How Dirksen lobbied on behalf of Jack McCain

A series of documents show the influential Illinois senator pushing LBJ hard for a promotion for John McCain's father, Adm. John "Jack" McCain Jr.

By Tom Brune
Published October 29, 2008 10:28AM (EDT)

John McCain's father had a good friend in Sen. Everett Dirksen, R.-Ill. Over a period of several years, as shown in the documents below, Dirksen lobbied President Lyndon Johnson repeatedly for a promotion for Adm. McCain. In the first letter reprinted here, from May 1965 on this page, President Johnson assures Dirksen that he has spoken to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on behalf of Adm. "Jack" McCain. The second document shows Dirksen teasing McCain in early 1966 for only being a three-star admiral and not a four-star admiral. Two months later, Johnson aide Jack Valenti wrote the president a note detailing a call from Sen. Dirksen urging that McCain receive his fourth star. Several weeks after his call to Valenti, Dirksen pressed the issue with the president himself in this phone call. In May 1967, though he had been informed by Sec. McNamara that McCain was not "a competent fellow" in this phone call, Johnson gave McCain his fourth star, promoting him to commander of the Navy's Atlantic fleet. The following month, McCain sent Dirksen a thank you note (pages 4 and 5 below).

Everett Dirksen's letter to McCain:

Jack Valenti's note to LBJ:

McCain's thank-you letter to Dirksen:

Tom Brune

Tom Brune, a Washington correspondent for Newsday since 1999, has covered the presidential race for the past two years.


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