William Safire and the Kitchen Debate

associated_press_1215_2005Associated Press, The Great Debate…U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon, in dark suit, gestures as he talks with Soviet Premier Khrushchev, left during their tour of American Exhibition in Moscow this summer, July 24, 1959

This Sunday, September 27, 2009, New York Times columnist William Safire died at the age of 79. Safire won a Pulitzer Prize for his critical political columns and was a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon. In 1959 Safire was the press agent for the exhibition where the so-called “Kitchen Debate” took place: a series of meetings between U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and the Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to discuss the merits of their respective economic systems. The first encounter took place on July 24, 1959, during the opening of the American National Exhibition at Sokolniki Park in Moscow. For the exhibition an entire house was built as a symbol to the comforts and advantages of the American way of living. Although the conversations between Nixon and Khrushchev were held throughout the whole house, the kitchen was the main location for their dialogue. This is where Safire documented the historical meeting. On July 24 2009, precisely 50 years after the event, Safire reflected on his experiences in his Op-Ed column for the New York Times.

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About claartjevandijk

Assistant Curator, Collections at the International Center of Photography, New York
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