Friday, July 31, 2009

Cronkite Remembers

I bought the 1996 VHS edition of "Cronkite Remembers" several years ago. Unfortunately, when I tried to play it a couple weeks ago when Walter Cronkite died, the tape broke. I was really angry about that and issued a few choice swear words in frustration.

I went on the internet and used to locate the tape. It was not to be found. Rather, there is a 3 DVD set by the same name. I figured it was probably a very similar production and bought it.

Mrs. TINSC and I have just spent the past 3 days watching this 7-1/2 hour series. It's worth every cent of the $20 or so we paid.

What can I say about Walter Cronkite? I dunno. The first thing that comes to my mind is: WHAT A LIFE!

Walter Cronkite was an eye witness to so much American history that this 7-1/2 hour series couldn't possibly cover it all.

He flew 8 combat missions over Europe during World War II as a war correspondent. He saw that war up close and personal. He covered the Nuremberg trials and later; even covered the Eichmann trial in Israel. He lived in Moscow immediately after the war and witnessed Stalinism in a most personal way. He flew a combat air mission over Vietnam. He attended BOTH the Democratic and Republican national conventions of 1928 (not as a reporter).

To hear the 20th century history of America from Walter Cronkite is a treat no matter what your politics are.

There are people who berate Walter Cronkite because he was a liberal. He was a liberal. There are those who berate Walter Cronkite for causing America to lose the Vietnam War. America didn't lose the Vietnam War; the RVN lost it. If the South Vietnamese couldn't stand up and fight against the Communists, then there was never a war to be won.

I'd also add that I heard some absolute falsehoods stated in that documentary. For example, Walter Cronkite states that America spent the 1930's preparing for World War II. Few concur with that view. Most historians rightly believe that America was quite unprepared for war on September 1, 1939 and hardly more prepared on December 7, 1941 when the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor.

But these are things he said in passing; so briefly you'd hardly even notice it. By and large, this DVD set is like listening to Grandpa tell old stories; except these stories shaped our world. There is no question that Walter Cronkite was in the thick of so much of it.

Walter Cronkite took from the Nuremberg Trials an opinion that we need a "World Court" and a "World Government" to diffuse conflict. That he was holding onto such beliefs well into the late 1990's is a mystery to me. Let me just say that I certainly don't agree with him on THAT one.

I need to check to see what the copyright date is on the DVD set. I think there were some things left out of the DVD set that were in that original 1996 VHS edition. For example, I could SWEAR Walter Cronkite talks about his daughter Kathy going to Woodstock on the original 1996 edition. I'm going to find a VHS tape repair service someday and have that restored so I can tell you whether my memory serves me correct.

I also remember that the 1996 edition covered the assassination attempt on President Reagan. This was certainly absent from the DVD set although as I'm sure you can imagine, there was plenty of time devoted to the assassination of President Kennedy.

Yet while Walter Cronkite can be fairly criticized for being liberal, even having liberal bias in his news reporting, nobody can say he was naive about the totalitarian aspects of Communism. This is where his worst critics and I part ways. Walter Cronkite was opposed to Communism and fully recognized it as a means to impose totalitarian rule. Moreover, he fully recognized the imperialist nature of the Soviet Union and the anti-American sentiment that American Communists held. Walter Cronkite was no fool and he was no tool.

He called the news the way he saw the news; sometimes regretting afterward. He did his best to get it right and if he reported the news through his liberal preferences, well... that's the way it was. Compared to the clods anchoring network news today, Walter did his job reasonably well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Republicans and Democrats

The only difference between Democrats and Republicans is that one group tries to push the country over the cliff. The other group tries to pull the country over the cliff.

The two sides argue about which is better but the end result is the same.