Continuing our look at States Of The Union Past - today it's 1960 and the seventh State of The Union given by President Eisenhower. Knee-deep in the Cold War and a few months away from the infamous U-2 Spy Plane incident, Eisenhower expressed a certain "whistling in the dark" assurance that no one in their right minds would be insane enough to start a nuclear war. He felt certain, but no one else did. No doubt there were just as many Russians who swore up and down we'd be the first ones insane enough to pull the trigger. But then, the Soviets had just as many Hawks in the Politburo as we had in Congress. So in a strange way there was a balance of fear.
An interesting sidelight is the tone, certainly in parts, of this State of The Union address. It is reminiscent of his Farewell address, leading one to suspect that in the year absolutely nothing changed.
President Eisenhower: “My purpose today is to discuss some features of America's position, both at home and in her relations to others. First, I point out that for us, annual self-examination is made a definite necessity by the fact that we now live in a divided world of uneasy equilibrium, with our side committed to its own protection and against aggression by the other. With both sides of this divided world in possession of unbelievably destructive weapons, mankind approaches a state where mutual annihilation becomes a possibility. No other fact of today's world equals this in importance--it colors everything we say, plan, and do.”
Did then, does now. Only the divisions are domestic and the world is infinitely smaller.