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The Big Fool Says to Push On

Pete Seeger once sang out against LBJ on national TV. Any folkies under 90 years of age care to pick up a guitar and protest the new president?

by
Jeff Durstewitz

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February 5, 2010 - 12:00 am
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If you’re of a certain age, you may well remember one of the signal moments of the late ‘60s — the moment when, on a network variety show, a folk singer trashed a sitting president. It was in January of 1968, and pressure against the Vietnam War was building toward the bursting point that would come later that year in Chicago.

The “radical” Smothers brother, Tommy, had always been interested in providing more than mere laughs on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and now he saw a unique opportunity to whack Lyndon Johnson a good one upside the head — with Pete Seeger’s guitar. Seeger was only too happy to oblige, and after the lights went down he sang these pointed words about a foolhardy officer who’d pressed his men to risk their lives by crossing a river: “We were knee-deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool says to push on.”

Everyone knew what the song was really about: LBJ’s escalation of the war. Seeger left no doubt: “Every time I read the papers, that old feeling comes on: We’re waist-deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool says to push on.” We know how it all turned out for Johnson. Within a few months he’d declined to pursue the Democratic nomination for another term, and after a close election the nation ended up with a new president named Richard M. Nixon.

What’s the relevance to today? Well, Pete Seeger’s still around, bless his progressive soul, even if there’s no network host who would even consider asking him to come on to help torpedo “The One” (not that he’d ever do it). But with the evidence of President Obama’s disastrous mistakes piling up all around us, why not?

Obama’s health care plan becomes less popular and less credible, with its brain-dead policy and corrupt bargains, every time he opens his mouth to tout it. The voters of Massachusetts, of all places, have delivered an unequivocal verdict: “Drop it!” But the big fool says …

Obama’s homeland security policy, which takes a much more relaxed attitude toward “man-caused disasters” such as murderous jihadis and wants to shift the burden of the fight against them to the criminal justice system and away from the military, was very nearly blown out of the sky, along with what remains of his presidency, by the underwear bomber on Christmas Day. And yet the big fool says …

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