Notebook

An extraordinary aspect of the decision-making in Washington between 1961 and 1975 was that Vietnamese were seldom if ever allowed to intrude upon it. Successive administrations ignored any claims by the people who inhabited the battlefields to a voice in determining their own fate: business was done in a cocoon of Americanness… There is a great line in David Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest” about Vice-President Lyndon Johnson’s awed reaction after seeing McNamara, Rusk, Bundy, Schlesinger, Rostow and the rest of the Kennedy Round Table gathered for the first time. He rushed off to tell his friend and mentor Sam Rayburn, speaker of the House, about this brilliant group, only to be deflated by the droll response: “Well, Lyndon, you may be right, and they may be every bit as intelligent as you say, but I’d feel a whole lot better if just one of them had run for sheriff once.”

Max Hastings, “Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975”. 

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