“Kennedy knew it was going to be important. He rested that afternoon. Nixon made a speech to the Carpenters Union that day in Chicago — thought this was just another campaign appearance that night — was ill. Arrived at the studio, banged his knee when he got out of the car, was in pain, looked green, sallow, needed a shave.” – Don Hewitt
With a little over a month to go until election day, polling showed Republican Vice-president Richard Nixon with a slim lead over his rival, Democratic Senator John Kennedy, in the race to choose the successor to two-term President Dwight Eisenhower. On September 26, 1960 both candidates met at a CBS television studio in Chicago. For the first time ever, the presidential debate would be televised. Seventy-million viewers tuned in that evening.
Those who listened to the debate on the radio perceived Nixon as victorious. Television viewers saw Kennedy as the clear winner.
“A good magistrate will not fear [impeachments]. A bad one ought to be kept in fear of them.” – Eldbridge Gerry (Massachusetts), later elected to the House of Representatives; served as Vice-President under James Madison.
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” – Article 2, Section 4 Step one: the House of Representatives by simple majority passes Articles of Impeachment, laying out the alleged offenses of the impeached officeholder. Step two: the trial is held in the Senate. In the case of the president, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides, otherwise the President of the Senate aka the Vice-President. (The Constitution does not specify; inferring it would be the usual presiding officer.) A two-thirds majority is required to convict and remove from office. Conviction by the Senate does not disallow criminal prosecution.
Since resigning in disgrace from the Presidency in 1974, Richard Nixon has symbolized the evil in politics and the rancid Republican Party. The Current Occupant of the White House and the recent joint press conference with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin calls to mind Nixon’s early time in the spotlight.
Back in the good old Cold War days, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, aka Russia, took a small step in an attempt to warm diplomatic relations a bit. For a “cultural exchange,” the U.S. and U.S.S.R. each set up a national exhibition in the other’s country. Vice-President Richard Nixon traveled to Moscow for the opening of the US display in July 1959. As part of the ceremony, Richard Nixon took Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on a tour.
Nixon proudly showed off American lifestyle features like color television and automatic laundry equipment. Khrushchev sneered at the American technology and boasted Russia would soon have those gadgets. Nixon retorted that the U.S.S.R. should not be afraid of ideas, “After all, you don’t know everything.” The arguing escalated as they moved to a U.S. model home presentation. Nixon complained about Khrushchev’s constant interruptions. With rising voices and finger pointing, the two accused each other of making threats that could lead to war. Leonid Brezhnev, who succeeded Khrushchev a few years later, watched over Nixon’s shoulder.
The “Kitchen Debate” was broadcast on all three U.S. television networks. (Only edited and abridged parts of the argument reached Soviet citizens.) The confrontation raised Nixon’s profile and helped him gain the Republican nomination for president the following year. Unlike the current Russian president, Khrushchev claimed to have done everything he could to bring about Nixon’s defeat in 1960.
Richard Nixon is remembered and reviled for the Watergate scandal and general corruption in politics. He is also responsible for cognitive dissonance in liberal heads with the other part of his legacy: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Gaylord Nelson, Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, originated the first Earth Day in 1970. (Also born in 1970 was Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand acolyte elected to Congress by Wisconsin voters in 1998.) Nelson wanted a “national teach-in on the environment.” Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman, from California, served as Nelson’s co-chair. What are the chances today of a Democrat and a Republican coming together on environmental issues?
Twenty-million Americans demonstrated on April 22, 1970, sending a message that it was time to address the deterioration of the air, the water and the land. Later that year, President Richard Nixon issued an executive order creating the Environmental Protection Agency. Congress soon after ratified the order. Nixon – yes, that Richard Nixon – also signed the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
Forty-seven years later, flanked by coal-company executives, coal miners and the vice-president, along with various administration flunkies, Donald Trump signed an executive order rescinding his predecessor’s “Clean Power Plan.” Just to rub the EPA’s nose in it, the president held the signing ceremony inside the agency’s offices. He finished by telling the deluded coal miners, “C’mon, fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says? You’re going back to work.” According to the Associated Press, renewable-energy jobs already outnumber coal jobs, and many renewable-energy technologies are on their way to being cheaper than coal.
Obama’s executive order was a plan to reduce carbon emissions. Trump’s EO lifts a moratorium on new coal mining leases on federal land and relaxes limits on new coal power plant construction.
I wonder what our children and grandchildren will think about this.
…and in other news…
In a lawsuit filed against Palm Beach County, Trump demanded $100 million damages, alleging that emissions from the jets flying overhead are “causing substantial destruction of the materials” used to build the club, which include unique and historical items like “porous Dorian stone, antique Spanish tiles and antique Cuban roof tiles.”
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the suit claims noise and fumes from the air traffic have “substantially deprived” Trump and the club’s members the ability to use the property’s outdoor areas and amenities.
President Richard Nixon had recording devices installed in various rooms of the White House. This was a continuation of a tradition initiated by Franklin Roosevelt. Nixon’s system utilized modern technology by being voice activated, eliminating having to remember to flip a switch to turn it on. The existence of this system came to light during 1973’s Watergate hearings.
How evil was Richard Nixon? He resigned in disgrace. But he left us with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Oh yeah, he also initiated diplomatic relations with China.