Occasional contributor Bill Katz coments on the news of the day at Urgent Agenda, though he continues to save some of his deepest relections on life and politics for us. Bill wrote for us most recently about Hollywood justice, Hollywood being the place where he spent a part of his career working for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Today Bill takes a look back at Richard Nixon’s famous Checkers speech.
Much mocked for its bathos, the speech is something of a tour de force. With his political future on the line and with nearly 50 percent of the 1952 viewing audience looking on, Nixon spoke for thirty minutes in an empty NBC studio from five pages of notes sketched out on a legal pad. Even critics of Nixon such as Garry Wills, who devotes a chapter to the speech in Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man, pay tribute to the speech’s shrewd jousting with Eisenhower to stay on the ticket. The jousting with Eisenhower is part of the inside story of the speech. In his account below, Bill captures “the outside story.”