In “Now He Knows the Rest of the Story” (Rockford Files, May), Scott P. Richert wrote that Paul Harvey “reversed course on the Vietnam War” in 1970, having previously been a supporter. I remember distinctly that he made this decision as he drove his son to Canada to avoid the draft. But I am sure his motives were pure.
—Richard J. Johnson
Coeur d’Alene, ID
Mr. Richert Replies:
Mr. Johnson may be concerned with the motives behind Paul Harvey’s May 1, 1970, on-air reading of his open letter to President Nixon, but the paragraph in which I mentioned it was not. I cited the open letter, Harvey’s support for Pat Buchanan’s insurgency against President George H.W. Bush in 1992, and his willingness to be courted by George Wallace in 1968 as evidence of Harvey’s independent streak, which belies the media’s portrayal of him as a loyal Republican. Whatever one might think of his reversal, it does illustrate the point.
That said, I have to assume that Mr. Johnson’s distinct memory of the circumstances surrounding Harvey’s decision is intentional hyperbole. Paul Harvey’s son was a conscientious objector during Vietnam; Harvey’s wife was opposed to the war, it seems, from the beginning. Yet Paul Harvey, Jr., never went to Canada to avoid the draft, so his father clearly did not drive him there.
Even before he changed course, however, Harvey had long been critical of the conduct of the Vietnam War. As the Washington Post noted in its obituary, Harvey had called for reductions in troops as early as 1966, arguing that American forces were being put in harm’s way by politicians who were preventing military leaders from fighting the war as they thought it should be fought.
Harvey’s stated purpose (rather than his motives) in reversing course in 1970 was to oppose President Nixon’s expansion of the war into Cambodia—which, Mr. Johnson might remember distinctly, the President announced in a televised address to the nation the night before Harvey broadcast his open letter. Again, whatever one might think of Harvey’s belief that the invasion of Cambodia was another example of the war being directed by politicians rather than military leaders, his decision to oppose it was consistent with his earlier criticisms of the conduct of the war.
As I noted in the final paragraphs of my column, Paul Harvey made many decisions, especially later in life, that I find wrong. Reversing course on Vietnam in 1970 is not one of them.
On Corporate Loyalty
I would take exception to a single line of the otherwise excellent piece by William Lutz in the April issue (“Ask An Entrepreneur,” Views): “Corporate America is loyal to shareholders, not neighbors.”
Corporate America’s loyalties lie with its management. Shareholders are the biggest victims of the obscene looting in salaries, bonuses, and perks that are taken by today’s executives. We can only hope that this economic crisis will result in a restoration of the balance of power enjoyed by management over shareholders.
Mr. Lutz Replies:
Mr. Stanton’s point is well taken. What I was trying to say is that corporate management values short-term profit over honesty, the long-term well-being (and profitability) of the company, and duty to community. That is as bad, in the long run, for shareholders as it is for everyone else.
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