March 6, 1966 – it was a Sunday that year – and it was right in the middle of the Vietnam War. The war was escalating on a daily basis and in 1966 there was still support for it by the American people and the vast majority of those on Capitol Hill. Senator Ted Kennedy voiced his support of the war effort, though not with the zeal many of his colleagues were expressing at the time. Of course, early on during the Gulf of Tonkin period, Kennedy was in lock-step with those who felt that, not only was it a war we could win, but it was also a just and justifiable war – the Domino theory was very much in play during the early stages of the war – and even in 1966 there was concern this could expand to a much wider war involving most, if not all the neighboring countries in the region. The notion was that Vietnam was under attack by a communist entity to the North and all the U.S. was doing was creating a military presence in order to allow South Vietnam the Right of Self-Determination without undue influence from Hanoi seemed honorable. Trouble was, the government of South Vietnam was no model of democracy. It had been riddled with corruption ever since the French left in 1954 and the concept of Free and Fair elections and The Right of Self-Determination was becoming more remote as time went by. And so, knowing all this, as well as our treatment of the South Vietnamese people was starting to create a wave of doubts among those in Washington, among them Ted Kennedy.
This panel interview of Senator Ted Kennedy encompasses a number of issues – Vietnam, but also that of his brother Robert and what was being bandied about as The Kennedy Dynasty in Washington.
Made for some interesting Political tap dancing, but also made for some interesting history. Particularly of a period of time that set the stage for much to come in the future, especially with reference to America’s Foreign Policy.
For a glimpse, here is that interview/discussion with Senator Ted Kennedy and a panel of journalists on Meet The Press for March 6, 1966.