|The Whole World Was Watching
an oral history of 1968
Matt Olivier: We will start off with where and when were you born and when did you grow up?
Daniel Prentis: I was born in Xenia, Ohio in 1947, and I grew up for the most part of Tacoma, Washington.
MO: You moved to the West Coast at what age?
DP: I, my father was in the Air Force, and so I moved around a bit when I was a child. I went to, I moved to California first when I was about six and then ended up in Tacoma when I was seven or eight.
MO: How would you describe your neighborhood, its religion and ethnicity and what was your parents' occupation?
DP: My neighborhood was suburban lower middle class. Religion, sort of non- denominational Protestant. My father was an engineer in the Air Force and pilot, and my mother was a secretary in a school district.
MO: Um, what was your parents political views and affili?
MO: Yes, that's what I was trying to say.
DP: Both of my parents political views were generally conservative but not extreme conservative, generally Republican. my father more so than my mother.
MO: Was there discrimination in your neighborhood at all when you were growing up, were you aware of any?
DP: No. There was none that I am aware of in my neighborhood, and it was not something, racial discrimination was not a problem.
MO: Was it ethnically mixed, your neighborhood at all, or was it mostly white people?
DP: My neighborhood was white. Um, so I guess I answered the question a little too broadly. In my neighborhood it was not an issue because my neighborhood was white. Um, I don't remember
MO: High school?
DP: if there were black or other ethnic groups in my neighborhood in my immediate neighborhood. High school was mixed, although a relatively low percentage of, let's say, black and also of Asian, but pretty open and pretty good not, there was, I think, discrimination was not really an issue.
MO: Okay I'm gonna move on to your high school and college years, and um where did you go to college?
DP: I went to Brown.
MO: Okay, and did you participate in any extracurricular activities in college or high school?
DP: Yup. I went to high school in Tacoma, Washington. And I was involved, in high school, in activities, extracurricular activities, in debate, and um I also worked five days a week and other [tape stops] life. In college I was a member of the Inter-fraternity Council which was a part of a governing body. I was also a member of the class council which was sort of a governing body for our class.
MO: Okay ,um, did you have a lot of friends in high school and college and did you have girlfriends and stuff like that you know?
DP: I would say yes.
MO: Did you feel there was a generation gap? If so, why?
DP: When I was in college you mean?
DP: Umhh, I think when I was in college, I was not aware of anything of a so-called generation gap. I think that there was just us--youth and them-- old people, and I didn't think of it as a generation gap until later on in the college years when, in 1967 and 1968 when there got, there appeared to be a real difference in viewpoint and outlook between `us' and `them.'
MO: Okay, when did you start, like, you were a protester against the war, correct?
DP: Uhh no, I wouldn't say. No, I wouldn't call myself a protester.
MO: Okay, did you oppose the war or were you for Vietnam?
DP: I, it's a more complicated, I'd have to give you a more complicated answer than that. Is that okay with you?
MO: Yeah that's fine.
DP: When I started my college years, which was in 1965, the Vietnam war was a very small thing and very low profile. At that time, my own political leanings were generally conservative, Republican. Over the next two or three years, a variety of things happened. One of them is the war, as you know from history, escalated and became more of a thing and became more into our lives as friends of mine were drafted. I was safe because I had a student deferment.
Um, I also started to read more. I was taking a lot of political science courses and began to read a great deal about, among other things, the war. And so my own thinking sort of evolved to the 1967 time frame into 19. And by the end of 1967, I had read enough to start to have really serious questions about what is going on and why we have this war and began to really focus a lot of attention on trying to learn about it. And so, by the time 1968 came around, I was truly on the fence and really trying to learn more as events began to unfold very, very rapidly. And so, based on all that, from that by the time I was finished with college, I graduated in 1969, I was very much against the war. And that was the position I came to probably during 1968. But I wouldn't call my self a war protester.
MO: Did you go to any protests or any like?
DP: Demonstrations that sort of thing?
MO: Yeah, demonstrations or sit-ins or anything like that?
DP: Not until later probably. I know that when I was in law school in Cambridge, I did. I took a year off after I graduated from Brown. I was out of the country during a large part of 1969, first half of 1970. I was in England at the time. In fact when Kent State happened, which was really a cataclysmic event. But I didn't spend a lot of time marching or protesting.
MO: What was your reaction to when the police, like, beat down those protesters and like shot into the crowd of protesters and stuff, were you?
DP: At Kent State or in Chicago?
MO: In Chicago, I mean, yeah.
DP: In Chicago in 1968, my reaction was hard to describe because I'll have to give you another long answer. And that is that in early 1968, it, as I said, events were accelerating rapidly and we had several different things going on. One was when Gene McCarthy declared for his candidacy for Democratic nomination against the sitting president, which is unheard of, and there was a great ground swell of sentimental interest in Eugene McCarthy. Then in February or March, Lyndon Johnson held that, had that famous speech from the White House in which he declared he wasn't gonna run! Followed by Bobby Kennedy coming in. So I became very involved and I hitchhiked out to California in June and I was in San Francisco and ran into Bobby Kennedy in San Francisco, I mean, literally, I was going down to Fisherman's Wharf as he was coming out of a restaurant.
MO: Did you say anything?
DP: No, of course he had his entourage and all that. But by that time, I had watched the day before, no, not the day before. I watched the debate the following day in Los Angeles between him and Eugene McCarthy and became really convinced that Bobby Kennedy was the guy. And I hitchhiked up to Seattle, and it was the following night he was shot. So I just dropped out of any political involvement because I was very upset and disappointed. And so I didn't follow the `68 Convention really closely other than follow what was going on and to be very, very upset about Mayor Richard Daley and what he was doing and the way the convention was being run. Hubert Humphrey and the machine was railroading the platform through. So again, long answer, but it was not a happy time.
MO: Did, were any of your friends from high school drafted or did you cut off communication with them once you went to college?
DP: No, a lot of, I had a lot of contact with friends from high school, but a lot of friends from high school were drafted. And I had friends from high school who were killed. And I had friends from high school who were injured. I had friends from college who were killed or injured.
MO: But if they were in college didn't they usually avoid them?
DP: Not everybody stayed out. Some people didn't stay in school, left of their own volition.
MO: Did you notice a change in your friends when they came back from the war? Like, were they, like a different personality after the war?
DP: Some were.
MO: In what ways would you say?
DP: I have a friend whom I haven't seen in a long time who was pretty badly injured, and he just changed very much in his personality. It's hard for me to describe how. Others much less so, some, I have friends who went over and came back unscathed. I have a friend who lost a foot who's never been.
[interrupted by a secretary]
MO: So, some of your friends changed.
DP: Yeah, but I didn't know anybody who ended up with really severe Vietnam Syndrome that you read about.
MO: Okay, did, was music big in your life?
DP: Big! Sure!
MO: Did you like the Beatles?
MO: Cool that's cool! Did you go to any concerts were you big on concerts?
MO: What concerts did you attend?
DP: I saw The Doors. I saw Janis Joplin. I saw Jimi Hendrix. I saw Cream. I saw the Yardbirds. I saw Procal Harem. I don't know if all these names ring bells, but yeah I was there! I mean the music was very, especially in `67 and `68, I mean those were the.
MO: Did you see Santana?
DP: Never saw Santana.
MO: My dad is big on them, I guess. Did you go to Woodstock or not?
DP: I didn't go to Woodstock. It was, that was in `69, and I had just graduated from school and went back out west and I missed it.
MO: And were you, like, really disappointed after that?
DP: I would have loved to go and seen it, although in retrospect, I'm not sure I wanted to sit and get rained on in a muddy pasture with 400,000 of my closest friends.
MO:Did you go to that other concert after that began with an "a"? I don't remember the name.
MO: Yeah did you go to that?
DP: No. I read about it. That wasn't nice. That was The Stones.
MO: How did music affect your life at all? Were you, like, I don't know.
DP: Well during that period of time, in 1967 was a real big watershed year. And that was the year when the Sgt. Pepper's album came out. That was the year that the Doors' album came out. And it was the first time that I really started to focus and listen to music and it became a big deal listening to it and then through `68 nothing more than just, the music was great! It was fabulous music! You know you turn on the radio and it was all good stuff.
MO: Did you have a transistor radio or anything like that?
DP: Sure, radio in the car. AM radio in the car, that kind of stuff.
MO: Did you, like, support Black Panthers and their causes and stuff like that? Did you think they were little too violent or.
DP: I didn't think they were too violent. I mean you have to isolate the time. In 1968 I was living in Seattle, summer of 1968 I was living in Seattle. Uh there was an active Black Panther chapter in Seattle. I knew some of the people. The bar I used to go to was a bar that black people went. It was a pretty radical hippie bar. So you got to know these people. I had some association with them. On the other hand, back in 1968, uh I'm trying to think how to say it. It's not that the Black Panthers were so radical; there wasn't a great deal of violence going on in Seattle at the time. But, there was very much of an anti-white sentiment.
So you would go to a meeting or something that would be a meeting of liberal whites and, you know, college kids like me and hippies and blacks. And the blacks would kinda be looking at us kinda saying, "Who are you honkey?" sorta thing. There was a real tension across the race, races. To go back to your question, was I a supporter of the Black Panthers? Yeah I was kinda a white liberal supporter who was not on the barricades and was not committing violence. But as a general proposition, I supported them and supported their views, and I knew they were getting the crap kicked outta them by the cops in just normal everyday life.
MO: How did you dress? Like, would you consider yourself a hippie at that time?
DP: I wasn't really. I was, you know, reasonably conservative. I wasn't a hippie. I don't know if I ever had a pair of bellbottoms.
MO: Really? How long was your hair?
DP: It was a little bit longer than this, but not down to my butt or anything like that. I had a beard.
MO: You did? Was it a big one?
DP: Nah, no, no. No John Lennon beard, just a beard.
MO:Did you follow the news of Vietnam? Like did you always follow, like, with the body count and all that stuff?
DP: Yes. Yes.
MO: Did you feel if we were always winning or, like, did you get depressed?
DP: It was depressing. It was depressing because, you know, at first you just follow it because its like watching the weather. At the end of every news cast, or Vietnam portion of the news cast, in college every one just gathered to watch the evening news and at the end of the Vietnam segment they would always have a US flag, they would have a North Vietnamese flag and maybe they would have a Vietcong flag and they would have numbers and the whole issue is the ratio had to be right. So if we had two hundred they had to have two thousand. And it was all bullshit. And after a while you realize it was nonsense, it was totally meaningless. In fact, there was one of the body counts, you may have read about this, 1968 marked this period in time when there was a, what used to be underground became mainstream and music was certainly apart of that, but Life magazine did a really revolutionary thing; it published an article one, just one weekly issue, in which it published the face, the high school graduation picture of every kid who'd been killed the previous week.
MO: Yeah, that's kind of weird. And then, I guess, we had learned in class that if you add up all the statistics it showed that we had killed the whole Vietnamese , like, army. It was so.
DP: Oh yeah it was nonsense.
MO: What was your reaction when Martin Luther King got killed and like where were you and stuff like that?
DP: I was a, in a bar in Newport, no, not in Newport, in Rhode Island, and the news came over the television which was up in the corner. And, you know, I reacted with shock. But, it's also true, I have to say, not the same way when Bobby Kennedy was killed because I'm white. And know that, you know, I couldn't have the same depth of feeling of the blacks and what they had. And I think I understand it because I know how I felt when Kennedy was killed--that terrible theft.
MO: Was it a bigger shock to you when Robert Kennedy was shot or when John F. Kennedy was shot?
DP: It was a bigger shock when John Kennedy was shot because that was the first time anything like that, when John Kennedy was killed, it was something that was totally novel to our experience as a nation. And even though I was young, I was fifteen to sixteen years old, it was a total shock to the system that it could happen. By the time that Bobby Kennedy was killed, Martin Luther King had been shot, John Kennedy had been shot. It was a different sort of a world. On a personal level, it was more, I took it as a heavier loss because I was, at that point I was twenty two years old, twenty one, twenty two, whatever I was, and I was really heavily invested in Bobby Kennedy, emotionally and politically and had just seen him two days before. So different, different reaction.
MO: What did you think of Hubert Humphrey's candidacy?
DP: Hubert Humphrey uh probably didn't get a fair shake because he was a very decent guy and a very intelligent and thoroughly honest and decent guy. But the fact that he gained the nomination, under circumstances of number one, Bobby Kennedy's death and number two, being essentially was a tool of the Lyndon Johnson mainstream Democratic party machine, made him not a very palatable guy. I didn't vote in that election.
MO: Was it a big disappointment to you when Nixon got elected ?
DP: I hated Nixon.
MO: For what reasons did you hate Nixon?
DP: Because he had every appearance to me of being a devious, dishonest, bad person, just all the opposite of what I said about Hubert Humphrey. The reality is Hubert Humphrey was an honest and decent, caring person and Richard Nixon is the mirror opposite.
MO: What religion were you growing up?
DP: Protestant, non-denomination.
MO: Were you big on Protestant or not really?
DP: Not really.
MO: Were you, like, against birth control and all that or were you just really didn't care?
DP: No, I was for birth control.
MO: What about drugs and stuff around you, was drugs, like, really all around you and stuff?
DP: It was pretty common, marijuana. Pretty just almost universal
MO: And at the concerts and stuff?
DP: Phwee [laugh]. Everywhere! The bars that I would go to, you know, the heavier drugs, no and I never really associated with any heavy drug kinda of culture, any intensive use of acid and those other things, but it was pretty common, `68 and `69, yeah.
MO: Were any of your friends, like, big on acid or anything or you just didn't hang out with that kinda you know?
DP: Not really. No, none of my close friends or friends that I really spent a lot of time with did a lot of acid. That isn't to say they didn't do it a bit here and there, try it here or there. Marijuana was common just everywhere, acid less so, in my experiences, because I didn't hang out with that group.
MO: The expulsion of the people who gave the Black Power sign during the Olympics , was that, were you, like, really affected by that? Were you like, wow, that's really unfair or anything like that?
DP: I'm trying to think. I hadn't thought about that. What year was that?
MO: I dunno. But I remember seeing.
DP: That was after `68, I'm pretty sure.
MO: I think it was actually during 1968.
DP: Oh was it really?
DP: I don't have a direct recollection today, but I know where I was coming from then and I think I would have felt the same way I feel now, which is whether it is tasteful or appropriate or not is not a reason for taking a medal away. A person's entitled particularly during those times. They were turbulent time.
MO: I mean , like, a guy can smoke marijuana now and he cab keep the medal, and they gave a sign on the podium.
DP: Right I can't, it's hard to justify.
MO: Were you in support of the Women's Movement or, like, when you were growing up, were you just taught, like, women are, like, were not supposed to have a part outside of the home or anything like that?
DP: When I was growing up I was not taught. I didn't grow up in a culture where women were supposed to stay at home. My mother worked. And so, from that standpoint, I never have had, been of that opinion that women should be kept in a particular place or something like that. I guess I have never been an active, vigorous advocate member of the Women's Movement. I've been generally sympathetic because I have generally a white middle-class liberal outlook on life.
MO: How did the campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and George Wallace affect you if you remember those campaigns?
DP: I remember those campaigns and Eugene McCarthy's campaign affected me a lot. I felt a great affection for him. He was a real hero to college kids in 1968 because he was the guy who broke the mold and had the guts to take on Lyndon Johnson. And he was very articulate, very bright, again, a really truly honest, decent, caring guy who had the right side of a very big issue.
But I remember, I mentioned to you that I was really following him, then Bobby Kennedy came in and Bobby Kennedy had this kind of magic about him. I mean, he truly was a messianic, charismatic character. And it was difficult; I was torn between the two of them because McCarthy was the sentimental favorite `cause he did it first and he had the guts to do it. Bobby Kennedy was, on the other hand, someone who could really make it happen, he could bring it home.
And I watched the debate in California and I remember very carefully, very well that there was no comparison between the two. All Eugene McCarthy could say was essentially, look I did it first, whereas Bobby Kennedy was articulate and vocal and intelligent and truly gave substantive answers to the questions. So I was affected, you know, I loved Eugene McCarthy, but ultimately that's not where I, the horse I put my money on. Wallace was an asshole. That's it. He was a pig.
MO: Were you aware of how the US treated the villages, the village people in Vietnam? Was that, like, presented to you guys or was that only until years later?
DP: We knew generally what was going on because you could see it on television. You could see the guys, GI's with the Zippos. That image is still clear to me, you know, lighting fire to the hootches.
That was very much a part of the overall movement towards stopping the war `cause we were destroying the country and destroying the population of the country and, supporting an incredibly repressive and tyrannical regime that was conducting torture and murder and every other thing to keep it self in place. No, we were very aware of it. I was.
MO: Did that encourage you to like oppose the war more?
DP: It was certainly very much a part of the whole analysis that not only was there no legitimate political, geo-political reason for this war, that the Domino Theory was, had been debunked by everybody who had any knowledge of it. So there was no good reason to be there, and on top of that, we were destroying a country and murdering, murdering, that's a bad word, but slaughtering, killing causing the deaths of huge populations.
MO: How did you feel when you saw vets coming home in wheel chairs and crutches and stuff when the war wasn't even, like, there wasn't even, like, a reason for being there, like definite reason, wasn't even an official war?
DP: Same thing. Felt this is an incredible loss, a terrible loss.
MO: Did you feel veterans, when they came home, were treated with respect or do you believe they were kind of, just, like, taken with a grain of salt and, like, pushed to the side?
DP: I never observed disrespect, and all of the friends I had from Vietnam had my complete respect. I saw from afar, meaning television news reports and that sort of thing, instances where there was terrible tension across the two sides. I never observed it personally, but I can't understand anybody who was here resenting the people who went to Vietnam. Although I can understand the opposite, people who were there resenting the people who didn't go.
MO: Alright. I just lost my spot here. Did you feel threatened by nuclear war or anything like that? Were you, like, did you, like, hear about nuclear bombs being made and the Cold War n' stuff? Did you feel real threatened, were you worried at the time?
DP: At the time, in 1962, in the Cuban Missile Crisis, there was, again I was very young, fifteen years old. At that time I think I, and all of the country, felt the real threat, the real presence of nuclear danger. After that, I was, during the Vietnam years, the late Sixties, 1968, I was sophisticated enough, through having studied a lot of political science, that I realized that the Russians were delighted with the fact that we were in Vietnam, wasting our efforts and fragmenting our country, and tearing our country apart, and uh wasting our capital. So there was no, it never occurred to me that that had any nuclear potential. It was, we were there flanneling against ourselves and doing our so called enemies, our Cold War enemies, a great favor.
MO:During the Cold War when you were fifteen, or still in the house, could you feel the tension in your family and your father and stuff? Were they all, like, kinda quiet?
MO: Just the same?
DP: No. When we got to the Vietnam era, there was tension within my larger family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and we used to have, when we would have family "get-togethers," we'd have great debates.
MO: So was your dad usually opposed with it?
DP: Well, my father lived separately from us, so he wasn't really a factor. My mother, I think gradually came around, she evolved a little bit behind me, but then my ant, uncle and brother were the very conservative side so we would have these great roaring debates Christmas time and various "get-togethers," all of which were all very good. They were very healthy kind of debates, I mean, no one went away angry, we would just really exhaust ourselves.
MO: Did you, like, think you changed, like, anyone's opinion in the family from these debates or anything?
DP: My mother!
MO: Did, during the Cuban Missile Crisis was this, like, basically the same as the rest of the nuclear activity going on in the world?
DP: No, well, the Cuban Missile Crisis was a unique event that brought all of us into a very acute awareness. And, again, I was young and so I was marginal in my understanding, although I have a very, very distinct recollection of it all. Umhh and it wasn't the subject of, really, debate, there was no debate over it. We all knew that we were at a very difficult stage, and there was unanimity as to how to get out of it and complete support for Kennedy.
MO: Do you believe we should have used nuclear bombs in, like, Vietnam and gotten it over with because it kinda dragged out, like, ten years?
DP: No, absolutely not. And nuclear bombs wouldn't have done anything anyway. I mean, Jesus, we reigned more bombs, more terror on that country than in the history, than has ever been visited upon any place in the history of the world. We were fighting a war that couldn't be won. The answer is not to try to win, the answer's to try to get the hell out.
MO:Did any demonstrations, like the Chicago demonstration ,like, affect you? Like, which one stands out that, like affected you the most? Like, when you first saw it, were you, like, it just, like, changed you? Or, like, you felt like, wow, I should, like, start joining in on these, or?
DP: Nah, I think actually the thing, the demonstration related that affected me the most was the trial of the Chicago Seven, which took place after the Chicago Convention of 1968, and the judge who presided over that trial who a tyrant, a maniac.
MO: Who were the Chicago Seven? I've never heard of them.
DP: The Chicago Seven was a group of people that included Abbie Hoffman, Bobby Seale. I think, I don't know, the real prime movers of the protest movement and they were arrested and charged with all kinds of felonies for their involvement in the, I'm sure it came out of the convention. And ultimately they went to trial, this lengthy, lengthy trial before this petty tyrant, dictator JudgeHoffman and were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, all of which were ultimately overturned on an appeal. But it was, it was, my rage was far more focused on the fact that these people could be tried and convicted for having participated in a demonstration, even if, you know, fine, they were a little crazy, but please.
MO:You support war now if, like, there is a definite cause and stuff like that? Like, you support the US military going into?
DP: Yeah, I don't have, I'm not a pacifist. I think that there is a place for military might and exercise of military might.
MO: Do you, like, do you believe there is a lack of patriotism now, like, if we went to war do you think there would be plenty of people volunteering or do you think we have just lost that patriotism towards our country since Vietnam because not many people volunteered?
DP: No, I don't think so because, I mean, we have an all voluntary military right now, we haven't had a draft in how many years?
MO: We haven't gone a major war either though since Vietnam really.
DP: I don't know. I don't know, I think that's, I don't have an opinion on that. I think that it may be that we are far more sophisticated than we used to be. We, as a people, as a nation would require much more than analytical justification before we would believe that is something that we need to do, this is a war that needs to be fought. But I'm not, wouldn't just make a guess that says that this nation would never support actually entering a war, I'm not sure that's true.
You know, there was a great deal of support of the Gulf War at a time, in the build up to that it was not at all clear that that was going to be a fourteen day limited operation. We had no idea how good the Revolutionary Guard[Republican Guard], or Saddam Hussein's elite army. We had no idea how good they were going to be. So, no I don't think that Vietnam has ruined the nations ability to gear up for war, if there was really a good case to be made for going to war. I hope there isn't one.
MO:Did your dad support Vietnam since he was part of the Air Force?
MO: So you guys never got into any heated arguments?
DP: No, because he was away from, we lived apart, lived separately. He lived in California. I lived, the rest of the family lived up in Tacoma. So, we rarely got together, but I know from discussions that, I mean, he was a retired military officer.
MO: Were there any demonstrations at Brown University, like burning of draft cards or anything?
DP: Oh yeah. There was, I mean, burning of draft cards was kind of a silly little symbolic fact that didn't mean anything. I would have burned mine, but I lost it, you know. Yeah, I mean, there were demonstrations. I found more in Cambridge. I mean, I never smelled tear gas at Brown. I smelled tear gas at Harvard.
MO: You never joined in on any of these demonstrations?
DP: Not as a conscience matter. I remember one that I went to in Boston. They were just a solidarity get together, talk and speeches. I'm sure I went to those periodically, but I wasn't a, I was a little more conservative than that.
MO: Overall, how would you say the Sixties have affected you, yourself or the United States in general?
DP: First, as to me, I think partly because those are, probably for anybody, those years from nineteen, twenty, twenty one, twenty two, or let's say particularly, I'm focused on `67, `68, twenty, my age is twenty, twenty one, twenty two. You know, those were really important years when you really start to develop habits and thoughts and thought processes.
And to have had those years occur, coincide with these really monumental, tumultuous years of great music and cultural revolution, in the sense of social structure, mores sexual revolution all that sort of thing going on. You know, I am who I am because of the fact that I was alive and active and kind of flexible and going along with what was happening in 1967 and 1968. And I think that because my generation is one of the biggest generations in history to move through, obviously, everybody who is in my place has, to some extent, been affected by that and affects who we are as a nation, from Bill Clinton on down.
MO: What do you think were the most important changes of the 1960's? Did you think there was more positive or more negative changes to the nation, and which ones were, like, the most?
DP: I think there were far more positive than negative and I think that the liberalization of our society in terms of race, in terms of gender, in term of sexual practices, abortion, for example, have been very much for the good. And that's certainly said with the understanding that any practice can go too far, any swing can go too far, but I think that we have not finished a lot of things that have been started in the Sixties, but the Sixties really accelerated a process that really needed to be done, particularly racial economic, opening up of society, opening up of government that is much better. I think, we are a much better society as a result of it.
MO: Some people feel that the drug use and the counter culture was the most important aspect of the 1960's, do you think the media overplayed these issues, or?
DP: Yeah. I think so `cause I think it was really marginal. It was universal but it was a superficial thing, for the most part. You can still find these drug crazed hippies who fried their brains on acid. That's true. That's a very, very small, I mean microscopically small percentage.
MO: How would you compare the presidencies of Johnson and Kennedy, and Nixon?
DP: That's, that's kind of a big question [laughs]. I'm still reading, I'm still, I think that Kennedy actually did a pretty good job. He's been catching a lot of grief over the past years having to do with his escapades, social and so forth. But overall, I think he did really a terrific job. He was a masterful compromiser, and manipulator, and negotiator who brought us forward in a lot of different things. I think Johnson was great except for his Achilles' heel which Vietnam, he just couldn't, couldn't survive it. Nixon is a bum! He's a crook!
MO: Have African-Americans accomplished the goals of the Civil Rights Movement and do you think racism is still a problem in our society?
DP: I think it is still a problem, I don't think the goals of the civil rights movement have been accomplished but I think we have made huge strides.
MO: When the war finally ended what were you feelings after, were you relieved?
DP: Oh, I was relieved. I was disgusted that it all comes to this. All those lives, you know, my friends, it was just enough of the mush, you know, leaving Vietnam, Saigon under siege. The helicopters, I remember seeing helicopters being shoved off of aircraft carriers because they didn't have room for them. It was a fitting end, in a way, just because the whole episode was so stupid.
MO: Have you visited any monuments in Washington, like The Wall?
MO: Did that really, like, change you at all?
DP: It was really moving. It was really difficult. It was a very difficult emotional thing to see it. Still is, I mean, I've seen it a few times.
MO: You had some friends who were on it?
MO: Are you still concerned about the Prisoner of War, the POW issue?
DP: No. Not at all. I mean I've read a lot about it and I'm absolutely convinced there is no such thing and it is basically a purely political thing. There is no realistic likelihood that there are any alive POW at all, zero!
MO: Do you attribute any current political problems or strengths in the US to decisions that were made in the 1960's? Do you think, like, it strengthened the political part of the government?
DP: I don't know. I think that in the final analysis, well, there is no such thing as a final analysis, but as time goes on I think that the Sixties, as a particularly potent force, changing history is going to recede and the Sixties is going to be a period like any other period. Certainly we have changed as a result of that period, just like we have changed as a result of Ronald Reagan's profligacy. It's, nah, I don't think you can relate too much to it. It is probably more of a personal thing.
MO: How do you feel about young people like us still striving to answer questions about the American involvement in the Vietnam War? Do you think, like, it should just be forgotten about or do you think we should still be?
DP: Oh no, I think it is very, very important to learn about. In theory, you learn from mistakes. There are few, in my view, few intelligent analysts who will not tell you that getting involved in the Vietnam War, at least carrying on with the war was not a mistake. We should learn from that. You should study it. It should be, anybody who's studying political science, anybody who's studying international relations should study the Vietnam War. It is the longest war we were ever engaged in.
MO: Okay, I think that's going to be just about it.