Saturday, June 7, 2008

CNN Shows Us How We Are Reliving 1968 in 2008

Posted by Teresa at 9:12 PM
Did you know that we are reliving 1968 again? George W. Bush is like Lyndon B.
Johnson, unpopular. Iraq is like Vietnam, unpopular. The civil rights movement
is represented in Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy parallels the
women's movement. The energized youth voting in this primary is comparable
to the college students protesting Vietnam in 1968. Well, that's what a program
titled, "Something's Happening Here: Over the Last 40 Years, How Has the
Presidential Election Changed?" on CNN told me.

It fascinates me that this news program so brazenly wants to suggest what is
happening today is comparable to the turbulent times of 1960s. Also, they eagerly
want to associate Iraq with Vietnam. It's almost if they want us to be more anxious
about our current times. In fact Campbell Brown, the host, tells us in the beginning
that we are anxious like in 1968. She says, "Now fast-forward 40 years. It is June
2008, another unpopular president, another unpopular war, anxiety and impatience,
a new generation energized, all around the sense that we have reached a turning
point. It's an election that could change the world." Really, we are anxious and
impatient? What proof does she have of that?

Brown also takes a cue from Barack Obama's campaign motto when she describes
this election as one that "could change the world. " We are living through the 1960s
all over again so we need Barack Obama to come in and change things seems to
be the basic theme of the show.

The show goes on to compare to compares Vietnam to Iraq. They interviewed
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R- Neb), a Vietnam veteran, and to discuss the parallels
between the wars. He's been vocal about his disapproval of the Iraq war and
back in 2000 he supported Sen. McCain's presidential bid but is not doing so
this year. To his credit, Sen. Hagel, did highlight the enormous differences
between the two wars. Here's the partial transcripts:


BROWN: More than 4,000 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. Vietnam was a
much longer, much deadlier war -- 1968 alone saw some 16,000 American
deaths.

At the beginning of the year, Robert Kennedy complained that a total military
victory was neither in sight, nor around the corner. The war was tearing
America apart.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: 1968, that was the big buildup year,
550,000 troops in Vietnam. And our leaders kept telling the American people
light is at the end of the tunnel. We have turned the corner. We are about there.
And, in fact, that wasn't the case.

SCHNEIDER: In 1968, Americans were being drafted in large numbers. And
that really created turmoil and anger and real fury, rage on college campuses.

CROWLEY: Vietnam undid Lyndon Baines Johnson. Clearly, he would have
liked to have run. He wanted to run. But the streets were just seething.

HAGEL: Today, we have all-voluntarily army. Very few people have any
direct contact with the consequences of that war. That's why you don't see million man marches in Washington, like we did in Vietnam.

Why even devote a whole program associating the two if they themselves conclude
with the realization they are completely different?

Since they were on the topic of 1968 and presidential campaigns they could have
discussed the fact that John McCain was a POW during this time. Instead, it's only
mentioned briefly and then leads to a discussion about how other senators who
served in Vietnam have turned on the war in Iraq, except John McCain. Here's
the transcript of that conversation:

BROWN: But, to that point -- let me ask David this one question, because, you know, in 1968, John McCain was a POW. He was not a part or aware in any sense of the turmoil that was happening in this country at the time.

How does that affect his view in this time in terms of the way he campaigns and
also the point that Jeff just made?

GERGEN: Well, let me promote something else.

And Matt Bai, I thought, had a fascinating...

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: No, it's a fascinating piece in "The New York Times" magazine of
the -- I think three weeks ago or so -- in which he argues that the other Vietnam
veterans who are in the Congress, like Chuck Hagel, and John Kerry, and Jim
Webb, have all turned against the war in Iraq, in part because, during Vietnam,
they were -- they were fighting in Vietnam. They turned -- they saw how badly
the war went. And they have soured on it.

And now they have soured on this war, whereas John McCain, in the Vietnam
War, was actually imprisoned and missed out on all the demonstrations. He
missed out on the souring. He came out of that experience thinking, we should
have won Vietnam. We just didn't stick in there. We just didn't fight it right. We
didn't have the right strategy.

And, therefore, in Iraq, it's a question of hanging in there, that we have got to
persevere. And that's why he's broken with these other these other veterans
of Vietnam, who actually were in the jungles.

The article Gergen references is called "The McCain Doctrines," written by Matt
Bai. In the article Bai theorizes that because McCain was "sealed away" he so wasn't
disillusioned about the war like the other veterans. He didn't see all the protest
going on back home during Vietnam. Therefore, it doesn't give him an accurate
assessment on Vietnam and now Iraq. After reading the article one is left to conclude
that the Arizona senator didn't learn the lessons from Vietnam.

The show then delves into race relations and the women's right movement. Since
there has been social progress in those areas in the last forty years the panelists
are only left to conclude there must be a another social issue we must address
immediately. What is that issue? Gay rights, of course! Here's how that conversation
went:

TOOBIN: There's a little parallel here, and I think it's gay rights. Gay
rights is ascendant now in a way that women's rights was in the '60s.

The differences about gay rights and gay marriage are tremendously
generational. Young people, they think it's obvious. Old people are still
made very uncomfortable by it, and I think that is clearly a matter of
time for that cause to be much more popular.

GERGEN: Yes. It isn't the one barrier that seems to be still out there, but
do we all agree that Hillary Clinton did not lose this because she was a woman?
TOOBIN: I totally agree with that.

No one in the panel mentions that neither Barack Obama or John McCain support
gay marriage. However, they do differ on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy adopted
by the military. Sen. McCain supports it. Sen. Obama wants it repealed.

So what is the overall message of the special program? We are living in historic times.
We need societal change and quickly.

Here's the first ten minutes of the show:

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