Nixon and Kennedy: an example of friendship in politics

Updated
President Richard Nixon gestures toward transcripts of White House tapes after announcing he would turn them over to House impeachment investigators and make...
President Richard Nixon gestures toward transcripts of White House tapes after announcing he would turn them over to House impeachment investigators and make...
AP Photo

Let me finish tonight with this.

Today is Richard Nixon’s 100th birthday. So let me tell you a story that’s pretty fabulous.

Back in April 1947, two young men just back from World War II in the South Pacific were sharing an overnight train compartment.  You know, the kind in North by Northwest, where you have bunk beds, one on top of the other.

One was a wealthy young Democrat from Boston—a real war hero, son of one of the wealthiest men in the country, the world actually! The other was a guy born to a family that ran a grocery store in the Southern California orange groves.

The two young men had just held their first debate out in Western Pennsylvania. It was a Monday night and the two were taking the midnight train, the Capitol Limited, back to Washington. They’d just had hamburgers at the local diner and impressed everyone with what normal guys they were. You couldn’t tell the rich kid from the other one.

That night, as the hours passed into morning, the two who’d seen war talked about the rise of the Soviet Union and what would soon be known as the Cold War. They were wondering how their generation could avoid the mistakes of their father’s, how they could avoid a Third World War they knew would be nuclear.

Their names were John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. They were friends back then and for many years after, until they faced each other in a far grander series of debate in 1960.

Yes, there was a time when people got along in politics—even as they debated the big stuff.

Nixon and Kennedy: an example of friendship in politics

Updated