Saturday, July 4, 2009

Advancing in another direction

"Retreat, hell! We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction."

The liberal bloggers are having a good time with Sarah Palin's resounding misattribution of the quote to General Douglas MacArthur in her weird, rambling valedictory yesterday: Typical backwoods yahoo intellectual sloppiness, typical poor research skills and all that. ("The bull goose loony of the GOP," Paul Begala wrote. "Caribou Barbie," Maureen Dowd calls her.)

But what is truly interesting is that a sudden new spotlight is on the man who actually said it: Oliver Prince Smith (above), the much-decorated combat general who led his First Marine Division out of the Red Chinese trap at Chosin Reservoir in Korea in 1950. (As of 6 a.m. EST today, the Wikipedia entry for Smith does not carry the quotation. It should, and it will.) [Later July 4: It does now, in the lead paragraph as well.]

Smith had the wit of an intellectual. MacArthur, that five-star egotist, had none. That should have immediately tipped reporters to Palin's gaffe.

There's more. According to a December 18, 1950, story in Time magazine, Smith's cry of defiance was "an echo of a 1918 statement that has become a part of Marine Corps legend. Moving up to Belleau Wood at the head of a company of marines, Captain Lloyd Williams was overtaken by a courier, told that the order of the French area commander was to retreat. 'Retreat, hell,' snapped Captain Williams, 'we just got here,' and took his troops into battle."

Memo to Gov. Palin: If you're going to continue the battle, hire troops who can do the due diligence for your speeches.


  1. Thank you for spotlighting a hero who does not deserve to be forgotten. Semper fi, General Smith.

  2. "Sir, we are surrounded."
    "Excellent, now we can attack in all directions"