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Gerry Ford on speaking your mind

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Only after the Vietnam War ended did then-Vice President Gerald Ford find out that the South Vietnamese were incurably corrupt and incompetent.

“In retrospect,” Ford said in an interview published after his recent death, “you wonder how unwise you were. We went along” with the American experts’ advice to stick with the war, Ford added, “and we finally had to concede that the South Vietnamese were inadequate to solve the problem.”

Ford faulted U.S. advisers for creating a black hole of intelligence as they traded bleak memos between 1965 and 1967 that they kept from the administration.

“If that’s the way they felt,” Ford asked rhetorically, “why in the hell didn’t they go to the public? They never related that to us.”

Lesson: Your wise opinions and insights can do absolutely no good if you offer them too late or never at all.

—Adapted from “No Point in Being Bitter,” Bob Woodward and Christine Parthemore, The Washington Post.

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