Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Personal Aside: Most Commentators Agree—Griswold Opened the Door to Legalized Abortion…Defining Moment of the `60s No. 3—the Tet Offensive.



All of the commentators I read before posting this agree that “Griswold v. Connecticut” in 1965 was the open sesame that swung the door ajar to legalized abortion later in “Roe v. Wade.” I am particularly indebted to Matt Nelson for his views basis his constitutional law studies and Frank Nofsinger who comes “right on” with the same judgment. With this decision the Supreme Court ruled that sexual morals and their relation to family life are matters of personal taste and choice in which the state has no interest. The decision was, as reader Frank Nofsinger relates, like turning on a faucet.

There was a time when the Supreme Court defended the concept of the family in Judeo-Christian terms on the basis that the foundation of the republic assumed as much. Ergo: In 1895 Justice Joseph P. Bradley condemned polygamy as “contrary to the spirit of Christianity and the civilization Christianity produced in the Western World.” The statement was accepted as part of the fiber of jurisprudential review.

But following “Griswold,” in “Eisenstadt v. Baird” in 1972 the Court reversed the Massachusetts conviction of William Baird for distributing contraceptives to unmarried persons, holding that “whatever the rights of the individual to contraceptives may be, the rights must be the same for the unmarried and married alike.” The marital couple “is not an independent entity with a mind and heart of its own but an association of two individuals each with a separate intellectual and emotional makeup.”

It added “If the right of privacy means anything”—enumerating the “right” that Justice Douglas had discovered rummaging around the penumbras and emanations—“it is the right of the individual married or single to be free of unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” Thus the Court treated marriage as a mere personal contract with the family no longer the natural, primary cell of human society that precedent Supreme Courts did. Before “Griswold” but waiting in the wings was a discovery by the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology at Clark University in Massachusetts that helped develop the contraceptive pill in 1956. The contraceptive pill must rank with the splitting of the atom which ultimately aided the Supreme Court to assume the role of custodian of life, ruling in “Roe” in 1973 that whatever a judicial majority agrees on binds the nation meaning that no one can say what is unjust because all is changing depending on the nose-counting of a Supreme Court majority.

Congratulations all. We now move to

Defining Moment of the `60s No. 3: the Tet Offensive.

Popular and Media Conclusion: Because America was obsessed with communism anent “the domino effect,” , first the Kennedy and then the Johnson administration blundered into a quagmire in the jungles of Vietnam which led to (a) the destruction of troop morale, (b) widespread drug abuse among the troops, (c) atrocities like the My Lai murders and (d) a generation of emotionally and psychologically scarred veterans. Also as an added fillip, the failure of America in Vietnam produced salutary things such as the reunification of Vietnam, a desirable thing. Such massacres that occurred after South Vietnam’s fall and in Cambodia was America’s fault for going there in the first place.

The Tet offensive of January, 1968 was a cardinal event because our defeat despite all we could do convinced the media and particularly CBS’s Walter Cronkite that we should pull out. Two major reporters for “The New York Times,” David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan, led the outcry which influenced Cronkite. When Halberstam died earlier this year in an automobile crash, he was celebrated as a world famous journalist by the media with no mention that Tet was anything more than a disaster for the United States.

Eugene McCarthy who was running for president while losing to Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire nevertheless convinced Johnson and many others that the U. S. was drastically wrong to fight against an indigenously supported native civil war and dishonored the country with McCarthy being the first presidential candidate to propose the idea that it would not be bad if the United States were to lose the war to teach it a lesson. This was the same Eugene McCarthy who in trying to convince Johnson to name him as vice presidential nominee in 1964 pledged to defend the war. Spurned, he turned against Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, the war and which led ultimately to his estrangement from his wife, his Catholic heritage and served to render him a nihilist while in some liberal circles he has been canonized a hero.

The Vietnam experience has long been cited by those who oppose the Iraq War.

Your assignment: Tell us if the above assessment is right and has continued unchanged in recent history.


  1. The story is unchanged and is still 100% wrong-a relic of the days before blogging when duh media consisted of three network television stations, all liberals and what we now call MSM which, in the print media continue all liberal. Before WFB obtained traction these media were also trusted, a legacy begat by Edward R. Murrow, I think and other personalities educated in what were then colleges of learning. After TET, which was actually a huge military victory FOR US, the cracks began in not trusting the media and became major flaws, the last being infamous Dan Rather being exposed for what he was (and is).

  2. This assessment is as far from the truth as it is possible to get. In a war directed by beady-eyed politicans willing to sacrifice anything except their miserable positions, the US military was slugging it out to slow but sure victory. All that was needed was the will to persevere. The Tet Offensive was a defeat for the North Viets, not a victory as claimed by the left-wing media.

    This was a Defining Moment in that the USA abandoned the battlefield, and an ally, through the distortions of the media and craven politicos. This duplicity is generally well recognized now, but is still applied here and there by liberals regarding Iraq and Afganistan.

  3. OK, how about this one. I don't have anything to back this up, but I like how this story line goes:

    In retrospect, Vietnam led to the fall of the Soviet Union. A war by proxy with the Soviet Union, we destroyed, and the Soviets resupplied, the equivalent of 3 Werhmachts (that is, three times the war production of Nazi Germany). This war of attrition drove the Soviet economy down. Under Reagan, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) re-opened a bloodless front on this war of attrition. The Soviets finally realized they could not outspend us (especially if the Chinese started footing the bill), and threw in the towel.

    Our present debt crisis is a second hand effect of having never fully recovered from the SDI spending war with the Soviets. (and a first hand effect of the crazy republican policies of increase spending AND reduce taxes - just borrow from our grandchildren's children)

  4. 1. The TET offensive itself was a desperation move by NVN. It had to capture the critical objectives in 24m hours or so, it captured lots of stuff but not the critical objectives. NVN has lost the battle at that point but it still took months of hard fighting to restore the pre-offensive status. It set up the situation for the eventual defeat of NVN in 1972. NVN then violted the peace agreement in 1975 and SVN was abandoned

    However as reported in the media it was a great defeat and this perception was the driver for events in the US. A

    2. Kennedy and especially Johnson were not so much bumbling because of anti-communism, their main priority was their US domestic polices and position. They (mis-)managed so as to support their domestic position, no so much to fight the war or support US policies.

    The result of their policies produced very little that was good.

    3. The effluence you recited is a standard left meme which still carries much weight especially as “everybody knows that” among persons who have never given the war more the 2 minutes thought or study. It is getting less and less credence among those who actually investigate what happened. Even leftist commentators will at least concede a tactical victory for the US.


    I’m sure links are not part of the rules so don’t count this as part of answer. I posted a retrospective on the 40th anniversary of the Tet Offensive,