Now we’re in for it. Walter Cronkite, or Frankly Unctuous as he’s known around here, has again declaimed on the Battle of Iraq. Basically, he’s said the same thing he did after America’s stunning victory over North Vietnam during the Tet Offensive: Now we should get out.
Fortunately, we know more about the “most trusted man in America” than we did then, so his current opinion is unlikely to cause for George Bush the angst it did for Lyndon Johnson.
Cronkite’s mellifluous tones sucked the backbone out of the American people. He should be ashamed of it. The politicians, who had been unserious about the war in Vietnam for a decade, should be even more ashamed. John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon combined gave us what Robert Anson Heinlein described as:
The largest, longest, bloodiest war in US history, fought by conscript troops without a declaration of war, without any clear purpose, without any intention of winning – a war that was ended simply by walking away and abandoning the people for whom it was putatively fought.
If those failings had been Walter’s point history would judge him differently, but, on the morning of a great victory he didn’t urge a re-dedication to success. He displayed no concern for our honor, our allies or our 50,000 dead. He didn’t question our politicians’ lack of commitment – he counseled our defeat at our own hands.
The media was trusted in 1968. It isn’t any more. Walter Cronkite began that erosion of confidence. We can be grateful to him for that. Still, Mr. Unctuous should stick to protesting windmills being built where they might obstruct his privileged view, and leave questions about the conduct of foreign policy to more resolute men.