In the late Sixties, my Dad told me "It will be 40 years before we know how much damage the Vietnam War did to this country."
Forty years have come and gone; we still don't know.
As Richard Blumenthal reminds us.
Blumenthal, 64, is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut. He's also the state's attorney general. The New York Times discovered he repeatedly told constituents "I served in Vietnam." That's not true. Blumenthal was in the Marine Corps Reserve: He never left the East Coast. His self-created overseas service has appeared in many profiles and other stories about him. Not once did he call for a correction, the Times reports.
Blumenthal says "I misspoke." Misspoke is confusing Indianapolis with Minneapolis not Saigon with Washington. The people of Connecticut will decide if they want a man of Blumenthal's character in Congress, a man dishonest about the Sixties.
The Sixties have long been an object of conservative commentators' scorn. Sex, drugs and rock and roll destroyed respect for authority and undermined a great nation, they tell us. We've been in moral crisis since the hippies started doing their thing.
Their "thing" included protesting against the Vietnam War. I was a protestor, but I should be careful about what I say. It would be easy to exaggerate my anti-war credentials. How could anybody check them? There were any number of hippies who showed up at anti-war rallies simply hoping to pick up chicks and get stoned. Grace Slick had a receptive audience when she wailed "Feed your head." This was a time, a friend reminded me, when you could walk into a bookstore in Chicago's Old Town and find a sign that read "Please don't feed the cat speed. It makes her throw up on the floor."
My opposition to the war was made less anxiety-producing because my parents opposed the war. I wasn't embroiled in a generational conflict. In 1967, my Dad sent me a letter with the postscript "You one of those revoltin' students William F. Buckley is complaining about? I sure hope so."
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