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

You ask: Who are your candidates for the next Secretary of State?

The most important element in the answer is: with whom will you feel most comfortable?

The Secretary of State must be the most sensitive instrument of the President’s interests and policy, plus all the other things he must be. All other considerations should be subordinated to your personal feeling in the matter: choosing a Secretary of State is a little like getting married.

Having said that, my first choice would be the team of:

  • Secretary: McNamara
  • Under Secretary: Clark Clifford

The job of Secretary of State is now so exhausting, it should be thought of as a team.

Alternatively, of course, Clark Clifford could be a great Secretary of State. He would need a tremendous work-horse as Under Secretary. My choice would be: Cyrus Vance, in that case.

Although he probably would not accept the job, I think Mac Bundy would be an excellent Under Secretary of State under a strong boss. From a quarter-century of knowing Mac-and liking him-I cannot yet recommend him as a Secretary of State.

Douglas Dillon would be my third choice for Secretary.

A fourth candidate crossed my mind-no more than that-Senator Gale McGhee. He has shown guts on Vietnam. He is articulate. But I simply do not know enough of his real fiber to judge whether he belongs on the list or not.

Although you probably can’t spare him, Bill Moyers should be considered as Under Secretary with McNamara, Clifford, or Dillon.

If I have any further thoughts, I shall forward them.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Office of the President File, Walt Rostow. Secret; Eyes Only.