by Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor
I spent my morning with actor James Gandolfini and four veterans of the Iraq war -- all of them are part of the powerful new HBO documentary called "Alive Day" (the title referring to how survivors of grievous wounds in combat refer to the day of their injury -- as many of them then have to start life all over again). The documentary premieres here in New York tonight. Tomorrow morning on Today at 8:30 EDT, we'll air the exclusive interview with Gandolfini (the host and producer) and these four amazing veterans, one rock star after another. One of them is Crystal Davis, whom we profiled several years ago on Nightly News after meeting her at Walter Reed. My only regret is that these four veterans, Dex, Dawn, Crystal and John, aren't a regular part of my life. Perhaps someday they will be.
Speaking of a unified national effort, why can't we, the land of the golden spike, do this?
Anyway, tonight begins the fall work season for all of us -- Labor Day is my least favorite day of the year because it means the end of my favorite season. Even though September is beautiful in so many places, the pressure is on and it doesn't stop until Memorial Day. Tonight's broadcast will take note of Steve Fossett -- as I write this there's a mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the courageous veteran aviator. We'll also have news concerning the president, commercial air travel, and more.
A smart friend of mine submits this political note for our consideration:
Bill Clinton, out stumping for wife Hillary, has taken to saying this about her: "In my opinion, she is -- including me in 1992 -- the best qualified, best prepared, most suited-for-the-times person I ever had a chance to vote for in a presidential primary." A sweeping statement, despite the obvious qualifiers. I'm not sure when Clinton first "had a chance to vote in a presidential primary," but it wouldn't have been until 1968, when he was 21 going on 22. I haven't yet been able to determine when Arkansas even began holding presidential primaries -- whether Clinton could have voted for, say, Ted Kennedy in 1980 or Walter Mondale in 1984. All that aside, the obvious question is, What about Al Gore?
On May 23, 2000, Gore was on the ballot in the Arkansas Democratic presidential primary (though by then he had pretty much wrapped up the nomination). At the time, Gore's resume included eight years as vice president (Clinton's vice president!), eight years in the Senate, and eight years in the House. He was the son of a Senator, and had served in Vietnam. Is Hillary Clinton (seven years in the Senate, eight years as First Lady, 12 years as Arkansas First Lady, lawyer and House impeachment staffer) more qualified, prepared and suited now than Al Gore was then? Or did then-president Bill Clinton not have the chance to vote in that primary?
And now, today in history:
50 years ago today
One of the great duds in American history was introduced. On September 4, 1957, the Ford Motor Company unveiled the Edsel in 1,200 dealer showrooms across the country. It was the first new car offered by a major American automaker in 20 years, and it was backed by a massive marketing campaign. Company president Henry Ford II -- whose 40th birthday fell that September 4 -- named the new car after his late father Edsel Ford - the only child of company founder Henry Ford. The company's high hopes for the Edsel were not realized; sales were dismal, and the car and its signature vertical grillwork became synonymous with marketing failure - a flop, even a laughingstock. The Edsel was discontinued just two years later, but has been something of a perverse favorite among certain car aficionados ever since.
56 years ago today
At 10:30 p.m. on September 4, 1951, television spanned the United States for the first time, with coverage of the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco, including a speech from President Harry S. Truman. Up to that point, the western limit of network television had been Omaha, Nebraska.
Remember to read today's Medal of Honor profile... and we certainly hope you can join us tonight for the Tuesday edition of NBC Nightly News.