All dictators have attempted to show they have a rational side. The late Soviet dictator Yuri Andropov was said to enjoy Scotch and American jazz. Hitler's propagandists showed him with little girls who were of the same age as Jewish girls he had ordered killed. The Fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini supposedly made the trains run on time. Stalin's gulags were so good, claimed American journalist Anna Louise Strong, people applied for admission. Strong, who never met a communist she didn't like, also praised China's Mao Zedong.
It's one thing for Vietnamese leaders to promote the fiction that Jefferson was a role model for Ho Chi Minh, but quite another for President Obama to spread this propaganda. I heard the same preposterous assertion from a Vietnamese government official when I visited Hanoi last December.
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), who spent seven years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton, isn't buying it. Johnson said in a statement issued by his office: "Sadly, when it comes to individual liberty, the President doesn't have a clue. What an insult to the POWs brutally tortured at the merciless hands -- and rifle butts -- of our captors. This is a slap in the face to those who served -- and especially those who paid the ultimate price for freedom during that dark time in history. Let me tell you, there was nothing 'free' about my seven years in captivity in Hanoi -- more than half of that time in solitary confinement. As a fellow POW etched on a prison cell wall, 'Freedom has a taste to those who fight and almost die that the protected will never know.' "
Who sounds more Jeffersonian?
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