Friday, September 26, 2014

Dave's favorite 20th century Russian historical figure, The Finale

Dave has been giving a great deal of thought to the story he has been hearing this week. He new that there had to be a deeper meaning than just a frustrating day on the road. He knew his friend would not have woken Dave up from a good nap just to rant. And Dave was right.

"Dave, this experience had me thinking about the history of our nation. I had a great deal of time to think during the long ride! In particular, I was thinking about the middle part of the 20th century, particularly the decades after World War II and Russo-American relations. 

I thought about the time that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had a series of conversations with U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon debating the merits of communism and capitalism. They met in 1959 at the American exhibition in Moscow. You doubtless know all of these details, Dave, as you are a true renaissance cat. You'll recall, as William Safire recalled in 2009, that the purpose of the exhibition was to show a typical American house to the Soviet Premier. 

The Soviet press had lampooned the notion that the model house represented a typical house for an American worker, calling it 'the Taj Mahal.' Khrushchev doubted the accuracy of many of Nixon's claims about modern appliances available in the typical American household. He mocked the model house, saying, 'Don't you have a machine that puts food into the mouth and pushes it down? Many things you've shown us are interesting but they are not needed in life. They have no useful purpose. They are merely gadgets.'

The point, Dave, is that the Soviets witnessed a typical American house, and dismissed it as having appliances that were often out of order, or unnecessary, or claimed that the Americans exaggerated their ubiquity. But, despite his outward skepticism, the experience may have seeded some doubt in Khrushchev's mind. What if the typical American house actually did have all of these things? 

Now, Dave, imagine if instead of meeting in an exhibition in Moscow, Khrushchev and Nixon has met in this nation, in this city, and they had made the drive I made today. How comical it would have been! Khrushchev would have laughed at our shoddy road planning. He would have lampooned capitalism placing a restaurant in the middle of an intersection. He would have been relieved that his competitors, who claimed to be so efficient and productive, spent hours to travel distances that should have taken mere minutes. Nixon's claim that capitalism provided greater quality of life than communism would have been in great question after an experience like that, would it not have, Dave?"

Dave's favorite 20th century Russian historical figure is Nikita Khrushdave.

But don't be mistaken. Mr. Khrushdave may be Dave's favorite 20th century Russian historical figure, but that doesn't mean anything about Dave's feelings about economic policy. In fact, Dave prefers Mr. Khrushdave's later American counterpart, President John Dafe Kennedy. 

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