Five Decades of Fear and Loathing - A Drew Spinoff.

Chapter XI: January, 1973 New
1613923646551.png

January, 1973.
1613923980413.png

Speaker Carl Albert (D-OK)
On January 3rd, the new Congress convened under immense media presence as millions of Americans watched the coverage on their televisions in workplaces and homes across the country. Coverage of the scheduled presidential vote overshadowed other critical events worldwide. One such incident is an airplane crash in Red China, where a Soviet plane carrying a delegation led by Mikhail Gorbachev fell from the sky in a mysterious accident.

Though the People’s Republic’s government denied shooting down the Soviet plane, the regime of Leonid Brezhnev and his sycophants were eager to exploit the death of a rising Central Committee member in order to put pressure on China over disputed borders near Manchuria and Mongolia. Tensions would linger for months after the clash, with the more aggressive voices in the Kremlin and in Peking urgently warning that the two competing communist nations could no longer coexist. China meanwhile announced that the missing B-2 crew who had disappeared over China the month before had been taken into custody, with the captured airmen being paraded before the cameras in a propaganda coup while being denounced as “imperialist air pirates.”

Though President Nixon had cultivated a working relationship with the Chinese government, the unclear election results saw both Moscow and Peking adopting a “wait and see” attitude towards diplomatic activity with the United States. Nixon, having engaged both nations, knew the importance of maintaining these ties in order to wedge the communist apart and play them against one another on the world stage. Though the United States formally condemned the Chinese capture of American airmen, there was little Nixon could do. Confident that Kissinger would be able to negotiate their release, the President's focus was on the contingency election ahead. This was also true of the media.

The difficulties with China took a backseat to the contingency election, which began on January 5th, 1973. With just two weeks until the inauguration, the tension in the air was palpable. The night before, Nixon and McKeithen both addressed the nation in separate televised broadcasts, presenting a final case to the Congressmen and women who would now be deciding their political fates. The House went first, convening at 1:00 PM to vote to certify the electoral college results. A number of challenges from both sides significantly delayed the process, which extended well into the early hours of the morning on the following day after fifteen hours. The final result guaranteed that a contingency election would have to be conducted in accordance to the constitution.

On the 8th, the Senate convened to cast their votes for Vice President. Limited to choosing the top two electoral vote getters, the race seemed to be Bayh’s to lose. The Senators voted individually rather than by block, which made the process appear to be easier than the House votes to a fascinated public. All three major broadcasting networks reported ratings records as millions of Americans watched the proceedings religiously. The growing threat of an unprecedented constitutional crisis, it turned out, was quite a moneymaker. The Senate convened at 11:30 AM, with incumbent Vice President Spiro Agnew presiding over the Senate which was about to decide his fate. The roll call was read by the clerk as part of a voice vote:

1973 Vice Presidential Contingency Election
James Abourezk (D-SD) – Bayh
George Aiken (R-VT) - Agnew
James Allen (D-AL) – Agnew
Howard Baker
(R-TN) – Agnew
Birch Bayh (D-IN) - Bayh

Agnew = 3 Bayh = 2

John G. Beall (R-MD) – Agnew
Henry Bellmon
(R-OK) – Agnew
Wallace Bennett
(R-UT) - Agnew
Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) – Bayh
Allen Bible
(D-NV) – Bayh

Agnew = 6 Bayh = 4

Joe Biden (D-DE) – Bayh
William E. Brock III (R-TN) – Agnew
Edward Brooke
(R-MA) - Agnew
James L. Buckley (C-NY)- Agnew
Quentin Burdick (D-ND) – Bayh

Agnew = 9 Bayh = 6

Harry F. Byrd (ID-VA) – Agnew
Robert Byrd (D-WV)- Bayh
Howard Cannon
(D-NV) – Bayh
Clifford Case
(D-NJ) – Bayh
Lawton Chiles
(D-FL) - Bayh

Agnew = 10 Bayh = 10

Frank Church (D-ID) - Bayh
Marlowe Cook
(R-KY) – Agnew
Norris Cotton
(R-NH) - Agnew
Alan Cranston (D-CA) – Bayh
Carl Curtis (R-NV) – Agnew

Agnew
= 13 Bayh = 12

Robert Dole (R-KS) – Agnew
Peter Domenici
(R-NM) - Agnew
Peter Dominick
(R-CO) - Agnew
Thomas Eagleton (D-MO) - Bayh
James Eastland (D-MS) – Agnew

Agnew
= 17 Bayh = 13

Ed Edmondson (D-OK) - Bayh
Sam Ervin
(D-NC) – Bayh
Paul Fannin (R-AZ) – Agnew
Orval Faubus (ID-AR) – Agnew
Hiram Fong
(R-HI) – Agnew

Agnew
= 20 Bayh = 15

Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) – Agnew
Mike Gravel (D-AK) – Bayh
Robert Griffin (R-MI) – Agnew
Edward Gurney
(R-FL) – Agnew
Clifford Hansen
(R-WY) – Agnew

Agnew
= 24 Bayh = 16

William Fulbright (D-AR) – Bayh
Phillip Hart
(D-MI) – Bayh
Vince Hartke
(D-IN) – Bayh
Floyd Haskell
(D-CO) – Bayh
Mark Hatfiled (R-OR) – Agnew

Agnew = 25 Bayh 20

Jesse Helms (R-NC) – Agnew
Ernest Hollings (D-SC) – Bayh
Roman Hruska (R-NE) – Agnew
Harold Hughes (D-IA) – Bayh
Hubert H. Humphrey
(D-MN) – Bayh

Agnew = 27 Bayh = 23

Daniel Inouye (D-HI) – Bayh
Henry Jackson
(D-WA) – Bayh
Jacob Javits (R-NY) – Agnew
J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) – Bayh
Edward M. Kennedy
(D-MA) – Bayh

Agnew = 28 Bayh = 27

Russell B. Long (D-LA) – Bayh
Warren Magnuson
(D-WA) – Bayh
Michael Mansfield
(D-MT) – Bayh
Charles Mathias (R-MD) - Agnew
James A. McClure
(R-ID) - Agnew

Agnew
= 30 Bayh = 30

Gale McGee (D-WY) – Bayh
George McGovern (D-SD) - Bayh
Thomas McIntyre
(D-NH) – Bayh
Lee Metcalf
(D-MT) – Bayh
Jack Miller (R-IA) – Agnew

Agnew
= 34 Bayh = 31

Walter Mondale (D-MN) – Bayh
Joseph Montoya
(D-NM) - Bayh
Edward Moss
(D-UT) – Bayh
Edmund Muskie
(D-ME) - Bayh
Gaylord Nelson
(D-WS) – Bayh

Agnew = 34 Bayh = 36

Louie B. Nunn (R-KY) – Agnew
Sam Nunn (D-GA) – Bayh
Robert Packwood (R-OR) – Agnew
John O. Pastore (D-RI) – Bayh
James B. Pearson (R-KS) – Agnew

Agnew
= 37 Bayh = 38

Claiborne Pell (D-RI) – Bayh
Charles H. Percy (R-IL) – Agnew
William Proxmire (D-WS) – Bayh
Jennings Randolph
(D-VA) – Bayh
Abraham Ribicoff
(D-CT) – Bayh

Agnew = 38 Bayh = 42

William Roth (R-DE) – Agnew
William Saxbe
(R-OH) – Agnew
Hugh Scott
(R-PA) – Agnew
William Scott
(R-VA) – Agnew
Richard Schewiker
(R-PA) - Agnew

Agnew
= 43 Bayh = 42

Margaret Chase-Smith (R-ME) – Bayh
John Sparkman
(D-AL) – Bayh
Robert Stafford (R-VT) – Agnew
John Stennis (D-MS) – Bayh
Ted Stevens (R-AK) – Agnew

Agnew
= 45 Bayh = 45

Adlai Stevenson III (D-IL) – Bayh
Stuart Symington
(D-MO) – Bayh
Robert Taft Jr. (R-OH) – Agnew
Herman Talmadge (D-GA) – Agnew
Storm Thurmond
(R-SC) – Agnew

Agnew
= 48 Bayh = 47

John Tower (R-TX) – Agnew
John V. Tunney (D-CA) – Bayh
Lowell Weicker (R-CT) – Bayh
Harrison Williams
(D-NJ) – Bayh
Milton Young (R-ND) – Agnew

Agnew
= 50 Bayh = 50

With a smirk creeping up his face, and a stunned silence over the Senate, the incumbent Vice President did the unthinkable and broke the tie in his favor, thus concluding his election as Vice President. There was plenty of controversy in and around Washington and indeed the whole country over his vote, which Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) criticized as a “profile in cowardice.” Democratic Senator Eugene Talmadge finds himself under fire from almost all of his colleagues, with Senator Byrd of West Virginia angrily informing Talmadge that his political career was over as a result of his surprise vote for Agnew. The Senate's top Democrats were quick to persuade term limited Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter to primary him in the 1974 Senate election as a result of Talmadge's support for Agnew, a decision Talmadge would continue to defend until the end of his life.

Yet there was still work that needed to be done in the House, where McKeithen, Nixon, and Wallace were contesting the presidency. For the next three days, the House continually deadlocked ballot after ballot as none of the three candidates in the race could cobble up the support of 26 delegations needed to claim the White House. The deadlocks continued, with each vote producing a different result. Alaska’s special election was held to elect Nick Begich’s successor in the House, for example. The race resulted in Don Young being elected to represent the state’s at-large district, which added a new vote into Nixon’s column. A week after, the House began to vote on January 12th. With just eight days left before the inauguration, tensions in the House chamber boiled over with each vote, and at times it felt increasingly likely that the room would explode into an outright riot. Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY), one of the youngest members of Congress, quipped “who here seriously wants Spiro Agnew to be President?” to roars of laughter and thundering boos.

President Nixon followed the proceedings through radio in the Oval Office, with the increasingly real prospect that he will be, at least temporarily, suspended from the Presidency while Agnew assumes the role of Acting President until the election was resolved by the House of Representatives. Many conversations with top staffers, later caught on the infamous White House taping system, exposed Nixon's raw disdain for Agnew and the Republicans in Congress, whom he dismissed as "wets." Taking advantage of the powers of his office one last time, Nixon ordered that bombing raids targeting North Vietnam would be conducted in response to their temporary withdrawal from peace talks, which would continue through inauguration day.

On the same day as the bombing resumption, US Attorney George Beall empaneled a grand jury in Maryland to investigate kickbacks and bribes taken by officials and individuals associated with then Governor Spiro Agnew. But this distant controversy was a quiet, lingering subplot obscured by the constitutional crisis and the resumed bombing of North Vietnam. Though his Chief of Staff warned him that there was the potential for scandal in relation to the Beall investigation, Vice President Agnew was busily engaged in preperation for the possible ascension to the office of President, if only on an interim, acting basis until the election could be resolved. Agnew angrily dismissed the story when pressed by reporters whether he was aware of the bribery scandal and claimed innocence, and there was little evidence to suggest the story would consume him the way Watergate was consuming his boss.

Foreign affairs seemed far off from the focus of most Americans, but events in Asia occupied the mind of Henry Kissinger and the President. The Chinese had halted Soviet weapons shipments to North Vietnam, forcing Soviet vessels to deliver their cargo to Hanoi. This slowed down the North Vietnamese regime’s ability to conduct the fierce campaign against South Vietnam in conjunction with their Viet Cong allies. In a series of secretive late night calls to contacts around the world, Kissinger worked hard to prepare American allies for the Nixon - Agnew transition, confidently informing America's global partners that the foreign policy of the United States would remain unchanged. Portraying the Vice President as a politically moderate and personable figure who Kissinger sold as a capable and worthy successor to President Nixon, there was a surge of public and media interest with the man who would soon become the most powerful man in the world.

1613939430078.png

Vice President Spiro Agnew is sworn in as Vice President - and thus acting President - as Nixon looks on.

Mr. Chief Justice, President Nixon, Speaker Albert, my fellow Americans:

The oath that I have taken is the same oath that was taken by George Washington and by every President under the Constitution. But I assume the acting Presidency under extraordinary circumstances never before experienced by Americans. This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts.

I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President, that I have succeeded to the first office of the land only by a turn of fate, and assumed this office only as a caretaker of our great government until such time as the final decision shall be made by those empowered by our great civil contract - the Constitution - do so according to law. Until such time as this happens it is my intent to serve this nation as Chief Executive in a manner which will protect our freedom and security, but which will not exceed the limited mandate I have been given.

If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises. Recently I campaigned for the office of Vice President in support of our President. But, though I have not campaigned for the Presidency, I will not shirk it. Those who elected me to serve another term as Vice President were my friends and are my friends. They were of both parties, elected by all the people and acting under the Constitution in their name. It is only fitting then that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the acting President for all of the people. It is appropriate that I should act to earn their trust by applying myself to steadfastly govern with integrity and humility.

Thomas Jefferson said the people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. And down the years, Abraham Lincoln renewed this American article of faith asking, "is there any better way or equal hope in the world?"

I intend, as soon as it practicable, to request of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate the privilege of appearing before the Congress to share with my former colleagues and with you, the American people, my views on the priority business of the Nation and to solicit your views and their views. Even though a contingent election is pending in the House, it is not likely at this time that we shall see a speedy resolution. But the nation and the world cannot wait indefinitely on this matter. There is no way we can go forward except together and no way anybody can win except by serving the people's urgent needs. We cannot stand still or slip backwards. We must go forward now together.

To the peoples and the governments of all friendly nations, I pledge an uninterrupted and sincere search for peace. America will remain strong and united, but its strength will remain dedicated to the safety and sanity of the entire family of man, as well as to our own precious freedom.

To our adversaries and those who wish us less than the best, I warn you that our resolve is as strong today as at any time in our past. The United States of America remains fixed in its dedication to freedom and to the preservation of the security of the world. Throughout my tenure, however long or short, I will pledge myself to protecting our friends and meeting any challenge put forward by our foes. This is a responsibility of this office which transcends any single man. To the world I say, if you choose not to walk with us, then you risk being thought of as our adversary, for we will not sit idle and allow our domestic concerns to distract us from our nation's historic responsibility in the world. In your hands, not mine, rest the power of peace or conflict in this world. Join with us then on the path of peace, and we shall have no need of conflict or the engines of war.

I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our Government but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad. Wherever our nation goes, we must be the beacon of truth and the herald of freedom. As President Kennedy once said, we did not chose this role, it was thrust upon us by history and fate, but we, as a people, are more than equal to this responsibility.

My fellow Americans, our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy. And by this truth will we overcome the painful and more poisonous divisions which have cut through our society. Let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate. Let us proclaim once more that we are a nation of righteousness, pledged to the higher course in all of our affairs.

With all the strength and all the good sense I have gained from life, with all the confidence my family, my friends, and my dedicated staff impart to me, and with the good will of countless decent, upright Americans I have encountered in recent visits to more than 40 States, I now solemnly affirm my promise to you to uphold the Constitution, to do what is right as God gives me to see the right, and to do the very best I can for America.

May God bless you and the United States.
The election of a President remained unresolved as the snow fell down upon Washington on the morning of January 20th, where Agnew was sworn in as Vice President (and thus immediately assuming the role as acting President as well) while a nervous Richard Nixon watched on. With the passing of Lyndon Johnson just two days prior along with the constitutional crisis at hand, there were no celebrations in Washington to mark Agnew’s ascension to the highest office in the land.

  • The above remarks by Agnew, as well as the whole constitutional crisis, are the works on Drew.
  • You may notice a few changes to the composition of the Senate, such as Biden being elected or Jack Miller being reelected.
 
Chapter XII: February, 1973 New
1613946615612.png

February, 1973.
On the morning of the inauguration, in which Agnew officially assumed office as Acting President, the outgoing President attempted to give advice to the man who, at least for a short period, would be succeeding him. Though Nixon never respected Agnew's intelligence, he also never imagined that the Vice President would be thrust into office. Yet by a stroke of fate, they were now there. Agnew expressed his desire to "make history" rather than Nixon's warning that "history makes the man," a conversation Nixon would later claim to be alarming. Though he found some comfort in knowing that Agnew's tenure as Acting President would (hopefully) be temporary, Nixon was still unnerved by his own Vice President's ascension to the Presidency, quietly and fearfully aware of his shortcomings and lack of qualifications. But Agnew made it clear to Nixon that he intended to stay in for the long haul on day one, when he immediately dismissed H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman from their positions on the White House staff. Replacing Haldeman as Chief of Staff would be Donald Rumsfeld, a former Illinois Congressman who had served as Director of the Council on the Cost of Living and before that had been the Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. His Deputy Chief of Staff was Richard Cheney, a rising Republican operative whose ruthlessness was noted by many.

Ron Ziegler, the White House Press Secretary, was also canned. Pat Buchanan, a conservative speechwriter and trusted Nixon adviser, would replace Ziegler in the role. Kissinger, at least for a short while, was safe, having been dispatched by Acting President Agnew to Europe to inform the leadership of America's NATO partners on the change in leadership. In his absence, Deputy National Security Adviser Al Haig quickly eclipses Kissinger, who immediately ran afoul of Agnew after he publicly assured Prime Minister Edward Heath that American foreign policy would not be changed without consulting the acting President or his newly appointed chief of staff. Law professor Robert Bork was named White House Counsel after John Dean is fired, and Congressmen Phil Crane (R-IL) and John Ashbrook (R-OH) emerge as Agnew's emissary to the GOP leadership in Congress.

1613946835602.png

Pat Buchanan would rise to the position of Press Secretary.

As these purges played out, the House of Representatives repeatedly tried and failed to resolve the election. Dozens of votes resulted in the same stalemate, and tensions were running high. The constant voting resulted in much of the House's other business being stuck in a backlog, which ground the other congressional proceedings to a solid halt.

As this deadlocked played out, President Nixon remained in Washington, fighting his battles from a suite in the Mayflower Hotel. Former Governor McKeithen meanwhile took up a position at Harvard for the interim period, traveling back and forth from Washington to Boston during the coming weeks. Agnew made use of his underlings during this process, employing his Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney to quietly negotiate with Wallace and his supporters, convincing him to remain in the race in order to prevent any southern states going into McKeithen's column. Meanwhile, Robert Bork filed a lawsuit against Speaker Albert, demanding the House limit their presidential balloting in order to move on to otherwise stalled congressional proceedings.

This manifested itself in the case of United States vs. Albert, Ford, and McFall. Bork argued that the House's repeated (and unresolved) contingency elections were akin to a hung jury, and that a new "jury" comprised of members of the House elected after the upcoming midterm elections in 1974. The justices called for Congressional leadership to testify privately and candidly before a closed session of the Supreme Court, and though arguments were heard in February, the court would take several days in order to render a ruling on the matter.

The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the House would proceed with a limit of one weekly vote, which saw little to no change in the subsequent ballots going forward. As a result, it became increasingly clear that the status of the Presidency would remain undecided well into the spring. This emboldened the acting Agnew administration to take bolder steps in the international arena. Since the onset of the Nixon administration, Agnew had privately lobbied for a more aggressive stance against North Vietnam. But the then Vice President was ignored and largely sidelined by Nixon, who kept Agnew ill-informed. While the Vice President was content with his leisurely schedule of traveling abroad, golfing, and occasionally campaigning, he was still silently bitter at being kept uninformed by the man who'd he possibly succeed in office.

Now that he had a taste of power, Agnew was keen to exercise it. He did so by calling on the top brass of the Pentagon to devise a dramatic change of strategy in Vietnam. The United States had until that point maintained a defensive posture in South Vietnam, and though Nixon had ordered attacks in Cambodia and Laos, the war against North Vietnam was fought only offensively in the air. Though the prolonged bombing campaigns against North Vietnam had done considerable damage to their infrastructure, American ground troops had yet to step into North Vietnamese territory. Agnew was determined to change this.

Convening his top advisers, the acting President ordered the acting Secretary of Defense to prepare for a massive ground and aerial attack on the North. The plan was simple - push the NVA and Vietcong as far away from the border as possible, but the logistical elements would be astronomically complicated. The plan would require an additional 200,000 American troops being deployed to Vietnam, which would take time to organize. Yet Deputy National Security Adviser Al Haig remained convinced that such an operation could be planned and executed within 90 days. Though the leadership at the Pentagon were concerned about the planned operation and Kissinger's absence, Haig remained on top of them and acted as Agnew's "point man" on the matter. Agnew was so impressed by Haig's tenacity that he weighed naming him as the new Secretary of Defense (Bill Clements had been the acting Secretary since Melvin Laird's resignation), though he was talked out of this by Rumsfeld, who warned that the Senate would likely reject Haig's nomination.

The occupation at Wounded Knee, in which members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) returned to the site of the famous battle to occupy it in protest of the federal government's policies. Federal agents attempted to negotiate with the AIM occupiers, but made little headway. Sensing that the occupation could spur more protests across the country, Agnew insisted that decisive action be taken. When White House counsel Robert Bork warned that the Posse Comitatus Act would prohibit the use of military force in such a measure, Agnew decided to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807. Declaring AIM to be a foreign backed rebel group, the President federalized the South Dakota National Guard and ordered them to encircle the occupied town. This led to a standoff that would grow increasingly tense with each passing day.

1613947238210.png

The American Indian Movement occupied Wounded Knee, leading to an armed standoff.

  • As usual, credit goes to Drew for the bulk of this. There will be a bit more involving AIM later on. The month by month format allows me to move quickly, plus I have this written up through 1975. We'll soon be out of the opening phase of this timeline, where the diverges from Drew's timeline truly begin, I figured it'd be easy to condense down much of the original timeline to give context to the spinoff. Thanks for all the kind comments!
 
Chapter XIII: March, 1973 New
1614027977123.png

March, 1973.
March brought with it the promise of spring, yet there was little reason for hope in America. The disputed presidential election remained unresolved as Agnew's tenure as Acting President continued, and the economy and the voting public were suffering as a result. There was hope that the Supreme Court would rule in the United States vs. Albert, Ford, and McFall in a manner that would resolve the constitutional stalemate, but this was not to be. In their ruling, the Supreme Court rejected Bork's argument in favor of canceling further contingency elections. Instead, the court held the House of Representative's right to regulate the election in accordance with their own rules. In the majority opinion (Justice Bickel was the sole dissenter), the court's verdict included a call for the House and Senate to resolve future crises by passing a constitutional amendment and encouraged the House to limit their presidential ballots to once a week. Speaker Albert obliged, and the House began holding a weekly vote each Wednesday for the following five months. Each vote remained inconclusive as the crisis continued.

In Washington, the Senate voted to form an investigative panel, the Senate Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (colloquially known as the Senate Watergate Committee, though it was also charged with investigating McKeithen's own campaign activities as well). Chaired by Senator Sam Ervin (D-NC), the committee began immediately compiling information ahead of the widely anticipated hearings. The ranking member of the committee, Senator Howard Baker (R-TN), named lawyer Fred Thompson to serve as the Republican minority's counsel, while Samuel Dash is charged to represent the Democratic majority on the committee. The Senate Committee consisted of Senators Sam Ervin (D-NC|Chairman), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Joseph Montoya (D-WI), and Philip Hart (D-MI) as well as Howard Baker (R-TN|Ranking Member), Edward Gurney (R-FL), and Lowell Weicker (R-CT).

1614028335266.png

Fred Thompson alongside Senators Baker and Ervin.
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger returned from his European tour. His reception in the Kremlin during his visit to the Soviet Union was icy (General Secretary Breznhev declined to meet with him), but his return to Washington was even colder. In his absence, Haig had supplanted him and largely isolated him from key developments, keeping him and his staff in the dark about many ongoing matters related to National Security. Upon returning to Washington, Kissinger found himself completely uninformed about Agnew's desire to take the war in Vietnam across the Demilitarized Zone. Worse yet, his access to the acting President was curtailed by Rumsfeld, who demanded he instead send all briefings in writing to his Deputy Dick Cheney.

This arrangement was short-lived. On March 6th, 1973, Kissinger was asked to resign by the acting President. This infuriated Richard Nixon, who watched these events in increasing disbelief from his temporary residence at the Mayflower Hotel. Nixon's repeated attempts to reach the President by phone were denied by staffers who claimed the President was too busy to return his calls. Exiled from the White House along with his most competent staffers, Nixon realized that the odds of him being restored to the Presidency were growing slimmer with each passing day. As a result, the former President spends an increasing amount of time crafting a comeback campaign in 1976. But he had other obstacles to overcome first, the most pressing being the growing Watergate scandal.

With Kissinger now out of a job, Al Haig ascended to the position of National Security Adviser, with Bill Casey being named his Deputy. Kissinger was exiled to academia, though his ties within the Republican establishment ensured that he could silently exercise his curtailed influence. But he could do little to stop Agnew's drive to war from Harvard. Kissinger, like Nixon, was increasingly alarmed at the bellicose rhetoric coming from key figures within the Pentagon, and found himself frequently on the phone with members of Congress who had heard rumors of a major offensive being planned. But the White House stonewalled the congressional leadership on the matter, leaving the entire planning of the operation in the hands of a small group of trusted officers at the Pentagon.

Agnew was a veteran of World War II who saw action at the Battle of the Bulge, and it was from this experience which Agnew drew his inspiration, choosing General Henry "Gunfighter" Emerson to lead the planned offensive against North Vietnam. Known for his aggressive style and famed six-shooter revolver, the General was a figure reminiscent of Patton. This made an impression on Agnew, who admired the late General's leadership of American forces in Europe. But while Agnew was able to parrot the tough talk of the deceased Patton, he was not quite so adept at formulating and executing strategies. Though Haig and Emerson were both able to offer seasoned advice on warfare to the President, they lacked the diplomatic insight that Nixon and Kissinger had so benefitted from.

Under President Nixon, the United States had cultivated a relationship with China designed to create a (literal) wedge between North Vietnam and the Soviet Union. But for the diplomatically deaf Agnew, the only good red was one that was dead. With Henry Kissinger now removed from the scene, there was little stopping Agnew from acting on his foreign policy impulses. This was demonstrated when he hosted the Foreign Minister of Taiwan at the White House, a direct signal to Peking that the acting President would continue to maintain ties with the Republic of China, which Agnew pointedly remarked was "the historic government of free China." These remarks were angrily rebuked in the People's Republic.

Agnew was an equally poor economist. Despite his appointment of Milton Friedman to chair the Council of Economic Advisers, the nation was teetering on a recession as the uncertainty took its toll on the market. The costly realities of Operation Bold Eagle, the planned invasion of North Vietnam, resulted in the Pentagon finding itself in a financial squeeze. Agnew, determined to launch the operation despite the Department of Defense's concerns, insisted that worries about inflation were unfounded. Even though Friedman warned the acting President about the economic consequences, Agnew was determined to escalate the war in Indochina at whatever cost. Friedman's pleas fell on the deaf ears of Rumsfeld and Cheney, who simply blocked the famed Professor and economist from directly meeting with the President to voice his concerns on the matter.

In the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, the USS Douglas Fox (an Allen Sumner class destroyer) was trailing two Bulgarian merchant ships when it was torpedoed by an unknown submarine in the vicinity. The torpedo punctured the hull and caused an explosion onboard within the ship's ammunition bunker, causing 150 fatalities among the crew of 320. In the wake of the attack, acting President Agnew warned that American support for South Vietnam would remain unwavering, and the State Department formally protested the incident to the governments of Bulgaria, China, North Vietnam, and the Soviet Union as a result.

1614030342288.png

The sinking of the USS Douglas Fox caused a massive escalation of the war in Vietnam.

The incident was followed by three critical foreign policy related events: first was acting President Agnew's announcement that the United States would revoke an invitation of Soviet leader Leonid Breznhev to visit the White House. This invitation, extended by President Nixon in 1972, was a grave slight to the leadership behind the walls of the Kremlin. It was followed by the decision of the Pentagon to rescind the moratorium issued on the draft, though no new call-ups resulted immediately. Lastly was the revelation in the New York Times that the Pentagon was indeed planning to launch a massive operation against North Vietnam. Infuriated by the leaking of the planning of Operation Bold Eagle, Agnew effectively neutered the White House press corps, and daily press briefings dwindled into weekly (and increasingly hostile) events.

Back in Agnew's native Maryland, the investigatory efforts of US Attorney George Beall begins to grow in scope. Honing in on engineering firm Matz, Child, and Associates, Beall's investigation turns towards Lester Matz and Jerome Wolff. Both friends of the acting President, the probe increasingly grows in scope as Beall begins to realize that corruption in Baltimore could tie the acting President himself to the scandal. But this investigation remains far from the mind of Agnew, who does not view the investigation as a matter to be concerned with.

  • From here on out, updates will be on a month by month basis. There are some upcoming PODs that will take certain aspects and places of the world in a different direction than from the original timeline, particularly in Asia. Credit to Drew as always.
 
Chapter XIV: April, 1973 New
1614039820975.png

April, 1973.
1614040113966.png

Fired White House Counsel John Dean.
A purge of many Nixon favored officials began and continued throughout April as Agnew's tenure as acting President entered its third month. It began on April 6th, when former White House counsel John Dean begins cooperating with the Senate Watergate Committee. This resulted in his successor, Robert Bork, going on the warpath. Within days, aides Robert Finch (a longtime Nixon ally from California) and Daniel Patrick Moynihan are removed from their roles in the White House. Other Nixon allies still left within the White House find themselves increasingly marginalized within the administration. Another casualty of this purge is Elliot Richardson, who Nixon had lined up to succeed Melvin Laird as Secretary of Defense. Like Haig, Richardson's impending nomination was scuttled by Rumsfeld and Cheney, who encouraged Agnew to keep Deputy Secretary Bill Clements onboard as acting Secretary until another appointee could be named.

Agnew also withdrew L. Patrick Gray's nomination to serve as Director of the FBI, instead announcing his intention to pick Colonel Tom Smith, director of the Maryland State Police, to serve in the position. Though Agnew remained largely unconcerned by the Beall investigation, his decision to bring allies from his days in Maryland's state government into the administration was widely seen by opponents in Washington as an attempt to stay in the position of Acting President for the long haul. Confirmation hearings for Smith would be largely uneventful, with few Senators finding fault in him other than his long-standing relationship with the acting President. Voting 58-42 to confirm him as FBI Director, Smith's confirmation hearings did not address the still largely unknown probe that was growing back in Baltimore.

Operation Bold Eagle's exposure in the press was followed on April 1st with massive deployments to South Vietnam. Though the White House continued to deny that the call-ups were for an offensive operation against North Vietnam, few believed them. The administration's arguments for the massive surge of combat forces to Vietnam were instead based around the USS Douglas Fox's, citing the mysterious sinking of the navy destroyer as the cause for the reinforcements instead. The Agnew administration was delighted just a day later when Soviet and Chinese airplanes engaged one another over a disputed stretch of territory along the Sino-Soviet border, an opportunity Agnew was quick to exploit. This incident was the latest sign of tension between the two predominant communist powers, and the administration was keen on capitalizing on this divide. Like Nixon before him (who continued to watch in horror from the Mayflower Hotel as he attempted to coordinate his efforts to reclaim the Presidency in the contingency election), Agnew saw this divide as being critical to containing and ultimately concluding the Cold War. But he lacked the tact necessary to prevent a conflict between the two communist powers from spiraling out of control., and high ranking career diplomats privately told trusted NATO partners that the likelihood of a nuclear war between the USSR and China was higher than ever.

It was only a few weeks later towards the end of the month when a second incident occurred in the air; a Chinese air force jet shot down a Soviet plane traveling over the South China Sea. The Soviet plane, which carried a delegation of Soviet dignitaries led by Communist Party functionary Mikhail Gorbachev from North Vietnam back to Russia, was shot down by the People's Republic after they allegedly had confused it for an American spy plane. In response to the shoot-down, the Soviet military mobilized and moved into Mongolia, which was firmly aligned with Moscow. The government of China claimed that the crash was an accident, but refused to allow Soviet inspectors into the country to examine the remnants of the plane.

1614041902491.png

Chinese soldiers roll into Mongolia.


The response of China would prove to be disastrous; on the morning of April 12th, the People's Liberation Army invaded Mongolia and attacked Soviet and Mongolian forces across the border. The Chinese also launched several smaller incursions into Siberia in order to bog down and distract the Soviet army from launching an immediate counter-offensive into China. With the PLA marching towards the Mongolian capital, the pro-Soviet puppet regime of Yumjaagiin Tsendenbal was forced to flee Ulan Bator for the safety of the USSR. While the Chinese ground force outnumbered the Mongolians and their Soviet allies, the Soviet air force was able to effectively wipe out much of the PLA's air force bases near the border within days of the initial attack. Yet despite their inability to dominate the skies, the PLA's sheer size was enough to keep pushing forward into the Mongolian countryside.

The war exposed the vulnerability of China's leadership; though the attack on Mongolia was planned, organized, and ordered by Mao Zedong's increasingly influential nephew Mao Yuanxin (a key figure in the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution) and Jiang Qiang, Mao's wife, it was Premier Zhou Enlai who found himself being blamed for the Chinese military's inability to swiftly finish the attack. There was some speculation in Peking that the war was launched by radical Maoists in order to create a permanent division within the Communist Party of China which could be exploited in their favor.

The Sino-Soviet war would devolve quickly into a stalemate, with fighting taking place for several months on a low intensity scale across the Mongolian highlands. Concerns of a nuclear exchange between the two warring communist powers passed, with both nations fearful of the other's response. Though the lack of a nuclear attack by either power was a relief to the rest of the world, the war was still a dangerous and fragile situation with threatened global peace. In both the USSR and China, those few brave enough to speak out against the war were quickly dealt with. One such casualty of this period was Deng Xiaoping, a politburo member who was purged from his positions for "defeatist" and "counter-revolutionary" ideals. He quickly disappeared into China's vast network of reeducation camps, never to be heard of in the People's Republic again.

Watching from Washington, Agnew was practically giddy about the conflict. Though not oblivious to the conflict's potential expansion into a nuclear war, Agnew was confident that the war could be fully exploited by the west. The war indeed had a massive impact on Soviet support for North Vietnam, as their shipping networks could (and were) easily penetrated by People's Liberation Navy vessels and submarines. This created an optimal climate for Operation Bold Eagle to be launched. The President also used the opportunity to appoint more loyalists to key national security posts; CIA Director Richard Helms resigned in mid-April after repeated clashes with Rumsfeld and Cheney, with Deputy Director Daniel O. Graham being nominated and later confirmed by a vote of 77-23 to replace him. Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze was officially nominated to lead the Pentagon. The already powerless Secretary of State William P. Rodgers was effectively sidelined as well, with Haig acting as both a sort of de-facto Secretary of State and Defense during this period.

The Beall investigation began to gain ground as they closed in on Matz, Child, and Associates. With 62 employees taking an offer of immunity in exchange for closed door testimony before a grand jury, many figures in Maryland's state government, including Agnew himself, were implicated in a wide-ranging bribery and kickback scheme. This is not known by the public, but whispers quietly proliferate themselves around Baltimore that a scandal might be brewing. And indeed, it was only a matter of time before the Acting President himself would be, one way or the other, ensnared in the controversy. With war in the far east and a constitutional crisis at home, the acting President saw another opportunity to solidify his political position. Sending his personal lawyer Judah Best to meet privately with George Beall as part of an effort to ward off the investigation, Agnew's efforts only seemed to further spark the US Attorney's suspicions that Agnew was at least aware, if not involved, in the bribery schemes that took place in Baltimore County. Agnew, Beall sensed, had something to hide. Yet it was the Watergate scandal that was the biggest fish.

After an FBI employee testified before the Senate Watergate Committee that former acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray destroyed files related to Howard Hunt, the scandal ballooned once again. Days later, testimony linked John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman to the scandal, which pulled Nixon closer to the heart of the scandal. Lastly, it was revealed that Attorney General Richard Kleindienst did not fully report his knowledge of the break-in or G. Gordon Libby's attempts to intimidate him into silence in the locker-room of Burning Tree Country Club. Kleindienst's decision to not disclose this incident resulted in his resignation within a matter of hours as the scandal consumed yet another casualty. Claiming ignorance of the Watergate matter, Agnew used the opportunity to instead nominate J. Clifford Wallace, a conservative federal judge, to the position of Attorney General.

1614041390410.png

Attorney General-designee J. Clifford Wallace.

  • The first "major" POD within a POD is coming next update.
 
Will Beall perhaps use this to become a future Governor of Maryland or even President someday. I'd argue if he pursues a Senate or Gubernatorial seat in 1978, he's plum for 1984. (Maybe not 1980 as he'd be too early for elective office.)
 
Chapter XV: May, 1973 New
1614097799501.png

May, 1973.
As the Sino-Soviet War continued, it's consequences spilled across the Yalu River into North Korea. Having wavered between both the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union for years, the regime of Kim Il Sung was forced to pick a side at last. Kim chose neutrality, and as a result, made enemies in both Moscow and Peking. Sensing that both sides would surely make moves against him in Pyongyang, Kim moved proactively to unify the ruling Workers Party around his neutrality and instead condemned the conflict as "a catastrophic blow to the unity of the international socialist movement." As the regime continued to refine the ideology of Juche, Kim purged Premier Kim Il (no relation) for his support for the USSR, replacing him with Pak Song-ol, the former Foreign Minister. Politburo member Kim Tong-gyu was also purged, ostensibly for being pro-China. It was during this time that Kim Ill Sung's son Kim Jong Il emerged as a force within North Korea in his own right.

1614098103187.png

Kim Jong Il and his father Kim Il Sung.

Back in Washington, the resignation of Attorney General Richard Kleindienst was followed by the rise of Deputy Attorney General Joseph Sneed Jr., who in his capacity as acting Attorney General refused to follow through on Agnew's order to stop the Beall probe back in Baltimore. As a result, he too was fired. Solicitor General Erwin Griswold also refused to fire Beall when the duty fell upon him, and was fired on the spot. Finally, Ralph Erickson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, fired Beall. Dubbed "the Friday night massacre," the reaction in Washington was of unmatched fury. It took only seventy-two hours for acting Attorney General Erickson to announce the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the circumstances of the Baltimore probe, with Erickson announcing J. Lee Rankin (a Republican who had served as Chief Counsel of the Warren Commission and as Solicitor General) as his choice to head the investigation.

As more American soldiers arrived in South Vietnam in preparation for Operation Bold Eagle, the Democratic majority in Congress attempted to stop it. Voting in the House by a margin of 261-174 and the Senate 61-39, the Congress passed a resolution defunding the war. Acting President Agnew vetoed the bill, and neither chamber could muster enough votes to override the veto. Despite the fierce opposition of the Democratic Party (including Governor McKeithen, who was still contesting the Presidency in the weekly contingency ballots in the House), the acting President saw his polling go up as Americans rallied around him in the wake of the USS Douglas Fox sinking. Promising a swift and decisive end to the war in Vietnam, Agnew's growing popularity became a source for alarm for both Governor McKeithen and (technically "former") President Nixon.

Televised hearings for the Senate Watergate Committee meanwhile generated a great degree of outrage against the two 1972 presidential candidates, both of whom were implicated in many of the "dirty tricks" which marred the last campaign. With J. Lee Rankin leading the investigation into the Baltimore probe, calls for a second Special Prosecutor for the Watergate scandal grew. Acting Attorney General Erickson agreed to name Archibald Cox, the Solicitor General to the late President Kennedy, as the Special Prosecutor for the Nixon scandal. Acting President Agnew was delighted by this event, as it drew heat off his own involvement in the Baltimore bribery scandal, and his growing support among the public had resulted in an invincibility complex developing. "I'm untouchable" Agnew boasted to his Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld, "nobody wants to change horses midstream."

On May 31st, 1973, President Nixon - who had returned to New York to resume his law practice when it became obvious that the contingency elections would remain unresolved - was shot three times outside his firm's office by Leonard Peltier, a radical member of the American Indian Movement who was present at Wounded Knee earlier in the year. Secret Service agents returned fire, injuring and disarming Peltier, who was taken into custody. Rushed to a nearby hospital, Nixon's condition was critical, though successful surgery results in three bullets being removed from his chest. The former President would recover relatively quickly considering the severity of the situation, but his injuries and subsequent health concerns caused by the assassination attempt would no doubt leave him less capable of managing his still desired return to power. In a display of unity, Governor McKeithen would travel to New York to personally visit the wounded Nixon in the hospital in the aftermath of the shooting. Peltier would later be tried and convicted for his actions, and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

1614098520959.png

Leonard Peltier - Nixon's assailant in New York.

  • The first POD of my own is the survival of the Kims in North Korea; Drew had killed off the Kims in a violent coup by a Marshall named Hyung Ju, but I could find no information about him. Instead of the DPRK drifting into a colorless "Bulgaria of the East" socialist state, the psychotic Kim clan will hold onto power. This will have consequences later on.
  • The assassination attempt on Richard Nixon was scaled down; instead of ten AIM gunmen ambushing his limo in NYC, I just decided to have Peltier go at it alone.
 
Last edited:
Chapter XVI: June, 1973 New
1614192877734.png

June, 1973.
1614193212461.png

George HW. Bush, the new Secretary of State.

Secretary of State William Rodgers resigned on June 1st, citing a desire to return to private life. Throughout his tenure, he had been hidden, almost marginalized, by the long shadow cast by Henry Kissinger, who had been the National Security Adviser. Citing his frustrations with his lack of influence, Rodger's resignation comes at a critical time. The news was welcomed by the acting President, who had little use for his Secretary of State, and Agnew pounces on the opportunity presented. Seeing as National Security Adviser Al Haig had effectively played the role as both Secretary of Defense and State simultaneously, Agnew looked for a placeholder who could both follow the anti-communist foreign policy orthodoxy of the Republican Party's foreign policy while managing the bureaucracy of the State Department. Someone who was competant, but also compliant. He found this person in UN Ambassador George H.W. Bush. Announcing his selection of Bush at the beginning of summer, the Senate was by and large receptive of Bush's nomination. The confirmation process played out quickly over the course of June, and by the end of the month, Bush was confirmed as Secretary of State by a vote of 60-40. To replace Bush at the United Nations, Ambassador to South Korea Phillip Habib is nominated and confirmed by a 72-28 margin.

The assassination attempt on Richard Nixon results in expanded Secret Service protection for the families of acting President Agnew, former President Nixon, and former Governor McKeithen. It could not come at a better time; on June 2nd, members of the Black Liberation Army attempt to kidnap the daughter of the acting President. Led by Asata Shakur, four gunmen attempted to force their way into Pamela Agnew-DeHaven's apartment in Towson, Maryland, but are surprised to find agents of the Secret Service present. After a brief firefight that leaves Shakur injured, the assailants retreat. Agnew's 29-year-old daughter is shaken but otherwise uninjured, and joins her parents in the White House for the remaining duration of the Agnew administration. The attacks on Agnew-DeHaven and former President Nixon generate more support for the acting President, which he exploits on the airwaves. A series of advertisements starring John Wayne air on all three major networks, in which he hails the acting President as a strong and decisive leader who could defend America from communists abroad and terrorists at home. But other events would soon transpire which would only further embolden Agnew and endear him to the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

First was the testimony of John Dean before the Senate Watergate Committee, in which the former White House Counsel fingered President Nixon himself as the central figure in the orchestration of the Watergate cover up. Though Dean offered his notes taken during a number of meetings with the (then) President as evidence, the hearing initially did little to prove Nixon's culpability. Dean did however have more success in advancing the narrative that Nixon was shifty, crooked, and not to be trusted. Yet Nixon supporters argued that the press was biased against him. Agnew, while slowly distancing himself from Nixon, would continue to use this argument himself when faced with hostile reporters. The contingency elections continued, but Dean's testimony has little impact on the weekly inconclusive ballots being cast in the House of Representatives.

Secondly was the Southeast Riots in Los Angeles, California. The riots began after police used heavy-handed tactics to disperse a Black Panther march organized by radical professor Angela Davis, who had recently been acquitted on terrorism charges for her involvement in the Marin County Courthouse hostage taking, which took place in 1970. Clashes between rioters and the police would last three weeks, with large sections of Watts and Compton going up in flames as a result. Governor Reagan mobilized the National Guard, and deployed them to the streets, where they frequently found themselves under sniper fire in their efforts to restore law and order. Blaming the Black Liberation Army for the violence, which Reagan described as a terrorist group, the deployment of the National Guard initially turned more disaffected black youth towards the Black Panthers before the riots finally died down. The images of Los Angeles burning would air nightly on the news broadcasts, resulting in Governor Reagan's public image as a law and order conservative being set in stone. Many in the press even used the phrase "war zone" to describe the city racked by looting and urban unrest.

1614193487458.png

Rioting and unrest in Los Angeles horrified the nation.

  • A few minor changes - for one, the kidnapping of Pamela Agnew is butterflied away. I felt that since the Secret Service would be under a lot of scrutiny following the attack on Nixon. Her death in the original timeline was untimely, and I feel weird about naming (and killing of) a person who I'm assuming is still alive as a private citizen. So I chose to butterfly that away.
 
Chapter XVII: July, 1973 New
1614296511321.png

July, 1973,
With the opening phase of Operation Bold Eagle nearing its launch, acting President Agnew shocked Washington and the world when he abruptly announced a sixty-day bombing halt over North Vietnam. Though Agnew officially explained the bombing halt as an opportunity to meditate on the possibility of resuming negotiations with the United States, in reality, it was just a cover for the fact that the air force was simply logistically overtaxed. The sixty-day bombing halt would give the United States time to handle operational strain and replenish supplies. During this bombing moratorium, North Vietnam would capitalize on the lack of aerial bombardment by redeploying troops to the jungles, where the tropical canopy protected and camouflaged them from further attack. Thanks in part to the assistance of East German and Yugoslav engineers, an extensive network of tunnels and bunkers are built across Hanoi in anticipation of further bombing runs.

July 4th is marked by protests across the country, with some of the largest demonstrations taking place in Los Angeles (still smoldering from recent rioting) and Washington, though these events are by and large are peaceful. Weeks later, however, more rioting breaks out, this time in Chicago. The genesis of the Chicago unrest focused around a botched drug bust in Chicago's notorious Cabrini-Green housing project went horribly wrong. Two unarmed black teens would be shot fatally during the raid, leading to tens of thousands of black Chicagoans to take the streets to protest. Egged on by Black Panther militants, this march turned into a riot that lasted three days and left dozens dead. In response to the unrest in Chicago, Agnew announced that he would seek to halt federal funding for various programs in the city.

1614301611813.png

Alexander Butterfield revealed the existence of the Nixon tapes before the Senate.
The Senate Watergate Committee hearings meanwhile continue to play out in Washington, with a massive bombshell being dropped when Alexander Butterfield, a former Nixon aide, confirmed that the former President had employed the use of an elaborate secret taping system to record most of his conversations and phone calls. The existence of the Nixon tapes was a game changer, resulting in many congressional Democrats arguing that the former President (still recovering from an assassination attempt) should concede the continuing contingency elections in the House to his rival, Governor McKeithen. Facing growing pressure and increasingly wary of Agnew's ideological inclinations, Nixon agreed to secretly meet with the former Louisiana Governor towards the end of the month.

As the Watergate matter played out, Agnew was able to see to it that his nominee for Attorney General was confirmed by the Senate 58-42 despite tense confirmation hearings. The reliably conservative J. Clifford Wallace was sworn in as Attorney General that night in a ceremony in the White House's East Room, the latest effort by the acting President to distance himself from Nixon. Yet the revelation of the Nixon tapes, as big of a controversy as it was, would not hold a candle to what was to come next. Facing indictment for tax fraud and bribery, Jerome Wolff, a key figure in the Baltimore corruption probe, admits to Special Prosecutor J. Lee Rankin that he personally funneled and delivered money to Spiro Agnew between 1966 and 1969, the last such payoff taken during the then Vice President's first month in office. Agnew angrily denied the allegations, and protested that Wolff's claims were the invention of politically minded journalists out to destroy his career. The Washington Post meanwhile released a bombshell expose which detailed Agnew's alleged corruption and the investigatory efforts by George Beall and J. Lee Rankin which brought the scandal to light.

On July 29th, the secretive Nixon and McKeithen summit quietly unfolded within the former President's Penthouse on Fifth Avenue. Facing legal woes related to Watergate and still recovering from an assassination attempt, Nixon agreed to concede the election to McKeithen. This was announced the following morning at a press conference in New York City, where the former President vowed to remove his name from consideration, citing national unity and personal health concerns. Hailed as a statesman by many Democrats and Republicans alike, Nixon officially transmitted his request in writing in a letter to Speaker Albert, who immediately began preparing for a final contingency vote to once and for all resolve the disputed 1972 presidential election. Agnew watched these developments helplessly from the White House as Governor McKeithen - the man who would soon be President-elect of the United States - flew back to Boston for one final lecture at Harvard.

He would not make it.

On the morning of July 31st, Delta Airlines Flight 173 crashed into a seawall while attempting to land at Boston-Logan international airport, killing all 91 people onboard. The concession of Richard Nixon and the death of Governor McKeithen immediately sparks another constitutional crisis as a confused and bewildered American public reacted in horror. The crash results in conspiracy theories proliferating like wildfire, contributing to a growing national zeitgeist of confusion and cynicism. Within hours of the accident, lawyers representing Richard Nixon, George Wallace, and Spiro Agnew hastily filed legal motions in accordance with the political desires of the candidates.

1614301749245.png

The wreckage of Delta Flight 173, which killed Governor McKeithen and 90 others.

  • The death of McKeithen is in keeping with the original plot line written by Drew. While a handful of changes have been made so far (North Korea, Peltier, Pamela Agnew), these are mostly background details. The real changes become apparent in 1974-1975ish. Thanks for reading and all the kind comments.
 
Top