Richard Nixon remains for me the great evil specter of American politics of the 20th Century. (Of course, in limiting my statement to the 20th Century, I reserve a special place to put George the Second, especially as we acknowledge the 10th anniversary of our excellent adventure in Iraq.)
Today, the great Charlie Pearce (and if you are not reading him you need to start now) notes that BBC had a story this weekend that no one in our "elite media" has picked up.
Here is the URL to the BBC story. The title says it all "The Lyndon Johnson tapes: Richard Nixon's 'treason'.
More after the fold.
Here the key paragraphs from the BBC story.
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.And here is how the Johnson administration found out about why the South Vietnamese pulled out.
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 US delegation, left, and North Vietnamese delegation at Paris peace talks 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.Charlie Pearce makes much of the good things said at the funeral of Nixon, even by Clinton. I remember that Bob Dole cried.
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 [sic] Secretary Clifford that the interference was illegal and threatened the chance for peace.
In one call to Senator Richard Russell he says: "We have found that our friend, the Republican nominee, our California friend, has been playing on the outskirts with our enemies and our friends both, he has been doing it through rather subterranean sources. Mrs Chennault is warning the South Vietnamese not to get pulled into this Johnson move."
Mark Anthony was clearly wrong. We don't intern the good with those who have died. We only remember the good; it is their evil that is interned, so we can forget what truly evil son of a bitches they are.
I have never been able to do that with Richard Nixon. And, this is one more reason.