232. Editorial Note
President Johnson remained concerned over what he perceived as a connection between the South Vietnamese Government and Republican Party operatives. In a telephone conversation with Senator George Smathers on November 23, 1968, President Johnson stated: “This bunch of fools that moved in and got South Vietnam not to go to the conference because of Nixon, they just screwed up everything, and it’s taken us 3 or 4 weeks. And I didn’t expose it because I just couldn’t use those sources and I didn’t want to make it impossible for him to govern. I think if I had’ve said to the country and exposed this, brought it out, I think it would’ve shocked the country so that he would’ve been seriously hurt. So I just told you, and he told Dirksen, and got it kind of back on the track again. But that damned woman is still messing around, causing trouble, that Mrs. Chennault.” (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Smathers, November 23, 1968, 1:08 p.m., Tape F6811.05, PNO 9-10)
In a telephone conversation with Senator Everett Dirksen the following day, Johnson noted: “We’re making some progress on the South Vietnamese thing. We haven’t got it quite back where we had it in October. But we’re hoping in the next day or two to do it. Your performance was A-plus. We read you loud and clear. Your speaking for both Presidents prompted action and as a matter of fact, they not only got their dispatches out rather quickly and rather alarmingly, but you cleaned up a big mess for your party that would’ve been a national scandal. And I think it put Dick [Nixon] in a lot better position than some of his other people put him in. I don’t think he knew too much about it, but they had been playing with it some. Bui Diem was impressed enough that he went on out there himself—the Ambassador—and he has been there personally pulling it through every day and just working like a dog and I think largely because you impressed him. And I think—I just thank God that Congress is not in session now, because if Fulbright and Mansfield and them started working on him for not going to the table, we’d be in a hell of a shape.” (Ibid., Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Dirksen, November 24, 1968, 9:36 a.m., Tape F6811.05, PNO 17) Both transcripts prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.