11 June 2016

Contrast Contemporary Presidential Debates with that of 1960

In President Nixon's opening comments in the first Nixon-Kennedy presidential debate of 1960, Nixon said:

"The final point that I would like to make is this: Senator Kennedy has suggested in his speeches that we lack compassion for the poor, for the old, and for others that are unfortunate. Let us understand throughout this campaign that his motives and mine are sincere. I know what it means to be poor. I know what it means to see people who are unemployed. I know Senator Kennedy feels as deeply about these problems as I do, but our disagreement is not about the goals for America but only about the means to reach those goals." (from Commission on Presidential Debates downloaded from: http://debates.org/index.php?page=september-26-1960-debate-transcript on June 11, 2016).

A few comments:

1. In this case, President Nixon, the Republican, really did understand what it meant to be poor, or at least lower middle class, whereas Senator Kennedy, the Democrat, was born to wealth.

2. Notice that Nixon says he shares the same goals as Kennedy, but disagrees with his policies.

3. Finally, notice that while Nixon disagrees with Kennedy's policies and comments, he does not question his character or motives.

It would be best for the United States today if we had such debates conducted with the same respect Nixon and Kennedy showed each other.