Thursday, September 6, 2012
the last book I ever read (Katharine Graham's Personal History, excerpt six)
from Personal History by Katharine Graham:
Unbeknownst to Phil at the time, the previous afternoon Kennedy had formally offered the vice-presidency to Symington through Clark Clifford. After conferring with his wife and two sons, who were opposed to the idea, Symington told Clark to accept, but added presciently, “I bet you a hundred dollars that no matter what he says, Jack will not make me his running mate. He will have to pick Lyndon.” Clark called Kennedy back and accepted for Symington.
Early Thursday morning, Kennedy called Johnson, waking him up and making an appointment to see him a little later. At that meeting he offered him the vice-presidency—both because he thought he had to and because he thought that Johnson would not accept. Kennedy went back to his headquarters and, according to Arthur Schlesinger in Robert Kennedy and His Times, told Bobby, “You just won’t believe it. He wants it.” Phil had been right. Johnson would indeed accept.
Everyone around the Kennedys, especially those connected with the labor movement, was upset. Apparently, they all spent much of the day thinking how they could undo what they had done. Bobby went down to see Lyndon twice, once to feel him out and the second time to tell him that there was going to be a lot of opposition, that it was going to be unpleasant, and to offer him instead the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.