On The White House Watch
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other secrets, Dallek learned that during the bitter 1968 Nixon-Humphrey
presidential campaign, Johnson had bugs planted in the planes of
Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, as well as in the American embassy
in Saigon. In the course of his spying, Johnson discovered that
a key member of Nixon's campaign committee had secretly approached
the Saigon government, urging them not to reach an agreement with
the North Vietnamese because, if elected, Nixon would cut them a
better deal. LBJ and his aides "were furious that the Nixon people
were screwing up the peace negotiations," says Dallek. "They fully
believed that if Nixon won the election, he would come to office
under a cloud of treason."
of this second LBJ volume has brought with it some unexpected ethical
dilemmas. Following the publication of Lone Star Rising, Dallek
received a letter from Lady Bird Johnson, whom he'd interviewed
while researching the book. "It was a very brief note thanking me
for trying to be fair," he says. The historian has since developed
an acquaintance with the former First Lady and with several prominent
Johnson associates, including former Press Secretary George Christian
and former National Security Adviser Walt R. Rostow.
dismisses the idea that this might present a conflict of interest
and compromise the objectivity of his book. "Look," he explains,
"it's my job to reconstruct this story as accurately and fairly
as I can. I can't bend reality to accommodate friend or foe.
have to be a pretty compulsive character," Dallek says of being
a biographer. "I think all scholars have an obsessive quality to
them. You come to understand why, in the Middle Ages, this work
was done by monks." !
writer Mona Gable's last story for UCLA Magazine, "Save the Children,"
was on the Medical Center's efforts to combat child abuse.