Something Serious Has Happened on Air Force One (a Tl/story by Geon)

This might be a good way Khrushchev to bring the KGB down a peg or two and get them in line.
I wish I were currently up on my historic Kremlinology to remember how close this moment already is to the one where Khrushchev was removed from office OTL.

The reasons the Politburo turned on him all related, OTL, to stuff that was already done by this point--the outcome of the "Caribbean Crisis" as they called it in Russia, being the latest and worst perhaps, but also a bunch of other fiascoes, some of which such as the disastrous outcome of the programs to intensify agriculture in Soviet Central Asia, wouldn't even have their full impact known for generations to come but already were disruptive enough.

All that said, I personally suspect the USSR might have been better off sticking with NK, though his mercurial nature was a series of international crises waiting to happen--not to mention his tendency to step on toes within the Soviet apparatchik system which is what ended his career politically. (Albeit also with the salutary but not much followed example of a mere political removal without actually killing the man--and to be sure, OTL he didn't live out another decade and presumably if he can dance his way to keeping his position, the stress of the top job can only be guessed to kill him even sooner).

So if I had to bet money I'd have to bet that he is on the way out pretty much no matter what, and we'd be lucky if the outcome is as OTL with Brezhnev being put in as the figurehead of a truly collective and somewhat collegial Politburo.

Personally I would like to see him manage to stay in power, ideally on the assumption that just as JFK (and presumably LBJ, standing near the fire though not in it) was much sobered by the Cuban Missile Crisis, so Khrushchev also learned some hard lessons about being circumspect and meticulous. Presumably if NK can manage to recover his balance (and I have to assume he didn't realize how thin the political ice he had skated onto was, so this requires some ATL insight he lacked OTL) he has to do it with the help of allies he has to reach new understandings with--that is, the Politburo will indeed become more collective and less a one-man show no matter how the dust settles, with Khrushchev becoming consciously and somewhat painfully beholden to other top dogs in the Communist leadership he must act in accord with. (Maybe this will take some of the weight of responsibility that might otherwise shorten his life off, but vice versa he surely would be frustrated to have to get everything talked out and countersigned by his supporters. Just maybe perhaps he would at any rate be sobered into setting up clear lines of succession against the day he drops dead or has a stroke or something like that).

Still the way to bet is that it is too late for him to recover his own equilibrium, even on newly restricted terms--and indeed while for a decade or so he has in fact been the de facto Number One, all along since Stalin's death the Soviet leadership has been cautious not to let that power become irrevocable and unchecked.

So, one way or another, the Kremlin itself is in a tailspin and has been before the Day In Dallas.

And while OTL's outcome was not so great for long term survival of the USSR, in the shorter run of a generation or so, it definitely stabilized things and put the USSR on a more comfortable, complacent basis than it had ever seen in its history. Arguing for a path forward for the Soviet system to avoid its final breakdown as OTL is a bit controversial to say the least and quite problematic no matter how much enthusiasm one might muster. I refuse to totally throw in that towel but admit, it is a big ask and one that needs its own TL, not a side effect of one focused elsewhere--the way to bet is that OTL outcomes are about as good as it gets actually.

Kremlinologists up to speed might have a lot to say here and now about what the crapshoot odds are for the sort out in the Kremlin now, with this ATL wild toss thrown in.

I appreciate that no TL author can definitively state that there was in fact a KGB operation, mainstream orders or "rogue," since that would be playing around in the OTL conspiracy theory sandbox; this must remain obscure and speculative.

FWIW I personally would strongly doubt the agency would dare mess around like that nor be so disorganized as to allow some gang of hotshots to play with it off the books. The general track record of the Soviet form of authoritarianism was that they were risk averse--no move so drastic would be allowed without checks to bring approval or otherwise up to the highest authorities, nor would any of these be so gung-ho as to play with this kind of fire, not with these persons having some clue as to just how devastating a US nuclear strike would be. It would be one thing if Yankee arrogance were backing the Soviet empire into an existential corner, then there might be no telling what some people might do, even on their own authority and with deniability. But given that Kennedy had clearly opted for "live and let live," that Cuba remained uninvaded, that he clearly did not want a hot war in Europe if he could avoid it, that both he and the Soviet Premier had agreed that the number of US or Soviet cities they were prepared to see go up in a nuclear fireball was in fact zero--I don't think anyone no matter how dogmatically Bolshevik or just plain bloody-minded would intend an actual assassination to go forth. They might dream of it and even speak for it rhetorically to score ideological points for bulge in Politburo deliberations--but when push came to shove, even if gaining complete control of the machinery unchecked, such persons would think twice when it came to actually ordering it. These guys had barely survived the Great Patriotic War--confident they might be that the Communist system would be the one whose remnants survived to rule the ruins of the world, but they would not estimate the odds of their personal survival to be ones to call the shots over this post-apocalyptic mess all that high. Again, if they were desperate it might be one thing, but just sticking to playing cautious chess, these fellows were in a comfortable position, why set it on fire just yet? I think the evidence is that the Kremlin had long ago evolved checks on checks and the Soviet system favored central command and control and did nothing without intending it. The highest value was keeping control, and if that blunted their effectiveness, so be it. Hotheads would be watched and reined in.

So, if a political churning up of dirty laundry were to happen in Moscow, the honest evidence turned up would probably let the security men off the hook and if anything position them for a stronger voice in governing the Soviet system going forward--which is more or less what did happen OTL, and I've seen TLs that put these gray figures even more in charge, with ugly results even versus OTL for the system as a whole.

I suspect the likeliest upshot in Russia is something substantially similar to OTL, whether NK stays in the nominal Premier position or not--if he does so, it will be with clear and openly (though privately) given agreements to defer to the collective and do nothing without their prior approval, and that while certain factions will emerge as the most important, others will not be silenced (within the silent walls of Politburo chambers; to the outside world the whole gang is in perfect agreement of course). "Democratic Centralism" per Lenin in other words, only without the public aspect of laying out the losing as well as winning arguments for general consideration by Party members. It is a path toward risk-averse sure things and playing it safe, and sticking to the line that the Soviet system must inevitably catch up to and then surpass the capitalist anarchy in terms of material production and efficiency, and prevail by simply holding out and outlasting their rivals without any grandiose Napoleonic/Trotskyite crusades--just helping out this or that bunch of do-it-yourself local revolutionaries in places like North Vietnam or Ethiopia or Afghanistan, or Cuba of course, as opportunity presents, and just helping them hold out against inevitable capitalist punishment meted out to them, no sweeping Risk campaign of world conquest beyond the infallible words of Marx assuring them the capitalists cannot stand against their own working classes in the long run.

This was the comfortable groupthink, and some persons known as relative "firebrands" or "hardliners" were basically just on one end of a spectrum pushing for more proactivity in assisting do it yourself revolutionaries and in preparing the Worker's Motherland to survive the perhaps inevitable death throes of a senile but still well armed capitalist system in final panic. No doubt at least some Soviet high officials were somewhat cynical about Marxist-Leninism and just opportunistically cloaking ruder personal ambition, but my impression is that the system did tend to cultivate a certain degree of true belief to offset the grounds for gross cynicism all of them were aware of--subscribing to the belief that Leninist victory was founded in scientific inevitability would after all soothe many a conscience and ease any worries about the system evolving toward fulfillment of the promises in good time, once this terrible generation of global class war were survived, allowing the younger generations to settle into a true worker's state. By and by.
I wonder if more militant figures such as Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X will see more support from the African-American community than in OTL
Some enhancement of the rhetorical position of more radical Black Power advocates seems pretty close to inevitable with every month of delay. "Justice deferred is justice denied" after all.

But perhaps we should not underestimate the good that McCormick, and perhaps even a suitably sobered J Edgar Hoover, might do if the President does honor his off the record and informal word given King that the Feds will do what they can, within the limits of standing law, to enforce what rights African-Americans do currently enjoy on the books. If Hoover reverses his position and comes to see at least some segments of the AA community as genuine American citizens with rights to be protected, I suspect that even without the CRA enacted, serious progress in terms of formal representation and in legal precedent set for truly fair (or anyway less grossly unfair) legal proceedings can happen.

So, assuming the President is really willing to stick his neck out and that the top Federal cop can recognize the need to preserve what equality exists and that it needs to be extended at least somewhat to preserve a basis for order, we would have a countervailing ATL effect. Perhaps, when we consider the ease with which noble sounding words that would transform our world if only matched in deeds, can be ignored or even turned perversely against their intentions, as much good can be done in real life as was accomplished OtL by enshrining those words in law all too often evaded.

In terms of perception of course, it is the failure to pass CRA that is the ugly reality, and perhaps millions or tens or hundreds of millions of people better off due to more meticulous enforcement of the law as it stands might simply take that for granted and focus solely on the deferring of plain justice.

It might work out to be an old "grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" thing every AH should consider--the people of an ATL have no idea what bullets of OTL they have dodged. They judge their world by what they see, not by how much worse this or that might have been.
I wish I were currently up on my historic Kremlinology to remember how close this moment already is to the one where Khrushchev was removed from office OTL.
13 October 1964. The news broke in the UK on the afternoon of 15 October, while voting was taking place in a general election, which resulted in a change of government from Conservative to Labour. I wondered at the time how many people might have changed their votes if the news had come a day earlier - we all still remembered the Cuban Missile Crisis, and of course, JFK's assassination.
Chapter Five (contd.) Hoover Considers and Plans


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Dallas, Texas; F.B.I. Offices, 11:30 a.m. CST:

Back in Dallas J. Edgar Hoover considered the conversation he had just had with the Attorney General.

The praise he had received from Kennedy was both a morale boost and a warning for the head of the F.B.I.

There had been no love lost between the Kennedys and Hoover for the years that JFK had been in office. Hoover’s competence and – so it was rumored in some parts of Washington, the secret information he had on some members of the Kennedy family – was the main reason he had not been replaced.

President McCormack and Attorney General Kennedy wanted answers and at the present Hoover was the only one with the experience to be able to give them those answers.

But if he couldn’t deliver or slipped up in some way he would be replaced very quickly. Kennedy’s praise meant that if he succeeded this might mean a closer working relationship with the Attorney General for some of his projects. But there was a threat behind the praise. Fail and he would be out.

Hoover looked back at the file folders on the five DPD officers who had boarded Air Force One. In particular at two of them. True, they had already dismissed the idea that these two had any association with radical groups, (i.e., the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan) but that didn’t mean that these two had to know that.

Hoover touched a button on the intercom and moments later Gordon Shanklin and James Hosty entered his office. Hoover pushed the two folders he had been looking at to the two agents saying, “Let’s bring in these two again. Only this time let’s turn up the heat a bit. Make them think we’ve found something about their affiliations with these organizations and that we suspect they were working for them in some way. Don’t be too definite just hint at it. If they think they’re going to be charged with conspiracy and possibly treason, they might be willing to be more open and tell us what really happened.”

Both agents nodded and left to begin Hoover’s new approach. For Hoover, if this ploy worked, they might actually get the truth out of both men.
13 October 1964. The news broke in the UK on the afternoon of 15 October, while voting was taking place in a general election, which resulted in a change of government from Conservative to Labour. I wondered at the time how many people might have changed their votes if the news had come a day earlier - we all still remembered the Cuban Missile Crisis, and of course, JFK's assassination.
Well, a year out then. I suppose Khrushchev is probably circling the drain inevitably, and maybe that's for the best.

After all if UK voters a year hence might shift their votes toward the Tories, somewhat, if reminded of the Cuban mess--well, is it good or bad news to know the man who was most responsible for Soviet actions then is out?

More relevant to any ATL swinging of that 1964 election, not to mention changing the political landscape to the point that the vote of confidence leading to the general election might be accelerated, or postponed, or deferred for years, depending on the overall global situation the UK finds itself in in the ATL, what the USA does next probably matters a lot more to these swing voters.

In the USA Federal elections are fixed in stone on a schedule established in 1786, with states largely conforming to the 2 year even year election cycle--some like Virginia opt for elections in the odd years, for state offices, but even they stick to a 2 year tempo. In the UK on the other hand general elections emerge from the situation and there is no telling how much ATL American actions might change the timing of the eventual crisis in confidence leading to forming a new Parliament, let alone the issues at stake in that race.

It was good of you then to remind us that the political situation in Britain is sure to be affected, but only how it plays out month by month can tell us when the next general election is held.

For what it is worth, Labour's OTL win in the UK was matched within just weeks by LBJ winning a landslide victory in the USA--if the OTL Commons race was close it might be up in the air, but the way to bet is that the Tories are disadvantaged both by having held office a considerable time, with elections happening only if there is in fact a crisis in confidence at their expense, and the general observation that the mid-60s were a time when what we Americans call "liberal" polices were riding pretty high, by our own standards anyway. This might be reversed here, but not gently I think--it would be more a matter of strongly held progressive views confronting more openly and aggressively asserted right-wing ones versus the more consensual notion that steady progress was in fact the order of the day and the question was how much and how fast and by what means. Inciting reaction might take the form of successful obstruction, but not I think a broad democratically held conservative mood here.

Meanwhile, the eventual Amendment to reform the Presidential succession was part of a raft of major reforms, some legislated like the CRA, others being Amendments--granting the District of Columbia Presidential electoral votes for one, restricting "poll taxes" for another, and eventually another lowering the voting age to 18. Aside from Amendments that were successfully passed OTL we also had the attempt to pass the Equal Rights Amendment which was ultimately frustrated in the later '70s OTL, and some very serious proposals by both Republicans and Democrats to eliminate the Electoral Colleges system in favor of direct election of the President. In fact given the right political environment it is quite possible to pass Amendments, and I suspect that one possible outcome of reactionaries grandstanding on "principles" the majority of Americans come to find dubious in application might be to make the era a more sweeping one on the Amendment front. Meanwhile yet other major reforms in US political practices resulted from court rulings, and the same justices who passed those rulings are sitting on the bench here too.

If the USA is melting down and paralyzed in civil conflict, that will completely change the political picture in all western European nations, more or less, I suppose. Probably less so in France under DeGaulle, but the impact on British politics might be so great as to reformulate both the major two leading parties.

And of course if the USA is unstable instead of the OTL consensus, God knows what that does to the global economy outside the various Communist blocs, but presumably nothing good--the major center of both production and consumer marketing would be having trouble. Perhaps in the context of factors that made the 1960s a boom decade economically for First World nations anyway might allow a coordinated alliance of European powers, perhaps including Japan, maybe Singapore or Taiwan, along with the Commonwealth nations, to disentangle Yankee direction, but given that American institutions were put at the foundation of the postwar order it is hard to see how that can go smoothly even if the governments of the UK, France, West Germany, along with the smaller nations of Europe and so forth all see eye to eye. The nations outside the USA would do well to maintain their OTL market shares and so forth, let alone improve on them--and again, if they did improve on them versus OTL, they'd have no way to know that and judge any shortcomings against a more optimistic projection. The deep causes of OTL "stagflation" probably lurk to make crisis in the 1970s pretty nearly inevitable.

The Tories do have a long track record, in this period, of being the champions of Britain acting independently of the USA, while Labour hitherto has generally lined up with American policy; the latter going pear-shaped might be expected to hurt Labour at the polls--but perhaps this is precisely why both Conservative and Labour constituencies get turned topsy-turvy; such a crisis in America would be quite as epochial as the Depression or the world wars I would think.
Chapter Five (contd.) A Place Called Vietnam


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Washington, D.C.; The White House, The Oval Office, 4:30 p.m. EST:

In Washington President McCormack was meeting with Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and Secretary of State Dean Rusk. The two were giving President McCormack an overview of the hotspots throughout the world and U.S. policy regarding said hotspots. At present they were discussing Vietnam.

“The removal of Diem hasn’t helped to stabilize the situation in the South,” McNamara said. “The Viet Cong insurgency is still growing and being funded and supported by both the Soviets and North Vietnam. General Paul Harkens predicted we would have victory by Christmas. But I think at best that is a grossly optimistic statement.”

“I’m forced to agree,” replied President McCormack.

After a moment of collecting his thoughts, President McCormack continued. “Gentlemen based on what you are telling me and what I think I know of the mind of our late President regarding South Vietnam I believe it is not in this nation’s best interests to be sending any more troops than we already have to that nation. We are training their troops and aiding them in counter-guerilla operations to a limited extent. I would prefer we keep it to that level.”

“Which leads me to my next point,” continued McCormack. “A guerilla war won’t last if the guerillas run out of support from their sponsors. Now, we know that the Viet Cong are being supplied by both the Soviets and the North Vietnamese. My question is how do we starve these Viet Cong into submission without having to send in more troops?”

McNamara took the opportunity to offer an idea he had been mulling for a while.

“Mister President, when the Soviets set up those missiles in Cuba President Kennedy declared a naval blockade around that island. I am wondering now if we could do something like that to North Vietnam. Not just patrols but a full naval blockade to keep Soviet freighters and any other ships bearing arms or supplies for the Viet Cong out of their hands.”

“It’s a huge risk Robert,” said Dean Rusk frowning. “You’re assuming the Soviets will act the same way they did in the crisis last year and turn tail.”

Robert McNamara responded, “Yes Mister Secretary that is exactly what I think they will do. The Soviets may be heavily invested in Vietnam, but they were similarly invested in Cuba. When push came to shove, they pulled their forces back. I don’t think Khrushchev wants another confrontation so close to what happened last year. He knows now we won’t back down.”

Dean Rusk asked, “What about China? They’re also supplying the North Vietnamese. To be sure their relations aren’t as good as those the North has with the Soviets but still intelligence indicates more than $30 million dollars’ worth of arms have been sent to North Vietnam from China already.”

McNamara countered. “If we can cut off Soviet backing to North Vietnam that means that any supplies will have to be either flown in or sent overland across China, neither of which will be as effective as sea transport. While we won’t have stopped foreign involvement in South Vietnam will have put a big dent in it.”

Rusk didn’t like the idea of another possible U.S./Soviet confrontation so soon after the Cuban Missile Crisis but decided to hold that debate for another time.

President McCormack looked to Dean Rusk and asked, “Dean, this idea looks like a good stick we could use to get the North Vietnamese to come to the negotiating table. We wouldn’t have to substantially raise the number of troops in South Vietnam and if this works right, we have minimal casualties on both sides. If this does force the North to negotiations, we can offer them the same two-state solution we have on the Korean peninsula. We officially recognize them as a nation if and only if they agree to recognize their southern neighbor and withdraw all support for the Viet Cong.”

Rusk shook his head, “You’ll need to get the Chinese and the Soviet Union on board for that idea Mister President.”

President McCormack replied, “I think if the Soviets see we mean business they’ll accept the idea that half a cake is better than none. As for the Chinese, I think if the Soviets fold so will they. I don’t think Mao is ready for a confrontation with the West just yet.”

President McCormack continued, “Gentlemen this seems like a viable idea. I’d like you two to look further into it and see how soon we could implement this.”
Chapter Five (contd.) Jackie's Deposition


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In another part of the White House Bobby Kennedy was talking with Jacqueline Kennedy. With Bobby was a stenographer and a member of his office staff as a witness.

Bobby hated to have Jackie go back over the events of a week ago, even though she had already been interviewed by his people four times, but they now needed a formal statement/deposition. Bobby did not want Jackie to have to do this under the glare of media lights. She had been through too much already.

“All right Jackie let’s begin,” said Bobby.

For the formal disposition Bobby asked Jackie to give her full name, and all other related information. Then began the actual painful part. First Jackie was asked to recount the fatal motorcade and her memories of what happened; the sound of the shots, the President’s hands going to his throat, the fatal shot to the head, the mad drive to Parkland, the death watch, the efforts by Dr. Rose to block the casket from leaving the hospital, the return to Love Field.

“Once you arrived back at Love Field what happened,” Bobby asked?

“The Secret Agents hustled everyone on the plane. Then they brought Jack’s casket on board. They seemed in a great hurry to have us leave as soon as possible,” Jackie recalled.

“At that point Vice-President Johnson got into an argument with Kenneth O’Donnell and the rest of Jack’s staff. He wanted to take the oath of office before we took off. After a few minutes Ken gave in, and Johnson’s people began to look for a judge to give Johnson the oath of office.”

She continued. “We had to wait a half an hour before a judge was found and brought to the plane. After she came on board Johnson asked if I would stand with him when he took the oath and I reluctantly agreed.”

“Just as Judge Sarah was getting ready to administer the oath, we heard sirens off in the distance approaching the plane. The Secret Service said they were Dallas Police Department vehicles and wanted to remove the stairs from the entrance and close the hatch to prevent them from coming in but Johnson ordered them not to.”

“And then,” prompted Bobby?

“Five Dallas police officers and Dr. Rose came up the steps. They tried to come on board, but the Secret Service agents blocked them until Johnson invited Dr. Rose first and the other officers a few moments later.”

“Dr. Rose had a court order that he said gave him the right to remove Jack’s body from the plane for an autopsy according to Texas law. He was talking to O’Donnell and Johnson and then he saw me. He looked at me and told me that he was sorry if this was causing me needless emotional stress but promised that if the body were given to him now, he would finish the preliminary work and Jack’s body would be on its way back to Washington by midnight at the latest.”

Jackie continued, “At this point Ken O’Donnell said that Jack’s casket was leaving the plane ‘over his dead body.’ At that point he and Dr. Rose got into an argument that started getting louder and more heated. Then O’Donnell reached up and tried to push Dr Rose out the door of the plane and told the officers he wanted them out too.”

“One of the Secret Service agents at this point grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me back into the cabin area of the plane. I remember the arguments growing louder and heard Johnson entering the conversation apparently trying to calm things down.”

“Things got louder and more heated up front and then I heard someone yell ‘gun’. I heard three or four shots before a secret service man fell on me and covered me to protect me. By the time I got up I was being moved by two agents to the back of the plane for my protection. I didn’t see anything more until the ambulances arrived to take Johnson and the judge off. By that time Dr. Rose had also gotten the officers to take Jacks’ casket off. He didn’t say anything else to me as he did so.”

“And what happened then,” prompted Robert?

“Once it was clear that Jack’s body was being removed, I made it known I wasn’t leaving without Jack. At that point the Secret Service started making arrangements for me to stay in Dallas. I was taken to the hotel where Jack’s doctor insisted I take a sedative. I agreed and fell asleep for the rest of the night,” Jackie concluded.

Bobby nodded. Even as he was concluding the interview and deposition, he was concerned that once again Jackie’s testimony was not lining up with either the Dallas Police account of what happened nor with the secret service account. Someone was not telling the whole story, whether willfully or no had yet to be determined.
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Bobby nodded. Even as he was concluding the interview and deposition, he was concerned that once again Jackie’s testimony was not lining up with either the Dallas Police account of what happened nor with the secret service account. Someone was not telling the whole story, whether willfully or no had yet to be determined.

Remember kids! No matter what TV and movies try to teach you "eye witness" testimony is the LEAST credible type of evidence and investigators HATE to rely on it :)

So now you know....

I believe it is not in this nation’s best interests to be sending any more troops than we already have to that nation.
With the troubles expected by a delayed Civil Rights Act would it help if the lottery was played with to make sure lots of Southern white boys suddenly get a trip to Vietnam?

You've got a risk it brings them back as trained soldiers, but it might either broaden their horizons or be a one-way trip.
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Chapter Five (contd.) A Council of 'War' in Atlanta


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Atlanta, Georgia, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, 7:00 p.m. EST:

Martin Luther King, Jr. had called an impromptu meeting of the leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Council in his office at the church. He wanted to discuss the conversation he had earlier with President McCormack.

After summarizing the phone conversation with the President, Martin addressed the present problem. “So, right now, it is unlikely that there will be a passage of a Civil Rights Bill any time before next November gentlemen. I do not fault President McCormack for this. He is looking at the numbers as far as votes and does not think he has the votes needed to pass the bill at this time.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke up. “That assumes that the makeup of Congress and the presidency changes in a way that is beneficial to us come November ‘64. If the balance shifts in the wrong direction we might not have a chance for the bill to be passed until 1968, if ever.”

“And people won’t wait that long,” chimed in another member of the leadership council. “You’ve got Malcolm X practically demanding an uprising and there are others just as bad who are saying your nonviolent approach isn’t working. Martin it could be now or never.”

“I know,” responded Dr. King. “That is why I wanted to offer two ideas here.”

“First, I think we need to redouble our efforts to get our people registered for the November elections. And we need to get a solid system in place to get them to the polls on election day. Finally, we need to make sure the media is covering the polls in the south at some of these polling places so Americans can see what is happening here. If local polling stations are under scrutiny, they might be more likely to let our people in.”

One of the other leaders shook his head. “We could just be asking for trouble Martin. There are too many places I can think of where the mayors and governors would be more than willing to call out the local and state police as well as the National Guard to block entrance to the polling places.”

Jesse Jackson chimed in, “And there are some of our own people who might decide to force the issue with their own guns if they are stopped from entering. You’re going to have a lot of tension on both sides.”

“Which is why each of us must hammer home the idea that the gun is not the way to win this argument. Gentlemen we need to over and over stress the open hand not the closed fist,” responded Dr. King.

“In any case,” King continued, “I also have a second idea. I think we need a second march on Washington to occur before election day. I would suggest some time in either September or October of next year. I also want to suggest that we have a slogan for March on Washington II, namely, ‘We can’t wait.”

“We can’t wait, I Like that,” said Rev. Jackson.

“Gentlemen I devoutly hope and pray that neither of these two measures lead to further violence. But if violence does occur let it be in the open light of the media so that the nation can see what we live with on a regular basis,” concluded Dr. King.
Chapter Six and the Race is on


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Chapter Six: And the Race is on!​
Austin, Texas; The Governor’s Mansion, December 1, 1963; 8:00 a.m. CST:

Governor John Connelly reclined on the couch in his study enjoying his morning coffee and catching up on the daily news.

He had been discharged from Parkland Hospital the day before. John although still suffering from the pain of his injuries, given the circumstances he was glad to be alive.

Around Governor Connelly were several bouquets of flowers along with hundreds of cards and letters offering prayers for the Governor’s recovery.

For John Connelly the death of the President and Vice President had been bad enough. But the repercussions for the Democratic Party and the country were only now starting to become evident.

But right now, the Governor was considering a brewing potential disaster for the Democratic Party.

The Governor’s eyes were riveted on the headlines in the morning paper.


Kennedy and Lyndon’s bodies aren’t even cold in the grave yet and here is Wallace like a jackal staking out his candidacy, thought Connelly angrily.

Still, he couldn’t entirely blame Wallace.

With Kennedy gone and McCormack making it clear he would only serve out the remnant of Kennedy’s term, it was an open race now. It was only three months to the New Hampshire primaries and every Democrat who thought he had a snowball’s chance in hell would want to throw his hat in the ring.

But Wallace would be a complete and utter disaster if he became the Democratic candidate come next November. He’s a firebrand if there ever was one. We need a moderate in the running. Otherwise, we can kiss the White House goodbye and maybe both houses of Congress until ’68, maybe longer.

Connelly continued to consider the matter. R.F.K would be a good choice as a candidate but, there were two big problems. First, a perceived lack of experience that the Republicans would try to exploit and just as bad if not worse, the perception that a “Kennedy Dynasty” was being created. Both might seriously cripple any serious chances Bobby would have with the electorate.

John Connelly took a moment to look around at the boxes of get-well cards and letters. And it occurred to him, if he played this right, he did have the sympathy factor going for him now… He rang for one of his aides to join him. There was work to be done.
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I wouldn’t say Connally and LBJ were friends. At one point Connally took a job in Texas to deliberately get away from LBJ… following that Johnson was so fake-sad he talked Connally’s boss into sending the poor man straight back to DC and Johnson’s abuse.

This remains a great timeline :)
I wouldn’t say Connally and LBJ were friends. At one point Connally took a job in Texas to deliberately get away from LBJ… following that Johnson was so fake-sad he talked Connally’s boss into sending the poor man straight back to DC and Johnson’s abuse.

This remains a great timeline :)
This is the most LBJ anecdote I’ve heard in some time
Chapter Six (contd.) Wallace Plans


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Please note, that I have edited my previous post regarding Johnson and Connelly based on the comments above.

Montgomery, Alabama; Governor’s Mansion, 8:30 a.m. EST:

Governor George Wallace was also reading the headline in the morning paper as he sat in his study.

He had made the surprise announcement last night at a Democratic Fund Raiser. The reaction had almost literally brought the house down as shouts of affirmation and outright rebel yells filled the dining hall.

The race card was always a good one to play in the South. But that night, Wallace had toned back on that and spoke of the need for less interference by the federal government.

“The states in this Union have a God-given right to decide for themselves how they will deal with their local issues. They should not have those matters decided for them by Federal mandates and Federal troops!”

He knew he could not totally ignore the issue of race, so he had spoken of the desegregation issue.

“The principle of ‘separate but equal’ has worked well for almost 100 years now. I see no need to change it. I see no need to force little children from one school to attend another one against both their will and that of their parents.”

All of this had been thunderously and positively received by the local party leaders. But the presidential election was about more than the local party. Wallace was a veteran enough politician to know what flew with state leaders wouldn’t necessarily move the wider national electorate.

Instead, Wallace planned to campaign on a conservative agenda.

  • Increased Defense spending to bring an end to the so-called “missile gap”.
  • An emphasis on law and order especially with harsh sentences for those who fomented riots in U.S cities.
  • If vacancies occurred on the Supreme Court – as seemed likely – the appointing of judges who would put states’ rights first and foremost. In addition, appointing federal judges who also supported states’ rights.
  • And a conservative fiscal policy that would cut back on most federal spending.
So far, Wallace felt he had a good chance for a win in the Deep South, assuming no one else ran from that area. He could probably swing a few of the border states to his side as well. As for the northern states, the unions might hate him, but he felt he could reach the workers if he could convince them a Democrat could put more money back in their pockets then the unions took out.

Wallace was a realist; however, politics was a game part chess part dice. Even if he didn’t get the nomination, he could still have a voice. Depending on how well he did in the various primaries he could see being able to have a significant voice in writing the party platform come the Convention. Looking further, if he did get the nomination but lost the election, he might still have a voice depending on the margin by which he lost. Finally, if he didn’t get the nomination and the party refused to accept his proposals for the party platform, he could always run as a third-party candidate. Even if he didn’t win, if he carried the South the two major parties would have to listen to him depending upon how bad each one wanted to be president.

For Wallace, although it was not a sure bet, the odds looked so far in his favor.