1.15.71 – The Dedication of The Eisenhower Center

    Eisenhower Center Dedication

    On a brisk morning forty four years ago on Capitol Hill, President Richard Nixon stood before members of Congress and the National Committee to give a brief speech dedicating the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Republican Center. Upon completion, the building was intended to house the National Committee, the Congressional and Senatorial Campaign Committees, the Young Republican Federation, the Federation of Republican Women, and the Capitol Hill Club.

    In his speech, Nixon reflected on a conversation he had had with General Eisenhower after their victory in the 1953 presidential election, in which they had discussed the most valuable qualities an individual can present to an organization. The clear answer to Eisenhower was selflessness, described by him as the ability to sacrifice personal comfort for the good of the organization. In his address, Nixon praised US Representative James C. Auchincloss specifically for his dedication to the completion of the Center, and the selflessness and perseverance that he had exhibited in spite of an occasionally daunting lack of support.

    Nixon also emphasized that though selflessness of the individual was important, an organization should also work towards its own form of this trait. He argued that the Republican Party was at risk of losing that attribute by working harder at defining itself by its limits rather than its goals. The President also stated that in doing so, Republicans could be potentially shutting a door on individuals who would otherwise be able to use the Republican Party as a platform to achieve their own goals and benefit the country. He invited those at the ceremony to be open minded about those willing to come together to support the Republican Party.

    Nixon stated that the Republican Party should be thought of as an open and inclusive organization whose primary goal is to promote freedom for all people. He invited those gathered to view the Eisenhower Center as the first step towards building a symbolic ‘open door’ for those citizens devoted to the promotion of freedom and the unity of the nation.

    “…ours should be the party of the open door, open to all people, all parties, all faiths, all races.”
    –Richard M. Nixon

    In closing his address, Nixon reiterated the two key thoughts he believed General Eisenhower would have wanted to convey on this occasion. First, the importance of personal sacrifice within political campaigns, no matter the outcome, and, secondly his advice that the Republican Party should focus on keeping its doors open to every American citizen.

      President Nixon Congratulates the #1 College Football Team in America

        RNNebraska001

        President Nixon addresses football players and students of the University of Nebraska at the university’s Coliseum in Lincoln, Nebraska, on January 14, 1971.

        On January 14, 1971, President Nixon made an appearance at the University of Nebraska to present its football team with a presidential plaque recognizing them as undisputed national champions. The 1970 Nebraska Cornhuskers compiled an impressive record of 11-0-1, and capped off their national championship season with a gritting 17-12 victory over Louisiana State University in the Orange Bowl on January 1.

        “This year of football, a year of many great teams, a year in which many can perhaps rightfully claim to be number one, to come to Nebraska, a great university clearly apart from its great records in the field of athletics, to come here to the only major college team that was undefeated, and to make an award is something that I am very proud to do, proud to recognize this university, to recognize its coach, to recognize its co-captains, to recognize its fine members of the team, and in so doing to present the plaque from the President of the United States.”

        In his capacity as President of the United States, RN used this ceremonial occasion to expound upon the common problems faced by young and old people of the time. With the student body of the University of Nebraska in mind, the President consoled a generation weary from the burdens of war, and offered inspiration for what was expected to be the foundation for a generation of peace.

        “I want yours to be the first generation in this century to enjoy a full generation of peace,” President Nixon emphasized.

        To accomplish this would in no way be an easy task. For a nation that had seen all generations of the 20th century at war, the challenges with sustaining peace were just as great as the challenges of war. President Nixon understood this and afforded a solution to this tremendous endeavor.

        “There needs to be something more than the mere absence of war in life. Young people need something positive to respond to, some high enterprise in which they can test themselves, fulfill themselves. We must have great goals–goals that are worthy of us, worthy of our resources, our capacities, worthy of the courage and the wisdom and the will of our people. And we do have such great goals at home in America.”

        The great goals at home lay in the principal problems America faced domestically. From problems of the environment to the conditions of America’s cities, there were plenty of pressing national issues that required national attention and participation.

        “We must face them together. There can be no generation gap in America,” the President The destiny of this Nation is not divided into yours and ours. It is one destiny. We share it together. We are responsible for it together. And in the way we respond, history will judge us together.”

          Nixon and Cuomo: An Unlikely Duo

            RN and Cuomo

            A never-before-seen memo from former President Richard Nixon addressed to Governor Mario Cuomo of New York uncovers an unlikely relationship between two political heavyweights on opposing ends of the political spectrum.

            Governor Cuomo, a staunch and old-school Democrat who passed away on January 1 of 2015, formed a surprisingly amicable relationship with the former President—a camaraderie that facilitated some animated intellectual and political exchange.

            In an article that highlights the late Governor’s relationship with her and President Nixon, Washington Times editor Monica Crowley sheds light on their relationship.

            “Nixon and Cuomo often shared copies of books they found interesting. They’d leave Nixon’s hands dog-eared and underlined, only to come back after Cuomo had read them, even more beaten up. After both men had read each book, a long conversation would ensue,” Crowley recalls when she worked as President Nixon’s foreign policy assistant from 1990 until his death in 1994.

            “They may not have agreed on much, but they admired each other’s wide-ranging minds and scope of impact.”

            Much like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, RN admired the colorful Governor whom he considered a man “refreshing and stimulating.” The men respected each others’ intellectual desire, nor did they refrain from sharing their ardent views with one another.

            On September 19, 1987, Governor Cuomo began a much anticipated trip to the Soviet Union for what was deemed a mission of peace. Tapped as a possible presidential candidate for the 1988 presidential elections despite having already announced his decision not to run, Cuomo’s trip attracted ample media attention. Among his traveling party were 12 reporters.

            Two days prior, in understanding of the gravity of Cuomo’s trip, RN wrote a letter to the Governor offering advice on how he should handle his trek to Moscow. RN listed four suggestions taken from his prior experiences: advice on handling the media, on talking points in the case of a conversation with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, on Afghanistan and on how Cuomo should address the prospect of annual summits on arms control and trade.

            “The media will have an enormous interest in what you say,” RN suggested, warning Cuomo that those in the press corps will want him to criticize President Reagan openly. “I would suggest that you should parry their queries by saying that you have some differences with the Reagan Administration’s foreign policy but that you will always follow the practice of never criticizing your own country’s policies while travelling abroad and will make such criticisms only when you are in the United States.”

            Evidently, Cuomo took RN’s advice in this regard. In his public statements before his departure, Cuomo stated that he would not criticize his president or his country.

            “I go there as an American, not a Democrat,” stated Cuomo to the press. “I will not say anything that criticizes my president or my country.”

            Later, Cuomo would publicly praise the former President’s advice.

            “Nixon was very, very helpful.”

            Read the memo below:

              Nixon Takes the World to the Great Beyond

                Optimized-Space Cooperation Nixon Kosygin

                President Nixon and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin sign the Cooperation in Space Agreement on May 24, 1972

                With the end of the Apollo space program in sight two years into his first term, President Nixon knew that his Administration had to rethink the future of space and its place in American foreign policy. NASA’s budgetary demands needed to be curtailed and its vast amounts of resources redirected in order to keep the country’s priorities in line. Nixon’s solution was to bring the United States’ space exploration initiatives into its foreign policy realm by pushing for further cooperation in space with both Europe and amazingly, the Soviet Union. Nixon effectively put an end to the combatant space-race between the U.S. and Soviet Union, which he saw as the source of past mistakes and inefficiencies. Instead Nixon and his Administration ushered in a new era of global cooperation in space science that would benefit the world as a whole.

                On May 24, 1972 during his trip to Moscow, President Nixon and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin signed the Cooperation in Space treaty that committed the United States and Soviet Union to a joint effort in exploring the heavens and conducting space research. The trademark mission of the agreement was the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program which resulted in a successful docking of an American Apollo module carrying 3 NASA astronauts and a Soviet Soyuz module carrying 2 Soviet cosmonauts, the first ever joint mission between two countries’ space programs.

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                Two NASA astronauts mingle with a Soviet cosmonaut during the successful Apollo-Soyuz Test Program 1975

                Additional agreements with the Europeans (and later the Japanese), the Nixon Administration ensured that the future of space would be a collective global initiative in which many countries would contribute in costs and one in which the entire world would benefit from the scientific research made available. It is hard to imagine that such cooperative financial and budgetary commitments on a global scale would ever take place in the world today. It is also hard to imagine that such programs would actually be accomplished at their original budgetary levels as the Space Shuttle program and the international programs had done. More connected cooperation between the United States and Soviet Union in particular greatly contributed to the success of President Nixon’s détente policy and to the success of his foreign policy agenda as a whole. Cooperation in space both improved relations between the U.S. and Soviet Union and brought Western Europe and the United States even closer. Such joint scientific endeavors could be the key to improved relations between the nations of the world and Nixon’s example should be included in the playbook of any current or future world leader.

                Through the initiative to make space exploration a shared global endeavor, President Nixon set the stage for 4-plus decades of extraordinary scientific research that greatly contributed to mankind’s understanding of its place in the universe. One could even question if there would be an International Space Station today if it weren’t for Nixon’s space policy.

                  The Dawn of the Space Shuttle

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                    President Richard M. Nixon and Dr. James C. Fletcher, NASA Administrator, discuss the proposed Space Shuttle vehicle in San Clemente, California, on January 5, 1972.

                    Endowed with the stunning success of the Apollo program, yet faced with the exorbitant costs of NASA, President Nixon considered a space policy shift in the second year of his presidency. On March 7, 1970, President Nixon made public his intention to redirect the NASA vision. He released a statement (link) that divulged his administration’s approach to continuing space exploration and research efforts at a more manageable cost to the nation.

                    We must think of [space activities] as part of a continuing process… and not as a series of separate leaps, each requiring a massive concentration of energy. Space expenditures must take their proper place within a rigorous system of national priorities. … What we do in space from here on in must become a normal and regular part of our national life and must therefore be planned in conjunction with all of the other undertakings which are important to us.

                    President Nixon was not necessarily paring down the efforts of the nation’s space program, but rather attempting to instill a withstanding national paradigm. It was his hope that space exploration would become a component of national priorities, in line with the nation’s many domestic programs and as a result a staple of American government. It would compete, along with other national programs, for the government’s limited resources.

                    President Nixon’s aim to reprioritize this “massive concentration” of energy given to NASA began when he created the Space Task Group to study the future possibilities of the space program in February of 1969. After several months of examination, the Space Task Group sent the Nixon administration their recommendations in October.

                    One of the principle recommendations forwarded by the Space Task Group included developing “low-cost, flexible, long-lived, highly reliable, operational space systems with a high degree of commonality and reusability.” In other words, NASA should be tasked with constructing something along the lines of a reusable shuttle.

                    The unveiling of the space shuttle program became reality at the beginning of President Nixon’s iconic year of 1972. On January 5, RN met with Dr. James C. Fletcher, NASA Administrator, to discuss the proposed space shuttle vehicle.

                    Shortly after the meeting, the President issued a statement announcing the commencement of the Shuttle Program, closing the book on the Apollo program and opening another for the future of space exploration.

                    This new program will give more people more access to the liberating perspectives of space, even as it extends our ability to cope with physical challenges of Earth and broadens our opportunities for international cooperation in low-cost, multi-purpose space missions.

                    On December 19, 1972, Apollo 17 reentered Earth’s atmosphere, marking an end to the prestigious and largely successful Apollo program. President Nixon shared a message with the American people about the future of the space program assuring that “the making of space history would continue,” albeit at a more steady and economically viable pace.

                    President Nixon described the possibilities the space shuttle would bring:

                    Economy in space will be further served by the Space Shuttle, which is presently under development. It will enable us to ferry space research hardware into orbit without requiring the full expenditure of a launch vehicle as is necessary today. It will permit us to place that hardware in space accurately, and to service or retrieve it when necessary instead of simply writing it off in the event it malfunctions or fails. In addition, the Shuttle will provide such routine access to space that for the first time personnel other than trained astronauts will be able to participate and contribute in space as will nations once excluded for economic reasons.

                    The Space Shuttle program, retired in 2011, continued for 39 years–the longest yet program launched by NASA. It produced 135 total flights and countless cutting-edge research missions. It is safe to say that space travel and exploration as we know it today was a result of President Nixon’s decision to economize the American space program in 1972.

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