Segments in this Video

Nixon Inaugural Address (05:48)


During his 1969 speech, President Richard Nixon addresses the nation at a time of internal and external conflict. He speaks of racial equality, international peace, cooperation, and arms reduction. A moderator introduces local political leaders, diplomats, historians, and economists to a discussion of the new presidency.

Inaugural Address and Outlook for Nixon Administration (06:42)

Clinton Rossiter and Alistair Cooke agree that Nixon’s iaugural address did not offer a unique or compelling message. Milton Friedman argues that Nixon will move away from government control; Walter Heller disagrees, saying change will not be significant. Cooke and Richard Hatcher argue that the speech did not address marginalized groups sufficiently, but all agree that the speech attempted to promote unity, cooperation, and peace.

Executive Power and Foreign Policy (05:24)

Joseph Kraft describes the current form of American government as a “crap game,” and says that Nixon will increase the situation. As Nixon organizes his National Security Council and Defense, it becomes clearer that power will be concentrated in the Executive Branch, and foreign affairs will depend on domestic politics. Nixon will reduce commitments in other countries and work toward better relations with France and Russia.

Negotiations With Vietnam (07:01)

Foy Kohler describes Nixon’s approach in the Paris Peace Talks and the confidence of the World Federation of Trade Unions. Rossiter speculates whether Nixon will accept a negotiation involving the Viet Cong if the American people and government will not permit further escalation. Nixon does not want the international community to perceive him as weak.

Presidential Administrations: Soviet Relations (06:49)

Kohler argues that facts about the situation in Vietnam limit how much Nixon can change policy; there is a possibility Russia will respect a tougher and more business-oriented American government. There are concerns that war in the Middle East will involve the Soviet Union and the United States. Although the Soviet suppression of the Czechoslovakia uprising put the U.S on guard, there are signs the U.S. is willing to negotiate.

Domestic and Defense Spending (08:24)

The end of the Vietnam War will cut the defense budget by $300 billion; Heller worries Nixon will replace this with military defense buildup. Friedman argues the administration will slow down spending and that social program funding in the Johnson Administration did not work. Mayors John Collins and Hatcher agree that the Great Society programs were necessary; the U.S needs more commitment from Congress and more funding.

Strategies for Solving Domestic Problems (08:20)

Cooke speculates that even if the U.S. ended the Vietnam War immediately, funds would not become available for a few years. Heller argues that the government already made a report on reductions in war spending. Friedman asserts that the government should instate a negative income tax; Hatcher disagrees. The U.S. does not have the necessary commitment to address problems of the poor.

Governmental Challenges in Urban Affairs (05:38)

Joseph Kraft describes the environment of contested opinions and new power structures for governing domestic programs in the cities. Health, Education, and Welfare Secretary Robert Finch will have a strong influence on the president. Nixon will need to motivate unity and public confidence to achieve his goals.

Problems and Solutions for Cities (09:09)

Collins argues that the Council on Urban Affairs should establish a systems perspective including inter-city enrichment, income support, and land use reform. Hatcher agrees but expresses disappointment in Nixon’s officials and the lack of any Black representation in regional positions. Friedman believes cities and suburbs should solve problems with little to no government assistance.

National Unity and Alienated Groups (06:57)

Hatcher states the Nixon Administration has not made a unifying commitment to solve problems faced by the black community or the poor. Collins and Heller agree that unity should include revenue sharing and more responsibility at the state level. Cooke emphasizes the need to address corruption; Rossiter agrees President Nixon needs to make difficult decisions that may not please everyone.

Credits: The Nixon Administration (02:26)

Credits: The Nixon Administration

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The Nixon Administration

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In this Net Journal documentary, Walter Heller, Milton Friedman, Richard Hatcher, John Collins, Clinton Rossiter, Alistair Cooke, and Foy Kohler discuss Richard Nixon’s Inaugural Address and the outlook for his administration, considering foreign policy and international relations, support of domestic programs, defense spending, and appeal to national unity.

Length: 73 minutes

Item#: BVL145623

Copyright date: ©1969

Closed Captioned

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