It was in many ways typical of the tenor of the whole campaign. Kennedy sat with schoolboy composure, taking notes and speaking calmly. Nixon added to the annals of history's best bloopers with a remark about solving the farm problem by abolishing the farmers. And at Agassiz, three 'Cliffies fell asleep.
About 30 were clustered around Agassiz's new TV set for the opening of the Debate, and for the most part everyone was obediently interested. Nevertheless, there was a sense of disappointment at the placidity of the affair, probably because both candidates lack any real flair as speakers.
Debate Provides Laughs
But there were laughs. The Senator from Massachusetts complained about Jimmy Hoffa's "still being free." The Vice-President emphasized that he was sincere. The Senator spoke of 1960 as 1932 and someone snorted. The Vice-President said he knew what it was to be poor, and a 'Cliffie got up and walked out.
Joel F. Henning '61 was there, doubtless scouting talent. Three diminutive Mme. La Farges were there knitting and waiting for the heads to drop. They didn't.
Kennedy said, "The men in the Kremlin are ruthless men. They are determined men." Someone in the back said, "And they're bad men."
Still, in general, it didn't work. Perhaps the candidates weren't distinctive enough, or the issues weren't great enough, or the drama of impending crisis was missing. But somehow, and not for lack of attention, it was an anti-climax.
At the end someone muttered, "I should have stayed in and played bridge or something."