Weekend Talkshows Past - Meet The Press meets the new Republican Senators for 1967; Charles Percy, Howard Baker, Edward Brooke, Cliff Hansen and Mark Hatfield to discuss Vietnam and other topics.
January 23, 2011

The subject it seemed, throughout the 1960's, was Vietnam.

From a special one hour Meet The Press broadcast of January 15, 1967, five newly sworn in Republican Senators Charles Percy, Howard Baker, Edward Brooke, Cliff Hansen and Mark Hatfield in discussion with the panel on a variety of subjects, but most notably the endless war in Vietnam. Typical of the line of question was whether or not bombing of North Vietnam should resume:

Howard Baker: “I think we must not discontinue bombing, on a unilateral basis. I think after all, we’re all concerned with the unpleasantness of war and the hideous aspects of the bombing of North Vietnam and the attendant, occasional civilian casualties. This is the price you pay for determination, and determination we must have in order to convince the Communists that they will not be permitted to win in their aggressive effort in Vietnam.”

Edward Brooke: “If cessation of the bombing would being about peace in Vietnam, I would favor cessation of the bombing. I don’t believe the bombings in the north have served the purpose for which they were intended. Infiltration of the North Vietnamese into South Vietnam is continuing. And obviously we have not driven the Vietcong in the North to the conference table. I think we certainly should at this time reassess the bombings, reevaluate the bombings to make a determination as to whether the advantages of bombing outweigh the disadvantages.”

Mark Hatfield: “I think we have to consider the bombing in context with our total policy and not isolate it from the rest of our actions on the diplomatic as well as on the military front. And I think when you look at the balance sheet you will find that we have not achieved a great deal of military success by the bombing program. We have alienated the rest of the world, we have not advanced our military cause, and I believe that when you look at the loss we have had in manpower and in planes, and the fact that they have hardened their position to consider, both through infiltration as Senator Brooke has said, and other actions, the bombing policy has not proved successful. So I ask the question, why continue it?”

The question of Vietnam and Foreign Policy in Southeast Asia created widespread divisions in both parties by this time, just as clearly and widespread as the divisions were in public opinion. 1967 would be the tipping point and by 1968 it was a shambles.

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