Got back from the hospital yesterday and received a pleasant little surprise – is seems that “an American Icon” – broadcaster Walter Cronkite has finally died. Walter – it may sound cruel – or even heartless – but I won’t miss you.
All the promise of Cronkite’s early career in journalism seems to have been wasted, – and America put in a worse position for it.
As a young reporter he was brave enough during WWII – flying into battle on a glider with the 101st Airborne, and later reporting from inside the Battle of the Bulge. But by the Vietnam years, he seemed to have started taking himself far too seriously.
Sadly, the naïve American TV audience did too. So when the NVA Têt Offensive started producing massive lists [and pictures] of US Casualties, Cronkite saw nothing wrong in abusing his position as “the most trusted man in journalism” when he bombastically told the CBS evening news audience that “this war is un-winnable, and that the enemy can match our every escalation”.
Despite his exposure to combat – in Europe during WWII – he was terribly wrong. Although initially surprised by the widespread and daring NVA attacks, ARVN and US units had quickly rallied and were beating them soundly everywhere – from the cities to the villages to the hillsides, to the delta.
But he and the American TV audience became the exact targets of General Giap’s remaining campaigns. Giap had been baffled, then devastated that the people of South Vietnam had not risen up to welcome his troops as “liberators”, and had in fact pointed out their hiding places to ARVN and American units. But Walter Cronkite gave Giap an unprecedented political victory – pulled from the very jaws of defeat.
We can debate forever the history and the outcome of the Vietnam War. But after Têt the anti-war movement here had a powerful ally in CBS and Walter Cronkite, – our nation remains fractured – even 41 years later, – and Vietnam remains under Communist domination. Oh, and the dominoes did fall.
In his retirement years Cronkite made his politics clear – he was a die-hard Democrat except for any attempt to build windmills near his home water off Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard. Good-bye Walter, – I’m sure General Võ Nguyên Giáp has just welcomed you with open arms!
/s/ Iron Mike
Old Soldier, – Still Good for Parts!