341. Editorial Note

At 11:15 a.m. on August 27, 1968, President Johnson received a telephone call from Senator Everett Dirksen. Subsequent to discussion of the President’s health and the Democratic National Convention, the following conversation ensued:

Dirksen: Are you any closer to going out there to that convention?

“President: No, no. I haven’t made any plans to go and rather doubt that I will. I don’t know. I might change my mind, but I haven’t made any plans to go and I don’t know what I can contribute. I think they’ll have a big knock-down drag-out with the pacifists and the fellows that Hanoi has been working on. But it looks like the vote has been pretty good. They took Kennedy and McCarthy and McGovern, and they wrapped all their doves together, and they couldn’t get but 30 votes.

Dirksen: What’s the late word from Paris?

“President: Nothing. They’re waiting to see if they can have a better deal with anybody that they select. They know that they can’t get a better one from me. They know they can’t get a better one from Nixon. So they’re trying to play this other side. I can tell you this—this would ruin us if it got out, but to show you their attitude—the Pope sent his man over and he came to the Ranch and he wanted to propose that he go from Bogota to Hanoi and then to Saigon and that he would say to them that we would stop the bombing if they would do certain things. We told him that we’d be enthusiastically for his doing that and that we’d do anything that was reasonable. See, he was very pleased, and went back. The next—a few days ago, he came and said that they wouldn’t let him into Hanoi—they just told him to go to hell. At the proper time, I think, after we get the conventions out of the way, he might let that leak out. It would be a mistake if he didn’t—if he did—if we did, but I think that that pretty well reflects their present attitude. They’re hoping that somebody that’ll insist on a coalition government or somebody that’ll insist on stopping the bombing.”

The President then urged Dirksen to “let out” word of the government’s estimate that infiltration would increase five-fold if the bombing halted. Discussion of other political issues followed. (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Dirksen, August 27, 1968, 11:15 a.m., Tape F6808.02, PNO 7; this transcript prepared specifically for this volume in the Office of the Historian)