Tricky Dick’s Treason

The most interesting political story of the week takes us back some 45 years and involves the most evil man ever elected President, Richard Milhous Nixon:

It begins in the summer of 1968. Nixon feared a breakthrough
at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to
the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign. He
therefore set up a clandestine back-channel involving Anna Chennault, a
senior campaign adviser. At a July meeting in Nixon’s New York
apartment, the South Vietnamese ambassador was told Chennault
represented Nixon and spoke for the campaign. If any message needed to
be passed to the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, it would
come via Chennault. In late October 1968 there were major concessions
from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in
Paris – concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete
bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared. The
Paris peace talks may have ended years earlier, if it had not been for
Nixon’s subterfuge.

Chennault was despatched to the South Vietnamese embassy
with a clear message: the South Vietnamese government should withdraw
from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected,
they would get a much better deal. So on the eve of his planned
announcement of a halt to the bombing, Johnson learned the South
Vietnamese were pulling out. He was also told why. The FBI had bugged
the ambassador’s phone and a transcripts of Anna Chennault’s calls were
sent to the White House. In one conversation she tells the ambassador to
“just hang on through election”. Johnson was told by Defence Secretary
Clifford that the interference was illegal and threatened the chance for
peace.

This story essentially *confirms*
what has been known for 45 years, that the Nixon forces knowingly messed with
the peace process and that LBJ and J Edgar Heehaw caught them in the act. I
first read about the Chennault intervention in Teddy White’s The Making Of
The President, 1968.
White, however, dismissed the idea that Nixon knew
about this as being preposterous instead of what it really was: in character.
White was so taken in by the so-called New Nixon that his 1972 book-the last in
the series-was a paean to how much the Trickster had grown in office. White’s
reputation as a campaign chronicler and historian never recovered from
Watergate, which is a pity: the first book in the series about 1960 is a bona
fide classic.

What this story is *not* is either surprising
or a revelation, which was how Rachel Maddow treated it on her teevee show this
evening. I rarely find much to criticize in her reporting or analysis but
history is not her strong suit. Plus, it’s a better cable news story if you can
be outraged or shocked by something that for Tricky Dick was just another day
at the office.

We’ve had other Presidents who have
lied and done terrible things but he’s the one *purely* evil person to serve as
the Oval One. In short, nothing that Richard Nixon did should ever shock
anyone. When he had the power to destroy people, he enjoyed wielding it. The
only one close to the Trickster as an evil doer was Dick Cheney. His putative boss
was a dunce who was a mere naïf in contrast to Nixon even though he did every
bit as much damage to the country during his misrule.

Back to the BBC story. It confirms
what LBJ hinted at to many people before his death in 1972: he knew what Nixon
was up to but he couldn’t call him on it publicly. Why? The feebs had an
illegal wiretap on the Vietnamese embassy. Moreover, LBJ was discredited in
1968 after having told too many whoppers about Vietnam to retain any
credibility on that subject. Live by the lie, die by the lie. BUT unlike Nixon,
Johnson was an incredibly complex man of great virtues along with great
defects. At the risk of sounding like Howlin’ Wolf, Nixon was just “evil. Evil is goin’ on wrong.”

It was significant that the man LBJ
was speaking to on the recently released Tricky Dick treason tape was his
mentor, Senator Richard Russell of Georgia. There have been other
Johnson-Russell tapes whereon they discussed their belief that Vietnam was
unwinnable as early as 1964, before the big escalation. That was Johnson’s
original sin but he did try to stop the war on the Thursday before the 1968 election.
This was another bit that good old Doc Maddow didn’t get quite right. Johnson
didn’t announce “peace was at hand” in a speech that evening, he
announced a bombing halt and that, “promising negotiations” with the
North Vietnamese were about to resume. That’s what Anna Chennault helped
torpedo that night: a chance, not a certainty. I do, however, think it would
have led to a deal: they were same terms that won Kissinger and Le Duc Tho the
Nobel Peace Prize. The latter at least had the decency not to accept the prize.
Kissinger, like his master, was shameless.

The one delicious piece of irony to
this sordid tale is that the South Vietnamese pulled the same crap on Tricky
that they had on Johnson. His reaction was to bomb the living shit out of Hanoi,
then betray the South Vietnamese, and exit under a sulphurous cloud of lies and
smoke. That was our boy Tricky Dick, bitter and evil to the bitter end.

I’ll let the aforementioned Howlin’
Wolf have the last word:

6 thoughts on “Tricky Dick’s Treason

  1. joel hanes says:

    Iran-Contra was a far worse crime than Watergate.
    Cheney is a more evil man than Nixon ever was.

  2. MichaelF says:

    Meanwhile, lunatic Republican (but I repeat myself) Louie Gohmert insisted at CPAC that the Vietnam war was “winnable,” though minus his participation, despite his eligilibity for service.

  3. W Slifko says:

    Tad bit of a stretch stating that Nixon was the “most evil man ever elected president”. He was just caught being evil. I wouldn’t hesitate to put him down the list below dubya. Bush is stupid, yes, but in his case being purposefully stupid led us into a war that expanded from a single country into a regional catastrophe. That not being good enough, his administration and policies led the world to financial ruin and weakened the ability of the people and their governments not only to fix the problems but to in many cases even address the problems without fear of personal repercussions. Nevertheless, Nixon was truly an evil man.

  4. I wonder how many more years we will have to wait for the confirmation that Saint Ronnie and his goons also committed treason in Paris, 1980 to seal the deal with the mullahs? I believe Poppy Bush was most certainly involved in that escapade – one that led directly to Iran-Contra.
    When known law-breakers are not brought before the courts & juries to account for their outrageous criminality – especially int he name of security and secrecy – the whirlwind we all reap is so much more painful. Re-living the “imperial” presidency or th “unitary executive”? Remember these Vietnam and Iran treasons. Re-living the “financial meltdown”? Remember how many fraudsters from Wall St are being tried? Or even investigated? Oh yeah. That many.
    What are the Citizens going to do about it? Yawn and fill out their NCAA (another opportunistic monopoly) brackets!
    RP

  5. Aaaargh says:

    Kind of like George HW Bush and the October Surprise making sure the hostages stayed hostages till the inauguration. But Dick Cheney was the most evil President by far.

  6. adrastos says:

    One reason my money is on Tricky as the most evil Prez is that he’s responsible for the nasty, ugly, shitty mess that is our current political system. He brought the Dixiecrats into the Republican where they have been nurtured and pandered instead of isolated by the national party. Nixon also managed to survive the doom of Tailgunner Joe whilst keeping his ism alive and well. Nixon poisoned our politics and set the table for all the things y’all mentioned in your comments.

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