On last night's Hardball, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams unintentionally slammed Chris Matthews on his own show. Discussing Walter Cronkite's famous declaration of U.S defeat in Vietnam, Williams claimed it was a watershed moment because the former CBS anchor had earned the "credibility" of his viewers but warned today's anchors can't have the same effect because: "People do Cronkite-esque statements on topics every day now. On, on cable, you can see one an hour." Williams was probably referencing Matthews' competitors but as any regular viewer of Hardball knows the charge is easily applied to his NBC colleague as Matthews is constantly making his own "Cronkite-esqe" declarations of U.S. defeat in Iraq.
Talk about creating a false dichotomy geared to discrediting a policy! The AP has generated a doosie in theirs titled "Rural America bears scars from Iraq war" and subtitled "Nearly half of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq came from a small town".
Their main thrust is that small towns are somehow seeing their sons fall on the field of battle in "unfair" numbers.
Across the nation, small towns are quietly bearing a disproportionate burden of war. Nearly half of the more than 3,100 U.S. military fatalities in Iraq have come from towns like McKeesport, where fewer than 25,000 people live, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. One in five hailed from hometowns of less than 5,000.
At first blush this might seem to be alarming. But, when one lets that first emotive rush fade and allows a little common sense to be applied to the situation, it doesn't seem so outrageous. The fact is, youngsters from rural areas are simply far more prone to joining the military in the first place and always have been. So it is a natural matter of strict statistics that more from those areas would fall in battle. After all, there are more of them.
So, what we are left with is a naked, emotive effort to cause some sort of outrage over the perceived unfairness of this statistic, even as there is no "fair" or "unfair" component to it. It is simply a fact.
Holy Cross College Professor Jerry Lembcke's 1999 column, "We Are What We Remember" (HTML link), was originally published in the April edition of Holy Cross Magazine (original PDF of the entire magazine is here; Lembcke's column is on Page 74).
Lembcke's core claim is that "the image of the spat-upon veteran is mythical ....." This is a narrative that at least two Greater Cincinnati-area bloggers appear to have fallen for hook, line, and sinker (here and here; BizzyBlog's "debunk of the debunkers" post from earlier today is here; be sure to read the Updates and the comments). Apparently others around the country have also been taken in.
Lembcke's fallback position is that:
But while I cannot prove the negative, I can prove the positive: I can show what did happen during those years and that that historical record makes it highly unlikely that the alleged acts of spitting occurred in the number and manner that is now widely believed.
There's a teeny tiny problem with Lembcke's claim. As Former Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Bill Sloat notes at his Daily Bellwether blog, Jerry Lembcke's "search for evidence" apparently overlooked a couple of contrary items that were very close by -- so close that he would not even have had to leave his easy chair after reading the article he wrote. That's because Lembcke is debunked in the VERY SAME issue of the VERY SAME Holy Cross Magazine -- not once, but twice, by two separate Holy Cross alumni who served in Vietnam!
The first alumni vet is Jim McDougald '51. The second is Steve Bowen '65. The story, along with its individual portrayals, covers Pages 18-31 of the original publication. Extracts with the two spitting stories are these:
While the rest of the press played up liberal-minded comparisons between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War and brought up old and unsubstantiated claims about Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service, Sanger finds a different anti-Bush angle, one he’s used before – the president’s evidently disturbing lack of curiosity about the world.
The Friday broadcast network evening newscasts, seemingly with no self-awareness of the role of the traveling press corps, all focused on how in Vietnam President Bush was pressed about comparisons of the Iraq war to the Vietnam war -- a topic he commented on only when asked by a U.S. reporter. CBS was the most adamant in raising parallels, Bush's avoidance of service in Vietnam and how he is now “creating another” Vietnam. Katie Couric declared that Bush “couldn't get away from the inevitable comparisons between Iraq and the war America lost in Vietnam.” Over vintage video of the Vietnam war, Jim Axelrod asserted that the Iraq war “is starting to look more and more like this war. The parallels are plain.” Axelrod contended that “Mr. Bush's trip here was bound to fuel his critics who've never bought his explanation about how he managed to avoid military service in Vietnam. But Iraq raises the stakes and changes the focus from what he did during the Vietnam War to whether he's creating another one. On a just-released audiotape, President Johnson in 1966 shared his goals for Vietnam." Following audio of LBJ promising the U.S. would leave Vietnam “just as soon as you can have anybody that will guarantee stability," Axelrod intoned: "Mr. Bush's remarks today had an eerie echo as he spoke about Iraq."
On ABC's World News, fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas insisted "the war in Iraq shadowed President Bush today during his visit to Vietnam” as the Vietnam war “has drawn comparisons to America's experience in Iraq.” From Vietnam, Martha Raddatz echoed Couric: “For President Bush, the comparisons to his own war in Iraq were inevitable.” NBC anchor Brian Williams announced that “the topic of the current war followed” Bush “all the way” to Vietnam. David Gregory, in Vietnam, also used the “inevitable” characterization of the comparison made by journalists: “The White House tried to avoid reflecting on the war in Vietnam because of the inevitable comparisons to the Iraq war.” Gregory asserted that “the obvious parallel between Vietnam and Iraq is the American public's desire to find a way out,” and though the Vietnamese are still oppressed in a communist state, Gregory suggested the U.S. won: “But if there is a hopeful sign in the Vietnam of today, prosperous and western-looking, it is this -- that it is possible to lose the war but win the peace." (Transcripts, and a little bit on the morning shows, follows)
Appearing on CNN's Larry King Live on Wednesday, comedian Bill Maher, while discussing the recent John Kerry gaffe interpreted by many as an attack on the intelligence of American troops, wondered why Americans would believe a "true war hero" like Kerry would be "against the troops." Ignoring Kerry's history in the 1970s of giving testimony before Congress accusing American troops of committing war crimes, and his 2005 charge that American troops in Iraq were "terrorizing" civilians, Maher contended that Kerry should have "called out" President Bush, referring to the President as a "draft dodger."
Below is a transcript of Maher's comments from the November 8 Larry King Live:
GREENSBORO, N.C., Oct. 18 -- President Bush said Wednesday that the current surge of violence in Iraq "could be" comparable to the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War, a succession of battles that became a milestone because it helped turn the American public against the conflict and its political leadership.
What the WaPo won't come right out and say is that it wasn't the Tet Offensive itself that had such a devastating effect upon civilian morale, it was the abjectly incompetent reporting of the event by American journalists.
President Bush is an even greater threat to our civil liberties than that bête noire of the left, Richard Nixon. That's Morton Halperin's conclusion in a Los Angeles Times op-ed of today, Bush: Worse Than Nixon.
Halperin was once a name in the news. In 1969, then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger named Halperin to the NSA. But soon thereafter Kissinger suspected it was the dovish Halperin who leaked to the NY Times the fact that the US was secretly bombing Cambodia. The FBI began tapping his phone, and Halperin was soon gone from NSA. Perhaps Halperin's biggest claim to fame is the fact that Pres. Nixon put him on his 'Enemies List.' A red badge of courage, no pun intended, off which a person can no doubt eat for a lifetime in liberal circles.
Halperin remains active politically, serving as a senior fellow at the 'Center for American Progress.' As detailed by the invaluable Discoverthenetworks, CAP is a George Soros-funded organization founded on the risible notion that American colleges and universities are dominated by . . . conservatives."
"It's hard not to notice the clear similarities between then and now. Both the Nixon and Bush presidencies rely heavily on the use of national security as a pretext for the usurpation of unprecedented executive power.
Mark Steyn writes in the Washington Times that the media thinks it can finally turn Iraq into Vietnam with what happened at Haditha. Just like elites tried to turn the Abu-Ghraib scandal into an indictment of the other 99.9 percent of soldiers in Iraq, so they will attempt with Haditha.
Anyone who supports launching a war should be clear-sighted enough to know that, when the troops go in, a few of them will kill civilians, bomb schools, torture prisoners. It happens in every war in history, even the good ones. Individual Americans, Britons, Canadians, Australians did bad things in World War II, and World War I. These aren't stunning surprises, they're inevitable: It might be a bombed mosque or a gunned-down pregnant woman or a slaughtered wedding party, but it will certainly be something. And, in the scales of history, it makes no difference to the justice of the cause and the need for victory.
The Sunday before Memorial Day, reporter Kate Zernike allowed Sen. John Kerry to refight his own personal Vietnam War against the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ("Kerry Pressing Swift Boat Case Long After Loss"). The Times puts the battle on the front page, and judging by the respectful tone of the story, seems to think the pro-Kerry forces vanquish the Swift Boat Veterans.
"John Kerry starts by showing the entry in a log he kept from 1969: 'Feb 12: 0800 run to Cambodia.' He moves on to the photographs: his boat leaving the base at Ha Tien, Vietnam; the harbor; the mountains fading frame by frame as the boat heads north; the special operations team the boat was ferrying across the border; the men reading maps and setting off flares."
Harry Smith was at it again on CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning. He had two segments of note today. In the first notable segment, during the 7:00 half hour, he interviewed former Bush Administration aide Mary Matalin about the staff shakeups at the White House. And in the 8:30 half hour, he interviewed Jane Fonda about her memoirs, My Life So Far, which are being released in paperback.
In his interview with Mary Matalin, Smith wasted no time in getting to the bias. His first question to her was:
"What does it mean to the Republican faithful, these changes? What does it mean to these people who want to see the President succeed?"