Sunday, 17 August 2014

Conservatives and "boots on the ground"

Thanks to Liberal Democrat Voice, I now know that the dialogue I quoted a few days ago was from a Larry King interview. The full transcript is here. My eye was caught by the interchange which preceded the Facebook clip, because I remember a "Letter from America" which recalled the same whistle-stop campaign.

KING: Have you always been politically motivated?

BACALL: I have. I have. I come from a...

KING: You go back -- In fact, I saw you.

BACALL: I saw you?

KING: I saw you speak for Adlai Stevenson.

BACALL: You did?

KING: In New York. I believe bogey was with you.


KING: In '52.

BACALL: '52. That's when my -- two of my greatest friendships began with Arthur Schlesinger and Alistair Cooke, 1952.

KING: And what a man Stevenson was.

BACALL: Oh, what a great man. (INAUDIBLE) you see this country. Please. Don't get me started, as they say.

KING: So we missed a good opportunity. I think, even his critic was say that Adlai Stevenson was a great...

BACALL: He was a brilliant, brilliant man. But no one had heard anyone except Roosevelt speak with wit. You know, they couldn't figure out what that was all about. Couldn't be serious.

If I recall correctly, Alistair Cooke's piece was part of a memorial to Adlai Stevenson, the last presidential candidate who Cooke so closely involved himself with. After that, he maintained a studious distance, though from time to time in the "Letters" he sought to correct what he saw as British misconceptions about such figures as Barry Goldwater and LBJ. What stuck in Cooke's memory was that while the Stevenson party was relaxing on the train the news came through of a speech by Eisenhower in which he promised to bring "our boys" back from Korea. At that point, they all realised that the election was lost for Stevenson - but he conceded that a liberal Democrat could never with credibility have made the same pledge.

It always seems to be conservatives - like Nixon, GW Bush and David Cameron - who gain kudos from withdrawing troops from foreign theatres of war. Contrariwise, they have - Churchill and Thatcher apart - managed to avoid committing fighting men. It was Truman who took US into the Korean War, Kennedy & LBJ who took up where the French left off in Vietnam, and of course Tony Blair's ventures remain fresh in the memory.

No comments: