Obama Claims Vietnamese Communist Ho Chi Minh was “Inspired by the Words of Thomas Jefferson”

Obama and SangLast week the president of Viet Nam, Truong Tan Sang, visited US President Obama. One would think Sang’s presence in the Oval Office would be the closest the Communist would get to Thomas Jefferson, the author of America’s Declaration of Independence. You’d be wrong.

In what will surely go down as another in a long line of ignorant gaffes, after receiving from Sang a letter from Viet Nam’s most famous despot, Ho Chi Minh, President Obama said,

“…we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson.” (emphasis added)

I routinely get emails claiming Obama has said or done something outrageous. Usually, a trip to Snopes.com clears things up. I shake my head, amazed that, although it turned out to be false I could still imagine it being true. To be honest, I assumed the emails about this story were of this variety.

They were not.

Barack Obama actually said, while standing next to the current Communist leader of Viet Nam, of the Communist founder of the People’s Republic of Viet Nam, that he was inspired by our nation’s founding documents.

The entire defense of such a notion rests in Ho’s announcement of Viet Nam’s independence. On September 2, 1945 Ho Chi Minh did, in fact, quote Jefferson and the Declaration and use the format of the US Declaration for his declaration of Vietnamese independence.

There is, however, a vast gulf in meaning and import between “inspired by” and “able to [sort of] quote” the Declaration.  Sterling Beard at NRO references a 2011 article by Susan Dunn. It purports to show Obama’s statement might be “factually true.” However, even a cursory reading of the piece “Ho Chi Minh and Thomas Jefferson” clearly demonstrates that the former Vietnamese leader had been inspired by the Declaration and the Constitution about as much as he had been inspired by his morning constitutional that day.

Ho Chi Minh had lived, worked and studied in the US off and on from 1911 to 1918 and had reason to have come in contact with the Declaration. “Contact” is not the same as “inspiration,” either. According to Dunn, an American OSS advisor, James Patti, was present for some of the planning sessions wherein Ho’s use of the Declaration were discussed. Dunn’s recounting of those meetings don’t quite measure up to the level of “inspiration” if words continue to mean things. She wrote,

Ho Chi Minh struggled to recall Jefferson’s exact words …

Days earlier, Ho Chi Minh and his advisers had been laboring to recall as much of Jefferson’s language as they could. Ho had memorized the opening lines of the Declaration when he visited the United States as a menial laborer on a tramp steamer before World War I, but his memory had faded …

Ho explained to Patti that his draft of the Vietnamese declaration of independence needed polishing. Someone translated Ho’s words as Patti listened carefully. Patti immediately realized that the translator was reading very familiar words. After the translator read a few sentences, Patti turned to Ho in amazement and asked if he really intended to use this text as his declaration of independence … Ho sat back in his chair, his palms together with fingertips touching his lips ever so lightly, as though meditating. “Should I not use it?” he asked.

So much for “inspiration.” What man asks of his muse, “Should I not use it?”

Dunn does use the phrase “Ho Chi Minh too turned to the United States for inspiration.” But she later also allows that perhaps, “He might have felt that his use of Jefferson’s Declaration would impart some legitimacy to his struggle…”

True inspiration or merely cheap imitation? How is one to know? The answer is clear if we consider the fruit of Viet Nam’s independence.

Ho Chi Minh is generally recognized for murdering at least a half million of his own countrymen, imprisoning untold tens of thousands more in re-education camps while appropriating their stuff for the use of the state.  Texas Fred has a long list of Ho’s excesses. So much for inspiration from Life, Liberty and Property.

Amazingly, none of this is hidden, esoteric arcana. It’s readily available history. That, my friends, really is a fact.

The real question then is “How did the President not know?”

Cross posted from Blue Collar Muse.

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  • jim_m

    Ho wanted to use the language of the Declaration as window dressing to lend his own document some legitimacy. Since obama’s policies are little more than a series of Potemkin villages meant to dress up or facilitate his corruption it is not surprising that he would praise a fellow dictator (to be sure obama is still just a wannabe) for acting in the same manner.

  • Pingback: Barack Obama Was Right About Ho Chi Minh : NO QUARTER USA NET()

  • Inspired by Jefferson at first…

    But then deciding that bloody revolution was much more fun.

    • Bloody revolution? Hmmm. Somehow, I missed how his forces rampaged around, slaughtering whole villages when they accepted British help.
      Admittedly, the British didn’t like that whole ‘revolution’ thing, but the body count was pretty low compared to the War of 1812, and wouldn’t even have made a month’s worth of casualties in the Civil War.

    • Tick Tock.

      Change your screen name or be banned.

      • It’s a one-post wonder. I doubt it’ll be back, at least under THAT screen name.

  • LiberalNightmare
  • Hank_M

    Slight correction, Ken.

    “In what will surely go down as another in a long line of ignored gaffes…”

    From the guy who will say anything, facts be damned, It would be more newsworthy if he said (or read) something remotely related to reality.
    Obama is a shameless liar, but he sounds good, so there’s that.

    • Blue Collar Muse

      Happy to stand corrected … good points all …

  • Pingback: Obama Claims Vietnamese Communist Ho Chi Minh was “Inspired by the Words … – Wizbang (blog) | vietnamtimesonline.com()

  • Paul Hooson

    My grandfather was taken prisoner of war around the same SouthEast Asia area during WWII when he was a merchant ship captain supplying American troops and others including Vietnamese antiJapanese fighters. The Viet Minh were one of the antiJapanese invasion paramilitary groups that had U.S. support as allies during the war. Ho Chi Minh was actually in jail in China for his support for evolutionary Communism, however the Chinese government freed him so that he could help form the Viet Minh into fighters against the Japanese invasion.

    When France fell to the Germans, the Vichy government was set up that was a proNazi government in France, and this same government surrendered Vietnam to the Japanese, however antiJapanese resistance fighters that included the Viet Minh formed to combat the Japanse. The United States, The Soviet Union and China were the three largest financial and arms allies of the Viet Minh where the United States consided Ho Chi Minh’s forces to be our allies during the war.

    But, after the war and the French government was restored, Ho Chi Minh was the leader of a nationalist drive for an independent Vietnam free of French rule, and he made appeals to the United States, especially to the Truman Administration for political support. Even though Ho Chi Minh appeared to be a revolutionary Communist on one hand, he was very friendly towards the United States greatly inspired by early leaders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Looking back at the history of this relationship, former Defense Secretary noted that the United States had missed opportunities to forge a friendship with Ho Chi Minh as an independent Communist leader who was friendly to the United States. But, Cold War politics prevaded the situation in those days where successive U.S. governments feared that Ho Chi Minh was an agent of expanding Soviet Communism, and feared that it wasn’t possible to have an independent Communist ally in control of a state.

    Despite the long Vietnam War, both the Vietnamese and the U.S. have been able to quickly restore a friendship and trust once again between the two counties where Vietnam has become an important trade partner with the United States and exports many products including computers, printers, Nike shoes and other products to the U.S. with a pragmatic Communist government in control. much like that of China who prefers to have good relations with the United States.

    This is part of this complicated relationship with the Vietnamese Communists. The United States would certainly prefer to have a nonCommunist government in Vietnam. But, we don’t that’s the reality. But, the government of Vietnam are much like the Chinese, as opposed to troublesome Communist governments like Cuba or North Korea.

    You need to look at things as a complicated business relationship. Some Communist governments are mature enough in their leadership to recognize that you have no choice but to do business with the United States and accept the U.S. as their friend. And the U.S. no longer views all Communists as part of the same united front out to rule the world. If anything, Communism has so badly failed as a political entity that both Vietnam and China are largely Communist in name only, but for the most part capitalists who simply want to buy and sell goods.

    • Blue Collar Muse

      Can’t disagree with much of what you say. And none of it changes the fact that Ho Chi Minh was a sadistic despot who murdered people, locked them away in re-education camps and “liberated” their belongings for the use of the state and the “less fortunate” as determined by Ho.

      Some of the people who are responding to my post around the web seem to believe that because Ho was literate enough to know ABOUT the Declaration and cunning enough to see how it might be co-opted for his own purposes and shameless enough to follow through on such a perversion of one of our founding documents – that all this qualifies as a valid use of the term “inspired” or “inspiration.” It does so only in the most narrow of understandings of the word, that of being the genesis of an idea.

      Thus, Ho knew about the Declaration and Jefferson and the legitimate, righteous result he obtained with it. He wanted that legitimacy for his own. He wanted American support for its legitimacy, too. Truman refused him the one and I refuse him the other.

      I’m just stubborn enough to call BS on any such notion. I don’t deny that Ho used the Declaration or that he knew of Jefferson. But words mean things. I am inspired by many things. Jesus Christ, the miracle that The Much Younger Trophy Wife allows me in the house at the end of the day and the abject humility produced in me when I held my children for the first time. Puppies and Finding Nemo, too, for that matter.

      But those things move me to change from where I am to another, better place. If they do not, while one can use the term inspiration or even the lesser motivation to describe what happened, better terms would be rationale or excuse.

      To suggest that Ho was “inspired” by Jefferson in any meaningful way is a perversion of English. He was a murderous, jailer and thief. So much for loving Life, Liberty and Property. He said he hated French tyranny but replaced it with his own tyranny. So much for being moved by Jefferson’s premise that the purpose of government is to secure the rights of the people, not supplant one tyrant with another.

      Ho Chi Minh, like Stalin, Mao, Che, Fidel, Lenin, Pol Pot and on and on … was the absolute worst that humanity has to offer, regardless of the fact that he had good days and his dog probably liked him. On the other hand, Jefferson embodied the best of humanity has to offer despite owning slaves and such.

      One of these men was capable of inspiring others. The other was capable only of producing loathing in others. That’s the factual takeaway here …

      As far as “But, Cold War politics prevaded (sic) the situation in those days where successive U.S. governments feared that Ho Chi Minh was an agent of expanding Soviet Communism, and feared that it wasn’t possible to have an independent Communist ally in control of a state.” That wise caution would seem to have been proven justified given the demonstrable history of the last 65 years or so. I cannot think of a single “independent Communist” let alone one that would have made a good ally. We have had and will have relationships of convenience with these people. But ally with them?

      • Brucehenry

        Tito. Maybe you read about him.

        Maybe not an ally but definitely an “independent communist.”

        If you stop waving the flag and shootin’ off fireworks for 10 seconds you might reflect that this choice of words was made for diplomatic reasons and is no reason for you to fall on the fainting couch.

        • jim_m

          Perhaps someday obama should consider how his bullshit plays to the audience at home and stop worrying if he’s kissed enough ass overseas.

          • Brucehenry

            Well, thank God he seems to have stopped worrying about giving wingnuts the vapors every time he opens his mouth. They’ll find an excuse to wet their pants no matter what he says or does.

          • jim_m

            He has never cared about this country, only about his radical leftist base and his precious image overseas. He fails to realize that most overseas see though his obnoxious pretense and arrogance and see him for what he is: a shallow, self aggrandizing ideologue. I remember two of my staff coming back from a trip to Italy two years ago and being all astonished at how much the Europeans disliked obama and how they all thought he was a charlatan.

          • Perhaps someday henry will realize that fewer people will known him for the fool he is if he’d just stay away from keyboards…

        • Brett Buck

          Right. The approach of cow-towing to degenerate world leaders has worked out wonderfully.

      • Commander_Chico

        All you guys who wore “Bomb Hanoi” buttons in middle school can calm down.

        We already had that pointless war, we lost and 58K + Americans and a lot more Vietnamese were killed. You didn’t go.

        Eisenhower once said that if there was a free election in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh would have won it.

        • Brucehenry

          Which is why the elections called for in the 1954 Geneva accords were never held.

          • Commander_Chico

            Yeah, if we let those elections happen, we’d be in the same place we are now, with a lot more grandpas and grandmas alive.

            We only like democracy if the right people win.

          • Third and final warning.

            Change your screen name or be banned.

      • Paul Hooson

        The U.S. wanted democratic governments for the most part in the world, but did support a number of dictators in countries including up until recently, Mubarek in Egypt, if it served foreign policy goals of the U.S. – Could the U.S. have completely co-opted Ho Chi Minh as a reliable ally of the U.S. or would he have been just another Communist dictator in power? At any rate, the U.S. didn’t want to chance it so engaged in a war that cost billions of dollars, lost 58,000 American lives, probably killed over Vietnamese, before allowing that Communist government to take control of Vietnam regardless of these costs. – One independent Communist the United States could do a little business with was Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia. And Nelson Mandala of ANC was seen largely as a Communist influenced politician, yet the United States found him to be a reliable party to do business with and to co-opt into power.

        Few people know this fact, but Ho Chi Minh was a good friend of David Ben Gurion and had promised Ben Gurion a Jewish homeland in Vietnam if they wanted it. But, Ben Gurion turned down this offer, promising Ho Chi Minh that he had the military might to successfully wage war and take back the historical Israel from parts of Palestine. It was a few quirks like this that made Ho Chi Minh a bit of a wild card.

  • Lawrence Westlake

    Every now and then it hits you like a ton of bricks whey they won’t release the transcripts. There’s also the obvious facts that many of Obama’s speeches are written by kids still in grad school, or by arrested development tards who have the mentalities of young liberal idiot students, and that Obama doesn’t really care what he says, just so long as he looks cool saying it.

  • ebecker2000

    See the Interview with the OSS Intel officer who helped Ho Chi Minh.


  • kieuoanh

    I agree that Ho Chi Minh was inspired by the Words of Thomas Jefferson but then deciding that bloody revolution took place more fierce.

    kiếm tiền trên mạng

  • And Charles Manson was inspired by the lyrics of the Beatles…

  • Urbane_Gorilla

    I keep seeing this article posted word for word on several blogs. A suspicious person would recognize it as a sign of a trumped up attempt to fire up the RWers.

    • Absent evidence supportive of the allegation, a suspicious person would suspect trolling.

      • Urbane_Gorilla

        You know Rod, i don’t normally track every site I go on, but coincidentally somebody just responded to my post from this site :

        Obama Claims Vietnamese Communist Ho Chi Minh was “Inspired by the Words of Thomas Jefferson” | Unified Patriots – http://bit.ly/19vYA73

        You’ll find the text is word for word the same. And I have read a couple of others. Why would the exact same story without modification be posted in several different blogs? Do the authors not have an original thought? ..Not even an original approach?

        This is a silly story anyway.

        • jim_m

          You’ll find the text is word for word the same

          And you will also find that the author is the same. Funny that the author would potentially use the same words in more than one place. What? DO you expect that the AP alters its stories for every paper so they don’t appear the same?

          Jeez, you can’t make this stuff up.

          • Urbane_Gorilla

            That was not an AP story…I guess you missed that. And AP and UPI all attach their byline. You know it’s an AP or UPI story. Nor do they publish BS hatchet jobs. But it’s clear to me that the ‘story’ (it’s no story) is being passed around the web to Right wing sites.

          • I’d ask if you’re really that stupid, but there’s not much point.

          • Urbane_Gorilla

            Well I guess, then we can both presume that you are too stupid to provide a legitimate response.

          • jim_m

            We can presume that you are too arrogant to admit that you were wrong.

          • Urbane_Gorilla

            Not arrogant, just correct….and humbly so. 😉

          • jim_m

            Ken Marrero also posts under the pseudonym of Right Wing Muse. The point is that he posts on multiple blogs or are you just that stupid that you can’t figure that out?

          • Urbane_Gorilla

            And that makes a difference how? Or are you too stupid to figure that out?

          • jim_m

            Your claim seemed to be that this was false and that it was some bogus spam job that people were essentially plagiarizing in blog posts. Your claim was that this was an identical post spammed around the web in some evil conspiracy from the right wing. Unfortunately for you the truth is that it is no such thing. It happens to be one blogger who posts on more than one blog and who is upfront about that fact.

            What is also now evident is that you are too embarrassed by your display of profound ignorance to admit that you are a fool.

          • Urbane_Gorilla

            My claim was that I read the same text, word for word on several sites and it sure seems to me to be an attempt to fire up the extreme RW over nothing.

  • emrdoc

    “Ho Chi was recognized for
    murdering at least a half million of his own countrymen, imprisoning
    untold tens of thousands more in re-education camps while appropriating
    their stuff for the use of the state.” — I don’t think that was inspired by the former president.

    physical therapy management

  • Pingback: Ho Chi Minh Inspired by Thomas Jefferson: Really? | The Patriot Perspective()

  • PT

    Around 100 million native “American Indian” were killed, all the gold in the native land were rob… slavery in America started since Columbus hit shore and last till it no longer profitable (300 years later), so much for “all men are created equal”.

    The game here is to hide your own bloody hands and exposing the bloody hands of your oppositions. The better you are at this game bloody hands game, the better of a saint you are. Gold and money can make anyone looks good. Communist wasn’t as rich, especially the rag-tag Vietnamese, so they wasn’t as “presentable”. Different then American, they didn’t have gold and oil under their back yard, that’s all… the rest is all the same. Robbing and killing someone to get there.

  • Propblast6

    I resent it when history is distorted I suggest you read Colonel Aaron Bank’s book “From Oss to Green Berets: The Birth of Special Forces”. He spent 1942 with Ho Chi Minh and made a report to OSS headquarters saying “We better support this guy or within 20 years we will
    be fighting him. Later when they dropped in OSS people there were some Filipino
    sergeants from the 26th Cavalry Regiment with the team. General Võ Nguyên Giáp who first grew to prominence during World War II, where he served as the military leader of the Viet Minh resistance against the Japanese occupation of Vietnam. Giap’s father was both a minor official and a committed nationalist, having played a part in uprisings against the French
    in 1885 and 1888. He was arrested for subversive activities by the French colonial authorities in 1919 and died in prison a few weeks later. Giap had two sisters and one brother, and soon after his father’s incarceration, one of his sisters was also arrested. Although she was not held for long, the privations of prison life made her ill and she too died a few weeks after being released.There had been two deaths in his family before he was ten years old. He
    asked one of Filipino sergeants from the 26th Cavalry Regiment why they were fighting with the Americans when the Japanese had given the Philippines their Independence.The answer he got was phrased in the Noncoms deal with officer they think arei ntellectually challenged “How far do you trust the French?” The rest is history!