“Daddy, what’s Vietnam?” A question a child might ask, but not a childish question.
I read the news today, oh boy, and it made me feel like I’d fallen through a wrinkle in time and wound up in 1972. Suddenly, it’s like the last 30 years hadn’t happened and the battle between the hippies and the pigs never ended.
Is this just another example of Baby Boomer self-absorption, or is there something more behind all this talk of who was and wasn’t “in the shit” and the dubious influence of “Hanoi Jane” Fonda? Whatever it is, it’s captured the hearts and minds of the Gratingest Generation more than the other issues we face in the Presidential election, namely national security, the crushing budget deficit, lack of jobs, AIDS, education, millions of Americans still living below the poverty line, guns, the evironment, corporate malfeasance, and… oh, a million other issues.
But everywhere you turn it’s Vietnam. There hasn’t been an orgy of Boomer self-love this bad since… well, since last week when everyone celebrated the fortieth anniversary of The Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan.
Remember when this election was about us? The Deanie Babies? The inheritors of that aforementioned deficit? The kids working overtime in that MoveOn.org commercial? Forget it, man. It’s all about campus turf wars from before we were born. Just look at this nugget buried in Jane Mayer’s article on Haliburton, Contract Sport, in this week’s New Yorker:
Around this time, in 1968, Dick Cheney arrived in Washington. He was a political-science graduate student who had won a congressional fellowship with Bill Steiger, a Republican from his home state of Wyoming. One of Cheney’s first assignments was to visit college campuses where antiwar protests were disrupting classes, and quietly assess the scene.
That disruption continues, but on the op-ed pages of papers from coast-to-coast.
Like Eminem, ecstasy, and Outkast, this election has been co-opted by our moms and dads and it’s time for us to say, “Don’t bogart it!”
Yes, Vietnam matters: one man’s service followed by principled opposition means something and so does another man’s avoidance of battle and subsequent insistance on sending thousands of others off to fight 30 years later. But these are not the main issues at hand here, and if we don’t move on, we’re going to get stuck in a quagmire, the likes of which we haven’t seen since, well, Vietnam. Isn’t it time the fighting stopped?
11 replies on “Why Are We (Still) In Vietnam?”
good point fellas
You’re absolutely right. Why is this country living in the past?
It’s a typical Boomer-style non-issue designed at least to divert attention from the fact that both Bush and Kerry are cut from the same socio-economic cloth – they both went to Yale, they were both in Skull & Bones, but one of them saw combat while the other didn’t. Kerry immediately turned his status as an anti-Vietnam vet into a political career; isn’t that even more cynical than Bush’s behavior?
I agree with you on the irrelevance of whether a politician served in active duty or not. But having said that, we are in the midst of a similar Vietnam-tyoe quagmire in Iraq. “Those who do not rememebr the past are doomed to repeat it”
i absolutely agree, though “us” referenced by the phrase ‘deaniac’ or really anything “.org” makes me recall, analogously, the fact that even dreck like the doors still resonates more strongly than say, moby, and exactly why this is speaks volumes of “us” and our essentially absent, wider legacy. too bad
Wow, Stephanie. You missed what I was saying completely. And you missed the jokes. You don’t think I quoted Beatles’ lyrics, used the terms “man” and “bogart” on purpose, to, like, show the pervasive, unshakable influence of the Baby Boomer generation? C’mon, Steffie: you’re gonna flunk the reading comprehension portion of the exam.
Thanks for writing, though.
And that’s the bitter rebuttal of someone who just got their clock cleaned… Sorry, Stephanie.
Kerry immediately turned his status as an anti-Vietnam vet into a political career; isn’t that even more cynical than Bush’s behavior?
WTF!!! leslie, you have got to be kidding me. I’m no hawk, believe you me, but Matt said it best “one man’s service followed by principled opposition means something and so does another man’s avoidance of battle and subsequent insistance on sending thousands of others off to fight 30 years later.”
I’m a baby boomer. The sixties shaped the person I am today, just like these years will shape your generation. It’s a legitimate tactic to contrast the actions of Bush and Kerry. Nobody’s trying to exclude you babies; I don’t think we could get you to shut up anyway, you young whippersnapper 🙂
Too much us vs. them here. Decrying the previous generation (which is a nebulous in breadth than commonly referred to, which I’m sure is well-understood. There is nothing particularly special about people born between 1946-1964 other than that there are a lot of them and that humans seem to have a particular need to rigidly categorize EVERYTHING) as being self-absorbed and follow up by crying “This used to be about us!!” betrays a high level of self-absorption on the part of the author. The Vietnam issue contrasts the characters of the nominees presumptive and can provide an indication of the type of man we are electing, which is definitely an important factor in an election of this magnitude. Inane generational squabbling obfuscates the issues at hand.
betrays a high level of self-absorption on the part of the author.
‘Tis part of the grating Deanie Baby irony that sweet Mattie yet can’t see in some of his uncommonly sharp (and well-meaning) writing (and whining). (It would take too much time to carefully sift through the levels of unconscious irony here and through the valid and invalid points.) Methinks sweet, sharp Mattie is a Zippy the Pinhead, dog loving boomer lover who’s ripe to grow up beyond time (and brain) wasting “generational squabbling.”