A historian is casting doubt on one of the headlines about Senator Edward M. Kennedy's memoir -- that his brother Robert asked in a secret 1967 meeting then-President Lyndon B. Johnson to let him negotiate peace in Vietnam.
"He would shuttle back and forth between Washington and Saigon and would even travel to Hanoi and China if necessary — and Moscow — if Johnson would trust him to be the U.S. government’s agent in these secret negotiations," the late Massachusetts senator wrote in "True Compass."
But historian Jack Bohrer, who is working on a book about the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy and his aides, writes in an essay posted today on Politico that circumstantial evidence and an eyewitness account suggest that such an offer was never made.
"But a secret meeting never happened. Not in Kennedy’s book. Not in real life," Bohrer writes. "In fact, the meeting the late Sen. Kennedy refers to in his memoir has been well-known, practically since the moment it happened."
"What Ted Kennedy’s memoir does reveal are exciting new details of this meeting, but unfortunately, his account seems inaccurate, as well," the historian says.
Ted Kennedy's "telling is secondhand," Bohrer adds. "Of the four in attendance that day, only one is still with us. And upon hearing the details described in Ted Kennedy’s memoir, [Undersecretary of State Nicholas] Katzenbach says that at no point did Kennedy propose going abroad to personally serve as chief negotiator. Of course, Katzenbach concedes, the offer might have been made at some other time — just not at that meeting."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.