Richard Nixon: Speeches, Writings, Documents

By Richard Nixon; Rick Perlstein | Go to book overview

17.
“To lower our voices would be a
simple thing” (inaugural address,
January 20, 1969)

Nixon's first speech as president was hailed as a master-
piece of conciliation in dark times by the press, who
took his pledge of open, honest government, “helping,
caring, doing,” at face value—once more declaring the
dawn of a “new Nixon.” The speech also folded in the
cadences of the politician he resented most in the
world: the late John F. Kennedy (“I do not offer a life
of uninspiring ease … I ask you to join in a high adven-
ture—one as rich as humanity itself, and exciting as the
times we live in”). The media marked the return of the
“old Nixon” with his June commencement speech at
the Air Force Academy, an angry, resentful address in
which he imputed cowardice to critics of the Vietnam
War in “the so-called 'best circles,'” and deflected con-
cerns about wasteful Pentagon spending with the im-
precation, “It is open season on the Armed Forces.”

… Each moment in history is a fleeting time, precious and unique. But some stand out as moments of beginning, in which courses are set that shape decades or centuries. This can be such a moment.

-153-

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