Chris Matthews speaks with Jane Fonda tonight about the Vietnam War, Iraq, John Kerry and about her life so far. Fonda is the author if a new book titled “My Life So Far.”
Following are excerpts from Friday’s interview:
On John Kerry
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”: Why did Kerry wobble on this in the campaign? He was anti-war; he was leader of the Vietnam veterans against the war. He showed up and said he was “reporting for duty” like he was a G.I. Joe. Why didn’t he say, “Some wars are wrong, some wars are right and the [Iraq] war was wrong. Why didn’t he stick to his guns on that?
JANE FONDA: I don’t know. My point of view is that there is nothing more noble than to say, “I’m going to risk my life for my country.” The war can be wrong but the desire of men and women to fight for their country is noble. Many men went over there like John Kerry and put their lives on the line and many realized that it was wrong that we were being lied to that we were not there to protect the south Vietnamese. That we were not wanted there, and had the courage to come back and say “stop.” What courage that took because... we kill the messenger.
MATTHEWS: It seems to me that going to Hanoi didn’t end the war any faster.
FONDA: I went there to try to stop the bombing of the dikes. I knew because it said so in the Pentagon Papers that we were considering destroying the dikes. We got word that the dikes were being bombed.
MATTHEWS: Did it happen?
FONDA: Yes I filmed it! If I just played a small role [in ending the war] I’m proud of that.
On the Vietnam War veterans
MATTHEWS: You know John McCain, and he’s not God, he is on the show a lot, John McCain said they [the veterans] didn’t like Johnson but they liked Nixon because they thought Nixon, by bombing the hell out North Vietnam ended the war.
FONDA: Who liked him?
MATTHEWS: The guys in the Hanoi Hilton.
FONDA: Oh the POWS.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, they liked Nixon because they thought he helped end the war.
FONDA: He sure did increase the number of POWs! You know, ten, twenty-fold!
MaTTHEWS: But he got them out didn’t he? They came home under Nixon. He welcomed them back in 1973.
FONDA: They got out, yes.
MATTHEWS: Why don’t they thank you, they thanked Nixon. Why are they wrong, the POW guys?
FONDA: I didn’t get them in and I didn’t get them out, why should they thank me?
MATTHEWS: I thought you said you helped shorten the war.
FONDA: I think everyone who protested the war. The fact that most people here were against the war helped bring about the ending of the war because we demanded and succeeded in cutting the funding for the war and that’s partly why the government collapsed.
MATTHEWS: Why did we go to war with Iraq? I keep asking people this question.
FONDA: I don’t think it’s as simple as oil, I think it’s we want control of the region.