The more things change

This one’s been making the rounds; chances are you’ve seen it but I thought I’d post it if only to keep my own inbox from overflowing with copies. I held off when I first saw it because it struck me as one of those too-perfect-to-be-true email forwards, like a Nostradamus prediction that a president named for shrubbery shall sow chaos in Babylon, or some such. But it’s legit — it’s on the Times’ own website, and I’ve seen a PDF of the original article.

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 (1967) — United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam’s presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

….A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.