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Ford and The Fall of Saigon

Sorry I missed you yesterday. I sprained my ankle running downhill in the snow too fast with my German Shepherd and have been in pain ever since. I can’t really walk and it’s a huge hassle and everything takes longer than necessary. Anyway,  for today’s HST quote, I want to give you one about Gerald Ford – it’s not terribly flattering, but it is true, & despite the lovely ferver around   Ford, I need to quote what Hunter said about the man.  But I do think Hunter would be pleased that  Ford did denounce Bush and the stupidity of the war, even if he was a TAD late…       

Ford learned the hard way indeed how to recognize a bungled war. So today’s quote is from a note to Jann Wenner, the editor of Rolling Stone Magazine. Hunter was late on a deadline and was explaining to Jann his memories after the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War when a London Sunday Times Correspondent, Murray Sayle was trying to explaining how the South Vietnamese government of then-president Ngyuyen Van Thieu had managed to lose half the country and a billion dollars worth of U.S weaponry in less than three weeks, after the “widely advertised ’massive Hanoi offensive’ that had  suddenly narrowed the whole war down to a nervous ring around Saigon, less than fifty miles in diameter…”  and that during those final days of Saigon, as a million or more refugees streamed into Saigon from the panic zones up north around Hue and Da Nang;

it had become painfully and ominously clear to us all that Hanoi had never really launched any “massive offensive’ at all, but that the flower of the finely U.S, trained and heavily U.S. equipped South Vietnamese Army had simply panicked and run amok. The films of whole ARVN divisions fleeing desperately through the streets of Da Nang had apparently shocked the NVA generals in Hanoi almost as badly as they jolted that bone-head ward-heeler that Nixon put in the White House in exchange for the pardon that kept him out of prison.

            Ford denies this, but what the hell?  It hardly matters anymore, because not even a criminal geek like Nixon would have been stupid enough to hold a nationally-televised press conference in the wake of a disaster like Da Nang and compound the horror of what millions of U.S, viewers had been seeing on TV all week by refusing to deny, on camera, that the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam had died in vain.  Even arch-establishment commentators like James Reston and Eric Savereid were horrified by Ford’s inept and almost cruelly stupid performance at that press conference. In addition to the wives, parents, sons, daughters, and other relatives and friends of the 58,000 American dead, he was also talking to more than 150,000 veterans who were wounded, maimed, and crippled in Vietnam…and the net effect of what he said might just as well have been to quote Ernest Hemmingway’s description of men who had died in another war, many years ago – where were “shot down and killed like dogs, for no good reason at all.”

— Hunter S. Thompson, May 1, 1975

Until next time, your limping friend,

Anita Thompson

p.s. Tomorrow I will post what Ralph Steadman emailed me from Kent about the hanging of Saddam Hussein.  I haven’t read anything quite as dead on as Ralph’s thoughts on it.    


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