Sunday, July 24, 2016

1959: The Nixon Khrushchev kitchen debates

By the summer of 1959, VP Nixon was probably looking aheae to the 1960 presidential election.   On the other hand, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was probably trying to prove to the Kremlin that he could stand up to the US.     
They both got their chance on this day in 1959:     
"Although the fair was designed to be a cultural exchange of goodwill with the Soviet Union, the competitive relationship between American capitalism and Soviet communism was immediately evident. 
When Nixon and Khrushchev unexpectedly met near the kitchen exhibit, they began to spar verbally about whose technology was superior. Khrushchev, who requested that his comments not be censored by the American media, came off as more combative. 
At first, Nixon remained relatively calm and diplomatic, urging more cultural exchange between the two countries and suggesting that the Soviet Union be more open to non-communist ideas. 
At one point, Nixon told Khrushchev that he and the Soviets didn’t know everything, to which Khrushchev responded if I don’t know everything I would say that you don’t know anything about communismexcept fear. 
Nixon also politely but pointedly accused Khrushchev of dominating the conversation and said that he would have made a good lawyer, eliciting hearty laughter from the crowd of press and observers. 
However, when Khrushchev claimed that American-made capitalist luxuries such as toasters, juicers and automatic dishwashers were too expensive for the American working class, Nixon leaned in, poked Khrushchev in the chest with his finger and declared that ANY American worker could buy one."
Who won?   They probably both did.     Nixon lost the 1960 election but came back to win 1968 and 1972.   Khrushchev was ousted in 1964 and we did not hear much from him after that.

The US and USSR would meet several times on the Cold War front, from Cuba to Vietnam to the Middle East.     The USSR dissoved at the end of 1991.



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