Nixon's Treaty of Fifth Avenue
The 1968 observation of presidential candidate George Wallace regarding the differences between the Republican and Democrat parties appears accurate, as both had similar policies to attract the same voters. The GOP leadership chose a man in 1952 with no known conservative principles over Robert A. Taft, a man with extensive and proven conservative principles. The liberal Rockefeller wing of the GOP acted in 1959 to thwart conservative Barry Goldwater’s candidacy and did everything to re-elect LBJ 1964.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Nixon’s Treaty of Fifth Avenue
“When the Republicans met in Chicago the next week, Richard Nixon had an even safer lock on the presidential nomination than Kennedy’s before the Democrats met. Anticipating Nixon’s nomination, [John F.] Kennedy had gone out of his way to attack [Eisenhower’s] Vice President as a young man whose ideas nevertheless belonged to the days of William McKinley, and as one who, unlike Lincoln, had shown “charity toward none and malice toward all.”
The closest thing to a serious challenge to Nixon’s claims on the nomination had come from Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, who did nothing to discourage efforts to boom him for the Presidency in 1959. Visits with Republican leaders around the country, however, had convinced him that he had no chance against Nixon, and at the end of the year he withdrew from the race. Shortly thereafter Nixon announced his candidacy.
Rockefeller, though no longer seeking the nomination, was determined to influence the GOP platform. As critical as any Democrat of [Eisenhower] administration military policy, the New York governor strongly echoed the 1958 Rockefeller Brothers Fund report on national security, especially the recommendations for a mandatory national fallout shelter program, for accelerated ICBM development, and for bigger conventional forces.
Early in June he angered Eisenhower when, right after breakfasting with the President at the White House, he told newsmen that “our position in the world is dramatically weaker today than fifteen years ago . . . our national defense needs great strengthening.” He also urged Nixon to make known his views on all issues before, not after the convention.
Rockefeller was obviously in a position to make things difficult for Nixon if he wanted to. Two days before the Chicago convention was to open, the Vice President and the governor had a dramatic secret conference at Rockefeller’s personal residence in Manhattan. As a result of what the press dubbed the “treaty of Fifth Avenue,” Nixon agreed that the party platform then being drafted in Chicago should have stronger sections on both defense and civil rights.
Thus the platform, while mostly praising the policies of the Eisenhower administration, did call for faster development and deployment of missiles, and committed the GOP to a program of action in the field of civil rights while was fully as far-reaching as what the Democrats had promised.
Yet despite their radically contrasting backgrounds, personalities and political styles, in assumptions and outlook Kennedy and Nixon were not far apart. Both men were fundamentally cold warriors, dedicated to protecting national interests . . . Both were “internationalists,” strong advocates of the collective security orientation of American foreign policy since 1939.
Both wished to couple the continuing buildup of American armaments with a more ambitious program of nonmilitary aid in response to what Nixon termed “the revolution of peaceful peoples’ aspirations” in Asia, Africa, and South America. Both Nixon and Kennedy accepted the basic premises of the welfare state, although Kennedy favored a greater degree of federal intervention to foster economic growth and expand economic opportunity.
Finally, both believed in a powerful Presidency, dominant in domestic affairs and unchallenged in the making and execution of foreign policy.
The election was so close that, according to some estimates, a shift of no more than 12,000 votes in five States would have produced a different result. But Kennedy, by narrowly winning such populous States as New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Texas, managed to squeeze through. In a record popular vote of nearly 69 million, Kennedy’s margin of victory was less than 118,000, or about a quarter of a percentage point. Kennedy’s big majorities in the largest Norther cities, with their great numbers of Catholics and blacks, won him the Presidency.
(Holding the Line: The Eisenhower Era, 1952-1961, Charles C. Alexander, Indiana University Press, 1975, pp. 274-279)