What a Speech Can Do

A Richard Nixon speech 50 years ago resurrected his career and still resounds today.

What a speech can do. Last month The New York Times marked the 50th anniversary of a speech that resurrected Richard Nixon from the politically dead and put him on a path toward the presidency. “Twenty years ago, after our great World War II victory, we were respected by the world,” Nixon told the exclusive Bohemian Club in its annual Lakeside Address, July 28, 1967, “Today, hardly a day goes by when our flag is not spit upon, a library burned, an embassy stoned some place in the world.”

Stanford international relations lecturer Robert Rakove, who wrote the piece, concluded: “The Bohemian Club speech became a blueprint for how Nixon would govern. The rhetoric and policies of the Nixon years bifurcated the world into friendly and hostile camps … Nixon’s manichean worldview framed the incessant criticism of the period as a justification for a wholesale rejection of global opinion and a defiant unilateralism that endures today.”

Some speech! —DM

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