Seeking to justify the Dems newest use of their Vietnam Playbook — saying the president lied us into Iraq the same way LBJ lied us into Vietnam — Chris Matthews said this morning that the attack on US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin never happened. The Tonkin Gulf resolution, passed by Congress and authorizing military intervention in Vietnam, has always been used by the party of George McGovern to condemn the Vietnam war. The problem that Matthews, Dean and the rest have is that the Tonkin Gulf attack – and the threat of Saddam — weren’t fiction.
As I wrote for another publication in 2003, the parallel is very apt, but for precisely the opposite reason that the Dems want it to be. As that column said, “…the destroyer USS Maddox – gathering intelligence for the South Vietnamese – was attacked by four North Vietnamese patrol boats on August 2, 1964. Maddox – aided by carrier aircraft – severely damaged the attackers, leaving at least one dead in the water.” The next night, there was another attack detected, but due to the overcast skies, US aircraft couldn’t find them and they couldn’t find the US ships. One pilot who flew that second night e-mailed me that he was confident the enemy boats were there. In that e-mail, he told me, “We were being vectored by a radar operator. He could see our aircraft and he could see the targets on the water. We were vectored to a surface target, but without flares we could not see it. I know for certain there were targets on the water, but like the WMD in Iraq, we could not visually find them.”
The Dems are desperate to make Iraq another Vietnam. “The president lied us into war” is just a page from the Vietnam playbook. It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now.