The Great Debate


So I went to the library last night to see the 1960 Debate between then Senator Kennedy and Vice President Nixon, it was the first debate the other three will be shown at the library at the Plaza too. I kind of didn’t want to go but it wasn’t like I had shit to do so why not right? So I kept hearing the lady giving the directions say the get your seats it’s gonna be packed. I thought she was overdoing it a bit but I didn’t know people had been down there waiting for the reception part since five thirty. I get down there by six fifteen and yeah it was packed, wall to wall old people. I’m not against old people it’s just besides me there was one other young person there and he looks like he was on some sort of date with the person he was with. So the debate starts, the whole debate the way it was shown in 1960 and I know from and four rows up everyone one was swaying from side to side to see what was going on, we looked like wheat on a breezy day.

 To be honest the only thing I even knew before last night about the debate between Nixon and Kennedy was it was the first televised one, Nixon refused make-up and his upper lip got sweaty. I didn’t know that so much went on when it came to that debate, game changing stuff at that. For one both men handled themselves well in the debate, just looking at that debate makes me wonder how so many non issues have become “hot button topics” in recent debates.  What I did learn was since television was still new many people heard the debate on the radio, from that alone people perception on who came away the victor varied. Guest Speaker Sander Vanocur, who was one of the people asking the questions and great news man in his own right, said he was told by people who heard the debate on the radio that Nixon clearly won and those who saw it said Kennedy won. And as we all know that debate was and is hailed as Kennedy’s coming out party, not many people knew much about the Senator from Massachusetts up to that point.. As we all know he went on to be President of the United States.

 So the debate itself was respectful and well thought out, like I said both men handled themselves very well. One thing I noticed is Republicans are really not for health care, social security and education too much in general. That was the knock on them back in the 50’s going into the 60’s, it was fascinating to see just how much things haven’t changed at all. Even crazier is both men agreed things needed to be changed but cost was the issue. Now I remember watching the last presidential debate and watching John McCain not agree with Obama but still say some of the same things just with a different cost to it while Obama made it known when he and McCain were on the same page, maybe that should have been a sign for this whole “No” thing the republicans have been doing for two years. Both men were trying to figure out a way to give teachers raises and make education better, and both men using recent political talk “flip flopped” on their decisions. No one played the blame game or called one another out on it, they themselves were for bills until a certain part was added or retracted, ultimately one needed the tie breaking  vote had came down to Nixon and he voted nay. They both talked about the recession that preceded that election year, Nixon stating how much they had did that year while Kennedy focused on how the year before they weren’t as a country doing as well. They both agreed that the country had to do better on a whole because Russia was on our heels, they went to space first as we all know with Sputnik. No personal attacks, no God talk, not much blaming the other party for mess ups, it was more focusing on what each party had done good though… A lot of that went on. With the way both men came away looking great in the debate I could see how sides could have been taken back then, watching it today I would call it even only because they agreed on almost everything but the cost.

 Again it’s funny and sad that we are still debating about all of the same issues from then now. Nixon and Kennedy could have been talking about right now if you took away the Russia talk and the years they were referring to. It took about ten more years to have another televised debate and I’m not sure if that’s where things fell apart and we have what we have today in political debates but I would love to have more of what those two men did be put on display.


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