Texas Two-Step: Nixon nominates Connally as VP in 1973

April 18, 1974
Mr. Nixon's trouble can be traced to the fact that he hired so many Germans for his staff. What he should have done is hire some Japanese.
They're better at electronics; when they make a mistake they admit it; after they admit the mistake, they commit hara-kiri.

It appears that when John Connally signed on as VP, the fine print read that his duties included being a cabin attendant for the Titanic.

--Unknown

You tourists visiting D.C. should be careful when you take the White House tour. So much is swept under the rug that you might hit your head on the ceiling.

--Mark Russell


"From Studio 3K at Rockefeller Center, this is TODAY, with Barbara Walters.

Good morning, everyone. It is a sad day for all of us here at the TODAY Show. Last night, my friend and co-anchor, Frank McGee, died from cancer at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center here in New York at age 52. As you may well imagine, this was a shock to everyone at NBC News. Frank left here last Friday after the show and went to his doctor, not feeling well. We thought he would recover and return here, but instead, we lost him so quickly. Frank was a wonderful man whom we will all miss terribly. In the meantime, we will have other NBC News reporters fill in with me as we search for a replacement, but today, I will host the show alone. Frank McGee, dead today at 52. And now, the news.

This morning, the House of Representatives will conclude its floor debate on the article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. On April 5th, the House Judiciary Committee voted out a single article of impeachment with broad support, as half of the committee's Republicans joined the Democrats in passing the article. This is widely seen by political analysts to be a bad sign for the President, as it is almost certain to pass the House with a substantial majority. In the Senate, Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, a Democrat from Montana, has been conferring with Republican Minority Leader Hugh Scott with a trial to begin as early as Monday morning. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger has already announced that the Court will stand in early recess if an impeachment trial begins, with this year's slate of remaining decisions to be held over into the summer. This is a rare move for the Court, which typically concludes its term in early June, so it means that we will receive decisions in late July or early August, even, cutting short the vacation time for the justices before the new term begins in late September...."

John Connally sipped his coffee as Walters continued on with the news. He was in the office early, as he had been for the last two weeks. Much of the task of running the government had slowly fallen to him as President Nixon had sequestered himself away with his new attorney, the famed F. Lee Bailey. Bailey had successfully defended one of the charged officers in the My Lai massacre, Capt. Ernest Medina, three years before, a defense which had brought him to Nixon's attention. The President admired the hard-nosed tactics used by Bailey and the skill in which he used them. Fortunately for the President, Bailey had kept up with the news as it was happening, and was well prepared when Nixon summoned him to Washington on the 8th. Amongst his very first moves as Nixon's private attorney (the President, flinty with a dollar, had discovered how crucial the distinction was when Jaworski had gone to the Judiciary Committee after resigning) was to bring an ethics complaint before the Texas Bar Association regarding Jaworski's disclosure of privileged information to Congress. It was unlikely to succeed, given the circumstances, but it was a play that won Nixon's affection nonetheless. Bailey then followed up by filing a motion in district court with Judge Sirica for an injunction against the impeachment, stating that they were based on privileged information disclosed to Congress by the President's attorney, and therefore should be voided. Again, this motion was doomed before it was heard, but it demonstrated that F. Lee Bailey was not going to play nice with Congress. Jaworski had brought a white-glove approach to the members, which had won him admiration and, had the President not botched matters, might have saved him from being impeached. Now, burned by the gentlemanly Texan, Nixon had turned to the brass-knuckled brawler from Boston.

The Vice-President found it strange that Nixon remained so blind to certain matters. Despite his "betrayal" by Jaworski (engineered, in part, by the Veep), Nixon still looked at Connally and saw nothing but loyalty and brains. His admiration was such that he had, without much thought, ceded decisions on most administrative matters. A meeting with supervisory personnel in the Old Executive Office Building was held, where Chief of Staff Al Haig directed that all items requiring a decision by the President would be brought to Haig. This was not committed to paper for fear of making the President look week, though. Haig would then meet with Connally. The VP would decide a course of action, and each decision was then typed up onto a sheet with YES and NO checkboxes for Nixon's review at the end of the day. Nixon would go through and check the boxes to approve, but his trust in Connally was so complete that he had rarely used the NO option. Richard M. Nixon might be what the signatures read, but the decisions bore the imprimatur of John B. Connally. The sharper minds amongst the denizens of the capital realized this was the case, and the whispers began spreading at those parties held by "the Georgetown set," the hated liberals that Nixon and Spiro Agnew had maligned for years whom resided in the city on a permanent basis. Eventually, as all things did, because of his proximity, Ben Bradlee at the Washington Post heard the whispers, and set his newly-minted Pulitzer Prize winner David Broder on the story, with an assist from the respected Haynes Johnson. Just as the reporting by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on Watergate had led to them being known as "Woodstein," so Broder and Johnson's partnership created the moniker "Bronson" amongst the wags in the newsroom (Death Wish, the vigilante thriller starring Charles Bronson, was set to be released in three months, adding an extra layer of humor to the joke, since Broder and Johnson were amongst the least threatening people at the Post).

Over on the Hill, the impeachment debate was moving along towards its conclusion rather quietly. Tuesday, the opening day for debate, had began with a certain level of Sturm und Drang from the louder Nixon defenders in the House, but as time marched on, the winds were obvious to all. Impeachment would pass, and it would pass definitively. With the vote tally becoming inevitable, the volume and tone diminished, the Nixon defenders grew ever more somber, the pleas for mercy they gave more resigned. The backbenchers from the strongest Nixon districts continued to make the case, almost in defense of their own seats instead of the President, while the centrists began yielding their time. At this point, the only surprise left was how large the tally would be. Reporters congregating in the halls were taking and placing bets on the over/under--the wire guys were conservative in their bets, while print reporters from the big papers like the Times (New York and Los Angeles both), the Baltimore Sun, and the Chicago Tribune were more cynical in their outlook and expected a stampede of members who could see how badly the transcripts had played across the country. In early afternoon, as a large number of members yielded their time, the scheduled vote time moved up. As he'd requested, the final Republican voice to speak was Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford. The man who'd been passed up for Vice President had anguished over this decision, and it was part of why he'd asked to go last. Members filed back into the chamber to hear this respected leader speak, and what transpired would become one of those moments where everyone claimed to have been there to see it.

"Mr. Speaker, I thank you for agreeing to my request to be the last of my colleagues to speak. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as leader of the House Republicans these past few years. It has been an honor and a privilege to be a friend of the President of these United States, Richard Milhous Nixon. However, as any true friend would do, I will speak truth, even though it is probably unwanted. I cannot defend the actions of the President, nor the callous, thoughtless words spoken on his surreptitious tape recording system. I cannot defend the decisions made by my friend, Richard Nixon, who wantonly disregarded the laws of this great land for his political gain. I am shocked and saddened by what I have read in the transcripts from the taping system, and by the decisions that the President chose to make. I felt equally as strong about the disclosure by Leon Jaworski to the chair of the Judiciary Committee, my friend Pete Rodino. I have heard members use violent language in this chamber against Mr. Jaworski, and I want it to be known that he is a patriot. He swore an oath as a government attorney, and he fulfilled that oath to the letter. Attorney-client privilege does not apply when you work in the government, because the client is not the President, it is the people. The people of the United States are the true power of our land. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, "a government's power is derived from the consent of the governed." I wish the President had heeded that mantra that built the foundation of laws upon which America stands, instead of fulfilling the one that states, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Unfortunately in America, since the time of World War II, we have vested too much power into the presidency, and we have seen it used wisely by men like Dwight Eisenhower and poorly by men like Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. The President is my friend. I am telling him the truth in the hopes that he will make the right decision now. I am telling my fellow members of this House the truth, in the hopes that they too will make the right decision as we vote. This is not about party or personal loyalty. This is about living up to our stated principles, that we are a nation of laws, not of men, and that we listen to the voices of whom we govern and act as they have made loud and clear through the record amount of telegrams and phone calls we have received here in Congress. This is a sad day for me. It truly breaks my heart that we are here, having this debate. However, I have a duty and a responsibility, based on the evidence, to vote yes on this article of impeachment. Mr. Speaker, I yield the floor."

The gallery, which had listened with bated breath, burst into a standing ovation for Ford. Albert tried to stop it from the chair after a minute by repeatedly banging the gavel, but the din was simply too great, and the Speaker could not be heard. It was as if Ford had expressed how everyone in America felt, Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, and the dam of emotion burst forth, taking several minutes to subside. Ford had been known for his malapropisms with language, but the speech he'd just given would be lauded as one of the defining moments of American political life. The vote was called at 2:17 pm, and members were by and large already in the chamber ready to vote. Ford's speech did not do Richard Nixon any favors, and had the decided effect of creating substantial defection amongst east coast and midwest Republicans to the YEAs. When the vote concluded at 2:35pm (held open for a few extra moments because of a temporary glitch with the electronic voting system), the tally was 301-133 (one seat being vacant). The second impeachment of a President in American history had occurred, and it was a landslide defeat for a man whom a mere eighteen months prior had won the largest landslide victory in American history. Writers struggled for metaphors to describe it, although the best analogy came from Jerald terHorst, the longtime Detroit News Washington correspondent, who wrote, "With today's impeachment, Richard Nixon represented no one else so much as he did Icarus, a man who, like Nixon, ignored warnings of hubris, flew too close to the sun and fell quickly without grace. There is no person in American history whom we can say the same about."
 
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#BBJ_FTW

Also:


Someone may have decided that if he can't be Speaker, he might take a Michigander at the '76 primaries...


Also too: Gerry and Big Bad John Connally may well have been the best-dressed men in Washington during the execrable fashions of the first half of the Seventies. The ex-male model Ford always remained a bit of a clothes horse, one of his few vanities. And he could pull off the look.
 
#BBJ_FTW

Also:


Someone may have decided that if he can't be Speaker, he might take a Michigander at the '76 primaries...


Also too: Gerry and Big Bad John Connally may well have been the best-dressed men in Washington during the execrable fashions of the first half of the Seventies. The ex-male model Ford always remained a bit of a clothes horse, one of his few vanities. And he could pull off the look.
First half? Try ALL OF IT.

images.jpeg
1970s-jumpsuits.jpg


I would've hung myself, and then pulled out a gun and shot myself in the face for good measure if I was caught in one of those jumpsuits.
 
...
I would've hung myself, and then pulled out a gun and shot myself in the face for good measure if I was caught in one of those jumpsuits.
Thats why the proto Grunge look was so popular with the rest of us back then. flannel shirts, denim work trousers, sock cap, work coat. Just be careful you don't overdo its and get pegged as a Lumbersexual https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Lumbersexual

A not-so-manly man dressing like a lumberjack (although a lot more refined) and sporting a beard that has the volume of a lumberjacks beard and the groom of a hipster, cashing in on the "rugged, outdoor stereotype".
Aside from the Disco look & associated couture there was the look associated with white middle class men known as Cleveland Formal. Polyester shirt with colorful pattern, polyester trousers in white or a solid color, white shoes, often with a wicker vent on the top, often with a buckled strap instead of laces. Elevated heels of raised platform soles optional.
 
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Hello readers!

I hope you haven't forgotten about this story. The last few months have been difficult for a number of personal and professional reasons, and the only ideas I had were for my other story.

That being said, I'm ready to move forward now, so keep an eye on this space, because Big John, Tricky Dick, and Moral Compass Jaworski will be back SOON.
 
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