Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72

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

  1. joea64 Unabashed Edwardian Era fanboy

    Feb 14, 2007
    A few miles south of Henry House Hill
    *slaps forehead* Poor Richard Nixon will go absolutely SPARE when he hears of this. All the work he's done to exploit the Sino-Soviet split on behalf of the United States, down the tubes. Not to mention the Europeans preparing to reduce the U.S. to the status of an "associated power" within NATO.

    I note that Agnew did NOT pardon Nixon. How sharper than a serpent's tooth, and all that...
  2. subversivepancakes Unknown Member

    Feb 22, 2009
    This is really interesting stuff. I love all the constitutional chicanery in the USA. Tragedy mixed with farce. A couple of comments about the ongoing Sino-Soviet War:

    First, you mention that the PRC's strategy was shaped by Defence Minister Lin Biao. This is unlikely for a number of reasons, the foremost being that Lin Biao died in 1971. In fact, at this point China doesn't even have a Defence Minister; the post was vacant from Lin's death in a plane crash until 1975, when Ye Jianying (a relative moderate who helped reformers such as Zhao Ziyang) was appointed.

    Additionally, it doesn't seem likely that Mongolia would be a focal point of the conflict. Chinese propaganda during the Sino-Soviet War and thereafter had played up the unequal treaties signed by the Qing and Russian Empires after the Second Opium Wars, both of which dealt with Outer Manchuria. Mongolia wasn't really seen as an issue. It's also unlikely that the conflict would result in anything other than a swift Soviet victory; during the early 70s, they actually had many more troops stationed along the border than the PRC had (due in part to the necessity of stationing PLA troops in cities which had seen unrest during the worst parts of the Cultural Revolution). Also, in the event of a full-scale conflict like you've posited, the USSR would probably move on Lop Nur, China's primary nuclear test site (located in Xinjiang), which would escalate the conflict very very quickly.

    And finally, there's no way that the PRC would actively seek a war with the Soviet Union at a time when their relations with the USA were deteriorating. The CCP leadership - including Mao himself - learned a number of lessons from the 1969 Sino-Soviet War, foremost among them being that opposing both the USSR and the USA was not going to work. From the Chinese perspective, this is what made the 1972 rapprochement possible, and it's not very plausible that they'd instigate a war with the USSR again while at the same time dealing with a hostile American administration.
  3. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    To deal with this would probably require a seperate, unrelated POD in 1969 where Lin Biao gains control over his family and remains co-operative with Mao, thus postponing the events of 1971 for two + years. This would leave him around in 1973 to take advantage of the embarrassment of Mao and Chou Enlai when their US strategy falls apart. It doesn't mean he will last longer than that, probably put his historic end off to late 1973 or early 1974 when he tries to exploit this.

    It could have, probably would have been better to come out of a Manchurian conflict, and maybe then as an accident rather than deliberate planning - over even an incident at sea. I've also portrayed some foot dragging in the Kremlin over the war too, where there's concern the Chinese attack (which they didn't expect, they thought it was sabre rattling) is a feint for something planned out of Europe; thus they hold back. A Chinese military defeat under these circumstances is very likely unless a third party intervenes. Of course, war is one way to bridge the divides in a society that has been stirred-up by domestic troubles like the cultural revolution - what I hinted at when I had Deng Xiaoping demoted for defeatism: on the other hand, the requirement of troops at the front could uncork more unrest inside China itself.

    Here I tried to apporximate a fear of encirlement, together with mischief making by Lin Biao in a temporary ascendency after the failure of the US iniative. As I've written it it could be a little imperfect ASB on the history and could stand a re-write, but for purposes of this TL, which is centered on the American political struggle, I'll play on from where the ball lays.
  4. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada

    Acting President Spiro Agnew had inherited a sluggish economy when he took office, a sluggishness caused in part by the uncertainties of the 1972 Presidential election. Immediately after Agnew took office, the Dow-Jones industrial index began a slow slide downward, which persisted through the spring and summer of 1973. Where, prior to the November 1972 election, the index had nearly reached a peak of 1,000 points, by the time of January 20, 1973 it hovered around 800 points. By May, with the United States House of Representatives still unable to elect a President, it was bottoming out at 538 points, a clear sign that investor confidence in the United States economy had been greatly shaken by the failed electoral process. The net beneficiaries were to be found in Europe, which experienced an influx of capital flight from U.S. markets.

    The U.S. dollar had barley recovered from the Nixon Shock of August 1971, a policy of the previous administration whereby the U.S. Treasury unilaterally canceled the direct convertibility of the United States dollar to gold, which essentially ended the existing Bretton Woods system of international financial exchange. President Nixon imposed a 90-day wage and price freeze, a 10 percent import surcharge, and, most importantly, “closed the gold window”, ending convertibility between US dollars and gold, to stabilize the economy and combat runaway inflation. By December 1971, the import surcharge was dropped, as part of a general revaluation of the major currencies, which thereafter were allowed 2.25% devaluations from the agreed exchange rate.

    In the first six months of 1973 there was renewed pressure on the US Dollar, caused by rising inflation due to a combination of rising commodity prices, heavy borrowing by the U.S. Treasury, and the printing of more money by the Agnew Administration in order to deal with its debt and liquidity crisis.

    Acting President Agnew’s policy of increased military spending lead to an increase in federal government borrowing and the printing of money to meet current commitments, the product of which was an inexorable rise in inflation. Firstly, the constant air bombing campaign of North Vietnam which had begun under President Nixon in May 1972, and which continued (with only a 34 day abatement in July and early August 1973) uninterrupted throughout much of 1973, consumed most of the United States military’s inventory of air dropped ordinance. More was purchased to replace the bombs dropped on Vietnam, together with an increased expenditure on replacement aircraft and spare parts, most of which were high-ticket items to begin with. The Agnew administration printed new money, floated dollar denominated bonds on the international money markets and borrowed heavily from banks and money markets in order to finance this activity.

    The reason for the issuing of money and debt instruments, and borrowing, was that the U.S. Congress was extremely hostile to supplying supplemental funds to keep the Vietnam conflict going. On May 11 and 14, both Houses of Congress voted for a moratorium on war directed spending. Agnew vetoed it, and the supporters of the moratorium couldn’t round-up sufficient votes in either House to override the veto. As a result, acting President Agnew could finance the war if he chose, but couldn’t obtain more funding though the traditional Congressional appropriation procedure, or through emergency tax levies, also controlled by a Congress which wouldn’t give him the money for it.

    Instead the U.S. Treasury went direct to money markets, and paid premium prices in terms of higher interest rates for the increasing amounts of money which were being borrowed to finance these operations. Apart from other considerations, this heavy government borrowing tightened-up the money supply, driving-up interest rates, which in turn fed inflation. Printing money eased the supply problem, but added to the devaluation of the currency, which in turn fed inflation even more. Borrowing plus inflation further eroded investor confidence in the dollar, to the benefit of the Pound, the Franc, the Deutsch Mark and even the Hong Kong Dollar. Trading in gold also increased, driving up gold’s price, and leading to intermittent scarcities. All of this set-off the march toward the Great Depression of the mid-1970’s.

    One estimate was that this borrowing activity added around $ 100 billion dollars (approx. a 22% increase) to the national debt, when one considers the purchase of replacement ordinance and aircraft, together with the spending that went into the Bold Eagle deployments of troops overseas and other related activities, including a significant increase in direct military aid to South Vietnam and Israel (in the last quarter of 1973). When that figure first became public knowledge, it caused another panicked run on the markets, further driving down stock prices (in all but the defense related industries) and stimulating more investor doubt about the U.S. economy.

    A minor scandal erupted when it was learned that Lockheed Aircraft was hedging its government payments in foreign currency, in effect hedging against the U.S. dollar between the time it received government payments and the time it had to make its payments to suppliers and employees in the U.S.. While not illegal, it had the effect of making it look like the one major economic winner of the defense increase was literally betting against the hand that fed it.

    The anemic growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) recorded in 1973 is misleading: factor out the increased output of aviation and defense related industries, and there was actually a steep drop, by some estimates dropping from a high of 1,225 billion dollars in the last quarter of 1972 to 1,120 billion dollars by the first quarter of 1974. Something close to 100 billion dollars in new defense and defense related spending in 1973 (as compared to a regular budgeted amount of 343 billion dollars for 1972, and 313 billion dollars budgeted for 1973 by the last Nixon budget), almost all in newly printed or borrowed money, could not mask the real decline.

    Employer demand for skilled labor rose, but again that was related to the increase in defense production. Factor that out, and the real economy wide unemployment rate went from 5.2% at the end of 1972 to 9.4% by January 1974. Many skilled employees were being pulled out of the economy as military reserve units were called-up and kept on stand-by. This should have lead to spike in wages as demand rose; however, demand for high skilled workers did not keep pace with the removal of reservists from the economy, making plain to many the true situation of the civilian economy. What hiring that was done was often of a gap filling nature rather than real long-term job creation.

    On the civilian side, consumers were not spending because they could see the real value of the dollars in which they were paid, and in which their savings were valued, declining in tangible, measurable ways. The decline in consumer spending, as people sought to stretch their dollars further to cover the increasing cost of staples, or tried to convert their excess dollars into gold or other hard commodities which would outlast the inflation spiral, lead to manufacturing lay-offs and cut backs as demand sagged. Further losses were realized as excess inventories turned into bloated liabilities that could not be sold, or easily converted to cash. Apart from urban rioting, 1973 also saw a sharp increase in warehouse fires and insurance claims over the previous year.

    The decline in the dollar might have been expected to improve the prospects for export, making US goods cheaper to sell abroad, especially in markets where foreign currency was increasing in value (thus making foreign produced goods more expensive even in their home [often subsidized] markets). However, in 1973 American goods suffered from what has been termed the Agnew Stigma. Because acting President Agnew’s foreign policies were unpopular, demand for American goods declined in proportion, especially in Canada and Western Europe. Coca-Cola, often seen as a flagship symbol of the United States, saw its foreign sales drop by 15%, and witness a competitor called Europeace-Cola start-up and begin eating into its market share, something that would have been unheard of just a few years before.

    In economically developed markets, even those suffering from inflation and labor unrest, effective consumer boycotts of American goods were organized by middle class activists, abetted by organized labor in many of these countries. In some cases, like that of Britain, the coming together of nominal Conservative and Liberal Party supporters with the Labour Party and Trade Unions over the common cause of Agnew boycotts temporarily eased long festering social conflicts as people pulled together in a common cause. At the same time, knowing that the US economy would not sustain sales of their exports (thus neutralizing the threat of retaliation), foreign governments slapped Agnew tariffs on American made goods – ostensibly to ‘equalize’ their cost against the declining US dollar. But there were important political side effects from this activity. Many governments were the beneficiaries of a political good will on the part of their constituents as a consequence of these policies which at once punished the US for the acting President’s policies and had the effect of stimulating domestic economies and either saving or creating jobs in troubled economic regions. The situation also forced European governments to re-appraise their own trading relationships and look for ways of strengthening intra-European ties at the expense of over reliance on exporting to the US and/or relying on US imports.

    The Conservative Heath government in Britain was re-elected in February 1974 based largely on its open support for the Agnew tariffs along with the round of Europe Home Defence Initiative talks begun by Heath, which over the long term lead to the formation of the Euro Confederacy - although that was more than a decade down the road. In 1973 and 1974 it seemed enough to the British and European public that their leaders were seeing a future for the continent beyond the dominance of the United States.

    United Kingdom General Election of February 8, 1974

    Total Seats: 635 (318 needed to form a Majority)

    Conservatives: 330 (-9) 321 seats majority government retained
    Labour: 288 (+7) 295 seats
    Liberals 6 (+3) 9 seats
    Others: 10 seats

    Quite the opposite happened in Canada, where the minority Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau attempted to resist the imposition of Agnew boycotts and Agnew tariffs. Trudeau argued that ‘you don’t make policy because of one man who will be swept away any time now.’ He called the attempts to impose politics on the economy an intrusion into the rights of business, and resisted the policy of wage and price controls for the same reason. He was preaching a right-of-center, pro-business economic message in the hopes of winning over economically conservative voters who had abandoned his Liberal Party in the 1972 election. Unfortunately, with his country’s economy so intertwined with the U.S., his economy was in danger of going under with the U.S. shipwreck; the immediate effect was a recession. His Progressive Conservative opponent Robert Stanfield, no friend of Agnew boycotts, nonetheless saw an opportunity to deliver a message of protecting the Canadian economy from the worst effects of the Agnew policy in the U.S., and that included a temporary package of wage and price controls tied with greater stimulus for the Canadian manufacturing and export sector. Canadian voters were more receptive because they could see and feel what was happening in the U.S., and didn’t want to go in that direction. Short term protectionism was popular that year, and Stanfield exploited that mood.

    Meanwhile, the pro-labor New Democratic Party became very active in the Agnew boycotts, so much so that acting President Agnew was reputed to have asked CIA Director Paul Nitze to develop a plan to assassinate NDP leader David Lewis, whom he came to regard as a particular menace (in part because Canadian supporters of the Agnew boycotts, some waving NDP signs, disrupted an Agnew speech in Buffalo, New York on August 2, 1973).

    Canadian Federal Election of July 8, 1974

    Total Seats: 264 (133 needed to form a Majority)

    Liberals: 109 (-19) 90 seats
    Progressive Conservatives: 107 (+16) 123 seats minority government
    New Democrats: 31 (+8) 39 seats
    Social Credit: 15 (-4) 11 seats
    Independent: 0 (+1) 1 seat

    The result was a loss for Trudeau’s Liberals, and a gain for the opposition NDP, which had promoted the anti-Agnew measures. Vote splitting between the Liberals and the NDP in key ridings allowed the Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield to become the Prime Minister of a minority government by default; and he in turn cobbled together a working alliance with the minor Social Credit Party and some disaffected Liberal MPs to hold on to power for some time.

    The long term effects of the Agnew policies also gave an electoral boost to West Germany’s Social Democratic Party, and was seen as contributing factor for the election of France’s first post-DeGaulle Socialist President, Francois Mitterand, in May 1974.

    One person at the center of this policy, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury George Schultz, who had been appointed in 1972 by President Nixon, was, together with his colleague, Secretary of State George Bush, very uneasy about the level of borrowing and the resulting inflation.

    ”I felt kind of like a conductor on the train that was speeding toward the cliff; the engineer was madly throwing more coal into the engine all the time, and I was the one handing it to him by the shovel full” Schultz recalled. “By late April Cap Weinberger (Office of Management and Budget [OMB] Director Caspar Weinberger – also a holdover from the Nixon Administration) had had enough and he managed to get in to see Spiro Agnew and told the acting President to his face about how he was sending the national economy to Hell in a hand basket. Well, Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney couldn’t get him out of the building fast enough: he as gone by the end of the day. Cap used to joke that they threw him out so fast that he still has Dick Cheney’s handprint pressed into the back of one of his suits. After they sent him packing, they had to send an embarrassed junior aid to his home to retrieve his office keys and get his safe combination.

    ”They replaced him with Roy Ash, the founder of Litton Systems, but he was gone in sixty days because he couldn’t stomach the mess they were making. After that Rumsfeld moved Cheney into the spot, although he kept the title Assistant Chief of Staff. Cheney was out of his depth, he didn’t have the background for it. He once said – get this – ‘deficits don’t matter’. I hope he doesn’t use that philosophy when he’s balancing his own checkbook.

    ”People often ask me why I didn’t quit too. I wanted too, I even wrote up my resignation. But George Bush, the Secretary of State, talked me out of it. I didn’t know George that well back then, but he said something to me which made a lot of sense, and probably explains why he didn’t get out of Dodge either. George said, ‘Look, at some point this whole thing is going to implode, and we need someone responsible around here to pick-up the pieces. As long as you hold that Cabinet seat, you keep them from filling it with some fool, and that’s insurance for the future.’ I had to agree with him on that, so I decided to weather it for a while, hoping we could stop it before it had gone too far; of course, by then it had already gone way too far, but those were times we were living in.”

    Interview with former Treasury Secretary George Schultz for the oral history collection, Columbia University.


    Gentleman Biaggi and Magnimik like this.
  5. RogueBeaver Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2009
    Now the economy's tanking. How does the 25th work with an Acting President? IMPEACH AGNEW! :mad::mad::mad:
  6. Julius Vogel So

    Sep 3, 2008
    Dear lord! This is quite the engaging read. Good work
  7. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Logical economic outcome of the Agnew Administration's activity, and unwillingness to intervene to prevent the dollars slide or inflation (aggravated by them) to do anything about it. Wait until the oil shock hits. Note the accelrated pace leading toward the European Union; expect more of a power shift in that direction in the coming years.

    The 25th amendment allows the Congress to designate another body to rule on a presidential disability; provided half the cabinet and the Vice President deem the President disabled. Since Agnew is unlikely to co-operate in his own removal (he is constitutionally the Vice President) its doubtful a Cabinet putsch would go very far. There would also be a question if being incompetent qualifies as a disability

    And those in the Cabinet trying it would, as George Bush said, be opening-up seats for some fool. They're more likely to look at ways of subtely undermining Agnew from within. One thnig George Schultz can do is to try and re-direct some of the borrowing into holding accounts, to reduce the debt level once Agnew is gone. He can also slow the paperwork down to a crawl.

    Impeachment is easy, they've got the votes in the House to do it, and Ron Dellums will have his I told you so moment with the leadership. But that is a two stage process. The Senate has to vote by a two-thirds majority (67 Senators minimum) to remove him from office. That entails rounding-up about 14-15 Republican Senators who will go against their own party - and admit publicly that they screwed-up in January, not an easy task among an egotisitical bunch. The Senate Republican leadership is going to have to put their own political future on the line to pull this off. Herman Talmadge cannot be relied upon for anything.

    Unfortunately, just when you need Richard Nixon the most, his own legal problems are making him very problematic as a candidate. Frankly, not enough Democrats in the House will vote for him, which is why the House leadership is going to have to get very creative in order to resolve this. It ain't gonna be pretty.

    I'll continue to work on this, but I have other things to address in my life as well, so expect it in smaller snippets for a while.
  8. Historico Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Damn, things are going to shit in a handbasket in the US, and I love the detail on it's effects on the economy and global politics elsewhere. But I guess my questions is, if Agnew resigns both his "Acting Presidency" and his actual office of Veep. Would that make Speaker Albert another "Acting President" atleast untill the balloting issue can be solved? And did the Supreme Court knock down the plans for congress to invoke the 12th Amendment to consider the Special Elections clause still valid? Can't wait to see what you have in store for us next Drew...Keep it comming
  9. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    If Agnew resigns or is legally removed from office, then the Speaker of the House would become an acting President if the contingent election is still in progress, or a President for the remainder of the term, if not. The 12th amendment is a Constitutional process, so the Courts can't stop it, they are being asked to rule on disputed facts, and those rulings will determine how it is carried out afterward.

    Currently (August 1973) the DC Circuit Court has put a stay on the House balloting while it sorts through the litigation, which is a constitutional mine field, to say the least, so expect the Court to take some time in picking its way through it. At this point they are being asked to consider who is still legitimately a candidate in that election, and whether Bayh can replace McKeithen, and Agnew Nixon (if Nixon's concession is held to block him from further consideration). If they decide that Nixon's concession is valid and can't be rescinded, and Bayh can't replace McKeithen (and by the same reasoning Agnew can't replace Nixon on the ballot), then George C. Wallace is the only candidate left on the ballot - a very unpalitable choice for the House. (Might fufill RB's challenge here)

    Otherwise, we could have a new three way contest between Bayh, Nixon and Wallace, or between Bayh, Agnew and Wallace. The losers will no doubt want to appeal whatever the DC Court decides to the Supreme Court, whose Justices will have to be called in from their summer recess, which will make them all a little cranky.

    Part of what I've done with this TL is to take the 12th amendment to its absurd extremes, it is nonetheless possible and is such a mess because the language and terms are in fact very vague, and there are no timelines or closure mechanism. Unlike a criminal jury, they can't proclaim themselves hung and call a mistrial - or in this case simply declare the Presidency vacant so that the acting President can succeed to the office (another question that's been put to the DC Court). Under this situation, it is formula for potentially four years of chaos and uncertainty.

    No doubt one of the outcomes of this in the future of this TL will be a wholesale revision of the 12th, 20th and 25th amendments to prevent this sort of thing from happening again, and making the process clearer. (Just as the 12th replaced the older mechanism that would have seen McKeithen elected President and Nixon as Vice President).

    However, Agnew has just committed a fatal blunder which will open the door to impeachment, as somebody is about to realize and pass on to the Congressional leadership. Coming soon.
  10. John Farson The Good Man

    Sep 24, 2009
    Between Sweden and St Petersburg
    With the unrest of the 1960s continuing into 1973 (and possibly beyond) coupled with a falling economy (according to your text leading into the Great Depression of the 1970s), how will all this affect U.S. popular culture and the counter-culture? I'm thinking of TV series like All in the Family, Cannon and Starsky and Hutch, as well as movies like Jaws, Taxi Driver and Star Wars. All in the Family and Cannon were already around during the POD, but what about those that hadn't come yet? Could something like Star Wars end up still-born in TTL (there's a scary thought!)? Although, if I recall correctly, one reason for SW's immense popularity in 1977 was because people were craving just that kind of film after the chaos and uncertainty of the 60s and early 70s. With the stuff going on here, I'd say such a social demand is only more intensified, if anything.:)
  11. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    The dirty 30's produced a plethora of escapist entertainment so people could have a few hours away from their troubles. I see this as producing a similar wave, there would be more demand for Star Wars type entertainment and an earlier revival of Star Trek and pehaps more clones. Also movies (western or historical) in which the forces of good overcome evil will also have a new popularity. Shows from the late 1970's and early 80's like Dallas and Dynasty would come earlier, showing an escapist life of unlimited wealth to an audience living practically hand to mouth.

    On the otherhand you could also have a period of great critical literature of all things political and economic, perhaps more interest in Marxism and populist ideas. Programs that dig too deep into social and political concerns that entail redistribution of wealth or rights might not do as well because people will be afraid that too much concern for social justice will be a zero sum game. All the latent fears are there, and were expoilted during the Reagan-Bush era (as they were by Nixon and Agnew); this brings that element of the 80's forward by half a decade or so.

    Using All in the Family as an example, there may be less of the social justice arguments between Archie and Mike, instead Archie will deal with losing his job (he may not be able to get the mortgage to buy Kelsey's Bar after all) and seeing the America he knew erode even further. Meanwhile Mike will have to deal with raising a family while doing a job (or two jobs) that are well below his potential simply because here are no jobs for him at his skill level: all the while beginning to doubt the liberal values he was once so free to espouse under Archie's roof. This would be a closer reflection of 'real life' during this period.

    The Great Depression of the mid-1970's is a consequence of Agnewnomics, an oil shock, and shock therapy policies designed to correct this situation. It is shorter than the one of the 1930's, but no less devestating to the millions who lose their jobs, and have their home mortgages foreclosed on, and can't afford to fill their cars with gas, and can't afford the food to feed their families. It will fundamentally change some people's perception of life and responsibility, and I could see Disco being supplanted by an earlier rise of the punk, Goth and maybe even a proto-grunge culture. The 80's Yuppie may be replaced with the economic survivor.

    I imagine too that in addition to JFK and Nixon, Oliver Stone will have ample material for a film called Agnew.
  12. subversivepancakes Unknown Member

    Feb 22, 2009
    Fair enough. I hope that I didn't sound too critical, because that certainly wasn't my intent. This is a great timeline, and it's unique as well. I've never seen anything involving John McKeithen, and I've also never seen anything with this level of election-related craziness in the USA.

    If you ever do go back to the China part, it might be better to leave Lin Biao out of things. OTL he was considered more pro-Soviet than many members of CCP leadership, and one can make the case that he was more balanced than Mao and thus less likely to lead the PRC into a destructive and hopeless war. Perhaps all that needs to happen is for the USSR to repeatedly piss Mao off. He was always given to grandiose and not especially practical plans (Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, etc.) and in the early 70s there was really no one at all to check his power, after Lin's death and Deng's purging. The only voice of reason would be Zhou Enlai, and at this point he's already been diagnosed with cancer and his health is starting to fail (he died early 1974). So if Mao gets the urge to make war on the Soviet Union, there's really no one around in 1973-74 who has the power and influence to persuade him otherwise.
  13. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Not at all. Your comments were on point and I thank-you for them.

    I suppose I could go a little Orwellian here and re-write my own history, and have an embarrased Mao (over the collapse of his dialogue with the US with Agnew's acting presidency) combined with a little paranoia over Soviet activity in Vietnam, to push his military into an unwanted war with the Russians (knowing they will have their hands full with the Americans) to try and 1. make the point that the world still has to pay attention to China as a significant power (especially after the Soviets humiliated China by smuggling weapons outside the agreement through their territory and the Americans and Soviets show-up the PLAN) and 2. to use the charge of defeatism at the beginning as a tool to purge those he considers a threat, or who might use the failure of the American policy to weaken him, 3. re-energize his popular support through a war effort (good old nationalism) and 4. use the military stalemate to accuse those he doesn't trust in the military of being Soviet puppets thus, in true Stalinist fashion, setting up a purge of those who obeyed him in the first place and helped to purge the first 'defeatist' group. After all, eveyone is having a bad year in this 1973.

    He's an underrated figure, largely because he was a Southern Governor who straddled the line between segregation and the New South, he had one foot in each camp, which endeared him to neither side. He only ran for national office once, the Senate in 1972, and lost. So I thought a TL with him taking on Nixon might be fun. Maybe next time I'll let him win.

    Yes, when it goes off the rails it can make for quite a train wreck. This is why a successful third party could be a seriously de-stabilizing factor in American politics (as George Wallace nearly was in 1968)
  14. Lord Grattan consigned to OTL

    Dec 20, 2007
    Michigan USA
    I can hear the protesters outside the White House chanting, "Hay. Hay, STA - How many kids gonna starve today?" (I always thought Agnew looked a lot like Johnson.)
  15. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Very catchy - and a nice echo of the 60's too.

    "Trust in Ted and you'll be dead!" "Don't be a hero, say no to Spiro!"

  16. Presbyman Bring Back Churchill

    Jan 31, 2008
    This is really neat stuff. Thanks for doing it. But God help the USA. This sounds worse than the Disney dystopia.
  17. Alikchi Lurker Extraordinaire

    Jan 21, 2004
    Indian Territory
    Just read this pretty much straight through. BRAVO, sir! Reading McKeithan's dead felt like a punch in the stomach. I really thought you'd set me up for a nice finale.

    I'm hoping that Agnew's "fatal blunder" really does knock him out. Before he hits the big red button.
  18. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    If you see a thread called 1972: The Fall Of Nixon, Part I that is an early prototype of this thread that I posted by mistake to the wrong forum back when I was beginning on this board. I posted it on Feb 21, and it popped up today for some reason.

    This Thread (Fear and Loathing), starting Feb. 28, is the far more developed version, you can disregard the earlier one - unless someone wants to take it over and make a timeline of their own from it.

    I hope to post the next installment of Fear and Loathing tomorrow.
  19. Drew Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    A Transformative Presidency for a New American Century

    August 14, 1973

    In a surprise raid, FBI agents and Federal Marshalls serve search warrants on former President Nixon's home in San Clemente, California (the former Western White House). They leave with papers and a number of file boxes containing reels of audio tape recordings. The recordings are turned over to the Special Master appointed by the DC Federal Court.

    The Justice Department announces that former Nixon White House Counsel John Ehrlichman has agreed to co-operate with Watergate investigators.

    (from John Ehrlichman Witness to Power: The Nixon Years)

    There's a tendency on the part of some people to refer to me as a turncoat, which is a wholly unfair characterisation, given the circumstances of those times. Did I start talking to Federal prosecutors in August of '73 about what had been going on, and who knew what? Yes I did. But you have to remember John Dean had already made his deal with the prosecutors, so the opportunities available were diminishing, and what I told them only confirmed what Dean had already spilled out. And, I had to be mindful what would come out if those Oval Office tapes ever saw the light of day, the chances of which I thought were pretty good.

    What needs to be understood is that neither Spiro Agnew nor any of the staff around him had any connection to the re-election activities commonly referred to as 'Watergate.' So acting President Agnew felt no hesitation about pushing the Justice Department to come after us. He'd even installed his own Attorney General to put pressure on Archibald Cox to produce indictments. Cox's investigation was serving to blacken Richard Nixon's name, which was quickly reducing the chance that he would ever regain the Presidency. That worked to Agnew's political and personal advantage. It also helped Agnew sweep his own ethical issues under the carpet. After the initial furor over his self-pardon, and a few scolding editorials about it, the newspapers and television news had nowhere else to go with that story, so they turned their attention back on us. That was why Agnew never considered pardoning any of us, and especially not Richard Nixon: all of us were his political cannon fodder.

    When I took this into account, I figured I had better protect my position. Should I have fallen on my sword for Richard Nixon's sake? I don't see where that's valid at all. The man was not deserving of our loyalty. After all what did he do for us? Right up until his trial he kept trying to shift the blame to Bob Halderman, myself, Chuck Colson and, when he got really desperate, he even threw his so-called best friend John Mitchell under the bus. In those circumstances, I wasn't going to go down for him.


    ( from Richard M. Nixon Memoirs: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon)

    What John Dean and John Ehrlichman did was unpatriotic. Not only were they attacking me, which I could live with, but they were undermining my chances to be re-elected President. After the death of Governor McKeithen we urgently needed someone to take the office of President away from Ted Agnew, and I was the most reasonable person to do it. By feeding the Watergate hysteria which had been whipped-up by my enemies - it was all a baseless slander - they all but took that away, leaving open the possibility that Ted would remain as acting President until January 1977. I blame them for that, for putting their own self-preservation ahead of their country's welfare, and I have no pity for either one. If I had been re-elected I could have disengaged from Vietnam; it wasn't too late to pull back to our position the previous fall. That didn't happen, and all that blood is on the hands of Archibald Cox, John Dean and John Ehrlichman.


    August 14 - 21, 1973

    The Battle of Ulan Bator: Soviet and Mongolian defenders successfully defeat a Chinese offensive meant to capture the Mongolian capital. Information on casualties is highly restricted, but estimated to be well over 50,000 on each side, with heavy loss of life among the Mongolian civilian population. By the end of August Soviet forces have driven the Chinese Army back into China ('Inner Mongolia'), where the fighting stops only because the Soviet advance halts.

    August 16, 1973

    The Battle of Dong Hoi: A U.S. force of 22,000 and 14,000 ARVN* troops inflicts significant casualties and forces the retreat of a North Vietnamese force from the city of Dong Hoi in North Vietnam. This is the first large scale combat between US and North Vietnamese forces on North Vietnamese territory in the Vietnam War. The US occupies Dong Hoi, the first time US forces have occupied North Vietnamese territory. The U.S. suffers 412 killed, and 1,028 seriously wounded. Casualties among South Vietnamese units are 219 killed and 4,100 seriously wounded. North Vietnamese losses are thought to be around 1,050 killed and about 3,000 + seriously wounded.

    *(ARVN = Army of the Republic of [South] Vietnam)

    August 18, 1973

    The Battle of Tchepone: A U.S. force of 9,000 and 16,000 ARVN troops attacks Tchepone, a central terminus on the North Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh trail. After two days of fighting the U.S. captures a forward base from which it can interdict flows of supplies heading south from North Vietnam. U.S. casualties are 166 dead, 712 seriously wounded. ARVN casualties are 312 killed, 1,235 seriously wounded. North Vietnamese casualties are estimated at around 2,800 wounded and killed. US forces capture a North Vietnamese general who commands forces in the area during the engagement. An unknown number of Laotian troops and civilians are injured and killed.

    Tchepone is in Laos, and U.S. law (in the form of a restriction on U.S. combat operations in Laos and Cambodia in the 1970 and 1971 Defense Appropriations Bills) prohibits U.S. ground forces from entering Laos. However, the Agnew Administration circumvents the law and uses the capture of North Vietnamese personnel, including a senior North Vietnamese officer at Tchepone, as proof that the North Vietnamese have infiltrated Laos and converted the country from a neutral to 'an occupied combatant.'

    Secretary Haig: We can no longer ignore the fact that a significant area of Eastern Laos is in reality nothing more than an extension of North Vietnamese territory. The last two administrations pussy-footed around this point, well no more. The gloves are off. If Laos wishes to remain neutral, then Laotian authorities must prove to our satisfaction that they can police their territory. If not then the United States and our allies will do it for them, and we will meet any resistance as direct resistance to United States forces and an act in support of our North Vietnamese enemy. Let me repeat, the gloves are off and we will not have one hand tied behind our back.

    Spiro Agnew: Laos can no more claim neutrality than Vichy France could. The King of Laos should be careful we don't see him as another Petain, a quisling of our Communist enemy. They harbor the enemy; the enemy is allowed to move through, rest and re-supply in their territory. The Laotian territory in question is not like Switzerland, it is like occupied Europe, and we will reserve the right to make war against the enemy there, and liberate the Laotian people from Communist oppression in the process. Now, if some liberal pinhead wants to try and use the law to stop us, I say go ahead. This is not a legal battle, this is a military one and as Commander-in-Chief I have deemed it essential that we take this fight to the enemy, where he is.

    The Agnew Administration uses this likening of Laos and Cambodia to countries occupied by the Nazis during World War II to argue that the Cooper-Church Ammendment of 1970 (which bans US military activity in Laos and Cambodia) and the 1971 Defense Appropriations Ammendment (which futher bans US military activity in Laos) should be disregarded in the effort to stop North Vietnamese forces operating in these two countries. The Agnew Administration further is inviting a Constitutional showdown with Congress over the question of whether the Congress can restrict the President's ability to direct U.S. war efforts in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the chief executive branch officer responsible for conducting U.S. foreign policy.

    Polls taken after the two battles show support for President Agnew's Vietnam policy at 51%. 58% of respondents agree that the Communists should be prevented from taking over South Vietnam, and that force should be used to bring the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table; 42% support continued military action of more than one year but less than three; only 28% support a military commitment of longer than three years.

    Subsequent, smaller scale operations continue throughout eastern Laos over the next few weeks, all designed to cut-off the Ho Chi Minh supply trail. US casualties: 210 killed, 1,612 seriously injured. ARVN casualties 510 killed, 2,400 seriously injured. North Vietnamese and Laotian casualties: undetermined.

    Remnants of the largely decimated South Vietnamese National Liberation Front (NLF) ["Viet Cong"]guerrillas begin a series of small attacks in the South, including firing two anti-tank rockets into the side of the Presidential palace in Saigon. Three grenades are also thrown onto the grounds of the American embassy in Saigon, causing one Marine death and three serious injuries.

    (from Colin Powell My American Journey)

    I had mixed feelings about returning for my third tour in Vietnam. It had been several years since I had last served there, and in years in-between I had supported President Nixon's efforts to end that war with a just peace. It had seemed in our grasp in the Fall of 1972, and it was hard to understand how it all fell apart in the space of just nine months.

    After checking into my quarters near the old MACV headquarters in Saigon, an abandoned MACV housing complex that was being refitted for the new influx of personnel (I later learned that it had been turned over to the families of South Vietnamese officers in 1972; except they had been kicked out a year later when we returned. To me that seemed grossly unfair), I went to division headquarters to report to Lieutenant General Henry E. "Gunfighter" Emerson, where I was to work on his operations staff as the operations and planning (G-3) officer, a post I had held with the Americal (23rd Infantry) Divison during my last tour in Vietnam.

    The General came bursting out of his office and seized my hand, which he pumped like a well handle. The man was in his mid-forties, tall, rangy, with a great eagle’s beak of a nose, craggy features, a hot-eyed gaze and a booming voice. He never stopped pacing as he welcomed me. He had earned his nickname during an earlier tour of Vietnam by carrying a cowboy style six-shooter rather than a regulation .45 caliber pistol (which he still did), and I noticed that he had a revolver engraved on his belt buckle. I was also aware that he had won a reputation as a fierce fighter during his previous tours, and in the Korean War before that.

    That last point came out during his remarks to newly posted officers at our first staff meeting: 'If we don’t do our jobs right, our soldiers won’t win. And we have exactly one job – to kick the enemy's ass all the way back to Hanoi. Give me anything less than your absolute best - and then some- and I'll kick your ass into the Pacific Ocean.' Emerson wasn't one to stand on ceremony, or to mince words, but I quickly came to appreciate that he cared a great deal about the men under his command. He didn't think of them as 'assets' or abstract pins on a chart, but as flesh and blood human beings who were being asked to do a tough and dirty job and needed all the support the General and his officers could muster for them. I can recall the General being tough on a Sergeant who had screwed-up, but that was pale compared to the volcanic chewing-out he gave any officer who put himself or his career before his men. It was a valuable lesson more officers could have learned.

    General Emerson's ADJ, the officer I reported to, was Colonel Norman Schwartzkopf, a big bear of a man who could bluster like the General, but who had an intelligent and incisive mind that served as a good compliment to the General's gung-ho disposition. Emerson was aware of that fact and trusted and relied on Schwartzkopf, whom he joking called his 'Army-issued-son' (which embarrassed Norman whenever the General said it). Between them both men already had over seven years of combat experience in Vietnam, and all of us on the senior staff had served at least one combat tour: it had been an unbending requirement of the General's that his staff know the country and what was - and was not - possible before he accepted the command. As I got know 'Bear', as Norman was called by his friends, I discovered that he too shared my reservations about our return, but he was dedicated to the mission at hand and wouldn't let private doubt interfere with his duty. That was the attitude of the rest of us in Emerson's command.

    Dong Hoi in North Vietnam and Tchepone in Laos were the two biggest engagements in the earliest days, the closest you could get to a set-piece battle in the jungles of Southeast Asia. The White House and the Pentagon had green lighted operations in Laos, which made some of us uneasy, because Congress had outlawed it. We all understood the necessity of taking out North Vietnamese and Viet Cong supply networks in that country and Cambodia; however, the Congressional resolution had tied our hands behind our backs. I also knew that the Administration was planning to violate that law: I'd seen it in the early Bold Eagle plans back in Washington. The President and Secretary Haig held that the Congressional restriction was unconstitutional, given that the Constitution gave the President the authority as Commander-in-Chief of the military to conduct our war operations. I knew they were spoiling for a fight with the Congress over it, but that was politics back in Washington, and not our main concern in Saigon. Once he established that the order was legal (from a military command perspective), General Emerson went at it with full vigor.

    Our occupation of Dong Hoi on North Vietnamese soil was meant to send a clear message to Hanoi that we were ready to fight on their territory, which hadn't happened before. At the same time we took Tchepone to cut off the Ho Chi Minh trail and the flow of arms and enemy personnel South. By occupying these two points and patrolling a perimeter between them, we created an arc, or a wall which, supported by other bases along South Vietnam's western borders with Laos and Cambodia, at least partially cut off the North from the South.

    Dong Hoi was reinforced with 9,000 additional troops along with various naval ships equipped with heavy, long range guns, as we expected that the North Vietnamese would deem it necessary to re-capture this part of their territory out of national pride, if for no other reason. In fact, we were hoping to draw their forces into a battle there. All along the arc and the border area we had developed a plan for maximum air support for our troops, with the expectation that we could hit any attacking formation hard from the air.

    At the same time, in the South, our forces went after North Vietnamese formations that had been left behind after the 1972 Northern offensive, but which had been severely mauled by our bombers (I noted that President Nixon had only bombed targets in the North from May 1972 - January 1973; in February 1973 the new administration began bombing suspected enemy targets in the South as well - even over the protests of the Saigon government, which didn't make our allies too happy) over the preceding year. Emerson's plan was to hit them hard, confuse them and force them out into the open where we could deal with them through ground attack and air power. Along the way he wanted to give the National Guard units some combat experience before we went on the offensive in the North.

    One of the first reports I read recounted how units of the 38th Infantry Division (Indiana National Guard) had been seriously mauled in their first engagement near Phuoc Binh in Phuoc Long Province along the Cambodian border. In one company, a Sergeant named James 'Dan' Quayle had been the surviving senior NCO after all of the company officers had been killed in an enemy ambush. Sergeant Quayle had lead a counterattack that saved his company from annihilation. Emerson had recommended him for a Silver Star and a field promotion to Lieutenant. I was somewhat disappointed to read that there were other units where the officers appeared equally as incompetent, but there were a few more Sergeant Quayles too. I made sure the General got a full list of them. Still, an army couldn't continue to fight like that: the General and Schwartzkopf knew that better than anyone.

    More encouraging were numerous reports of situations where our troops managed to set-up cross-fires that got enemy units shooting at each other. We accomplished that because our bombing had disrupted their communications and forced their units to frequently move around. This allowed us opportunities to slip Trojan Horse teams between formations that could start a firefight with units on both sides of them, and then withdraw as the two enemy forces closed on one another. Fortunately for us NVA fire discipline had become lax and they shot at anything that shot in their direction. The Marines had a recon Captain, Oliver North, who was particularly good at setting up that tactic. Emerson wanted to promote him, but all he could do was recommend it to the Navy Department.

    Even so, we were taking heavier than anticipated casualties. Added to the 2,318 we lost in the North, we had 1,050 dead and 2,800 seriously wounded in the South by September 3, and that was before we began what we considered the serious phase of operations, an attrition rate of about 3 1/2% (21% annualized) of our force after a little over two months in country. ARVN casualties were higher, and they had trouble recruiting and training replacements in a short time. It was a matter of grave concern to us, because we could expect that number to rise as we really started pushing the enemy.

    During my trips to various units I met some of the officers and men and was impressed with the quality of troops which we had in our force. Almost none of them were draftees, and discipline was better than I recalled from 1968 and 1969. Back then I had feared attacks on me from my own men as much as from the enemy, this time that atmosphere of mutual hostility seemed absent. At least among the regular troops.

    Among the reservists and National Guard formations, who were the 1973 equivalent of the draftees (although concentrated in their own units rather than spread out in every unit), I felt a great deal of resentment of officers like myself who were from the regular army. Clearly these men didn't want to be here, but they had signed-up for the Guard and the Reserve (largely to avoid Vietnam service) so they were here as an indirect result of a voluntary committment on their part. These men, unlike the draftees from the earlier phases of the War, tended to be older - many more were professionals in civillian life for example - more politically savy, and their concentration in units all from the same geographic area (where many belonged to the same civillian political, business and social networks) meant that they had a greater cohesion than the previous group of draftees. I sensed right away among these officers a greater tendency to tell us - Headquarters staff and any regular Army officer in general - to go to Hell if they didn't like something. It was an ominous portent of a greater discipline problem to come.


    (from Henry Kissinger Years of Crisis: Why America Failed in Asia)

    The thinking behind this Bold Eagle project was ill-conceived at best. When President Nixon left office he had left his successor a favourable position in Vietnam. Although there were North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam, they were not an immediate threat to the Saigon regime, as their abysmal failure in the Easter 1972 offensive had shown. Our military was building-up the South Vietnamese military forces to the point where they could take-on and defeat their North Vietnamese enemy at a time of their choosing. In the meantime, the United States was still well positioned to provide air support to the South Vietnamese, and this proved decisive in any engagement. To that extent, the war was in our hands: by preserving South Vietnam and using our air power in conjunction with the South's land forces we had checked the North. There was no need to aggravate the situation by reintroducing American ground forces, which only excited the anti-war movement at home and made North Vietnam appear the underdog in an anti-colonial struggle. I can only conclude that the policy fell victim to those with a military mindset that could see victory only in terms of the total annihilation of the enemy on the battlefield, or worse an invasion and occupation of the North. The fighting may have been in Vietnam, but they were still thinking in terms of the long past war against the Japanese.


    August 20 - 22, 1973

    The USS Constellation carrier group blocks a convoy of East Bloc freighters from approaching the port of Haiphong. Two U.S. submarines, the USS Sea Devil SSN-664 and the USS Gato SSN-615 engage in close manoeuvres with two Soviet submarines escorting the freighters, which include substantial pinging with sonar and the flooding and opening of torpedo tubes by both sides. Their activities are augmented by Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopters flying from the Constellation and support ships. After two days the Soviet forces breaks off and heads back to sea.

    August 20, 1973

    Personal representatives of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of (West) Germany and the President of France (the Trio Group) arrive in Moscow and Peking in an effort to negotiate a settlement of the Soviet-Chinese Mongolian conflict.

    (from Anonymous Behind the Fortress Walls)

    General Secretary Brezhnev was being pressed from many sides. His caution over the Chinese incursion into the Mongolian Socialist Republic had displeased the hardliners, most especially Marshall Grechko. General Vasiley's victory at the Battle of Ulan Bator relived some of that pressure, although it was not until the end of August that our armies chased the Chinese back into their own territory for good. Marshall Grechko wanted to pursue and take the battle to China, but Brezhnev believed this would be unproductive. 'Mao had pinched the bear's nose, and the bear had swiped his army with its paw', the General Secretary grumbled at the Marshall. By this he meant that he had proven that we could defeat a Chinese invasion and secure our borders. We could punish the impudent Chinese anytime we wished. Beyond that Brezhnev saw peril in pursuing an offensive into China itself, where we would force their soldiers to fight for their own motherland soil. The General Secretary never took his eye off NATO, and he remonstrated against Grechko for wanting to open-up a unnecessary vulnerability should our armies become bogged down in a war in China.

    This is why the General Secretary warmly welcomed the representatives of the British, Germans and French to Moscow, and encouraged their plan for talks, with them as intermediaries. Brezhnev welcomed the opportunity to use the Europeans as a buffer and have them figure out what would quiet Mao down, or perhaps allow enough time for the deviationists in Peking to regain their heads. It also gave him an excuse to put-off Marshall Grechko's repeated pressure to pursue an assault into China.

    The Americans under Agnew were another problem, one that Brezhnev found very puzzling. At first he thought that Agnew was showing his teeth as the new man, and that was why his forces had been provocative to our naval forces around Vietnam. The incident with the warship Fox had been a mistake, but Agnew had used it to political advantage. This was to be expected from a new leader, especially one repudiating the policies of his predecessor.

    Then, in August, the Americans interfered with our peaceful commercial activity by using a blockade to provoke one of our convoys. This was a direct and deliberate challenge to Soviet power, more so when American submarines began to conduct war-like engagements with our own submarines. Brezhnev could not help but be reminded of Cuba eleven years before. He raised this very point in a private interview with the British negotiator, Lord R.A. Butler, a one-time Foreign Minister. Brezhnev intended that Lord Butler should convey his comment back to the Americans. In this sense, the presence of the European negotiators in Moscow had another use.

    Short of war, he could not understand what this Agnew could want - and surely the American President did not war. Perhaps the message through Butler would serve as a reminder to Agnew as to what was at stake. Brezhnev was certain that once Agnew had proven his leadership, some new offer of negotiation would come, perhaps returning with Butler. So, in the end he ordered our forces to retreat only because there was great division in the Politburo about how forceful our response should be. This at least was an excuse he could use to cover his own indecision on the matter.

    Kosygin was arguing for an attack on the Americans, while Gromyko was counselling caution.

    'Caution Andrei Andreyevich? We are challenged on the high seas by these pirates? What do we do, skulk away like some scolded child? They are watching this in Peking!' Kosigyn ranted.

    'It is clear that they are testing us,' Gromyko retorted. 'If we are the cautious party, then the world will be behind us. Look at the United Nations vote. America stands alone.'

    'And who will stand with us if we are seen as weak and grovelling?' Kosigyn retorted.

    'Comrades, let us look at what has happened lately,' Brezhnev said. 'We have been tested by the Chinese, and we have won. The rice eaters are humiliated. Andrei Andreyevich is right, Aleksei Nikolayevich, the world is coming to our side with this. The United Nations protests American action in Vietnam, as does the non-aligned league. The Europeans are coming here to broker peace; the Europeans without America's involvement or backing Aleksei Nikolayevich, think of what that means? A division in NATO perhaps? Is that not worth exploring? I agree that precipitous action over Vietnam is a bad idea, even if we must wear the sheep's wool for a time. We have given our comrades in Hanoi much assistance in arms, aircraft, let us see what they can make of it. I predict Agnew will taste bitter fruits there, as the last two before him did. Then let us negotiate.'

    Brezhnev also had his eye on the Middle East. The Egyptians, the Syrians and the Iraqis had banded together in a planned military effort to wipe out Israel, which would commence in October. The General Secretary, though not optimistic of the Arab's chances to achieve their stated goal, was hoping that they would win some measure of victory, enough that he could then use this to exploit our position in the Middle East at the expense of the Americans. He did not wish to push for a confrontation with Agnew until the Middle East situation was decided. Perhaps then, he reasoned, Agnew would have a military disaster in Vietnam and a defeat for his ally Israel: two wounds to lick. Perhaps that would make him a more agreeable.


    August 22, 1973

    British Foreign Secretary Sir Alexander (Alec) Douglas-Home meets with North Vietnamese negotiator Le Douc Tho in Macau in order to discuss the possibility of settling the US-Vietnamese conflict. Le lays out conditions for renewed talks, which include a complete withdrawal of US forces and a dissolution of the South Vietnamese government. Le says that the North will release all POWs, including the six currently slated for war crimes trials, if the US agrees to end military activity. After his meeting with Le, Sir Alexander makes a secret trip to Peking to meet with Chinese leaders.

    Chile: With the support of the Christian Democrats and National Party members, the Chamber of Deputies passed 81-47 a resolution that asked "the President of the Republic, Ministers of State, and members of the Armed and Police Forces" to put an immediate end to breach[es of] the Constitution . . . with the goal of redirecting government activity toward the path of Law and ensuring the Constitutional order of our Nation, and the essential underpinnings of democratic co-existence among Chileans. The resolution condemned the creation and development of government-protected [socialist] armed groups, which . . . are headed towards a confrontation with the armed forces. President Salvador Allende's efforts to re-organize the military and the police forces were characterised as notorious attempts to use the armed and police forces for partisan ends, destroy their institutional hierarchy, and politically infiltrate their ranks.

    August 24, 1973

    The United States is officially censured by the United Nations General Assembly for its military incursion into Laos and its 'aggressive' activities on the Gulf of Tonkin. (An earlier attempt to censure the United States in the Security Council was vetoed by the United States.). Albania, Cuba and Romania co-sponsor a resolution to expel the United States from the United Nations and 'impose total and complete sanctions on all trade between the United States and all member nations.' This motion is defeated, but does receive 25 votes.

    Spiro Agnew (in response to the UN General Assembly censure vote): Music to my ears.

    Richard Nixon: The SOB doesn't get it; he's too stupid to be a traffic cop, let alone President!

    Sen. Ted Kennedy (commenting on Nixon's comment): He's just getting what we've all known for some time. Of course, he chose Agnew to be Vice President in the first place, so I guess that says something about Mr. Nixon's judgment.

    Tonight Show host Johnny Carson: Richard Nixon walked into the Oval Office today and caught Spiro Agnew playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun - and Al Haig was standing-by with more bullets in case he missed.

    August 24, 1973

    Chile: President Allende responded, characterising the Congress's declaration as destined to damage the country’s prestige abroad and create internal confusion, predicting It will facilitate the seditious intention of certain sectors. He noted that the declaration had not obtained the two-thirds Senate majority constitutionally required to convict the president of abuse of power: essentially, the Congress were invoking the intervention of the armed forces and of Order against a democratically-elected government and subordinating political representation of national sovereignty to the armed institutions, which neither can nor ought to assume either political functions or the representation of the popular will.

    The above exchange signals a final turn by President Allende's opponents toward a planned military overthrow of President Allende, who has been developing close ties with the Soviet Union and Cuba. Due to Allende's Marxist background, the Nixon Administration had been plotting the democratically elected Allende's downfall since he took office on November 4, 1970. This activity, along with indirect support to the Chilean Generals planning the coup, continues under President Agnew and the new CIA Director Paul Nitze.

    August 25, 1973

    Egypt: The Egyptian army receives a consignment of SCUD surface-to-surface missiles. About this same time the Syrians receive a consignment of Soviet made SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles. Failing any set-back, the joint Egyptian-Syrian-Iraqi invasion of Israel is set to commence on the first Day of Ramadan (the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur - October 6, 1973).

    The lead-up to the attack is dismissed as bluster by American and Israeli intelligence. The French warn them that an attack is coming, but their reports are dismissed as 'exaggeration.' (Israel has mistrusted the French since DeGaulle double-crossed them during the Six Days War in 1967).

    August 27, 1973

    (from Henry Kissinger Years of Crisis: Why America Failed in Asia)

    On August 27 I was invited to a dinner at the British Mission to the United Nations in New York where the guests of honor were Secretary of State George Bush and Lord Rab (Richard A.) Butler, a former British Foreign Secretary, known to be close to the current FS Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Lord Butler had been FS in Douglas-Home's 1963-64 government; he'd been Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1951 - 1955 under Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden). What was most fascinating, and the real reason for the dinner, was Butler's recent trip to Moscow and his involvement in the Trio Group negotiations with the Soviets and the Chinese. Bush had been invited no doubt because Butler had a message for him. My own invitation, I assumed since I was no longer in government, was to add a name and conversation to the table. Still, very oddly, that morning I received a call from the State Department to confirm that I would be attending the dinner, which I did.

    I had worked with George Bush when he was our UN Ambassador, so I knew him well enough to feel a sense of relief when Agnew picked him to replace Rogers. While I knew better than anyone how central the White House was to foreign policy making, and by contrast how peripheral the State Department could be made, I thought that with Bush in the Secretary's office there was at least some clear thinking in the Agnew Administration.

    I was surprised then when I was asked into a private meeting between Bush and Lord Butler, and it soon became apparent why I had been invited to this dinner. Butler had a rather sensitive message to pass on to Bush from Brezhnev and, since I was the most familiar with the Russian leadership, my expertise was being tapped to assess the mood of the Soviet leaders through what Butler had observed in Moscow.

    Brezhnev's meaning with his reference to the Cuban Missile crisis, in the context of the current activity in the Gulf of Tonkin, was unmistakeable - it was a direct warning to us, and I was glad to see Bush got that right away, and didn't overreact with bluster in return. I could well guess from his grim features that others in the Agnew Administration wouldn't be so discerning. Lord Butler also added, as delicately as was possible without losing the true meaning, that our actions in Vietnam, particularly in goading the Soviet Navy, was making a mess of the international situation. When he used the word 'unhelpful' I took it to actually mean 'reckless.' To my surprise Bush neither objected nor made an effort to defend his Administration, which I took as a not so subtle sign back to Lord Butler: all was not well.

    I observed, and Butler concurred, that the Soviet victory over China on the battlefield had given Brezhnev some breathing room relative to the hardliners in his government, and that he was using this time to test us. Bush added that he felt that a window was closing, and that either our operations in Vietnam had to be successful, or we had to stop directly harassing the Soviet Navy and their merchant ships.

    'Quite, Mr. Secretary,' Butler responded. 'But the answer I'm fishing for is whether any such - caution - may be coming?'

    Bush could not answer, which told us both his position.

    'Mr. Secretary, I cannot overemphasise the urgency of this matter. Brezhnev did not raise that old history over Cuba just to make idol conversation. At some point he will have to respond to the harassment of his ships, or risk losing his control over the Politburo,' Butler said, breaking with his usual diplomatic reserve.

    I will give Bush some credit for putting a good face on it; he told Butler he would pass what had been said on to the White House, and that Butler, on his return to Moscow, could communicate to Brezhnev that the United States took his warning seriously, and that the position would be greatly helped if the Soviet government took a less forward profile in assisting the North Vietnamese over the next few months. Butler agreed to pass it on, but I could see from his expression that he was hoping for something firmer.

    Lord Butler then informed us that someone senior in the British government (he was circumspect about who, but I guessed that he meant Douglas-Home himself) had met with Le Duc Tho and that a preliminary understanding of the points to be discussed at a probable peace conference had been reached. Bush was interested, though he balked at anything to do with the dissolution of the Thieu government in Saigon. I agreed with him: preserving the South Vietnamese government had been a cornerstone of the Nixon Vietnam policy and I wasn't going to depart from it now. Butler seemed to understand, and said the message would be passed on. He asked Bush to be prepared to send an emissary for more secret talks, if Le and the North Vietnamese leadership could be persuaded to engage in talks.

    After that meeting, Bush took me aside and said, 'Henry I may need you to go to Moscow - maybe some other places - for me, at a moment's notice. Would you help me out?' What else could I say, but yes.


    August 28, 1973

    The United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia makes public its long awaited rulings in the election related cases pending before it.

    In the case of DNC v Albert the Court found that it had no legal basis to order the substitution of Birch Bayh's name on the ballot for that of the late John McKeithen. In reading the 12th amendment, the Court found that the language of the Constitution required the House of Representatives to vote on the top three candidates for President in the Electoral College who were - in order - Richard M. Nixon, John J. McKeithen and George C. Wallace. The Court determined from the language of the text that it was up to the House of Representatives to make rules with regard to McKeithen's place on the ballot, but that it could only consider from the three named candidates, in accordance to the present language of the amendment.

    In the case of Nixon v. Albert the Court found that there had been a 'material change of circumstance' between the time of Nixon's concession and his subsequent petition to rescind the concession (McKeithen's death) and that Richard Nixon had had no 'material or causal hand in bringing about these changed circumstances, which had he been aware in advance that the situation would arise, he would not have conceded the election'. Therefore, the Court ordered that Nixon's name be put back on the ballot as it had been in the period between January 6 and July 30, 1973.

    In the case of Agnew v. Albert the Court ruled against finding a vacancy in the presidency, citing that the contingent election - as provide for by the 12th amendment - had not been completed. The Court also pointed to the fact that the present language of the 12th amendment provided for no 'hung jury' situation, nor an abatement of the balloting because of an inability to decide a candidate. 'Only Congress and the States can address this in the form legislation and or a further Constitutional amendment' but 'the current amendment provides for no such contingency, and it not within this Court's mandate to write one for it.' The balloting would continue.

    Agnew's petition to replace Nixon on the ballot was rendered moot by the decision in Nixon v. Albert

    Antonin Scalia: In a rare moment of wisdom, the court has understood the limitations our Constitution places on it and has acted appropriately in this dispute.

    The DNC and Agnew both file immediate appeals to the United States Supreme Court. The DC Circuit Court continues the stay on further balloting until the Supreme Court weighs in.

    August 29, 1973

    A three Justice panel of the United States Supreme Court composed of Chief Justice Warren Burger, Justice Hugo Black and Justice William Rehnquist reviews the emergency petitions and decide 3-0 on the DNC appeal, and 2-1 on the Agnew appeal, not to hear the cases. This leaves stand the DC Circuit Court of Appeals rulings and ends the stay on further balloting in the contingent election.

    Alan Dershowitz: This is nothing but Judicial chicken. Both courts are passing the buck back to Congress.

    August 30, 1973

    Speaker Carl Albert, House Majority Leader John J. McFall and Majority Whip Peter Rodino had returned from summer recess to plot strategy in the wake of the D.C. District Court Rulings and the Supreme Court's curt refusal to become involved.

    'It must be nice to sit on a marble pedestal and be able to wash your hands of the whole thing,' Albert commented, referring to newspaper with a headline about the Supreme Court's decision sitting on the conference table before him.

    "Chief Justice Pontius Burger?" Rodino quipped.

    'We'll have none of that,' Albert said. 'I don't want word to get out that we in any way disrespect the Court; we've got enough problems as it is.'

    'Well, if we take the court at its word we can elect Nixon or Wallace. Any preferences in this room?' McFall asked.

    'I can tell you right now that a significant majority of our members will not vote for either one, and if we ask them too they will tell us to go to Hell and sit on their hands during the ballots,' Rodino said.

    'Enough to cause a problem?'

    'Enough to leave us exactly where we've been for the past eight months,' Rodino replied.

    'Jesus, Mary and Joseph,' McFall exclaimed in frustration.

    'I understand that no one wants to vote for George Wallace,' Albert said. 'But can't we round up enough to vote for Nixon, or at least sit on their hands in the tied delegations to pull it off? Now, I know this not the Richard Nixon fan club, but quite frankly, can anybody say he's worse than what we've got now? At least the man was working toward ending the Vietnam War, and we could work with him.'

    'Maybe last spring, Carl, but not now,' Rodino said. 'A lot of our members feel - and frankly, I agree on this point - that what has come out in this Watergate thing, having a hand in returning Richard Nixon to office would be tatamount to political suicide. In case you missed it, all three of us - and a whole lot of others - were on an Enemies List prepared by the White House. American presidents aren't supposed to keep an Enemies List featuring their political opposition and reporters. It stinks of fascism. The voters will punish us in 74 if we re-elect him, and frankly I'm afraid of what else is going to come out of Cox's investigation which could be worse.'

    'And they won't punish us for leaving Spiro Agnew in charge?' Albert shot back.

    'That's the Senate's cross to bear,' Rodino replied. 'Frankly if Mansfield and Byrd hadn't screwed-up in January we wouldn't be in this mess now. Let them take the heat for acting President Agnew, I'm not, and I'm not going to dig my own political grave by supporting the restoration of a President we will probably have to turn around and impeach in six months time. How do you think that will look?'


    'Pete's got a Hell of a point; I can't disagree, really.'

    'Oh he does?,' The Speaker rejoined. 'Well then, ask yourselves, how do you think the voters will feel about us if we let this farce go on for another year? If we do that we might as well dig our literal graves, because come election time they won't bother to vote us out of office - they'll lynch us!'

    'You're being melodramatic, Carl,' McFall said.

    'You read my mail and then tell me about being melodramatic. You won't find too many valentines in there.'

    'McKeithen is still on the ballot, right?' Rodino asked.

    'We'll remove his name.'

    'Don't. Leave it there as an option for our members, and the Republicans who don't want to get saddled with a Nixon or Wallace vote either. There's more of them than you might think.'

    'Electing a dead man? Now there's a solution,' Albert grumbled sourly.

    'Pete, you realize if we do that, the real effect will be to declare the Presidency vacant. Agnew will then be able to succeed and become President for the rest of the term. Is that what you want?'

    'It takes the contingent election off our books once and for all,' Rodino said.

    'So we make a great show of electing a dead man, and let Spiro Agnew become President' Albert said. 'And why will the voters love us for this great act of stupidity? Sure as Hell will give the Senate an out when the blame comes around.'

    McFall stood up and stared down at Rodino. 'You know Carl, there's a show on TV called Mission Impossible; in it one of the main characters usually puts on a very life-like mask to impersonate someone else.'


    'So, I'm wondering if this is Donald Rumsfeld sitting here with a Pete Rodino mask on. Mind if I pinch your face, Pete?'

    'Please John, we're not even going steady. I realize what this will do, but it opens the door for us to impeach the stronzo and get rid of him for good. We can't do that if we're still embroiled in the election; that will look like we're trying to use impeachment to get around the election.'

    There was a moment of silence in the room, during which McFall sat back down. 'Come again?' he said. 'Did I just hear you use the word impeachment twice? Who said anything about impeachment?'

    'He pardoned himself over that Maryland thing,' Albert replied with a dismissive wave of his hand. 'We can't touch him on it. If you're thinking an impeachment over Cooper-Church forget it, nothing will unify the Republicans behind him more than that fight. That's the fight Agnew wants us to give him.'

    'Much as it pains me, I agree with that. But on the Maryland corruption charges you are wrong, and I've got someone standing by who you want to hear from, because he can show you exactly how we can do it,' Rodino said.

    'Who is this miracle worker?' McFall asked.

    'His name is Gary Hart; he's a lawyer from...'

    'George McGovern's campaign manager?' McFall exploded. 'If it wasn't for them this whole thing would never have happened! Why the Hell would I want to hear anything he has to say?'

    'Because, unlike us, he's been thinking of a creative way out of this,' Rodino replied.

    'Alright, Pete. If you think it's worth our time, let's hear what he has to say,' Albert ruled.

    Hart was sent for. McFall and Albert carefully looked over the skinny 37 year-old lawyer when he entered the room.

    'Mr. Rodino says you have something to contribute that will impress us, Mr. Hart. Please, do so,' the Speaker commented.

    'The main problem is getting rid of Spiro Agnew...'

    'Impressive,' McFall scowled.

    'Let him finish, John,' Albert said. 'I apologize, Mr. Hart. Please continue.'

    'There is no legal impediment to the House impeaching Agnew and the Senate removing him from office,' Hart said. He paused for effect.

    'Now you're going to have to explain that,' Albert said.

    'In case you haven't heard, the acting President has pardoned himself,' McFall added.

    'I heard Mr. McFall; when I did that's when I began my research and communicated my findings to Chairman Rodino,' Hart said. Peter Rodino was also the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. 'First of all, Impeachment is not a criminal process, it is a political one. There is no penalty beyond removal from office, the Congress cannot impose a penal sentence or civil damages on an office holder who is removed by this process; that reverts to the regular judicial system after the removal process is complete. That means, with a standard impeachment and removal from office, there is no question of double jeopardy involved, nor one of infringement of the accused's rights under the Bill of Rights, since holding office is regarded as a duty and a responsibility, but not an absolute constitutional right of the office holder.

    'In this case, Spiro Agnew has granted himself a pardon, which protects him from any further legal prosecution for his alleged criminal activity. But, in Burdick vs United States the Supreme Court held that accepting a pardon is a de-facto admission of guilt. The Court further clarified this in United States v. Wilson, where it ruled that a defendant may refuse a pardon if he believes that accepting it defames his reputation, or does damage to his protestations of innocence. In Wilson the Court clarified the point that accepting a pardon is, from that point forward, an admission of guilt in the matter charged. That having been said, what does issuing yourself a pardon say about the issuer?'

    'He's a crook, and he doesn't care if we know it?' McFall said dismissively.

    'Keep going,' Rodino prompted.

    'The Constitution says that the President - or acting President in this case - cannot issue pardons in cases of impeachment. By inference, that specifically excludes a prior pardon, which is a commutation of a criminal sanction, from being held valid in stopping an impeachment process. Impeachment not being a criminal process, the pardon has no Constitutional validity over that proceeding. The two processes are completely separate, as the Supreme Court has held in Ritter v. United States.

    Gentlemen, Spiro Agnew has, by his own public act, and under the standard set by the Supreme Court in Burdick and Wilson acknowledged his guilt in documented acts of public corruption. He can be impeached and removed from office for those actions, because the issue of the pardon, or guilt by conviction at trial, does not apply, as the Court held in Ritter. Spiro Agnew is simply unfit for office and guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors under the meaning of Article Two, Section Four of the Constitution. Even if he tries to appeal it through the Courts, he will have to do so after he is removed from office. Impeach him and remove him, you have the authority, not withstanding his pardon.

    No one said a thing as the Speaker and House Majority leader (both lawyers themselves) absorbed the mini-lecture in Constitutional law. Rodnio sat back with a satisfied expression on his face.

    'Christ,' McFall said.

    'Mr. Hart, there is one issue here,' Speaker Albert said. 'As I understand it, Agnew was tied to these acts of corruption by the testimony of the other three he pardoned along with himself. How can we compel them to testify, to provide proof of the allegations, under these circumstances? Surely, they'll invoke their fifth amendment rights if they testify? For the same reason, we can't use the statements they gave to the U.S. Attorney or Mr. Rankin either, before the pardons were issued.'

    'Pardoning his accomplices was his big mistake. Mr. Speaker. You can subpoena them, sir. Since they have been pardoned from criminal prosecution, they can be compelled to answer questions under threat of prosecution for obstruction; their position would be analogous to that of a witness given transactional immunity by the court. The pardon is their immunity, so they have no further recourse to fifth amendment protection from legal questioning, as there can be no incrimination and no criminal proceedings against them as a result of that testimony. The same would apply to their statements given to prosecutors before the pardon, at least those relating to each other and to Agnew, which is what you really need.'

    'You have a written brief on this?' Albert asked.

    'I've got it,' Rodino said.

    'Would you excuse us, Mr Hart?'

    They waited for Gary Hart to leave.

    'Let me see if I can put this together, Pete,' Albert said. 'You want to elect a dead man President, so we can make Spiro Agnew the actual President...'

    'So we can get this election off our hands, Carl.'

    'So we can get this election off our hands,' Albert parroted. 'Then, you want us to impeach this newly installed President over crimes for which he has been pardoned - yes, yes, I heard Mr. Hart - and then turn this all over to the Senate, hoping that 67 of those gentlemen scholars - a number which will have to include at least fifteen Republicans who voted for this guy last January - will get the fine points of this well enough to vote to remove Agnew, a President of their own party? Do you realize how crazy this idea is? One thing, and I mean one thing, goes wrong with this - scheme - and we are stuck with President Agnew - and we look like the biggest fools in God's universe.'

    'You have another solution, Carl?' McFall asked.

    'Short of electing Nixon, which you two say can't be done, you know I don't.'

    'You try and get our caucus to support a Nixon re-election. You see what happens,' Rodino said.

    'For the record, Pete. I will. We have to have at least one vote before we even consider this. God help us all.

    'We can get the votes to impeach,' McFall said. 'I'll have to eat crow with Ron Dellums, but we'll get the votes.'

    'So it's the Senate we have to worry about.'

    'Maybe you weren't listening to me. We will take no action on this until after we have voted on the candidacy of Richard Nixon. Am I clear?'

    'You will be after that vote, Carl.'

    September 1, 1973

    Two American F-4 jets manage to shoot down a MIG-25 with North Vietnamese markings conducting reconnaissance over US forces in South Vietnam. The pilot parachutes to the ground, where he is captured by a South Vietnamese provincial guard force. After two days of negotiation the U.S. command arranges to take custody of the prisoner, who has been roughed-up by the provincial guard unit. To almost everyone's surprise the pilot, Gennady R. Filitov, is a Soviet 'volunteer trainer' assigned to the North Vietnamese air force. After several days of debriefing, Filitov is paraded before cameras as proof of direct Soviet involvement in the Vietnam War. The Soviet Union protests and demands that its citizen be returned.

    Approximately 150,000 protesters participate in a Labor Day Weekend Peace March in Washington DC. Other marches occur in a number of cities across the United States and Canada. Most of these protests are relatively peaceful, compared to the ones which occurred at the beginning of August. Both protest organizers and civic officials are making an effort to minimize the uglier confrontations with police. One sign often seen is the number 1,200 in various colors of red (sometimes pictured as dripping paint): this is the estimate of current American casualties in Vietnam published shortly before the marches begin.

    Spiro Agnew: Punks!

    Abbie Hoffman (wearing a T-Shirt that has 'PUNK' written in bold letters across it): If Zero Spiro says I'm a punk, I'm a punk. We're all fuckin' punks!

    September 4, 1973

    It took some pushing for Secretary of State George Bush to get private face time with the acting President without Rumsfeld, Cheney or Casey hovering in the background. They met in the President's private dining room, off the Oval office, for breakfast. Breakfast was oat bran cereal, fresh vegetables and some energy drink concoction - but no coffee.

    'It's good for you, George. It'll put hair on your chest,' Agnew said as he took a long gulp of his power drink.

    Bush tried a little sip. He did his best not to make a face.

    'What's so pressing, George?' Agnew asked as he dug into his cereal.

    'We need to discuss our position with the United Nations, specifically in light of the censure...'

    'That's nothing, George,' the acting President said with a dismissive wave of his spoon. 'An overgrown college debating society. Let them censure us every day, who really cares?'

    Bush had heard that kind of rhetoric in Texas, even from one or two United States Senators, but never from a sitting President, even a temporary one. It stunned him for a moment.

    Agnew smiled. 'You know the problem with guys from your generation, George, is you grew-up believing in all that pie-eyed UN nonsense FDR and Truman put out. The UN was supposed to make the world a better place. Well you know what happened, it became just another League of Nations, and just as useless. Right now, it's nothing more than a talking shop for every communist and anti-American bleeding heart fellow traveler to use to spew venom on the U.S. And we get to host the thing and pay half the bills for it.'

    'Not half, Mr. President, and we ...'

    'What would happen if we pulled out, George? Nothing. We'd still be here; the world would have to deal with us, and we could deal with them on our terms. We could take the satisfaction of kicking them out of New York and keeping our money for ourselves.'

    'It's more complicated than that, Mr. President, and...'

    'Nothing complicated about the world, George. 'Complication' 'nuance' - all that bull - that's what those egg-heads - most of them nattering liberal no can do's at that - throw up to justify their fancy letters. Let me tell you, the world always has been - always will be, about walking softly and carrying a big stick. Teddy Roosevelt had that nailed. George Washington understood that - he'd have thrown that whole UN into the East River if it had been around in his day. Power is what it's about George. Using it, and being respected for having it. Just like county politics, the guy with the big stick, the machine, he controls the votes and you have to come to him for the deal. The world's the same All this Cold war bull, it's made us forget that point. You look at my predecessors, Johnson just wasn't tough enough in Vietnam and Dick Nixon, he let that Harvard liberal Kissinger tie him in knots. You know Dick Nixon wasn't nearly as smart as he thought he was, he was pretty naive really, he didn't understand foreign policy at all. But I've got the real deal. Something wrong with your cereal, George?'

    'No,' Bush said forcing a spoonful of the milk soaked oat bran into his mouth and swallowing. 'Just out of curiosity, sir, when you say Johnson wasn't tough enough in Vietnam, what do you have in mind?'

    'Should have dropped a few nukes on the Ho Chi Minh trail; that would have made the North Vietnamese listen.'

    'You're not planning anything like that, are you?'

    Agnew smiled. 'That's just the question we want them asking in the Kremlin, right George?'

    No we don't! Bush thought. He said,'The last thing we want to do is introduce any more instability into the US-Soviet dialogue, especially at a delicate time like this. I have it on good authority that the Soviet leadership is starting to view the naval challenges in the Gulf of Tonkin in the same light that as the blockade during the Cuban missile crisis. That's a signal that it could escalate on their side if there are any more provocations.'

    'That bothers you, George?' Agnew asked.

    It doesn't bother you? Bush felt his stomach tighten. 'We have to be careful to keep our relations with the Soviets on a - manageable - level, sir. That's a foundation of our Soviet policy. The alternative is unthinkable.'

    'That's Nixon thinking, George, and that's why he got it all wrong. You can't talk with the Russians, because empty talk is what they're about, all bluff and bluster, just like a ward boss. The last Russian with any balls was Stalin, and he wasn't even a Russian. You know why Khrushchev never used nuclear weapons over Cuba - not because he was afraid of Kennedy personally - but because he was afraid that Kennedy would use nukes on him. You see, George, that's the big Soviet bluff - they act all tough, but they're really afraid to die. They don't believe in heaven, so they know when they die, that's it for them. They're so afraid of dying that even if we dropped an A-bomb on Moscow, they wouldn't dare use one against us. That's why they'll never use nuclear weapons, just like the bully on the street corner, all talk, but face him down and you'll see him run. Of course, Kennedy was a sissy boy liberal, so he wouldn't use the nukes. He should have dropped one on Castro, heck he should have used that missile crisis to wipe out the Soviet Union for good. That would have been an achievement; but no liberal's got the guts'.

    Bush felt his skin crawling under his suit. He couldn't even think about taking another bite of the cereal, lest he embarrass himself by throwing-up right there. 'There's a fair consensus that the Russians would use nuclear weapons to defend themselves in such a situation,' Bush offered, trying to keep his tone even. 'A very well thought-out, informed consensus, Mr. President. Such a rash act would be suicide.'

    'Whose consensus? A bunch of airy-fairy liberals, that's who? They're so enamoured with FDR that they'll say anything, reach any consensus to keep his twisted world order going. Well, they captured Dick Nixon, but not me. We're talking about a new order George. Think about putting Chiang back in charge in China and putting the Tsar back on his throne. That's what I want to see; I want to have a world changing Presidency. Put those liberals back where they belong, if they belong anywhere, but not in government and not running the world. Their time is done. If FDR had been half a man he would have invaded Russia in 1945, gone right through Germany, and we wouldn't have this problem today. But he was a liberal, and that's why we got the Cold War. Liberal compromises at Yalta and letting them talk us into thinking they would use the bomb on us. Have some more cereal, George. You're looking peeked.'

    'Have you been discussing these issues, in this way, with Secretary Haig?' Bush asked.

    'I should. Al's a strategist, a tough guy. He's done a marvellous job in Vietnam, particularly when you consider the weak hand over there we were left. But he doesn't have vision. Al and Don, they're doing a good job for me, but they have their limitations. But I can use them to help make a new American century, one where we'll make all the rules, not that liberal internationalist nonsense Nixon fell in with. You know we've lost sight of an essential point, nuclear deterrence doesn't work unless we prove we are willing to use it. No President since Harry Truman has got that point. Old give 'em Hell Harry used those two nukes on Japan to prove we would do it. Well, George, we have to do that again - somewhere. Then they'll all wet their pants and fall in line.'

    Bush tied to turn the discussion to more mundane business. He noticed that as he reached for a file from his briefcase that his hands were shaking.

    'Yes, I suppose we'll have to say something gooie for the nattering nabobs,' Agnew commented. 'But those days are ending.

    'George you look ill,' Bush's chief counsel Jim Baker said after the Secretary of State had gotten into the back seat of his official limousine.

    'Jim, I've just come from a tutorial on global policy given by the world's most powerful - most dangerous - ignoramus.'

    That evening House Minority Leader Gerald Ford (R-MI) listened to George Bush and George Schultz in a state of stunned disbelief. 'Come on, he didn't say that?'

    'It's a direct quote, Jerry. I swear before God he said - quote - nuclear deterrence doesn't work unless we prove we are willing to use it. No President since Harry Truman has got that point. Old give 'em Hell Harry used those two nukes on Japan to prove we would do it. Well, George, we have to do that again - somewhere. Then they'll all wet their pants and fall in line. - endquote. He said those words.'

    'Is he mad?'

    'He's sane, Jerry. The problem is that he has the mentality of a suburban ward politician, and he thinks he can apply that to nuclear weapons policy,' Bush said. 'He has a very naive view of how international relations work - no complexity, no room for doubt or new ideas - and he's convinced that he is smarter than everyone else because he's figured out the real deal.

    'Haig and Rumsfeld can't believe this crap,' Ford objected

    'I don't think they care because they're using him for their own agenda. The problem isn't that he's their puppet, then he could be controlled. He isn't their house-broken front man; Agnew is aware of what they're doing, and he thinks he's controlling them. He's planning to exploit their limitations as part of a plan to have a world changing Presidency.

    'His grasp of policy is defective, Jerry,' Bush continued. 'He doesn't mind if we withdraw from the UN; he equates it to the League of Nations. He believes Washington - George Washington - would have approved. He believes that the Soviets are afraid to use nuclear weapons because they have no heaven to go to if they die. That's why we can use nuclear weapons without fear, in Vietnam and wherever else he wants - because they never will, not even if we invade the Soviet Union. According to Agnew, the Soviets were afraid Jack Kennedy would use nuclear weapons, which is why they backed out of Cuba. He thinks Kennedy was wrong not to use a nuclear weapon on Castro; he thinks Kennedy should have invaded the Soviet Union in 1962 in response to Cuba. He thinks FDR should have declared war on Stalin in 1945. He sees his Presidency as chance to restore Chiang to China and the Tsar to the Russian throne as part of a new American century of some kind of hegemonic power.'

    Ford was at a loss for words. 'He was pulling your leg, George.'

    'He was serious. He figures I'll go along with him in this new world order after he's finished with Haig and Rumsfeld.'

    'You go along with this?' Ford asked Schultz.

    'I wasn't in the meeting, Jerry, so I can't personally attest to any of it. But I will tell you this, he is destroying our national economy, and he's doing it in an effort to by-pass Congress on military spending. My estimate is that by the end of the year our national debt will have increased by twenty-two percent. Twenty-two percent in one year, Jerry, almost all of it on defense spending. Twenty-two percent Jerry, and we're not even at war and we aren't - or weren't - in a recession until this began'.

    'He's aware of the impact?' Ford asked.

    'Indifferent.' Schultz replied. 'He's just not interested. He's got his eye on doing great things. Spiro Agnew doesn't take advice because he's supremely confident that he knows best. After all, he learned all he needed to know about economics and government as Baltimore County Chief Executive and Governor of Maryland.'

    'Governor of Maryland? You're serious?'

    Schultz nodded. 'According to our President, he knows more about national economic policy than ten graduate economists put together because he's had to balance a state budget.'

    'He told me,' Bush continued 'Nixon didn't understand foreign policy and Johnson wasn't tough enough on Vietnam. You could argue both points, sure, but to use them as a premise for policy, which includes using our nuclear forces, while believing that Soviets won't retaliate because they're afraid to die - that's beyond idiotic, it's suicidal.'

    'Alright then, what do you want me to do?'

    'Remove him, Jerry. Find a way to impeach him, and get Hugh Scott and Mike Mansfield to join you in throwing him out. It's the only safe way out we have.' Bush said.

    'You realize that if that happened now, it would make Carl Albert acting President?'

    'I'd rather live to fight the next election, Jerry.'

    'Even if we survive that, Jerry,' Schultz added, 'it'll be in a nation close to bankruptcy. Because Agnew's name is all over it, people will associate the Republican Party with the mess. It'll be like Herbert Hoover all over again.'

    'George is right,' Bush said. 'If he doesn't irradiate us, this will be a political disaster for the party unless we act, and quickly.'

    September 5, 1973

    Speaker Albert watched what he expected to be another inconclusive House ballot unfold; the first they had taken since John McKeithen’s death at the end of July. The first indication that something was happening – and it did not make Albert feel very easy when it did occur – was George Wallace picking-up Georgia, and then Mississippi. It seemed the white Democratic members in those two delegations had decided to throw their lot in with the Alabama Governor as the live Democrat, as opposed to the dead one. Further Wallace votes turned South Carolina into a deadlocked State, and handed North Carolina over to Nixon.

    But then, just as quickly, the Speaker noticed that the New England Republicans stuck to the pledges they had made to the dead McKeithen, and they were joined by a small but significant minority of Republican members from across the country. At the end the ballot tallied up as follows:

    John J. McKeithen: 28 votes.
    Richard M. Nixon: 15 votes
    Deadlocked (no votes cast): 4
    George C. Wallace: 3 votes.

    At long last the House had managed to elect a President, only that President was a corpse.

    Carl Albert might have suspected Pete Rodino of setting this up behind his back – all to further his hair-brained impeachment scheme - except that the Republican members were the ones who had swung the vote, and Rodino had no influence over them. Only one person could have coordinated this and, as far as Albert was aware, he wasn’t in on their scheme.

    Speaker Albert delivered the certificate of election to Senator James Eastland who, as the Presiding officer of the Senate, had to sign it in order to make it official.

    ’Would’ve been a damn sight more useful if you’d done this while he was still alive,’ Eastland grumbled as he signed the document. ‘Come on, Carl. Now we get to deliver the good news down the other end of the street.’

    ( from Don Clancy Congress Wars: How I Survived Washington And Lived to Tell You About It)

    A lot of our caucus felt that they were caught between a rock and a hard place. Sure they supported President Nixon as a Party matter, and we wanted to win the Presidential election - they said, but then they just as quickly fudged by adding that the whole Watergate thing was becoming like an albatross around their necks.

    The Democrat propaganda, and the testimony of the rats deserting the sinking ship, was taking hold in voter's minds. I know when I toured my district just before Labor Day voters were asking me about Watergate. I tried to tell them it was all Democrat nonsense, but there always that look of scepticism in their eyes: it was the ratting by Dean and Ehrlichman, and the fuss Nixon's lawyers made about those tapes, which gave it a life of its own. That's what the chicken hearts were listening too, instead of sticking to their guns, like I did.

    I stuck by Nixon, even after Jerry Ford gave the caucus the okay to vote according to our beliefs. Our beliefs should have been with Nixon, but a handful of fudgers sat on their hands and let the Democrats elect a dead man - and two outright traitors - Richard Mallary in Vermont and David Towell in Nevada voted for a dead guy from the other party! Of course the Democrats weren't going to support Nixon, or embarrass themselves by voting for Wallace, so Carl Albert and the Democratic leadership left a dead man on the ballot. What a pack of disgraceful cowards. Mallary and Towell were just beyond belief: traitors! Ford should have kicked them out of the caucus right there and then. I'm happy to say both of them got the boot from the voters at the next election.

    Of course, most of the hand sitters - the ones too chicken to take a stand and just let it happen - they thought that by letting a dead man win they'd help elect Spiro Agnew, and they could then turn around and sell that as an act of Party loyalty in their home districts. Well, that didn't turn out too good for the either, did it?


    ( from Richard M. Nixon Memoirs: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon)

    A betrayal, that's what it was. How could they elect a dead man, just to hand the Presidency over to Ted Agnew? They had let their petty hatreds of me get the better of their good sense, which many of the Democrats were usually lacking in anyway. But still, to hate me so much that they would put our country at grave risk at such a critical hour, just to exact their revenge on me, just to strike a blow they thought would destroy me personally? They didn't understand me at all. I didn't want the Presidency back that badly just to fulfill my ego; I wanted to take it back to fix the desperate mess Ted had made of the whole thing - of the world. The least those Congressman owed their fellow Americans - the voters who put them in office - was to save their country from an impending disaster. I will never understand a personality that can be so petty as to allow a small grievence to overtake the most solemn and profound duty to our country. The men who were like that, they were the lowest of them all.


    A beaming President-elect Spiro Agnew received the senior Senator from Mississippi and the Speaker of the House in the Oval Office. Albert noted that a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt had replaced the one of George Washington that usually hung over the fireplace mantle. A portrait of Harry Truman was also prominently displayed – that seemed an odd choice for a Republican President.

    Agnew took the certificate from Eastland, and after examining it with glowing eyes, he handed it over to a taciturn Secretary of State George Bush who, after looking it over with very frosty eyes, affixed the seal of the United States to it. At the same time he officially declared the Presidency vacant, and informed Vice President Agnew that in accordance with the twenty-fifth amendment to the Constitution, he was now the President of the United States.

    A ceremony was held in the East Room of the White House, at which George Bush sat in the front row of seats, next to Albert and Eastland. The rest of the Cabinet and the Justices of the Supreme Court were also seated near to them, as were the Senate and House leaders.

    Before the television cameras Chief Justice Warren Burger swore-in Spiro Theodore Agnew as the 38th President of the United States. This time he congratulated the President.

    President Agnew gave a seven minute address which was mostly a rehashing of past speeches going back to the Fox incident. Two phrases caught George Bush’s attention, and with each, his heart pounded a little faster: Agnew had referred to ‘a transformative Presidency’ and ‘a new American Century.’ He also promised that he would be naming a candidate to fill the Vice Presidency very shortly.

    After the vote Speaker Carl Albert thought long and hard about the implications of impeachment under the present circumstances, not least because he would be the next in line to succeed to the presidency, a job - for all its reputed glory - he simply did not want, and would not take. They couldn't wait for Agnew to pick a Vice President under the twenty-fifth amendment and go through the process of confirming him - and they couldn't be sure about who Agnew might pick. An impeachment would preclude that anyway. So, with careful thought, and a check of the Constitution, he added a codicil of his own to Rodino's impeachment plan.

    When Majority Leader McFall arrived at House Minority leader Gerald Ford's home in suburban Maryland, he was surprised to find that not only had Speaker Carl Albert preceded him, but that the two men had, according to Ford's wife Betty, been locked in deep conversation in Ford's den for some time. Evidently Albert had decided to present their plan to Ford one-on-one. Since Gary Hart had first presented it to them they had other attorneys on their staffs fully vet it for flaws - the consensus, it was bold [lawyer code for risky] and audacious [lawyer code for unorthodox] but not impossible to achieve under the right conditions [lawyer code for a crap shoot; do you feel lucky? ]. Still McFall expected a hard sell to get Ford to agree.

    It didn’t take McFall very long to learn why those Republicans had allowed a dead Democrat to win over a live Republican.

    ’I didn’t tell them how to vote, I merely released them to vote their conscience,’ Ford said. ‘Many of my people are worried that this Watergate business, along with the Vietnam War, will stretch out into next year’s elections. Some of them felt vulnerable on the question of backing Nixon, especially with what might come out on those tapes, or from Dean and Ehrlichman’s testimony, so I told them ‘if you feel you can’t vote for Nixon, don’t. I’ll do what I can to protect you from Bob Wilson and Bob Dole’. That, gentlemen, is how your dead Governor became our President – for all of - what? - five minutes?’

    Having established that Ford too had his doubts about Agnew, Albert and McFall briefed him on the salient points of Rodino’s impeachment scheme, including all of Gary Hart’s legal reasoning. Ford, also a lawyer, puffed on his pipe, keeping silent for several minutes as he glanced over the written brief.

    'You guys need to check your medication,' Ford said. He noted the dejected look on Albert's and McFall's faces. 'And so do I. Let's do it, provided your man says yes, Carl.'

    McFall looked from one to the other man, not sure what Ford meant by that last comment. 'Frankly, Jerry, I expected to be here all night trying to persuade you.'

    'Gentlemen, I had a conversation just yesterday, the gist of which was all the persuasion I need. I've been thinking along these lines myself. Your proposal, it seems, is well timed. I'll talk to Hugh Scott, you guys make sure Mike Mansfield can get his troops in line.'

    September 6, 1973

    McFall dropped by the Speaker's office the first thing the next morning.

    'What did Ford mean - provided your man says yes. What the Hell is going on?' McFall asked the Speaker.

    After swearing McFall to absolute secrecy, Carl Albert explained what he had in mind. McFall nearly fell out of his chair. 'Jesus, Carl!'

    Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott (R-PA) listened to what Gerald Ford had to say. A recounting of Bush's and Schultz's comments made him his stomach queasy. It sounded preposterous - if the sources hadn't been one hundred percent credible - and Ford equally as credible, Scott would have thrown him out of his office right then. The Democratic plan sounded equally bizarre - Senator Scott felt he had slipped into a farce. But he couldn't argue with the reasoning.

    'Has he been approached?' Scott asked.

    'Not yet,' Ford replied. 'Carl and I figure we'll have to do it, as a bipartisan gesture. And we'll have to get Bush and Schultz to repeat what they said to him, in person, which means we'll have to brief them. I don't think any reasonable person will believe it otherwise.'

    'The man's unfit to hold the office, that's clear,' Scott said. 'In my career I never thought I'd behave like a cabal of South American generals. You know that's what this amounts to, Jerry - a coup.'

    'Maybe, but consider this, we're doing it by the law - no tanks, no guns.'

    'What is it Jefferson said - something about the tree of liberty needing to be nurtured by the blood of patriots.' Both men lapsed into silence. 'I can get the votes when the time comes - Margaret Chase-Smith for one will feel vindicated by this. Good luck, Jerry.'

    The Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules that transcription of the Richard Nixon Oval Office tapes can begin. The transcripts are to be kept secret subject to a review by the court.

    President Spiro Agnew: 'Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce that I will be nominating for the office of Vice President a great servant of the American people, a true patriot who believes in honor, duty and the greatness of our beloved nation. Together, Representative John Ashbrook of Ohio and I share a vision for a prosperous and powerful America that brings peace, freedom and opportunity to all our citizens. To that end, I formally nominate John Ashbrook to become the next Vice President of the United States.


  20. RogueBeaver Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2009
    Since it's Good Friday, I'll restrain myself to saying this: Impeach. Agnew. ASAP. Hope a Dem is elected in '76, if only to allow the GOP to rid themselves of a man who makes Michelle Bachmann look like a Harvard PhD.