The best thing that ever happened for American history were those tapes, both Nixon's and LBJ's. In a way it's unfortunate no subsequent president has had a taping system in the White House. When you hear these tapes, it's like being a fly on the wall, being a witness to history. What has been released so far is just incredible.
A few of those infamous Chennaultgate tapes have also been uploaded on YouTube as well as at the LBJ Library. Here is the infamous "This is Treason" phone call by Johnson to Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen:
Of course Dirksen told Nixon about LBJ's concerns, and then Nixon talked to LBJ, lying his ass off like he didn't know about this, and oh, how terrible it was, and how he support LBJ's efforts to bring about peace in Southeast Asia, and other such things that made the Old Nixon the Nixon we who lived through the time loved to loathe so much. After all, there never was a "new Nixon"; even if he had been cloned, it would still be the Old Nixon no matter what.
Tricky Dick on the phone with LBJ. Of course LBJ KNEW Nixon was up to his shifty eyeballs in the scheme, but he played along with him:
Chennaultgate wasn't Watergate, but instead it complemented it while both insulted the law, the American people, and American history. This country has never recovered from the trauma resulting from both the Vietnam War and Watergate. What I say about both scandals is that Chennaultgate was Nixon's way to guarantee his election, while Watergate--especially the break-in and the "dirty tricks" operation knocking out the strongest Democratic candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination against Nixon in 1972--ensured his re-election. Vietnam was the dark undercurrent beneath both scandals, as we now know.
Both were heinous, downright EVIL, because countless people died solely because of one person's political ambitions.
It's also clear if it wasn't before that Nixon was psychologically unfit to be president. Yes, he did do many good things as president that would be considered liberal today, but in the end it just doesn't matter at all. He had a dark side to him, an utterly vindictive streak, to lash out at others no matter what the cost. He demanded loyalty from people who were basically decent people to commit crimes on his behalf while Nixon pretended to be above the fray. He can never get out of the cellar of the worst U.S. presidents. With more and more of the tapes and classified documents being available to historians, Nixon is destined to return to the bottom of the presidential pantheon, even below Buchanan and Harding.
Yet another commentary about Chennaultgate, Watergate, and Ken Hughes's new book is here:
There was one last twist to the story, playing out the day before the election. The Christian Science Monitor’s Saigon correspondent Beverly Deepe filed a story based on her local sources describing the Republican gambit to prevent the peace talks. In Washington, the Monitor’s Saville Davis ran Deepe’s information past Bui Diem, who denied it, and then past the White House.
President Johnson considered confirming the story but consulted with several of his top advisers – national security adviser Walt Rostow, Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Defense Secretary Clark Clifford – who all urged him to stay silent. Clifford warned that if the story was published and Nixon still won, Nixon might be unable to lead the country. With the White House declining comment, the Monitor decided not to go with Deepe’s scoop.
Humphrey ended up losing the election by less than one point in the popular vote, leaving history to ponder the painful question of whether the disclosure of Nixon’s operation might have cost him the election and brought the war to an end years earlier saving countless lives.
Lots of "what ifs" there.