The Mafia-Watergate-Assassination-Vietnam Connection (June 2005)
A bit of speculative history. Although it is unlikely to ever be definitively proven, there is some evidence that voter fraud in Illinois and Texas gave John F. Kennedy the slim margins needed to win the 1960 presidential election. Other evidence suggests Kennedy won fair and square, but what is known is that the Mafia claimed to have influenced the vote in Cook County (Chicago) in Kennedy's favor. In Texas, Lyndon Johnson's political machine was known to be as corrupt as the day is long (see Robert Caro's definitive account of how Johnson won elections: Means of Ascent.)
Whether the Mob manufactured the 10,000 votes needed to ice Kennedy's win (by a paper-thin 9,000 votes) in Illinois or not, the perception they did certainly colored Nixon's and the Republican Party's view of how to win elections.
The Mafia-Watergate Connection works like this: losing the election to Joe Kennedy's Mob connections in 1960 embittered Nixon to "playing fair," and so Watergate (such an inept series of bungles--he shoulda hired the Mob, like the Kennedys did) resulted less from the need to massage the election (he was leading McGovern by a huge margin at the time) than from this dark bitterness.
That's a little too tidy for my taste--he didn't get the nickname "Tricky Dick" for nothing--and so the more intriguing connection is between the Mob and Kennedy's assassination in 1963. The story there is that the Mob reckoned their "assistance" in 1960 earned them a free ride, but instead new Attorney General Robert Kennedy went after OC (Organized Crime) in a bulldog fashion, royally angering the Mob Bosses. Their eventual response: tie up with rightist Cubans infuriated by Kennedy's failure to support the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba to murder the President.
Understandably, various mobster's talk of "whacking the president" can be ascribed to self-preening, but the scenario does provide a compelling motivation--and motivation, even in the "Oswald was the lone assassin" theory, has always been the weakest link in any assassination story.
So where does all this lead? Let's suppose that all that talk by Joe Kennedy and the mobsters and LBJ's confederates is largely true, and the election was thrown to Kennedy by the same untraceable voter frauds which operatives in Chicago and Texas had long mastered. Let's suppose for a moment that fraud had failed, and Nixon had won the election.
Although we can never know what Nixon's exact policy decisions might have been, we can safely predict the master strategist would never have supported the Bay of Pigs invasion (he was far too canny for that kind of embarrassing mis-step). We can also predict that the Soviets would never have tried placing missiles in Cuba either, knowing full well that Nixon was no pushover.
Judging by Nixon's "triangulation" policies in the 70s, playing China off the Soviet Union, and his decision to bomb Hanoi into submission in December 1972 (which worked as planned--they submitted once their Soviet-supplied surface-to-sir missiles ran out), we can also predict that he would never have pursued Johnson's doomed expansion of the war in Vietnam. Again, he just wasn't that dumb; whatever his faults, he played confidently on the largest chessboard, while Johnson and his hacks stood nervously over their checkers game of domestic politics.
Domestically, Nixon was above all a pragmatist, pursuing policies which would have been considered enlightened in a Democrat (such as block grants) or even high-handed Federalist intervention (wage and price controls). The fate of civil rights legislation in his hands cannot be predicted, but his record during 1968-1974 suggests less a hide-bound conservative than a pragmatist.
What if Nixon had won in 1960? No Cuban Missile Crisis, no assassination of the President, no Vietnam, no Watergate--and probably a Democratic victory in 1968. You really have to wonder if the Democrats' machinations in 1960 created a dark karma which led the nation down a needlessly bitter pathway to assassination and Vietnam. It's something to ponder.
The voter fraud of 1960 may even have set in motion pieces which clicked into place forty years later in 2000, when Republicans, recalling its efficacy in 1960, borrowed the "how to steal elections" playbook, and nudged another close election in their favor. Revenge, even two generations later, must be sweet indeed.
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copyright © 2005 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
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