408. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

I had a long talk with Joe Sisco who gave me, I am sure, as honest a picture as he could of Amb. Goldberg’s mind and feelings.

Amb. Goldberg stepped down from the Supreme Court and remains conscious of the height he had achieved in our society.
Like his predecessors, he did not, at the beginning, understand the extent to which the job in New York is and must be limited in its authority and, ultimately, subordinated to the Secretary of State. He has come to understand the inherent limitations of the post.
On the other hand, he is intensely loyal to you personally and to the Administration. He does not wish to take any action which would hurt us between now and 1968. Sisco tells me that he put the question directly to Sisco who told him flatly: You cannot leave the Administration before 1968.
Goldberg has been searching for a way to leave his post with appropriate dignity: he inquires as to the successor to Mr. Justice Clark. He asks whether Phil Jessup’s post on the International Court of Justice at The Hague may soon be vacant.
Sisco’s view is the key to keeping him at his post for a while is his trip to Saigon. He has been pressing to make a speech to the Constituent Assembly.2 He does not want a trip in which he “simply reviews the troops.” Bill Bundy and others find some difficulty in having an American Ambassador talk directly to the Constituent Assembly; but they are working on other ways to give him something dramatic to do on the civil side, if he goes to Saigon; for example, speak at the American University with members of the Constituent Assembly present. I suggested some other ways to associate him with constructive civil enterprises in a dramatic way when he is in Viet Nam. The issue will be coming soon to Secretary Rusk.
Sisco said that he believes his greatest possible service to you and the Administration will be to give us a warning if Arthur’s mood gets desperate and he comes close to a decision. I told him to stay close to Arthur; let us know how it goes; and suggest as many ways as he can of letting him feel he is in on the substance of policy.

I will try to have him over for an early lunch here when he is in town.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Name File, Rostow Memos. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. For text of the speech, delivered February 10, see Department of State Bulletin, February 27, 1967, pp. 310–316. The Constituent Assembly was elected on September 11, 1966, to draft a new constitution to provide for the re-establishment of an elected government in South Vietnam. The new constitution was promulgated April 1, 1967, and took effect on May 1.