3

The 1968 Vietnam documentary In the year of the Pig begins with a speech of an American politician:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz8H_oi1ck0&t=200s

Who is he and what was the occasion for holding this speech?

7

As Tom says, the first politician you see is Hubert Humphrey, the then Vice-President of the United States. It believe it was made to delegates in Chicago in August 1968.

He is immediately followed by President, Lyndon B. Johnson, giving a speech to Delegates to the Conference of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. (March 25, 1968)


There is a discussion of the intentions of the film and, in particular, these two specific vignettes from Humphrey and Johnson, in the 1970 review of the film by Clyde B. Smith in Film Quarterly (Vol. 24, No. 1, 1970, pp 47 - 49). [That issue is also available as a pdf file here].

  • thanks, that is a very interesting review although i didn't have time to read it completely yet. From what I read (and I got the same impression while watching) it sounds like Humphrey's speech is pro-war rhetoric. Would you agree with that? – ye-ti-800 Nov 21 '17 at 21:58
  • I'm not sure that I would characterise it as either pro- or anti-war. The speech was made in the context of the 1968 peace talks. The US wanted to be out of Vietnam, but had invested too much in the war to just walk away. (The North Vietnamese were using the 1968 peace talks as another military tactic, but their objective was unchanged - reunification). Humphrey was walking a political tightrope, wanting to be seen to support the peace process (and probably also genuinely supporting it) while having publicly pledged to bring the war "to an honourable conclusion". – sempaiscuba Nov 21 '17 at 22:21
7

That was Hubert Humphrey, the Vice-President of the United States, who was running for President after his President, Lyndon B. Johnson, dropped out of the race. He was trying to distance himself from the pro-war (in Vietnam) policies of President Johnson.

The line, "Blessed are the peacemakers, I want to underscore the word makers," was a coded message to this effect. Of course, Humphrey didn't want to openly contradict his boss.

  • thanks for the answer. I am wondering about about your last sentence though, is that right? From what I now read about Humphrey, his official position was support for the war (senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/…). Also according to sempaiscuba's answer (the first link) it does not sound like this position had changed by 1968 – ye-ti-800 Nov 21 '17 at 21:45
  • @ye-ti-800: Of course he had to "officially" support the war, as long as LBJ was his boss. But there was a very telling, "coded" passage early on, "Blessed are the peacemakers, I want to underscore the word MAKERs." I took that to mean that Humphrey would make peace if and when he became President. – Tom Au Nov 21 '17 at 22:45
  • interesting point, really seems the interpretations vary on this one. The NBC reporter from the link in the other answer (tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/broadcasts/441633) seems to read Humphrey the other way: "Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey takes harder line supporting war" – ye-ti-800 Nov 21 '17 at 23:15
  • @ye-ti-800: I'm writing with the benefit of 50 years of American history. Also, the benefit of modern psychology, body language, etc. Humphrey is seen in hindsight as more of a "pacifist" than either Johnson or Nixon. That may not have been clear to the reporter at the time. – Tom Au Nov 21 '17 at 23:17
  • you are making a very interesting point. This place is unfortunately not intended for prolonged discussion but thank you for elaborating! – ye-ti-800 Nov 21 '17 at 23:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.