Although I hate to be the bucket of cold water on the porn ‘stache discussion that has been heating up our personal interweb for the past day, it felt necessary that I write a small tribute to the most recent passing amongst our ongoing rash of celebrity deaths. In fact, you could say that there might not even be a Red State Blue State without the contributions of this person because many of the decisions he made led directly to the epic divide that has come to define our country.
I consider it fair to say that the Vietnam conflict was a watershed event in US history and the domestic response to it created a fault line that still divides the red from the blue states. Each presidential election since that time has been a refighting of the battle and even much of the argument about Iraq recycled the same terminology used in discussions of Vietnam. And no one was more instrumental in creating those discussions, arguing those arguments and fighting those battles than Robert McNamara.
There’s no reason to go all that in depth because if you really want to get an idea of the man, there’s no better place to go than Errol Morris’ 2003 documentary, The Fog of War, where you can hear McNamara describe what happened in his own words. Nearing ninety at that point, McNamara’s lucidity and razor-sharp reasoning are almost stupefying. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that he ain’t no dummy.
So, despite the ambivalent feelings Mr. McNamara may inspire and despite his troubled legacy, we still salute him. He is at least as responsible for RSBS as Al Gore is for the internet.