Brother President, you break my heart.
I knew this day would arrive, so I cannot say the speech at West Point was a surprise. But anticipating the inevitable does not soften the blow. It is hard to watch intelligent men, motivated by the best of intentions, make terrible mistakes. Words fail me, so I put together a video that expresses my feelings.
I never had any special affection for LBJ. But years later, when I had children of my own, I began to appreciate the pain captured in that famous picture by Jack Kightlinger of the president. It's the one showing LBJ, head in hand, sitting alone at a conference table in the White House. Usually you see it cropped close, but the wide shot shows he is listening to a tape recording. The tape is from his son-in-law, Chuck Robb. He was reporting the conditions on the ground in Vietnam. I'm sure the terrible news was made even worse by the fact that Robb's wife, Johnson's daughter Lynda Bird, had moved back into the White House to be with her family during her first pregnancy.
I fear that December 1, 2009 marked the moment when history answered the question posed in May, 2007 by the poet Darian Dauchan in his moving poem to Barack Obama:
When will your demons come to light?
When will your skeletons creep from the closet?
Slip and say the wrong things?
Start compromising yourself
until there is nothing left of you?
Because you know as well as I do
that great people with good intentions
have lost their souls in the process.
Fighting for freedom
but in the end settling for power.
Watching the speech at West Point, I recalled the words from Blunt's song and they seemed so appropriate.
"I see no bravery, no bravery in your eyes anymore, only sadness, only sadness."