At the White House on Thursday, President Obama let his radical leftist slip show when he accepted a 67 year-old letter from from Ho Chi Minh to U.S. President Harry Truman given to him by Vietnam's current president Truong Tan Sang and spoke of the letter's contents: "... we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. Ho Chi Minh talks about his interest in cooperation with the United States. And President Sang indicated that even if it's 67 years later, it's good that we're still making progress."
Darlene Superville at the Associated Press relayed what Obama said in the final paragraphs of her report on Sunday without a hint of historical knowledge about mass murderer Ho Chi Minh's motivations for writing that letter. Perhaps she's too young and was so consistently indoctrinated by her teachers about how the U.S. was the "imperialist" and Ho Chi Minh was the "freedom fighter" to know any better. Based on his bio, New York Times reporter Mark Landler doesn't appear to be able to claim that kind of historical ignorance, but he has definitely retained a capacity to make excuses for repressive, murderous regimes. Excerpts from his coverage and a correct rendering of the history follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Obama and Vietnam’s Leader Pledge Deeper Ties
Bearing a copy of a letter from Ho Chi Minh to Harry S. Truman, the president of Vietnam met President Obama on Thursday and pledged to deepen trade and military ties with the United States even as they tangled over human rights.
... the visit of Vietnam’s president, Truong Tan Sang, follows a difficult period in which Vietnam’s Communist government has cracked down at home, imprisoning bloggers, religious leaders and dissidents; curtailing labor laws; and again taking control of what one Vietnam expert called the “commanding heights” of the economy.
Mr. Obama referred gently to the abuses ...
... Human rights advocates and union leaders complained that given Vietnam’s deteriorating record, Mr. Sang should not have been rewarded with an Oval Office visit ...
... Labor leaders, including James P. Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters union, urged Mr. Obama to suspend negotiations over a regional free trade agreement until Vietnam promised to improve its treatment of workers. And a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers called on the president to press Vietnam harder on human rights.
... Administration officials said, however, that it made more sense for Mr. Obama to raise the issue of human rights, which they said he did privately and during his comments after the meeting, than to spurn the leader of a country that is central to his policy of re-engaging in Asia.
... as reporters shouted questions during a picture-taking session, Mr. Obama was overheard telling Mr. Sang that “reporters are the same everywhere,” according to a pool reporter in the Oval Office.
Before the two parted, Mr. Obama referred to the letter that Mr. Sang had shown him. In it, the president said, Ho Chi Minh expressed his hope to President Truman that Vietnam could cooperate with the United States.
It seems reasonable to believe, again based on his bio, that Landler really knows that Ho Chi Minh -- he of the made-up name (which conveniently means "Ho Who Enlightened"), made-up biography, and non-existent biographer (alleged author "Tran Dan Tien was none other than Ho himself") -- wasn't "inspired" by the Declaration or Thomas Jefferson. He was "inspired" to pretend to be inspired by them in the hope of receiving American aid after World War II. His references to the Declaration and Jefferson began in September 1945.
Ron Radosh elaborated in the Wall Street Journal yesterday:
During World War II, Vietnam—a French colony—was taken over by Japan, and toward the end of the conflict, with Japan in retreat, a power vacuum developed. Ho Chi Minh, leading the Viet Minh communist guerrilla group, saw a chance to seize power before the French could restore colonial rule. He needed allies and knew that the American president, Franklin Roosevelt, had a reputation for being anti-French and anti-colonial. Thus began Ho's courtship of the U.S. by citing the Declaration of Independence and appealing to the American ideal of liberty.
His aim, according to Ho's biographer, William Duiker, was to "induce the United States to support the legitimacy of his government, rather than a return of the French."
In reality, Ho was a "disciplined Communist, who had "proved time and again his profound loyalty to Communism," according to the ex-communist German revolutionary Ruth Fischer, writing in Foreign Affairs in 1954. She had known him in Moscow in the 1920s when he was receiving his training.
Ho didn't get the U.S. support he sought, but he still succeeded in his national takeover, proclaiming himself president of a provisional government in what he called the Vietnam Democratic Republic. In October 1945, just how democratic the republic would be became clear: Ho ordered the slaughter of his political opponents, including 50,000 of the then-powerful Trotskyist communists.
... Ho's posturing as a Jefferson-inspired lover of independence failed to dupe the U.S. in the 1940s. Let's be generous and assume that antiwar protesters in the 1960s and early 1970s didn't know any better when they bought into his fiction. Let's give President Obama the same benefit of the doubt. But let's also retire the idea that Ho Chi Minh had the slightest interest in the Declaration of Independence except as a tool he once deployed hoping to achieve his communist goals.
By the time Ho Chi Minh was done, he ended up being responsible for a half-million deaths (a mid-point estimate based on information presented here). His successors were responsible for thousands if not tens of thousands more after South Vietnam fell in 1975, either through direct execution or by forced relocations to "re-education camps."
At his New Zeal blog, Trevor Loudon isn't nearly as forgiving of Obama as Radosh:
A Google News search on "Ho Chi Minh Thomas Jefferson" (not in quotes) at 8 p.m. returned only 21 items, with no more than a half-dozen of them coming from establishment press outlets. Since the AP and New York Times items weren't returned as results, that makes about eight "mainstream" outlets with coverage. Whoopee.
There is a noteworthy demonstration of low-information ignorance from Tom Bemis at MarketWatch, who believes the entire matter should be treated as a "kerfuffle":
Obama’s Ho Chi Minh, Thomas Jefferson comments irk right-wingers
... Friday’s kerfuffle is reminiscent of a controversy surrounding former White House communications director Anita Dunn, who cited “two of my favorite political philosophers: Mao Tse-tung and Mother Theresa,” in a speech in 2009, sparking similar remonstrations.
Dunn subsequently said “The use of the phrase ‘favorite political philosophers’ was intended as irony.”
That excuse for Dunn is pure horse manure, Tom. She was speaking to a group of high school students, and went on at length about why Mao was such and inspirational guy to her ("Against all the odds against you, and Mao Tse Tung said, you know, you fight your war, and I'll fight mine").
President Obama Upsets the Swift Boaters
Lucky for the White House, the outrage so far as been pretty rootless and gone over the heads of people who don't care to re-fight this. "This is a slap in the face to those who served — and especially those who paid the ultimate price for freedom during that dark time in history," said Texas Rep. Sam Johnson, a former POW. "Let me tell you, there was nothing ‘free’ about my seven years in captivity in Hanoi — more than half of that time in solitary confinement." What did Obama say about freedom? Nothing, but I assume Johnson heard in his head the voices of anti-war activists calling Ho the "new George Washington." And there's nothing he can do, really. The occupant of the White House is more sympathetic to that view than to the view that the war was right and winnable.
Well, at least he admitted where Obama's sympathies really are. Too bad, David, that the war was a "noble cause," and was "won" by our troops after micromanaging weenies like LBJ and Bob McNamara were swept out of the way. The war was lost when subsequent Democratic Congresses refused needed aid to the South Vietnamese.
There aren't any right-wing dictators or totalitarian regimes in the 20th century with the kind of body counts piled up by the likes of socialists and communists like Hitler (yes, he was a socialist), Stalin or Mao. Hitler is falsely tagged as "right-wing," while Mao and Stalin (also here, here, and here) still have their defenders. Obviously, so does Ho Chi Minh.
What if Bemis and Weigel are right, and it really is only "right-wingers" and "Swift Boaters" who care about the fraudulent favorable treatment of Ho Chi Minh in spite of his horrific, murderous legacy?
If that's so, what does that say about the left?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.