, it is not our place to comment on an internal matter of another State."