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Buchanan, Scheer on Nixon, Vietnam

June 22, 1997

After reading Pat Buchanan's June 17 Column Right revising history 180 degrees, I was deeply depressed. Buchanan is a respected national figure and by placing the blame for the Nixon disgrace on the press, liberals, the elite and Nixon-haters, he badly diminishes his position on the political scene. I quote one of his assertions: "What did Nixon ever do to anyone, compared to what liberals did to King?" J. Edgar Hoover a liberal?

It's profoundly sad that Buchanan has so perverted his brilliance that he would falsify most of the facts of the Nixon cover-up and obstruction of justice. Whatever happened to the truth, no matter what your ideology, Mr. Buchanan?

MICKEY KNOX

Los Angeles

Yes, the left hated Richard Nixon, admittedly for some of the so-called "achievements" Buchanan cites. But no, "Tricky Dick" was not undone solely by an angry press and liberal mob. Lest you forget, Pat, your former boss went on national television throughout the Watergate era and repeatedly lied baldfacedly to the American public about what he knew and when he knew it. The other factors mentioned are peripheral to the central issue of Nixon's pathological dishonesty. Like the unforgettable image of the Buddhist demonstrator setting himself afire in protest against the Vietnam War, Nixon was a victim of self-immolation.

JOHN JB WILSON

Encino

* I cannot believe my eyes! You had the courage to publish Buchanan's article, which after so many years of mud-throwing at our most talented president in recent times, tells the truth about Watergate.

GEORGE KEMENES

Los Angeles

* Buchanan now seeks to rewrite the history of Vietnam, claiming that after mining Haiphong's harbor and bombing Hanoi, Nixon had victory in sight. Nixon was "bravely trying to extricate the nation with honor" from the war that, quoting Ronald Reagan, Buchanan calls a "noble cause." We now know, however, that Lyndon Johnson realized that Vietnam was a lost cause even as he ordered his "boys" into battle. Nixon, he of the "secret plan," could have declared a victory and gotten out in 1969, but chose instead to spill more blood, ours and theirs.

I personally fought in that ignoble cause, and lost to bombs, bullets and mines many fine friends, including several from "the liberal media" who were present to report on how American soldiers were serving their country. Buchanan, who could have enlisted in furtherance of his "noble cause," instead found a way to avoid the draft. He might have later sought a reporting job describing the details of this war; that he did not and now brays about the "liberals" who "advanced the cause of Communism" by opposing a foolish and unjust war reveals Buchanan as not merely a jackass, but a coward.

MARVIN J. WOLF

Los Angeles

* What a treat to see Robert Scheer's report on his recent visit to Vietnam (Column Left, June 17) opposite Buchanan's fictional account of Watergate. But Scheer gets the genesis of the American involvement in Vietnam slightly wrong, in writing "the best and the brightest in Washington thought it best to intrude in a local civil war."

Not quite: Our involvement began well before the Kennedys' "best and brightest" decided to intervene. After the Vietnamese ousted the French in 1954, national elections were scheduled in Vietnam (there was no "South" Vietnam yet), but the U.S. blocked these elections from occurring because our leaders knew Ho Chi Minh and his party would win, and proceeded to set up an essentially puppet government in the south. It was only after that that the "civil" war began.

JEFFREY P. KAPLAN

El Cajon

* In his Column Left Scheer joins the "America is always at fault" crowd. He attributes the deaths of 2 million Cambodians to "the best and brightest in Washington" at the time of our Southeast Asian involvement. If Scheer were to review the history of that unhappy country, he would have found that nearly all of those deaths occurred at the hands of the Communist Khmer Rouge over a period of several years after the departure of the Americans in April 1975.

WALTER B. CHRISTMAS

Palos Verdes Estates

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