Well, somebody’s going to get hurt

“On Januar 31, 1967, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, flanked by eight security guards, briefed some one hundred student-government presidents and campus-newspaper editors who had signed a letter questioning the war: football players, fraternity presidents, mainstream kids, stunned into silence by the obvious lies their secretary of state expected them to believe.

A kid from Michigan State: ‘Mr. Secretary, what happens if we continue the policy you’ve outlined … this continued gradual escalation until the other side capitulates … up to and including nuclear war, and the other side doesn’t capitulate?’

Rusk leaned back, hissed forth a stream of tobacco smoke, and solemnly replied, ‘Well, somebody’s going to get hurt.’

Here, before their eyes, was the maniacal air force general Buck Turgidson from Dr. Strangelove. The room drew silent, their thoughts as one: My God, the secretary of state is crazy.

The madness was not hard to spot, if you chose to spot it. The problem was facing the wrath of all those decent Americans who didn’t want to face that their government was mad.”

– Rick Perlstein, Nixonland

“Hangers-on urged [George] Romney to run in the open to build his national following and prove his grasp of the issues. His statehouse aides cringed: they knew the last thing that would help their boss was to rehearse in public. He was too damned forthright, too earnest – especially about Vietnam. He grappled with it honestly. Which would make what he said sound absurd, since everyone else was in denial or lying.”

– Rick Perlstein, Nixonland

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