The Wise Men Cometh?
Revisiting some Halberstam:
In late March, Johnson summoned his Senior Advisory Group on Vietnam, a blue-chip Establishment group. These were the great names of the Cold War: McCloy, Acheson, Arthur Dean, Mac Bundy, Douglas Dillon, Robert Murphy. And over a period of two days they quietly let him know that the Establishment -- yes, Wall Street -- had turned on the war; it was hurting us more than it was helping us, it had all gotten out of hand, and it was time to bring it back to proportion. It was hurting the economy, dividing the country, turning the youth against the country's best traditions. Great universities, their universities, were being destroyed. It was time to turn it around, to restore some balance....and the switch in this group, which was saying in effect that the war had to be de-escalated, had a profound effect on the President....Events, and pressure, it was clear, were closing in. He was cornered now....He had in late March given particularly belligerent speeches, but now he was caught and he knew it. The Wise Men, as they were called, were telling him what the polls and the newspapers had told him; that the country had turned on the war.Will the history books call the past week or so Bush's "Wise Men" moment? Maybe, though it feels a lot more like Wise Men Lite. It depends on what happens next, obviously. And it's important to note that LBJ's intervention took place in early 1968. If the Vietnam analogy holds -- and so far it has, in more ways than not -- then the past week might mark the end of the beginning as much as the beginning of the end, with some ugly twists and turns to come.