Thursday, June 10, 2010

Deja vu all over again . . .

My husband, Charlie, is an omnivorous reader. If it's in print, he's interested. Currently he's working his way through a stack of old Life magazines, including the October 11,1968 issue. Which is what I want to write about today.

To put things into cultural context, the issue contains a full-page add proclaiming that the "1969 Ford Mustangs shatter 295 speed and endurance records."  Bullitt, featuring Steve McQueen and his Mustang, would be released in a week.

And speaking of movies, there's a full-page ad similar to this one.

But then you turn the page and there's a photograph of Richard Nixon giving  Eisenhower's famous double-fisted, waggling "V" sign, shown below. The attendant article is called "A Vision of Victory at Last Within Reach."

And, if you're a person of a certain age, you zoom back 40 years to the quagmire that was Vietnam.

In the same Life magazine is a one-page essay by Hugh Sidey on Lyndon Johnson's waning presidency. Johnson had famously declined to run for another term because he didn't want politics to conflict with  his efforts as Commander-in-Chief to "win" the Vietnam War. Writes Mr. Sidey,
His dreams of some grand drama which would bring a cease-fire or even total peace have faded now. He can be content, he insists, in making certain that the war is in the best possible shape for his successor--that the Saigon government is stronger, that the ARVN [Army of the Republic of Vietnam] is assuming more battlefield responsibility, that our own battlefield position is better than ever. A hope rises that Johnson can provide the new President, whoever he may be, with the option of bringing home a division of troops next year.
Back to the present, Jane Fonda is in her sixties, the Mustang became a shadow of its former muscular self,  we're fighting different wars. But the political speak around those wars is, at least to these tired ears, remarkably unchanged.

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