Jackasses in a Hailstorm: An Alternate 1964 Election

Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There's nothing to do but to stand there and take it.

~ Lyndon Johnson


Jackasses in a Hailstorm

or

Fear, Loathing and a Surprising Amount of Actual Campaigning on the Campaign Trail in '64
(credit to SergeantHawk for the graphic)
•••​

Chapter 1:

"Ponder and deliberate before you make a move" - (The Art of War, VII, 21)

+++

The decision by President Lyndon Johnson not to seek a second term is no doubt a puzzling one to many students of history. Johnson had a wave of popularity after John F. Kennedy's death in Dallas and was wringing through bills in his "War on Poverty" but the Texan remained unconvinced that he was truly popular and would be able to escape Kennedy's shadow. But few knew this at the time and his supporters were already readying themselves for a campaign in 1964, setting up proxy's in primary states as the President publicly refused to decide. But a health scare with his heart in January 1964 made Johnson convinced that even if he was reelected that he'd die in office. In a decision that he would later admit he regretted he announced that he would not run for President in 1964, officially for health reasons but unofficially because he thought (very likely incorrectly) that he would loose. The announcement shook the Democratic Party, still torn by fighting over Civil Rights, and provoked a firestorm of speculation on who would run.

The obvious front runner at the start of the race was the deceased President's brother and the Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Kennedy represented the lofty hopes invested in his brother and the more liberal wing of his party.

The New Deal and Union segment of the party was mostly represented by Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey who ran on a solid liberal and pro-Civil Rights platform while emphasizing his experience compared to that of Kennedy.

Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, a former Republican and failed opponent of JFK, also entered. Morse was relatively liberal and was a maverick, attacking and angering politicians on both sides of the aisle. His opposition to further involvement in East Asia appealed to pacifists but hurt him elsewhere.

Stuart Symington, a Senator from Missouri, campaigned as a representative of a south that had moved past segregation. He took a line against "paranoia" and would only speak to desegregated groups. However this wrecked his support in his nominal base in the south, meaning he failed to really get started.

Pat Brown, the Liberal governor of California, ran as well, but failed to adequately differentiate himself from the felid.

Adlai Stevenson, the former Governor of Illinois, ran again. But losses to Eisenhower in 1952 and 1958 and failing to be nominated in 1960 killed his campaign before it began.

Finally there was George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama. Already famous for his loud and public attacks on the Civil Rights movement he appealed to whites who felt betrayed by the party as well as those friendly to his generally populist message. He was also constantly threatening a third party run.

+++

By contrast the Republican race seemed at first to be a two horse one. Moderate New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller was popular in his state and supported by the moderate to liberal "Eastern Establishment". However when his wife, who he had married quite quickly after divorcing his old one, gave birth raising concerns about extramarital affairs and his values.

Those who were concerned by such issues as values flocked to the conservative Senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater, who was an ardent opponent of the New Deal and big government in general. Once remarking that the country would be better off if the Eastern Seaboard was sawed off he was unappealing to moderates but attractive to ex-Democrats opposed to the new liberal direction the party was taking.

Various minor candidates swirled about and write in campaigns were organized around Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.

Just like the Democrats were torn, the Republicans swayed between conservative and liberal.

+++

The first primary in the nation and important for the issue of momentum was New Hampshire. Not every candidate had ballot access in the state and many write in votes ensued, confusing the process considerably.

With the endorsement of the Governor and a strong base of support from his dead brother Bobby Kennedy swept towards victory in New Hampshire, holding off a "bipartisan" write in campaign by Wayne Morse that included only democrats. The only other news was a surprisingly weak showing by Hubert Humphrey.

The Republican side saw an overconfident Barry Goldwater prematurely assure himself victory, believing that vote splitting between various moderate write-ins and Nelson Rockefeller would assure him victory. In a shocking twist these write ins provided a winner instead of a spoiler. The tally gave victory to the current Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge Jr, who had been the Vice Presidential Nominee in 1960.

Lodge now faced a dilemma, did he run hard despite his doubts that he would fail to gain any delegates? Or did he disavow the campaign? In the end he chose an awkward path, saying that he would "serve ably if drafted" but that he "must continue" in South Vietnam. Of course the attack ads wrote themselves, claiming that Lodge would not even campaign come the General Election.

+++

RFK's victory in New Hampshire solidified his front runner status and marked the unfolding of a campaign slightly more independent of his brother's legacy. Uniting JFK's "New Frontier" and Johnson's "War on Poverty" his speeches began referencing a "Good Society" and an expansion of New Deal programs. Just as his brother captured the American imagination RFK was strong among younger voters. He shared some of his brother's charisma and a strong sense of political savvy. His famous response to allegations that he lacked foreign policy experience was "Ask anyone where I was during the Cuban crisis, it wasn't in a courtroom." His chief opponent on the left was Hubert Humphrey, who had the backing of Unions, as well as President Johnson. Humphrey assaulted the Attorney General on the experience and touted a strong civil rights record. Meanwhile George Wallace gained steam in the few states where he was on the ballot, appealing to conservative whites afraid for their jobs. Kennedy sought to stem this momentum and hopefully avoid Wallace's threatened third party run.

+++

Other Alternatives to Kennedy '64?

Northeastumbrian said:
Like it says above. Who else might've had a shot against Bobby Kennedy in '64 aside from Humphrey and Wallace?

GloryGloryGlory said:
Lyndon Johnson. RFK was popular, but not popular enough to oust a President in the primary.

ABC123DoRayMe said:
Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner!

Yolanda said:
No Humphrey could let Symington, or whatever the Missouri guy was called slip in.

IllinoisSox said:
Adlai Stevenson.

ABC123DoRayMe said:
You have an unhealthy obsession with Stevenson.

Northeastumbrian said:
So if Johnson runs and wins, is Kennedy the go to choice for VPOTUS?

Yolanda said:
NWIHP. See: Texas Primary. Likely Humphrey, maybe Morse to appeal to GOPers if Goldwater gets the nod.

+++

RK: Do we push for a debate?

KO: With Humphrey or with the Republican?

RK: Both.

KO: Humphrey is a solid speaker, could be risky, especially if he gets Johnson to take the gloves off.

TK: Wallace would want to be invited.

RK: No. No way I do that.

KO: Good, last thing we need is a fight over segregation at the debate.

RK: But what about Humphrey? Do we take the risk and debate him?

KO: Radio or Television?

TK: Does it really matter?

KO: Of course it does, you know the numbers after the first debate in sixty. I say you stick to a TV debate with Humphrey. He'll probably say no but if he agrees we can smoke him.

RK: And with the Republicans?

KO: Goldwater is nuts, but he's not stupid enough to debate you.

RK: And the others?

KO: No chance to get past without a messy fight, they'll be too much in damage control mode to want to risk it.
 
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Personally, I see Humphrey as far more likely than RFK in 1964, but it's your call.

RFK had momentum, but bet your buttons that Humphery has the establishment backing. It's a question as to weather he can actually start winning before Kennedy starts pounding.
 


Attorney General Robert Kennedy
Senator Hubert Humphrey
Governor George Wallace
Other



Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge
Governor Nelson Rockefeller
Senator Barry Goldwater
Other
 
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Chapter 2:

"In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns" - (The Art of War, II, 19)

+++
The Wisconsin primary was the first where George Wallace appeared on the ballot. With a strong labor presence in the state Hubert Humphrey hoped to invigorate his campaign with a win in Wisconsin and present himself as a credible opponent to Kennedy, with polls showing a moderate lead in the state Humphrey looked strong. Hoping to retain momentum Kennedy campaigned hard in the state and highlighted his liberal credentials and his strong welfare platform. However Wallace, practically unbeknownst to either candidate, was gaining steam amongst working class voters concerned with desegregation and ethnically Eastern European voters who agreed with his hard line anti-communist stances.

The results showed a shockingly strong support for Wallace, who gained 29% of the vote compared to Humphrey's 37% and Kennedy's lowly 30%. Wisconsin would claim the campaign of Stuart Symington.

On the Republican side favorite son John W. Byrnes was running and the primary was not really contested.

Hoping to capitalize on Kennedy's poor performance in Wisconsin before the primary's rolled around to more RFK friendly states Humphrey agreed to a debate with Kennedy, to be televised nationally.

+++

M: Senator Humphrey, what is your opinion on what the Government should do with the situation in South Vietnam?

HH: The Government should maintain a solid stream of military advisors into South Vietnam and protect our bases there to the fullest extent possible. This is an area where careful finesse is required, and a Humphrey administration would provide just that.

M: Mr. Kennedy?

RK: The issue with South Vietnam is that it finds itself tearing itself apart at the seams. The government is doing itself no favors with its polices against the communist threat. America needs to assist South Vietnam in keeping its house in order.

HH: So a full scale intervention?

RK: No. Aid to the government in the form of medicine and economic assistance.

M: What about North Vietnam, Mr. Kennedy?

RK: As always we must remain on the look out for ways to contain Communism around the globe. South Asia is just one turret which we must guard upon the walls of freedom. But it is an important one and we must be ever prepared to counter the Communists there.

M: Senator Humphrey?

HH: Under the Johnson administration America had made great strides in protecting freedom around the globe. We must continue this trend with diligence and be prepared to fully commit ourselves to defending liberty around the globe.

+++

The one debate between Humphrey and Kennedy proved more notable for the publicity George Wallace generated by his anger about being excluded. Kennedy avoided disaster and Humphrey never really launched any adults. However Humphrey was better prepared then Nixon had been against JFK and was competent enough to effectively draw the debate. Wallace meanwhile continued a brimstone raising campaign towards his next state, Indiana.

Humphrey found himself hit by four rapid fire punches. The Chicago machine of Mayor Daley which had feverishly backed JFK in 1960 now backed his brother. The end result was a very strong showing in Illinois by Kennedy and a weak one for Humphrey. In New Jersey Kennedy won again, though by a smaller margin then before. Despite not even bothering to get on the ballot in Massachusetts Humphrey still had to endure headlines proclaiming Kennedy's inevitable victory there. And then he lost Pennsylvania.

For the republicans Illinois saw the complete victory of Barry Goldwater in the state, especially as Nelson Rockefeller continued to implode. However both New Jersey and Massachusetts recorded write in victories for Henry Cabot Lodge, giving the moderates more momentum. Texas however would result in a huge win for Goldwater, while Pennsylvania would fall to a favorite son. For the democrats Texas would be a battle ground.

+++

George Wallace was not on the Texas ballot, but he retained a strong write in support base from segregationists in the state. However the true fight would be between Humphrey and Kennedy.

Since the state even having a primary contest had been in doubt while Johnson was still being considered an option the election was thrown together hurriedly. This alone would have created irregularities. However Johnson, who had up to this point only cautiously backed Humphrey took the opportunity to come down hard against RFK. Soon dirty tricks were being pulled across Texas against the Kennedy campaign. Rumors spread about affairs by the Kennedy's and allegations of Nepotism stung hard. Johnson repeatedly gave Texan Democrats "The Treatment" to twist their arms into "working" their areas for Humphrey. Exactly how much this "working" effected Humphrey's 45% to 29% victory is still unknown. Even a tearful eulogy for his brother in Dallas could not drag RFK to victory.

However the push Humphrey got from Texas evaporated soon thereafter as RFK pulled out strong showings in DC and Ohio.

Indiana proved interesting as Wallace, still alluding to an independent run, was on the ballot and campaigned hard for delegates there. However he was hampered by the effective campaigning of Governor Matthew E. Welsh for Kennedy, who unlike many Democrats saw Wallace as a legitimate threat. All three candidates campaigned hard but Kennedy narrowly pulled out ahead with himself at 41%, 28% for Wallace and a humiliating 19% for Humphrey. Humphrey would regain some face by winning Nebraska and West Virginia soon thereafter, but the latter by a disappointingly small margin.

Goldwater would cruise to victory in Indiana and Nebraska while favorite sons won in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Rockefeller won West Virginia unopposed while being beaten out by more Lodge write ins in Oregon. Wayne Morse would win Oregon for the democrats, despite Kennedy's attempts to campaign there, reversing the results from four years previously where JFK had won out.

The contest now turned towards Maryland, the last state where Wallace had definitive ballot across. Kennedy hoped to appeal to the Catholic vote as well as minorities, who were also being courted by Humphrey. Wallace appealed to segregationists as always. The state was bitterly divided during the primary as Kennedy, Humphrey and Wallace engaged in a three way slugging match for the state. The Unions officially backed Humphrey however their rank and file often backed Wallace. Meanwhile Catholics and ethnic minorities flocked towards Kennedy. The result proved close, but Governor Wallace pulled out on top. With 43% of the vote Wallace outright won the white vote while his opponents Kennedy and Humphrey's 33% and 18% respectively. This victory was a huge boost for Wallace and heightened fears of an independent campaign. Maryland's delegates would go unpledged in the Republican race.

+++

KO: It's time we started talking VP ideas, see if we've got any guys who could help the south. We've got Wallace to deal with, and sources are saying that Goldwater wants to bark up that tree.

RK: I'm not picking up any segregationists, if Humphrey got wind of that he'd steal the nomination from right under our noses.

KO: Well we've got to pick someone who can unite the party.

TK: Symington?

KO: Too liberal, practically not southern.

TK: Johnson? [laughs]

RK: No time to joke Ted.

KO: How about Welsh? Nah…too liberal still. Smathers?

RK: Do we really need a southern appeasement pick? Unless the GOP pulls a rabbit out of the hat then they've got Goldwater. And every poll they've got shows us crushing Goldwater. I'm more worried about the left, should we get one of Humphrey's favorites? Soften the blow? Birch maybe?

KO: I don't know Bobby, we'll talk more. But I've got one more guy here, you've met him and he seems like a safe choice.

[papers shuffling]

RK: Hmm…interesting.

+++

Florida saw unpledged electors win in each party, Wallace was not on the ballot and segregation ran strong against Kennedy and Humphrey. All eyes now turned towards California.

Despite energetic campaigning by Kennedy for California it still fell into the hands of favorite son Pat Brown. On the Republican side a "Stop Goldwater" movement was proposed but collapsed when Lodge supporters failed to throw in with Rockefeller. Goldwater won big.

The final race, South Dakota would be won by unpledged delegates on both sides, however they quickly attached themselves to Humphrey and Goldwater.

The conventions approached.

+++

SkiddleyJump said:
So is there any way that the establishment can successfully nab the nomination from Goldwater in 1964?

ABC123DoRayMe said:
IF someone can unite the moderates in California. AND they can get Rockefeller and the Lodge Supporters, who ever ends up taking California to make a public show of backing them. AND the party establishment can agree (Eisenhower full endorsement?). AND they can twist a few arms, very, very, hard to get delegates and favorite sons. The establishment MIGHT be able to force a second ballot and then MIGHT be able to wrangle the nomination away from Goldwater IF they can convince the (heavily conservative) delegates he's unelectable.

That's a lot of IFs and it won't go over well. Only person I can see is Nixon. Lodge is too far away to be active enough. It probably destroys any chance in November.

LordYule said:
No. No matter what the elites say the duly elected delegates will select Goldwater. Better chance Adlai Stevenson wrests the nomination away on the other side.

ImperialCheese said:
Not this "conservative inevitably" stuff again.

IlinoisSox said:
Actually, since neither Humphrey nor Kennedy will concede to a segregationist in a "kingmaker" scenario a compromise liberal might be found, a position Stevenson may be able to fill. Had it been anyone but Wallace, say Smathers like in SYWR, that's very well possible. In SYWR it ends up being Pat Brown, but Stevenson is open.

LordYule said:
Please, your unhealthy obsession with Stevenson is creepy. Goldwater had the backing of the silent majority.

Czarina12 said:
Fastest thread derailment ever?

ABC123DoRayMe said:
1] Not a real derailment
2] Do you remember the thread where the discussion about Bolivian minorities in the 1860s became about Bhutanese ethnic cleansing in 3 posts?

+++

Despite booes for Rockefeller and a passionate, bridge burning, acceptance speech by Goldwater the Republican national convention passed with out any of the fears of a civil war coming to pass, though many independents and liberals were seriously considering not voting Goldwater while in private. Goldwater's Vice Presidential pick, conservative Walter Judd of Minnesota, did little to allay these concerns.

On the Democratic side Bobby Kennedy held a wide delegate lead, though he might be denied the nomination if things turned against him and select bosses tried to stop him. To rectify this RFK unleashed a "ruthless" side to himself. He twisted the arms of favorite sons hard, appealing to his "religious values" that he accused Humphrey of lacking. He browbeat possible pro-Wallace delegates by threatening "fire from on high" if they even thought of voting Wallace. He used the convention's already strong JFK remembrance themes to gain support in the final days leading up to the convention. He gained credibility from the left when he and civil rights activists united to seat delegates from the anti-segregationist Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party as opposed to delegates selected from whites only conventions. All of this payed off and Kennedy received the nomination on the first ballot, accepting it with tearful memories of his brother four years before. His Vice Presidential selection was a surprise, Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes had failed to deliver Maryland to Kennedy but was fiscally and socially moderate, and southern.

The seating of the MFDP delegates would cause uproar in the south and quite a few delegates would up and leave the convention. Despite George Wallace's attempts no third party would form thus cycle, some southerners went to Goldwater while others voted for unpledged electors.

The race was on.
 
Chapter 3:

"If the enemy leaves the door open, you must rush in" - (The Art of War, XI, 65)

+++
"In Your Heart you know he's Right" - Barry Goldwater Campaign Slogan

"RFK for USA" - Bobby Kennedy chant.

"In your guts you know he's nuts." - Texas Democratic slogan

"The CPUSA for RFK" - Goldwater chant.

"In your Heart you know he might" - Anti-nuclear protest

"RFK: Finish the Papist Job" - KKK leaflet, often connected to Republican campaign staff.

"Vote Kennedy for the Party of Negro Rioting Present. Vote Goldwater for the Party of Negro Rioting Future. Vote [LOCAL UNPLEDGED ELECTOR] for the American future." - Posters set up in Alabama.

"Better the Kennedy six feat under then Goldwater" - RFK supporter's button (EXTREMELY unofficial)

+++

"USS MADOXX FIRED UPON OFF THE COAST OF RED VIETNAM"

"CONGRESS CONSIDERING AUTHORIZING ACTION IN VIETNAM"

"GOLDWATER: JOHNSON SHOULD CONSIDER TACTICAL NUKES"

"KENNEDY: FURTHER ASSISTANCE TO SOUTH VIETNAM NEEDED"

"CONGRESS VOTES OVERWHELMINGLY FOR INDOCHINA ACT"

+++

LJ: Texas will hold Kenneth. No worries. You should be worried about the Deep South, Goldwater is pushing hard there and Wallace and Barnett are slimy sons of a bitch.

KO: Look here Lyndon, I'm running this campaign, not you. If you wanted to run you could d. Now you've been of great help to us in Texas but I draw the line when you start trying to push your own campaign ads.

LJ: Kenn! That bastard was pushing for nukes in Vietnam! Its a perfect line of attack.

KO: The campaign is based on an optimistic view of the future, not kids playing baseball as bombs fall.

LJ: Kenneth, I've worked with a fair lot of politicians and you've gotta hit 'em hard. If Bobby doesn't have the balls to do it I will, Goldwater has a bunch of dirt we can dig up.

KO: No Lyndon, we're not going to play this election dirty.

LJ: So it'll be squeaky clean like Chicago was four years ago?

KO: Lyndon…

LJ: I'm still President, Kenneth and I'll be damned if I let Goldwater get away with anything more then a throttling. Listen here you can play Knights of the Round Table but remember I'm running this country until January. Not to mention that Texas is still my state, not some vassal of Camelot. So if I get a little dirty then so be it. And don't be so innocent, don't you know that I know about your friendly campaign stops in Virginia. Why are you even here anyway? We has this discussion last week!

KO: Mr. President…your ideas about healthcare and social programs that you sent us.

LJ: Those, yeah the "Good Society" notes, picked them out before I decided against running. Noticed Bobby has been using the term a lot now days. But does he give me credit? No. I suppose your going to roll stuff just like it out now.

KO: …

LJ: Great. "RFK's Good Society". Catchy I suppose.

KO: Well actually we're calling them the Final Deal.

LJ: What?

KO: Square Deal, New Deal, Final Deal.

LJ: What happens when people get tired of the Final Deal? Stupid name. At least come up with a decent name. Far Horizons, Third Deal. I don't know. Didn't Truman want a Fair Deal?

KO: Hmmm…

+++

Bobby Kennedy's campaign was largely fueled by two things. The first was sympathy for his brother and nostalgia for the youth and vigor the Kennedy's brought. The second was his proposed "Fair Society" programs. They remained vague, like most grand ideals on the campaign trail, but promised a similar idea to John Kennedy's "New Horizons" campaign promises fused with the "War on Poverty" Johnson had started. A Fair Society, he said, would have full equality between the races. A Fair Society would help the poorest cities and citizens back to their feet. A Fair Society would help protect education across the nation. A Fair Society would help the weakest in society get help medically. This strategy would appeal to moderates and the poor as opposed to Goldwater's vicious anti-Government attacks and vast array of controversial statements. While Kennedy was not publicly on the offensive against Goldwater his underlings certainly had a lot to work with.

+++
TRANSCRIPT OF ROBERT KENNEDY AD

Footage a man in a space suit walking, with men around him scuttling around doing important look stuff

CUT TO

Footage of men in military uniform scurrying around as sirens blare, they're grabbing guns and running towards positions.

CUT TO

Family watching pre-launch checks eagerly on television.

CUT TO

Family rushing into a bunker as sirens blare.

CUT TO

Scientists pointing out locations on the moon to citizens.

CUT TO

Military men sticking pins into a map.

CUT TO

Astronauts happily waving goodbye before they enter their spaceship.

CUT TO

Soldiers tearfully marching away from families.

CUT TO

Ticker Tape Parade.

CUT TO

Military convoy.

CUT TO

Men preparing to launch something. The view holds until they reach zero

CUT TO

Nuclear Explosion

CUT TO

Rocket launch

Robert F. Kennedy:​
The power of the atom bomb is too great to be played with. The horrors of total war are not to be taken lightly. The powers of rockets are too mighty to use for destruction. The choice this November is too important to ignore.​

The screen blackens and the words "Vote Robert Kennedy on November 3" appear.

+++

Kennedy likely got the idea for his famous "Rocket Ad" from his friend and astronaut John Glenn who he had convinced to run for Senate in 1964.

It highlights his general campaign strategy of painting Goldwater as unstable and himself as a vision of hope for the future. His campaign in Mississippi and Alabama was hampered by Goldwater's heavy southern campaigning as well as the "Independent Electors" backed by the Governors there.

He really didn't need to worry.

+++.





Attorney General Robert Kennedy/Governor J. Millard Tawes 538
Senator Barry Goldwater/Congressman Walter Judd 54
Governor George Wallace/various 11 (unpledged)
Governor. Ross Barnett/various (unpledged) 5​

(Mississippi's unpledged electors split 3 ways)

SOME ASSORTED NEW SENATORS 1964

Samuel S. Stratton - (D-NY) + 1

George Murphy - (R-CA) + 1

Fred Harris - (D-OK) + 0

Joseph M. Montoya - (D-NM) + 1

Joseph D. Tydings - (D-MY) + 1

John Glenn - (D-OH) + 0

NET RESULT + 2 for the Democrats

Small gains in the house, very similar to OTL.
 
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Great timeline so far; the thought of seeing an RFK Presidency four years before he ran int OTL could be fawscinating! But the colors on your map seem a bit off; it looks as if Barry Goldwater just scored a resounding landslide victory.
 
Shouldn't you recolor that so that the ticket names and the states are consistent? Seems good otherwise.
 
Chapter 4:

"On serious ground, gather in plunder. In difficult ground, keep steadily on the march" - (The Art of War, XI, 13)

+++
Robert Kennedy's inauguration marked the beginning of an era in Washington, one that would not soon be forgotten.

Kennedy had large Democratic majorities in both houses to work with, and they were more liberal then many Democratic congressmen had been before. Still Southern congressmen and Senators were still a force to be reckoned with and held a solid bloc of votes. In this Kennedy was at a disadvantage, for all of his protestations of experience on the campaign trail the truth was that whatever his executive qualifications were he lacked any legislative experience. It would be Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and Whip Russell Long that formed the backbone of the early Fair Society programs. Later on Ted Kennedy, having gained experience and his brothers not so private support, would become Whip and play a larger role.

Perhaps hoping to start off on the right foot with the southern establishment RFK started the Fair Society reforms with what would be termed the "Cultural Package". The focal point of his push was the formation of the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, dedicated to supporting American endeavors in those fields of study. Along with the Arts portion of the bill funding was given for the "Roosevelt Wing" of the National Gallery of Art with a focus on modern art and culture. While the Package was accepted quickly and the associated organizations would do a lot of good the fact that RFK opened his administration with largely minor moves led to a perception that he was playing "softball" with Congress. This perception would soon be tested.

+++

RK: Mr. Wallace.

GW: Mr. President.

RK: As I'm sure you know Dr. King and his supporters are organizing in Dallas County. Now I know that…

GW: State troopers are prepared for action Mr. President, as are local police. Ready to stop any trouble from Dr. King and his men the moment it starts.

RK: Don't be coy Governor, Don't act like you don't know what my response is going to be. The men in Selma and Marion will march no matter what we do. But I swear that if you turn this thing into a bloodbath that you will regret it. Do not try and stop them, Do not turn this violent or Ole Miss is going to look easy.

GW: Mr. President, I am simply acting to protect the rights of the poor. Protect their jobs, protect their way of life from assaults on Southern culture…

RK: Wallace, listen to me. There's going to be something happening in those towns and unless you want to go down like the Rebels at…

GW: Gettysburg. Yes I've heard that line before. And just as my ancestors…

RK: I wasn't going to say Gettysburg.

GW: You weren't?

RK: I was going to say Appomattox.

GW: Appomattox?

RK: You aren't fighting a glorious high water mark Mr. Wallace. You're fighting a desperate rearguard action against your inevitable defeat. You aren't Lee at Fredericksburg or Gettysburg. You're Lee at Petersburg and Appomattox. You're fighting a war you'll inevitably loose.

GW: Even during those times the South…

RK: Was fighting to hold a sinful practice and prolonging the suffering of many Americans. You all may see yourselves as Davis, Forest and Lee. Then I guess that makes Jack, Johnson and I all Lincoln and Grant.

GW: I can see that there is no point in this.

RK: Governor?

GW: What?

RK: Don't force me to become Sherman.

+++

Despite the infamous "Bloody Saturday" the Dallas County marches from Marion and Selma to Montgomery were a tremendous victory for the Civil Rights movement, bringing debate over voting rights to the forefront of national attention. The actions resulted in Robert Kennedy's televised "Plowshares" speech and his open endorsement of the Civil Rights Bill of 1965, also called the Voting Rights Act. Though the bill, which hit poll taxes and literacy tests with bans, faced strong opposition in the South and from representatives from the areas. However with the backing of most prominent Democrats it was on Kennedy's desk by the end of the year and he was quick to sign it, urging Attorney General Ramsey Clark to persecute it hard. The fight against the Southern system had not been won, but a major blow had hit Jim Crow.

Following the voting rights act the next set of Fair Society acts were implemented, this time focused on education. In Johnson's nebulous notes about a possible second term Education had been a central point, however under the Fair Society Education was something of a back burner. The "Primary and Secondary Education Act" would break boundaries and provide some federal funding towards local schools, providing support in the purchase of books, teaching material as well as money for grants. Money was also used to beef up State Departments of Education. The "Higher Education Act", also passed in early 1966 provided for some increased federal funding into colleges and universities.

While all this occurred foreign entanglements grew.

+++

With the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution Kennedy held the authority to wage war as he saw fit in Southeast Asia against Communism. On the advice of the CIA the American Government backed Nguyễn Văn Thiệu
in South Vietnam. Initially starting with marines close to American air bases Kennedy slowly escalated the number of ground forces in Vietnam and began coordinating attacks on the Viet Cong with ARVN. He continued the bombing of North Vietnam with Operation: Lightning Rod, a slowly escalating series of assaults against the North Vietnamese and the so called Ho Chi Minh Trial through Laos. The number of Marines, and later regular army members, steadily increased through 1964-1966 as the American forces became more and more tied with the Edit
Watch this Thiệu regime. However once incident would shift the course of the war.

In May 1966 the Viet Cong launched the Hue Offensive, aimed at seizing control of the ancient Vietnamese capital of Hue in hopes of provoking an uprising near the Vietnam DMZ. Though largely guerrilla forces the Viet Cong were able to push back the Government forces, leading to panic in Saigon and a coup against Thiệu by his until then powerless Prime Minister Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, who seized power with military backing. Fearing the worst Kennedy ordered American forces in Vietnam to counter. While they succeeded in defeating the Hue Offensive the image of a South Vietnam perpetually on the brink of collapse became ingrained in the minds of America. Kennedy was soon backing a massive troop surge to weed out the Viet Cong from South Vietnam. Accompanying this troop surge was Operation: Nose Guard and Operation: Line Backer, strengthened bombing campaigns against North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh trial respectively. Operation: Colt was also authorized, Colt broadened the war into Cambodia and Laos with surgical strikes against the Ho Chi Minh trail that ended up being a lot larger then intended.

Though at first the war proved popular it would grow more unpopular as it dragged on.

+++

Different 1966 Midterms?

GorgonQueen said:
As it says.

Yolanda said:
We're going to need more information. What happened? Early Vietnam Surge? Riots? Economic collapse? Any of these things could happen and lead to a variety of things ranging from an increase in RFK's support to a stronger Republican showing.

LordYule said:
Would it be possible for the GOP to win?

Yolanda said:
In the Senate? If things go terribly, terribly wrong. The House would require the death of millions of democrats, and I'm only exaggerating slightly. In my opinion the worst realistic option for Kennedy is a Conservative Democrat surge, with will stymie his further reforms and seriously hurt him in 1968 as opposed to the minuscule losses of OTL.

LordYule said:
Hmmm…}Writing Notes{

Yolanda said:
How long until we finally get The Times Lament Volume 2?

LordYule said:
September maybe?

Northeastumbrian said:
What was that?

GorgonQueen said:
What was what?

LordYule said:
Spammer. NotABot or Beetle must have deleted it.

Yolanda said:
Vietnamese or Taiwan?

LordYule said:
Given its promises of recreating "Khan's Red Hoard" I'm saying Mongolia

Yolanda said:
They have the Internet in Mongolia?

+++

After weathering the midterms well the Kennedy administration emerged appearing strong and prepared to tackle "major legislation" before the reelection campaign. Despite the President remaining popular a growing undercurrent of America found themselves losing faith in Camelot. The Kennedy's were the kings of the round table, and already some were plotting to be Mordred.
 
Chapter 5:

"Knowledge of the enemy's dispositions can only be obtained from other men" - (The Art of War, XIII, 6)

+++

MC: Mr. President.

RK: Director Carter, please don't tell me something is about to happen in Vietnam. I don't think I could take it.

MC: I'm pleased to tell you that that isn't the case Mr. President.

RK: Then what is it?

MC: South Africa sir.

RK: Good lord, has there been an uprising?

MC: No sir. May I show you a map?

RK: Sure.

[Rustling of paper]

MC: See here? That's South West Africa, its not technically part of South Africa but for all intents and purposes it is. The South African Defense Forces have been deployed there to keep the population from rebelling too openly. But they've also been conducting attacks against rebels opposing the Portuguese to the north. Well our boys in the area have picked up information that South Africa is going to get even more involved.

RK: Really?

MC: Yes. Something called Operation: Savannah, full scale attacks against UNITA, the main rebel group in the south.

RK: How much?

MC: Not enough to make a huge ripple, Portugal doesn't want to openly associate with South Africa. But enough to significantly strengthen the Portuguese position. The SADF is good, not great, but good. They'll be a game changer.

RK: What's Verwoerd playing at?

MC: He wants to keep white minority rule in as much of Africa as possible.

RK: Bastard.

[Rustling of papers]

RK: What's this?

MC: The SAFARI nuclear reactors they have. And they're enriching Uranium.

+++

The Robert Kennedy foreign policy outside of Vietnam had a certain erratic nature to it. Kennedy publicly refuted Apartheid South Africa, however the CIA continually assisted the government in Pretoria. How much Kennedy knew is up for debate.

The 6 Day War would see Kennedy renewing arms embargoes against Israel but remaining friendly with the now much expanded state. Kennedy would attempt to set up peace talks in Vienna between the parties on a "land for peace" basis. However the Arabian Powers hardened their resolve and no deal was reached.

Elsewhere little changed, America still supported anti-Communists across the globe, regardless of how democratic they were or his thuggish they were. Inside America was where Kennedy was looking for now.

+++

The first major legislative push of the new congressional term was centered around welfare. More popular with the south then many other proposals the "Welfare Package" (O'Donnell and Kennedy had found that dividing the Fair Society into legislative "packages" increased publicity) passed relatively quickly. Food Stamps were expanded, Social Security was modernized and various programs like the Jobs Corps were established to assist the poor in getting back on their feet.

The push also established the Department of Urban Affairs to help coordinate massive changes in Urban areas as the government began to set up public housing as well as to provide subsides for renters. It also established a "Exemplar City" program to assist individual cities in assisting their people, the first beneficiary of this was Detroit, eager to show off when the Olympics came to town. The push also included the completely unrelated establishment of the Department of Transportation which consolidated various agencies related to transportation.

It was into this environment that RFK launched his most ambitious idea yet, this time revolving around healthcare. The idea of a more federal approach to health care had existed since the Progressive Era and Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Run. But the idea had never really gotten off the ground, not even during the hight of the New Deal. Kennedy now threw in what he hoped would be the centerpiece of the Fair Society: A National Healthcare system funded similarly to Social Security. He pushed hard for what he called a "United Healthcare System" in order to help every American be insured. This resulted in backlash against Kennedy. Conservatives in Congress had been licking their wounds and saw an opportunity. Kennedy had overstretched himself with the proposal and now found himself attacked for his "Socialist Healthcare Plan". Conservatives, southern ones especially, united in opposition to the plan and drew in supporters who normally backed Kennedy. It soon became apparent that Healthcare Reform as originally proposed would not be able to pass.

An attempted compromise would be forged by Hubert Humphrey, Kennedy's old opponent. He circulated plans for what he called "Medicare" after the Canadian system. It would provide coverage to the elderly and the very poor. Though many signed on to the Medicare idea Kennedy proved too stubborn for his own good, killing healthcare reform for the very least the rest of his term.

+++

The war in Vietnam became more and more unpopular in the American psyche, even though the majority still supported the opposition grew stronger and stronger. College students formed the backbone of the movement and most vigorously opposed the draft. Universities became the site of major protests against the war and "HELL NO, WE WON'T GO" was a chant heard far and wide.

As for the war itself it seemed to have stagnated somewhat. The 1966 Surge had forced the Viet Cong out of the cities but the countryside remained littered with villages where it was impossible to tell who was friend to America and who was foe. Despite constant bombing North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Trail remained steadfast. The game of cat and mouse continued across Southeast Asia. The situation was not helped by President Kennedy, who never particularly cared about "Mr. Johnson's War" unless South Vietnam seemed on the verge of collapsed. Therefore when the Generals told him depressing figures but then assured the public that the war was being won he did not do anything major. But in doing so he created what became known as a "credibility gap". The general public became convinced that the war was being won, whereas the actual situation was one of deadlock. Kennedy was aware of the dissonance bit seemed content to let it simmer. "As long as it isn't blown open, I don't really care" he said to an aide at one point. Most people in the government, and many people in the press, knew about the gap, but it was not widely talked about in the public outside of circles already opposed to the war. The Gap being "blown open" refers to the general public becoming aware of the gap. Such a thing would have been disastrous for the Kennedy administration.

+++

RANDOM THREAD! Pg 286

Snugie17 said:
DICK!DICK!DICK!

MrBearFace said:

Snugie17 said:
Nixon? Nixon Nixon, Nixon.

Freedman said:
So last night I had this really weird dream about polka being played by Joe Bidem…

GorgonQueen said:
Nervous About Nixon? I have an answer!

Lodge!

MrBearFace said:
Lodge? Lodge Lodge Lodge!

Romney?

Freedman said:
Reagan. Reagan Reagan.

Reagan.

StrawberryFidel said:
Good lord what have I done…

MrBearFace said:
I don't know but its fun.

AGNEW?
 
Wow, those forum posts are almost as stupid as your average Politiyank thread. That takes some skill.
 
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