153. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1


  • A Deputy or Potential Successor in my Office

Some weeks ago you asked me who should take over if, for any reason, I were no longer on this job, and I told you I had thought some about it. Since then I have thought some more, and I think I have some good suggestions.

The ideal man for this job is Bill Moyers. I do not know what his plans and yours may be, but I do know that he has an abiding interest and talent for foreign affairs. I believe that he would be extremely good at this job, and I think he would like it. Obviously he could not be spared at once from where he is, but if an assignment in this job were to keep him at your side longer than he might otherwise be willing to stay, it would be well worth considering.
Another possibility is Abram Chayes. He performed with great brilliance as Legal Adviser in the Department of State, and in the process he won the unreserved confidence of Dean Rusk, who had little or nothing to do with his initial appointment.
A third possibility is Tom Hughes, whom I have mentioned before. He is currently the head of Intelligence in the State Department, and I continue to be deeply impressed by the range and fairness of his mind. Like Moyers and Chayes, he would have an instinctive understanding for the requirement that the man in this job must protect the President’s right to hear both sides of the hard cases. If and when you get the State Department organized to your satisfaction, the main function of this office should be just such careful review, rather than the initiation or monitoring of operational policy.2

If you were to think well of the possibility that Moyers might move in here sometime, that would be my first preference. If not, I would like to think in terms of persuading Chayes or Hughes—or some third party [Page 358] that would suit you—to come in as Deputy in this office with a prospect of succession as and when a vacancy occurs. I have no present intention of quitting, but I doubt very much that it would be in your interest for me to go on here until 1973.

McG. B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President-McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 8. Confidential.
  2. During a telephone conversation with Ball that began at 5:25 p.m. on February 7, the President said that “Bundy’s department should not replace the State Department. He [President] has a little feeling about the White House running Defense or State. The boss must say no when he feels no but Valenti should not be telling Harriman to be jumping the hoop. They are not over them but with them.” (Memorandum of conversation, February 7; ibid., Ball Papers)