University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

Section 4: January 14, 1969 - July 23, 1971

South Bend, January 14, 1969

Johnson’s Farewell

A few days before handing over his office, President Johnson delivered his last “State of the Union Address” to the joint session of Congress. It was at the same time an occasion for a cordial and nostalgic farewell. As statesman Johnson stood above party politics. He reached out to his successor, as he asked the members of Congress for their undivided support of Richard Nixon. Johnson’s farewell was less giving an account of his years in office than a request from the legislative body for continuing the social reforms which he had started. He admitted to be himself a child of the New Deal whose social programs he wanted to complete. The historical significance of Johnson lies definitely in his achievements in domestic politics, in his implementation of the American social programs. In the first place, the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, his efforts to achieve racial equality as well as better schools and housing conditions for minorities have to be mentioned. And then Johnson’s accomplishments in extending Social Security should be commended. In 1965 he introduced Medicare, which guarantees government sponsored health care for every citizen over 65 years of age. He had only limited relationship to foreign policy which he could not cope with. With Johnson the liberal era in America is coming to a close.

South Bend, January 20, 1969

The Inauguration of Richard Nixon

Turning over the office of the presidency from Lyndon B. Johnson to Richard M. Nixon took place with dignity and without any disturbance. It is a tribute to the stability of the American political system. The orderly transfer of the office of the American president gives the country and the world a sense of security to which the personality of Richard Nixon is definitely a contributing factor. Without a doubt, today marks the beginning of a new era in American domestic and foreign policy. Nixon can look forward with measured confidence to the future. The War in Vietnam is coming to an end; under no circumstances could one think of an escalation of the War. The American engagement will again turn more to Europe, although the Nixon administration will act cautiously and give more the impression of a new isolationism. American foreign policy will not concentrate anymore rigidly on one issue but will remain more flexible. There is less danger that a single regional conflict could cause a global catastrophe.

<< Klaus Lanzinger >>