JFK vs. Nixon Debate #1 – My Thoughts

by gradycarter

Monday, September 27, 2010

The JFK vs. Nixon Presidential debates are esteemed as some of the most important/memorable of all time for several reasons. Some people like to compare the fact that one (Kennedy) was the first, and still only ever president to be Catholic (which for many protestant Americans of that time this would be comparable to an alleged muslim president) – While the other candidate was from a very “conservative” Quaker upbringing. Some of the other comparisons of the time were that one candidate was a seasoned public servant, while the other was quite simply too young. The funny thing about that last claim was that they apparently entered the national political scene at a comparable time, and Kennedy (the young gun) had been in The United Sates Senate for 14 years during this first debate. There were other comparisons that were made, some maybe somewhat valid, while others were probably nothing more than a distraction/production that simply muffled the debate, just as we still do today.

One thing about this debate series that I think is really rather interesting, and is already remarkably famous and significant, is that many people who were alive at that time would say that if you watched the debate on TV you would think that Kennedy had one because of his physical presence, and due to Nixon’s sweat covered face. It is said that Kennedy wore makeup, and Nixon decided that he didn’t need such help. Probably the factor that makes this debate so interesting to so many people is that it is also said by many people that if you were listening to the debate on the radio you would have assumed that Nixon had won… This is what I have been told by my father since I was rather young, and I have heard it from many other people as well.

On thing that I recently decided to do was to find a video of that debate, and if just so turns out that the entire thing had been uploaded to Youtube that day in 1 video!… So, I watched it.

While watching it I had a new thought come in to my head. As I was considering my dad’s words about people’s opinions about the debate I realized that it was never stated by those same people whether or not they were planning already on voting for one of the candidates or not. If you tune in to Fox News, or MSNBC during a Presidential debate in the more modern age you will see that they actually pole people about their feelings as the debate goes along, they are constantly in the middle of relaying their feelings about the debate. On one station it always seems like there is such a preference towards one of the candidates by this random selection of polesters, while on the other network there is the same almost systematical slant towards a candidate but it just happens to be the other candidate…

After I considered this for a moment I wondered about the audiences that were hearing this debate, and were probably later polled about it, and I realized that the candidates that were probably more likely to be polled who listened to the entire debate on a radio probably lived in more rural areas, and probably were already prepared to agree with the agenda of the Republican candidate. This doesn’t mean that if I’m right that JFK won the debate (although he did win the election, so maybe he did) but rather it is to say that by making the comparison of listening and watching to just listening might not be entirely accurate… The voters might have been decided already. Having listened to the first debate now I have made some personal observations, but I don’t think that during the time that I was only listening and laying in bed, as opposed to the time that I was actually watching the video that there was really any difference for me. If you’d like to compare it for yourself feel free, I’m posting the video below.

I realize that some people probably think that this is super lame, and not interesting at all, and I can somewhat empathize with that, but I will say that at this point in my life I find this stuff fascinating. Feel free to give me some feed back.


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Those without TV’s probably liked either candidate probably did so because they agreed with them to start with…