Vietnam War

John Kiesewetter

With candidates making a joke of the presidential campaign this year, too bad comedian Pat Paulsen isn’t around to satirize the craziness.

Paulsen, the deadpan comic who died in 1997, made satirical runs for the White House in 1968 -- at  the height of the Vietnam War – on CBS’ “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” show.  He offered hope and change, boldly pronouncing: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself – and the Boogey Man!”

Looking back on his comical crusade nearly 50 years ago, I’m surprised that his wacky rhetoric remains so relevant. 

  This month marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’'s decision to begin the massive escalation of the Vietnam War. The war, which ended in April 1975, bitterly divided the United States between those who saw a need to suppress the spread of communism and those who challenged the morality, legality and practically of fighting in a distant southeast Asian country. Vietnam’'s impact is still being felt today, especially in the two recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Possibly a first for Around Cincinnati: our interview with local author and Vietnam veteran Rod Jordan has a surprise ending. His book, Welcome to the Nam, talks about his time in country as a grunt in the Marines and how the death and devastation he witnessed has stuck with him his entire life. Brian O’Donnell talks with the author about why he finally decided to write the book, and sets up the final surprise.