WI: Oswald gets translator job in ‘62, JFK serves through Jan. 20, 1969

I mainly want to focus on JFK:

Vietnam about the same: Kennedy gave the green light to the ‘63 coup against Diem, which resulted in Diem being killed. And Kennedy basically felt he had stabbed someone in the back whom he personally knew. He’s not going to downshift Vietnam in importance after this.

Civil rights goes better: And paradoxically, precisely because we don’t get a public accommodations bill in ‘64, we do get a Voting Rights Act in ‘65 which is much more widely accepted, including during the less dynamic economy of the 1970s. The Selma marches in the Spring of ‘65 led to more newspaper editorials and speeches in Congress than had the Birmingham marches a year earlier. Voting rights is just a lot harder for people to argue against. And let’s assune we get public accommodations, fair housing, and affirmative action in ‘66, ‘67, and ‘68. That is, during the go-go economy of the 1960s, and that does make a difference! :)

The weird and hard to predict: The scandal about Pres. Kennedy’s sexual affairs and Bobby Kennedy trying to bully newspaper editors not to cover it. Also, earlier and more widespread public knowledge of how medication can sometimes affect one’s mental health.
 
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“ . . Martin Luther King, Jr. launched a voter registration drive in Selma, Alabama, in early 1965. . ”

Actually, it was a whole team effort with MLK as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and plus a local group who had invited them in.

Part of the Selma protests was to line up in your Sunday best outside the county courthouse in order to register to vote. And then there were the marches on March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday,” March 9 “Turnaround Tuesday,” and March 21 when a federal judge (not a state judge) I think lifted an injunction he himself had put on marching.

The history of the Civil Rights movement tends to be told through sound bytes and maybe Selma doesn’t have super memorable ones. And the bad guy was Sheriff Jim Clark, which is rather a plain, boring name.
 
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This is clever alternate history in which Kennedy survives an assassination attempt. But then has to fight for his presidency during the second term as a result of affairs, and especially cover-up of same, including destroying Oval Office audio tapes.

* I personally have Lee Harvey Oswald not becoming an assassin at all.

Open Timeline: Feel free to jump in. Please share some of your favorite ideas 🕵️‍♀️, and if it comes down to it, I enjoy multiple possibilities dancing within the same thread. :cool:
 
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Ahhhhhhh. I love JFK Lives threads. They show how pliable the Sixties were and how much change the country went through in that decade. This is my prediction for the Sixties in a JFK Lives scenario.

Vietnam
- Following Viet Cong attacks on Camp Galloway, President Kennedy signs the Pleiku Resolution of 1965, increasing America's direct role in the war in Vietnam.
- Operation Rolling Thunder is launched in early April of 1965.
- General Westmoreland's initial requests for 175,000 men in the first big build up is fought down to 80,000. The President also decides to embrace the Marine Corps' Inkblot Strategy of "hold-and-secure" rather then Westmoreland's preferred strategy of "search-and-destroy." In this "inkblot" approach, U.S. forces would help train local governments and militias and would only use force against the Viet Cong where they manifested themselves. When Westmoreland complains following the Battle of Ia Drang, Kennedy sacks him in favour of General Creighton Abrams.
- In 1967, there is another troop surge of 100,000 men. By January 1968, there are around 180,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam, the highest level in the war so far. This is surge labelled by Secretary of Defense Robert Kennedy as part of a "go-long" policy.

(I know people are going to disagree with me but I don't see Kennedy pulling the plug on Vietnam. By 1963 (or even 1962 if you go with Oswald getting the translator job), the war was going to happen. That said I think Kennedy's conduct of the war would be very different to Johnson's. For starters, Johnson raised the number of draft call ups to shore up U.S. Army numbers in Vietnam. Kennedy wouldn't need to do that, seeing as there are 320,000 less U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968 then there were in OTL. This is important as the raise of draft call-ups led to the exacerbation of the anti-war movement in OTL. Less troops = less draft call ups = smaller anti-war movement. I think Vietnam in this TL would be seen more like Korea or Afghanistan, an unpopular war but not one that is being protested on the streets.)

Foreign Affairs
- Following his re-election, President Kennedy worked very hard to further the policy of detente and to limit nuclear proliferation. In 1967, Kennedy signs the Outer Space Test Ban Treaty, preventing nuclear testing in space. Following this, he also signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, limiting further nuclear testing.
- The same year as the Outer Space Ban Treaty, President Kennedy makes his historic visit to Cuba and normalizes relations with the Castroite regime. Whilst it is a major achievement, Republicans use this as a way to attack Kennedy for being weak on Communism

New Frontier
- Shortly before the 1964 election, President Kennedy passes the Tax Revenue Act of 1964, aiding his campaign for re-election. However, in order to do this, he has to promise Harry Byrd that he'll take CRA off the table for a year.
- In 1965, with Harry Byrd now retired and with a renewed mandate to govern, Kennedy manages to get the Civil Rights Act of 1965 through Congress. He also manages to pass the Food Stamps Act of 1965, creating SNAP.
- In 1966, Kennedy signs the Social Security Amendments of 1966. This creates the new entitlements of Medicare and Medicaid (ensuring that the indigent and elderly can get affordable healthcare). However, Kennedy's proposed Voting Rights and Immigration and Nationality bills die on the House floor.
- In 1967, Kennedy pushes through the last major accomplishment of his Presidency, the ESEA of 1967, ensuring federal aid to education.
- All throughout this time, the New Frontier has seen an increase in funding for existing federal anti-poverty programs.

(Contrary to your above statements, I think Civil Rights would be tougher in a Kennedy Lives scenario, especially since JFK was not a Southerner like LBJ. I do think we'd see an omnibus CRA passed during his Presidency but I think it would come at the expense of the Voting Rights Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 due to the fact that Kennedy would've expended all of his political power in that realm of American life. That said, I do think Kennedy would be able to get the big programs he proposed through Congress (i.e. ESEA, CRA, and Medicare-Medicaid). Also there wouldn't be as big a War on Poverty. LBJ was raised dirt poor in Texas and was a solid New Dealer. JFK was a millionaire's son and thought FDR was overhyped. Their approaches and views towards the role the government should play were very different from one another.)
 
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The weird and hard to predict: The scandal about Pres. Kennedy’s sexual affairs and Bobby Kennedy trying to bully newspaper editors not to cover it. Also, earlier and more widespread public knowledge of how medication can sometimes affect one’s mental health.
I'm gonna quote Emperor Norton on this one:

Kennedy is only the adulterer president in the popular imagination because he was the first one people found out about in the biography circa 1969. Lyndon Johnson was as prolific a womanizer. Nelson Rockefeller divorced his wife for his mistress, and died in 1979 during coitus with another mistress. An investigation into an East German spy ring in Washington being run out of a brothel stalled because everyone in a suit and tie in the city had used its services. Men in power in that era screwed around, very, very prolifically. And Kennedy is nothing unique in that regard. This was also an era where the media did not report on that (for reasons of common decency and for access).
 
(I know people are going to disagree with me but I don't see Kennedy pulling the plug on Vietnam. By 1963 (or even 1962 if you go with Oswald getting the translator job), the war was going to happen. That said I think Kennedy's conduct of the war would be very different to Johnson's. For starters, Johnson raised the number of draft call ups to shore up U.S. Army numbers in Vietnam. Kennedy wouldn't need to do that, seeing as there are 320,000 less U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968 then there were in OTL. This is important as the raise of draft call-ups led to the exacerbation of the anti-war movement in OTL. Less troops = less draft call ups = smaller anti-war movement. I think Vietnam in this TL would be seen more like Korea or Afghanistan, an unpopular war but not one that is being protested on the streets)

(Contrary to your above statements, I think Civil Rights would be tougher in a Kennedy Lives scenario, especially since JFK was not a Southerner like LBJ. I do think we'd see an omnibus CRA passed during his Presidency but I think it would come at the expense of the Voting Rights Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 due to the fact that Kennedy would've expended all of his political power in that realm of American life. That said, I do think Kennedy would be able to get the big programs he proposed through Congress (i.e. ESEA, CRA, and Medicare-Medicaid). Also there wouldn't be as big a War on Poverty. LBJ was a solid New Dealer and was raised dirt poor in Texas. JFK was a millionaire's son and thought FDR was overhyped. Their approaches and views towards the role the government should play were very different from one another.)
I've read many biographies, which are obviously just opinion pieces largely, but the most well researched ones have a consensus very similar to this. Still just opinions of course, but I'm inclined to agree.
1960 was incredibly close and 1964 a landslide in part because of the "awkwardness in opposing the slain President's policies." LBJ is made out to be some sort of legislative wizard, but it wouldve been a MUCH harder road to get civil rights accomplished. (ATL idea: JFK survives Dallas 63 only to be assassinated Memphis 68)

In addition, this response confirms what Robert MacNamara has speculated about the Vietnam war. Serving as secretary of state to kennedy and Johnson, he asserts that Kennedy had already signed orders which would reduce direct American involvement and reverse the slow move toward "Americanization of the war." According to MacNamara it was only due to JFKs assassination that the about face on Vietnam took place. The new orders had been signed October 8, 1963.

Of course, JFK will not pull out of Vietnam - he felt he could not afford to be soft on communism, and was being blamed by many for the loss of Cuba.

I guess that's why this idea will forever be popular, because there are so many ways things could be different.
 
Vietnam still happens but civil rights don't happen until sometime after 1969 if they do happen at all since we're talking JFK and not OTL's situation of a martyred JFK being able to be used by LBJ to get it through.
 
Vietnam:

The force went up to approx 12.000 from under 1,000 between JFK's inauguration in early (March?) 1961 and his assassination in 1963. How do you square that with the "Kennedy wanted out" belief? He sent most of them there, he also increased costs by for example replacing the WWII half-tracks with M-113 APC's and a bigger airforce and Americans to fly them because the trainee pilots couldn't/were not trusted to... All in a little over two years. That large an increase in the size, cost and aggressiveness of MACV in such a short time, followed by deciding to reduce the commitment to me would indicate a serious mental swing/medication-induced problem.

It is my understanding that JFK's increase in the size of the commitment was THE critical factor. The US advisors under Eisenhower had been limited to the number that could be evacuated in the ship kept in Saigon harbour, fueled, provisioned, and ready to go on 24 hours notice. Kennedy increased this to 12,000 which made a quick evacuation much harder and MORE VISIBLE.

US personnel could have been evacuated with less effect on ARVN morale under Eisenhower. There were comparatively few of them and the soldiers in the field were not encountering them. Them flying out to Saigon and getting on a ship would not cause an immediate collapse in morale that having the much larger and more visible force under JFK try to do it. It is my understanding that Eisenhower deliberately kept the troop levels down at least partly for this reason.

JFK's mental state, and the effects of his medication on it, has to be taken into account in any 'Kennedy Lives' scenario. Would the Cuban Missile Crisis have gone differently if someone who was not on those drugs had been in charge? I don't know, but we have had timelines on the subject I believe. The possibility exists that some other issue that did not become a major crisis would have with Jack in charge, and Vietnam have happened anyway but in Lebanon or something. Or God help us the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
 
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. . . In 1965, with Harry Byrd now retired and with a renewed mandate to govern, Kennedy manages to get the Civil Rights Act of 1965 through Congress. . .

. . . In 1966, . . . . . However, Kennedy's proposed Voting Rights and Immigration and Nationality bills die on the House floor. . .
. . . and 1964 a landslide in part because of the "awkwardness in opposing the slain President's policies." LBJ is made out to be some sort of legislative wizard, but it wouldve been a MUCH harder road to get civil rights accomplished. . .
. . . civil rights don't happen until sometime after 1969 if they do happen at all since we're talking JFK and not OTL's situation of a martyred JFK being able to be used by LBJ to get it through.
I’m positing that the Voting Rights Act goes through in 1965 for two reasons:

1) the fact that the Civil Rights Act fails in the Summer of 1964, convinces a lot of supporters to redouble their efforts, and

2) the activism and marches in Selma grabs the attention of a lot of members of the general public. In response to the ‘63 March on Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., had said we subpoenaed the conscience of the nation. That was even more true regarding Selma.

And furthermore, if we get Voting Rights first, there’s a lot less opposition to Civil Rights in general. You don’t have the argument, you’re telling a business owner how to run their business, well, if you’re offering services to the general public, I think you should do so fairly . . . . . We establish more of a baseline of equality before we get into all that.
 
‘ . . . One by one, teachers sign a pledge that they will go together to the courthouse and attempt to register as a group.

‘Friday, January 22 [1965], is the day. After school they gather at Clark Elementary School in their Sunday best — the women in hats, gloves, and high-heels, the men in somber suits. . . ’

‘ . . . Solemnly, silently, 110 of them — almost every Black teacher in Selma — march to the courthouse in small groups as required by Baker. . . ’

‘ . . . they walk two-by-two up the steps of the Alabama Avenue entrance. They will not go into the back alley; they will enter by the front or not at all. As each group arrives, the line snaking down the street grows longer. School Superintendent J.A. Pickard, and Edgar Stewart the School Board president (and a former FBI agent) confront them — the Registrar's is office closed, their request to register after class is denied. Go home.
We refused to move. After one minute or so the sheriff took it upon himself to move us. He drew back and began jabbing me and Durgan in the stomach. The deputies immediately imitated the sheriff's behavior. They began jabbing other teachers and wildly pushing us down the concrete steps. . . ’
‘ . . . With help from SCLC field secretary "Big Lester" Hankerson, Reese reforms the line and leads them back up the steps to the doors. Again the cops drive them down. Again they reform and rise up to the doors that are barred against them.

‘Clark threatens to arrest them all, but wiser heads prevail. The Circuit Solicitor pulls him inside and can be seen through the glass speaking urgently to him. Until now, only a few hundred Black students have participated in the protests, but if the Black teachers are all in jail, come Monday there could be thousands in the streets. Clark orders the teachers shoved back down the steps a third time. This time, Reese and SCLC leader Andrew Young decide the point has been made. Instead of trying again, the teachers march in their small groups back to Brown Chapel where a throng of their students wait to greet them.
‘Most of us had viewed the educators as stodgy old people, classic examples of true "Uncle Toms." But that wasn't the opinion that day. I looked about me and saw scores of other children running about the [Carver Housing Project] shouting the news that Mr. Somebody or Old Mrs. Somebody was marching. Could you believe it?

‘Some little boys came running down the street yelling that they were coming back. Me and Rachel [West] went into the church which was packed with people. We waited and when the teachers began coming in everybody in there just stood up and applauded. Then somebody started to sing ... first one song and then another, as they walked in. And they were all smiling; kids were shaking hands with their teachers and hugging them. I had never seen anything like that before ...

‘Some of the women teachers were crying, they were so elated. Mrs. Bright spotted me, and rushed forward, hugging me. She appeared to be in a mood of triumph. She laughed, she wiped at her eyes, she hugged me again. I remember she said something about her feet being tired, and I said, "You did real good.
" — Sheyann Webb. [9] . . . ’
The Teachers’ March was not at the very beginning of Selma, but was toward the beginning.

Selma, Alabama, is hugely important in the history of Civil Rights, and is curiously kind of down-shifted in our modern eyes, even with the attention paid to “Bloody Sunday”, March 7, 1965.
 
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Vietnam:

The force went up to approx 12.000 from under 1,000 between JFK's inauguration in early (March?) 1961 and his assassination in 1963. How do you square that with the "Kennedy wanted out" belief? He sent most of them there, he also increased costs by for example replacing the WWII half-tracks with M-113 APC's and a bigger airforce and Americans to fly them because the trainee pilots couldn't/were not trusted to...
I rather agree with you. Kennedy is not likely to wind down Vietnam.

About the most we can optimistically hope is that the North Vietnamese will agree to some sort of coalition government, but they were pretty hard-core, too. Their plan was not to defeat the U.S., but to simply outlast us.
 
I rather agree with you. Kennedy is not likely to wind down Vietnam.

About the most we can optimistically hope is that the North Vietnamese will agree to some sort of coalition government, but they were pretty hard-core, too. Their plan was not to defeat the U.S., but to simply outlast us.
I've tried going through this thread and finding where someone suggested that JFK would wind down or leave Vietnam, and I cant find it. So I'm thinking maybe one of my earlier comments was misconstrued?
Yes the troop counts went from 1,000 to 12,000 on the ground under JFK. But he didnt "send most of them there", under LBJ that number rose to 320,000.
According to the man who served as Secretary of State to both, the "Americanization" of the war, as in, increasing the number of American troops on the ground in Vietnam, was over BEFORE Kennedy was killed and intensified under LBJ.
There is more than one way to fight a war, and Kennedy had no intention of losing Vietnam. But he also wasnt going to draft half a million college students and send them into the jungle.

By the time of his assassination, he had established a pattern of listening to his military advisers, then reversing his decision when their advice proved to be faulty (in his opinion). MacNamara suggests he was growing impatient at this point, and was planning on intensifying the bombing on Vietnam but refusing to commit more troops and limiting the numbers there.

I hope this conveys that my understanding is that JFK had a different idea of how to fight the war, and not that he was going to pull out (I specifically said "of course he will not pull out of Vietnam.")
***
As for voting rights, I think you're correct that will pass first if Kennedy lives. I do think that he and LBJ could get them both passed by the end of two terms, just that it will be a dogfight.
 
There is more than one way to fight a war, and Kennedy had no intention of losing Vietnam. But he also wasnt going to draft half a million college students and send them into the jungle.
Indeed. I also think this would have a BIG effect on the counterculture of the 1960s. Hippies rode the anti-war movement to prominence IOTL. In a TL where Vietnam was less prominent, I don't think the hippies would be as noticeable. Don't get me wrong, they'd still be there, hippy culture evolved out of the beatniks of the Fifties, but it'd be much smaller and much more confined. I think sexual mores and fashion going into the Seventies would be much more conservative. It'd probably be something along the lines of what happened in England IOTL. Change IS happening, but the establishment is definitely still in control.
 
Indeed. I also think this would have a BIG effect on the counterculture of the 1960s. Hippies rode the anti-war movement to prominence IOTL. In a TL where Vietnam was less prominent, I don't think the hippies would be as noticeable. Don't get me wrong, they'd still be there, hippy culture evolved out of the beatniks of the Fifties, but it'd be much smaller and much more confined. I think sexual mores and fashion going into the Seventies would be much more conservative. It'd probably be something along the lines of what happened in England IOTL. Change IS happening, but the establishment is definitely still in control.
And because of the huge influx of draft dodgers into Canada, potentially marijuana isnt legal yet if JFK lives. Huh.
 
And because of the huge influx of draft dodgers into Canada, potentially marijuana isnt legal yet if JFK lives. Huh.
Oddly enough.
I've also read theories that drug culture might have been completely different if it weren't for Vietnam. Hippies not rising to prominence forestalls psychedelia. Popular drugs before LSD and la lechuga del diablo were amphetamines, so that would probably have been the drug of choice in a JFK Lives TL.
 
Oddly enough.
I've also read theories that drug culture might have been completely different if it weren't for Vietnam. Hippies not rising to prominence forestalls psychedelia. Popular drugs before LSD and la lechuga del diablo were amphetamines, so that would probably have been the drug of choice in a JFK Lives TL.
Yeah I've read that 'bong' is from the Vietnamese bhang. Thinking about this further, the draft had an impact on immigration to Canada and the USA during the time it was around. Quality of life was definitely higher in the USA, especially for skilled or educated workers, but anecdotally I know of many people who were offered jobs in the USA but didnt take them for fear of their children being drafted. And of course, lots of the 'dodgers' stayed. And fewer young Americans deaths would have demographic impacts down the line...

But I digress OP requested we focus on JFK. Sorry.
 
Oddly enough.
I've also read theories that drug culture might have been completely different if it weren't for Vietnam. Hippies not rising to prominence forestalls psychedelia. Popular drugs before LSD and la lechuga del diablo were amphetamines, so that would probably have been the drug of choice in a JFK Lives TL.
Conversley, the association of LSD etc. with a prominent anti-war hippy movement helped taint them and led to harsher restrictions, even on scientific testing. I doubt you'll be buying psychadelic mushrooms in a pharmacy by 1980 but more open testing and research may reduce demonisation and lead to more liberal laws, if only medically rather than recreationally.

One interesting WI is Kennedy prior to his assassination was mulling over a joint mission to the moon, apparently discussing it with Khrushchev. Perhaps not very likely but would certainly make for a historic image, an astronaut and a cosmonaut shaking hands on the lunar surface.

On Vietnam - JFK was certainly less gung-ho than LBJ but its an issue that gets caught up in Kennedy hagiography. As the OP said, JFK was responsible for the Diem coup which helped destabilise South Vietnam. As the 1960s go on, Kennedy will certainly escalate. Fewer draftees, fewer casualties but cultural effects on not measured in raw data alone, it will still be a TV war for the American public with easily 150,000+ US troops. Then there's the matter of if a smarter but smaller strategy would lead to a victory? An intractable war is still an intractable war and 30,000 dead rather than 60,000 won't stop a passionate anti-war movement, even if its not as totemic as OTL.

How does the Vice President fare under a two-term JFK? They weren't exactly buddies. What are the chances of Kennedy picking a new VP candidate in '64? I've heard it was considered but to me it seems to create more problems than it solves. For one, Johnson's institutional muscle would help an alt-CRA.
 
How does the Vice President fare under a two-term JFK? They weren't exactly buddies. What are the chances of Kennedy picking a new VP candidate in '64? I've heard it was considered but to me it seems to create more problems than it solves. For one, Johnson's institutional muscle would help an alt-CRA.
A great question. I really wonder how inclined LBJ would be to help Kennedy if he is dropped in 1964. I think he has to stay on the ticket, if he wants to. His health was in pretty bad shape by 1968 - but being President for 5 years will accelerate this I think. Does he think he's healthy enough to run for President in 1968 if JFK lives?
 
I've tried going through this thread and finding where someone suggested that JFK would wind down or leave Vietnam, and I cant find it. So I'm thinking maybe one of my earlier comments was misconstrued?
Most of all, the conventional “wisdom” is that Kennedy would wind down Vietnam. People want to believe that.

So, if you say anything even partially in that direction, people are likely to full-fledged read it that way. And you said something above that Kennedy had signed orders which would reduce direct American involvement.
 
Most of all, the conventional “wisdom” is that Kennedy would wind down Vietnam. People want to believe that.

So, if you say anything even partially in that direction, people are likely to full-fledged read it that way. And you said something above that Kennedy had signed orders which would reduce direct American involvement.
That's what I figured, so I wanted to clarify that. I believe Kennedy escalating is in his second term is more likely than him withdrawing. What he signed into orders before he capped NDD means nothing, especially after re-election.
 
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