Lyndon Johnson and McGeorge Bundy on 30 July 1965


Transcript

Edited by David G. Coleman and Marc J. Selverstone, with Kieran Matthews

Recording starts after conversation has begun.
McGeorge Bundy

[unclear]. I can't tell you how contrary it is to my own view of any kind of responsibility in this sort of thing. And I don't really think that—I think they could write a million words, and even supposing they got something that hurt, nobody'd pay any attention to it. Dean Rusk is a bigger man today than before that [Arthur] Schlesinger [Jr.] thing came out in Life, and it's going to be like that with that kind of book. You just don't have to lose any sleep over it.[note 1] Life magazine was in the midst of publishing excerpts from A Thousand Days, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s book on President John F. Kennedy. The excerpts ran as a three-part series, with newsstand dates of 16 July, 23 July, and 30 July. Bundy's comment about Rusk is in reference to Schlesinger's claim that Kennedy would have replaced Rusk as secretary of state were he to have been elected to a second four-year term.

President Johnson

I think that's right. I think that's right. But I think it—we'll have to if they keep up, sometime, kind of—have some other author do the thing for—

Bundy

And you're going to have to write your story of your own—on your—but it's—write it right, and I would not get into a . . . skunk match with these people. I just—it's not worth it.

President Johnson

All right. Now—

Bundy

And I like them both, but I think they have both—

President Johnson

I do, too.

Bundy

—done something unforgivable.

President Johnson

I think that’s right. OK, now, got anything else?

Bundy

That's all I've got for now. I want to mention the name of this guy—because there is a color to him—that's going to Paris, and it's [Ed] Gullion. Remember, he—

President Johnson

Yeah, I saw that. Fred told me some time ago.[note 2] President Johnson may be referring to Frederick G. Dutton, who had been assistant secretary of state for congressional relations from 1961 to 1964, and who served as deputy national chairman of the 1964 Johnson presidential campaign.

Bundy

Yeah.

President Johnson

Somebody outlined that he might be.

Bundy

He's got the French [President Johnson acknowledges], and he's got the experience, and he's totally deniable.

President Johnson

Yeah. And he's got bad character, though. I don't like—

Bundy

Well, he did a damn fool thing, Mr. President. I don't know whether it's really a bad character. He certainly couldn't stay in the [foreign] service.

President Johnson

A man won't file an income tax for five years, there's something wrong with him. I [unclear].

Bundy

No, I agree to that. I agree to that.

President Johnson

But that's that, so let's [Bundy acknowledges] think, though, of the next best one. Let's think about when they say "no" there, what we do—

Bundy

Yeah. Do we want it going on, and going on, and going on.

President Johnson

Yes. I sure do. And I want some ideas and plans coming out of there, too.

Bundy

Right.

President Johnson

And I want you to try to get some loyalty in the State Department. I want to go over and see the assistant secretaries. I want you to work on Bill [Bundy] to use his personal influence with [the] assistant secretary and people over there to be loyal to Johnson and quit slashing us and saying we don't know about foreign affairs, and these underlings doing it, and find out who they are [and] get rid of them. If my own superintendents can't get rid of them, I got to get new superintendents. [Bundy acknowledges.] So I want these [John] Leddys and other people to try to see that we have a . . . team spirit over there, and I want you to work on that a little bit.[note 3] John Marshall Leddy was assistant secretary of state for European affairs.

Bundy

Yes, sir.

President Johnson

All right.

Bundy

Right.

Cite as

“Lyndon Johnson and McGeorge Bundy on 30 July 1965,” Conversation WH6507-09-8414, Presidential Recordings Digital Edition [Lyndon B. Johnson: Civil Rights, Vietnam, and the War on Poverty, ed. David G. Coleman, Kent B. Germany, Guian A. McKee, and Marc J. Selverstone] (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014–). URL: http://prde.upress.virginia.edu/conversations/4002539