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Bill Moyers Rewind: Barbara Tuchman (1988)

In 1988, Bill Moyers sat down with noted historian Barbara Tuchman to discuss politicians, advertising and whether our country has learned from the Vietnam War. An advocate of the notion that it's worth knowing where we've been, Ms. Tuchman, throughout her distinguished career, examined the changes in America since the days of Washington, Adams and Jefferson.

Now almost 20 years after their conversation, on the brink of a new Presidential election, Ms. Tuchman's words still ring true and inform the discussion of how technology has affected American politics and the candidates we elect.


(To watch this interview in full, click here)

We invite you respond to this interview by commenting below.


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At 5:23 min, you mention that the lesson of Vietnam was that the American people will not let a president take us to war unless he can present overwhelming evidence that our national security was clearly at stake.

I think the lesson of the Iraq war will be that even when presented with "evidence" we will have to have it truly scrutinized.

I just don't know what we can do to protect ourselves from a president who flat out lies. Oh, wait - we impeach him. Where is our Congress on this issue? When will some one be brave enough to raise the issue?

Why do we persist in the folly of not seeking Presidential advisers of the caliber of Barbara Tuchman? Moyers journal has become the new school of this old man, though I'm a wayward student. Professor, I just read a book by Arthur Miller written just before he passed, in which he argued that modern Presidents are primarily actors. He should have known considering the company he kept. Reagan was the most vacuous and fringe person ever elected. Daddy Bush must have reigned 12 years I think. With Iran-Contra, their era ranks right up there with the Harding years. Shrub Bush is indisputably our Nero,
who burned our pride on 9/11 and robbed us blind. (May he be run down like Nero.) We are to blame for electing a fool out of greed, for believing the hype about low taxes and cheap gas. (If you think Bush and Cheney wouldn't perform abortions on an assembly line for big bucks you may be an idiot.) The truth is that we need excetional leadership now, and probably an institutional revolution. We can't afford another Bubba Clinton, and certainly not some religious nut or business profiteer. Anyone who can go around week after week repeating the same talking points like a zombie Leno would be too rubber-headed for the job. A third party with a superb woman candidate is in order, Kucinich for V.P. (He'll never shoot a hunting partner in the face.)

I have learned much from Barbara Tuchman's books and agree with her answers. I doubt she could tolerate Bush but would she be as candid regarding this war and its obvious relation to the protection of Israel?

i would love to have seen a follow up on her book, March to Folly, on the Iraq War. Bet she would have ranked it among the worst mistakes in American history.

Dear Bill, Did you forget that Barbara Bush called Ferraro a "bitch'?

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