The 1950s Called. It Wants Its Atomic War Plans Back
War Is Boring

Sorry, but I was alive and sentient at the time, and “the Madman theory” was about Nixon appearing inconsistent and unpredictable so a potential adversary could not confidently anticipate what “the madman” might do in response to their provoking him. That included escalating to nukes but included everything above and below that on the ladder, and the REAL threat was that he would escalate to the big stuff..