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Professor Olbermann On Vietnam
Keith Olbermann gives George “We’ll succeed unless we quit" Bush the remedial education he needs:

Mr. Bush, there are a dozen central, essential lessons to be derived from our nightmare in Vietnam, but “we’ll succeed unless we quit,” is not one of them.

The primary one — which should be as obvious to you as the latest opinion poll showing that only 31 percent of this country agrees with your tragic Iraq policy — is that if you try to pursue a war for which the nation has lost its stomach, you and it are finished. Ask Lyndon Johnson.

The second most important lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush: If you don’t have a stable local government to work with, you can keep sending in Americans until hell freezes over and it will not matter. Ask Vietnamese Presidents Diem or Thieu.

The third vital lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush: Don’t pretend it’s something it’s not. For decades we were warned that if we didn’t stop “communist aggression” in Vietnam, communist agitators would infiltrate and devour the small nations of the world, and make their insidious way, stealthily, to our doorstep.

The war machine of 1968 had this “domino theory.”

Your war machine of 2006 has this nonsense about Iraq as “the central front in the war on terror.”

The fourth pivotal lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush: If the same idiots who told Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon to stay there for the sake of “peace With honor” are now telling you to stay in Iraq, they’re probably just as wrong now, as they were then ... Dr. Kissinger.

And the fifth crucial lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush — which somebody should’ve told you about long before you plunged this country into Iraq — is that if you lie your country into a war, your war, your presidency will be consigned to the scrap heap of history.

Consider your fellow Texan, sir.

After Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson held the country together after a national tragedy, not unlike you did. He had lofty goals and tried to reshape society for the better. And he is remembered for Vietnam, and for the lies he and his government told to get us there and keep us there, and for the Americans who needlessly died there.

As you will be remembered for Iraq, and for the lies you and your government told to get us there and keep us there, and for the Americans who have needlessly died there and who will needlessly die there tomorrow.

This president has his fictitious Iraqi WMD, and his lies — disguised as subtle hints — linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11, and his reason-of-the-week for keeping us there when all the evidence for at least three years has told us we need to get as many of our kids out as quickly as possible.

That president had his fictitious attacks on Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, and the next thing any of us knew, the Senate had voted 88-2 to approve the blank check with which Lyndon Johnson paid for our trip into hell.

And yet President Bush just saw the grim reminders of that trip into hell: the 58,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese killed; the 10,000 civilians who’ve been blown up by landmines since we pulled out; the genocide in the neighboring country of Cambodia, which we triggered.

Yet these parallels — and these lessons — eluded President Bush entirely.

And, in particular, the one over-arching lesson about Iraq that should’ve been written everywhere he looked in Vietnam went unseen.

“We’ll succeed unless we quit”?

Mr. Bush, we did quit in Vietnam!

A decade later than we should have, 58,000 dead later than we should have, but we finally came to our senses.

Rep. Charles Rangel has been promoting the idea of a draft -- a draft for all young Americans, even those whose parents have bucks and influence. Hmm, do you think if Bush's and Cheney's kids, and the kids of senators and congressmen, were in harm's way...we'd be in Iraq...still...or at all?

Posted by aalkon at November 21, 2006 7:27 AM

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I watched this yesterday. Olbermann's been delivering some powerful commentary lately, and good for him.

Posted by: deja pseu at November 21, 2006 5:54 AM

Thank you Professor Olbermann.

Too bad that ole George ain’t listening. He’s too self righteous, arrogant, and plain stupid to think that someone else might have better ideas about how to fight the war on terror than he does. Keep waving the flag, George, and we’ll keep burying the dead. ITMFA

Posted by: Roger at November 21, 2006 8:46 AM

Call me optimistic, call me deluded, but I think George got (some of) the arrogance bitch-slapped out of him, and may have learned a lesson of humility. Presidents tend to become better presidents in their second term. Then again, a key fault of his presidency is his insulated think tank, which he continues to draw from.

I think ITMFA (Impeach The Mother Fucker Already!)would be counter productive because the failure has to be shared with Congress, the Judiciary, and the citizenry at large, and would serve as a distraction from the issues we need to deal with now. An international post presidency war crimes tribunal, as Betrand Russell led, would be more effective.

Posted by: eric at November 21, 2006 12:28 PM

Is self-interest as a reason to get into a war any less noble than self-interest as a reason to not get into a war?

If there is any such thing as a just, necessary, defensive or righteous war, would my avoiding it because I fear death, or the death of my children, be considered noble or base?

Can wars be considered just or unjust apart from any consideration of whether they help or harm my self-interest?

Posted by: Fritz at November 21, 2006 12:39 PM

You would have to defend your term "self-interest". Economic? Political? Survival?

Posted by: eric at November 21, 2006 1:33 PM

"Professor" Olbermann? Is he really that instructive to you? Or is it the little people that he helps?

I was thinking today about computer programmers. The ones who write the best code almost never write the manuals. But then there's the programs themselves: Just before they're about fuck you with some dangerous procedure, programmers often abuse the word "wish."

Files will be deleted. Do you wish to continue? Y/N

Detonators will be armed. Do you wish to continue? Y/N

Nuptials commence on the 23rd. Do you wish to continue? Y/N

It's a tell. It shows that the programmer is still pissed at, or scared of, the handsome, sociable English majors who used to ignore them in college. In any other circumstance, they'd say want instead of wish... You want fries with that? But now they're grown up and in control of this industrial process, so they're going to be smarmy about it. Do you wish to continue, bitch? Well, DO YOU?

A variation of this theme is seen in tech manuals using the word "simply." As in "To invert chrominance values in the matte signal of the keyer's preprocessor, simply deselect the top-level composite icon's branching node parallel to the source's alpha path below the output level."

This translates as "Our software design is so brilliant and insightful that our excellence would be blindingly clear to you if you had the dignity to pay attention to your own damn computer screen, for which we charged you plenty."

That's what comes to mind when I read Olbermann saying things like "Consider your fellow Texan, sir."

Sir? Sir my balls. Who could possibly be impressed with such a delicately extended pinky? He's a fucking TV sports guy.

Amy's fascination with this blowhard is inexplicable.

Posted by: Crid at November 21, 2006 9:41 PM

He speaks the truth. I'm all for it. The language issue is just details.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 22, 2006 3:27 AM

Language is all we have to work with!

Posted by: Crid at November 22, 2006 3:59 AM

I love Keith Olbermann, but I'm also inclined to think his "special comments" get too polemical and long-winded. The first few, I watched, read the transcriptions, and talked about them frequently. I don't know if his producers like his rising ratings, or if he really thinks people want to hear his insights, but I usually go to the kitchen and half-listen to his special comments now. I get the gist, tell my TV, "I love you, Keith!" and fill the dishwasher.

Posted by: Brenda at November 22, 2006 7:55 AM

"He speaks the truth. I'm all for it. The language issue is just details."

Flake but accurate?

Posted by: Jim Treacher at November 22, 2006 12:16 PM

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