McNamara (July 13, 2009)

His last name forever will be associated with one word:  the Southeast Asia War Games.  He knew the Truth in 1965 and only had to live it.  Confronting President Johnson required superhuman and monumental strength, courage and tenacity.  McNamara could have sat down and pounded and pounded and pounded and pounded on Johnson, politely.  And he would have been pounded and pounded and pounded and pounded on by Johnson, impolitely.  The personal and professional downside to McNamara viewed in the right light is even promising; Johnson could have McNamara fired but not shot.  If Johnson had threatened to fire him, McNamara could have tendered a resignation letter.  “Bob, what’s happened to you?”  “Mister President, after consulting many others inside and outside this administration and reflecting for a considerable period of time on this matter, I became and remain convinced that our current strategy in Vietnam is counterproductive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “

That’s just not the way it is done.  He waited a generation – 30 years – until 1995 to confess his error and along the way condemned a generation to death and despair.  Fathers and mothers lost sons and daughters; brothers and sisters lost sisters and brothers; etc. lost etc.

The Best and the Brightest in America were and are really the Clever and the Connected.  “Smart” in America is too often defined as someone who can successfully lie, cheat and steal and score an estate with a helipad and stables and then a political sinecure or worse a critical post.  Success is simply about succeeding at any costs usually to someone else and almost always to society.  The profitable universities are the farm system and the training grounds.  All the gilded books and pretty poems on Truth and Beauty and Beauty and Truth that McNamara had the good fortune to ingest were just so much pulp.  The Harvard M.B.A. was a harbinger of harmful things to come.

When his avatar, Donald Rumsfeld, appeared and spouted the same message of death and violence, the nation embraced it with little reflection or reservation.  One can say with a high degree of confidence, as McNamara once prefaced his pronouncements, that the next Donald McNamara/Robert Rumsfeld is being groomed and polished for success by America’s public and private institutions as we speak.

Bumper sticker of the week:

Wrong, terribly wrong

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