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On February 27, 1968, upon returning from a trip to Vietnam after the Tet Offensive, Walter Cronkite closed his CBS News broadcast with Report from Vietnam: Who, What, When, Where, Why?” :
“We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. They may be right, that Hanoi’s winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations. It would improve their position, and it would also require our realization, that we should have had all along, that any negotiations must be that — negotiations, not the dictation of peace terms. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer’s almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”
Following Cronkite’s editorial report, President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”… WATCH VIDEOS OF THE NIGHTLY NEWS FROM THROUGHOUT THE VIETNAM WAR>>
Posted in Asia, Culture, History, Movies & TV, News Articles, US Military, Video, Vietnam, War
Tagged Hanoi, Lyndon B. Johnson, Vietnam, Vietnam War, Walter Cronkite
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These nuggets of history give us a rarely seen glimpse into the inner workings of our government, and as is usually the case when the curtain is pulled back, it’s not a pretty picture… More>>
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Original Post – November 5, 2008by Crooked Timber
A few thoughts on history and yesterday’s election:
Barack Obama began his campaign before a moderate crowd on the steps of the statehouse in Springfield, Illinois, the place where Abraham Lincoln began his political career. Obama ended his campaign with a speech in front of 90,000 in Manassas, Virginia which is the location of the first battle of the Civil War known as Bull Run. Coincidence? Don’t think so.
LBJ: For me there has been an 800 pound gorilla in the room throughout this entire campaign, Lyndon Baines Johnson. I listened for his name throughout the campaign and it never came up. For all of the praise, in speech after speech, directed at JFK, RFK, and MLK, the silence on LBJ has been deafening. LBJ! The politician who probably did more for civil and voting rights for minorities than any other politician in the 20th century! When he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 he said that he knew he was signing away the south, and hence power, for his party, likely for generations. In 1965 LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act outlawing voter discrimination against millions of southern blacks which further alienated the south from the Democrats. Regardless of the political costs he did the right thing. As it turned out the party did suffer the consequences that LBJ predicted as Dems were only in the White House for 12 of the following 40 years, and even then we won by default– first Carter won on the heels of Watergate, and second Clinton, arguably, would not have won without Ross Perot splitting the Republican vote. What happened last night signaled the end of the period of loss that LBJ so presciently foresaw. For my money LBJ is the most tragic political figure in the latter half of the 20th century. The Right will always hate him for the Great Society (and many for the civil rights and voting acts) and the Left will never forgive him for Vietnam.
Speaking of Vietnam isn’t it fitting that this transformational election, that was given it’s legs by LBJ, was lost by a Vietnam war hero. John McCain is an honorable man who served his country with great distinction and honor in that war and he has continued to do so ever since. Mr. McCain should be appreciated and we all owe him a great debt of thanks. How many of us have put our lives on the line for our country? But it is time to finally put the sorrow and division over Vietnam behind us. We have had two consecutive elections where Vietnam vets have run for president and lost. It is a true testament to the progress toward healing the wounds of the 1960s that today, all these years later, the country has finally rallied around LBJs legacy of humanism and against the legacy of the Vietnam war. The sight of Obama’s adoring, peaceful, crowd last night in Grant Park was in stark contrast with memories of the violence that took place there in 1968 over Vietnam. There is an amazing circularity to it all. And don’t look now but the economic crisis, and the response to it, might resurrect some of the echoes of the Great Society. But I won’t say that too loudly, at least not yet.
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KPFA news of October 31, 1968, read by Hanna Pitkin and Robert Holmes. Edition of news including President Johnson‘s announcement of a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam…