Ted Kennedy’s Book Tells of Secret RFK-LBJ Meeting

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Kennedy at the 1980 Democratic National Convention.
Kennedy at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. Photo: Getty Images

When the New York Times obtained a copy of the late Ted Kennedy's memoir, they skimmed it for new revelations. There wasn't a lot — though there was a lot of surprising candidness about the "terrible decisions" he'd made in the moments after he crashed his car into a lake on Chappaquiddick Island, and passenger Mary Jo Kopechne was left dead. It "haunts me every day of my life," he wrote. He also was open about his regret for some of his more famous drinking incidents, including the one where he got toasted with nephew William Kennedy Smith, after which the latter was accused of raping a young woman.

Revelations from the book, however, included insight on a secret spring 1967 meeting that went down between Kennedy's brother Robert and sitting president Lyndon B. Johnson:

[RFK's] increasingly outspoken criticism of the war in Southeast Asia was becoming a political threat to Johnson. According to the book, Robert Kennedy proposed that Johnson give him authority to personally negotiate a peace treaty in Vietnam. This implicitly would have kept Robert from running for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination, a prospect that worried Johnson. "If the president had accepted his offer," the book said, "Bobby certainly would have been too immersed in the peace process to become involved in a presidential primary." But Johnson could not take the offer at face value, concerned that Kennedy had ulterior motives, the senator wrote.


Imagine what might have been different had Robert Kennedy been sent by LBJ to broker peace in Vietnam as early as 1967 ...

Kennedy Memoir Doesn't Ignore Lows [NYT]