The Age of Great Dreams Questions and Answers
by David Farber

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Compare and contrast Nixon and Kennedy in The Age of Great Dreams. 

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Farber suggests that the American Presidential Election of 1960 is a study of comparisons and contrasts between Nixon and Kennedy.

A strong comparison between both politicians is their emphasis on an economic agenda.  Farber argues that Kennedy wanted to out -"Ike" Eisenhower's Vice- President.  The growth and economic progress so central to the Eisenhower administration had slowed in the late 1950s.  Kennedy seized upon this.  He made it central to his campaign for President. Kennedy stated that he would increase American economic growth by five percent, if elected.  Vice President Nixon supported a platform of business growth.  He argued that he would continue Eisenhower's pro- business policies.  Both candidates were similar in their supportive attitudes towards commercial development.

Upon receiving the nominations of their respective parties, both men essentially articulated the same campaign message of hope. This similarity can be seen in their nomination speeches.  Nixon spoke of the importance in inspiring the American people to "meet the danger" of worldwide Communism.  He also affirmed how the next President must be able to tell Americans "not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear."  In his "New Frontier" speech, Kennedy "asks of Americans"  to embrace "more sacrifice instead of more security."  In the speeches that would initiate their Presidential campaigns, Kennedy and Nixon featured a shared message of hope through sacrifice.

A significant difference between both men was in their understanding of the media.  Senator Kennedy and his team were keenly aware of how the media could be used to enhance his image to the American public.  This could be seen in the 1960 debate.  Farber describes Senator Kennedy's physical appearance as "tan" with eyes that "sparkled."  He stood "calm, and poised, and very confident."  He communicated a "presidential" impression.  Vice- President Nixon did not convey this, as he looked "haggard" and "exhausted from relentless campaigning."  The suit he wore was "bunched up and it was the wrong color" as it "made him appear to fade into the studio backdrop." The "Lazy Shave makeup" that was applied to him "made him look worse." Understanding the role of the media in presidential elections was a sharp point of differentiation between both candidates.  Farber points out that his "incompetent use of the media" lingered in Nixon's mind up until he ran for President in 1968. 

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