July 15, 1960 — John F. Kennedy delivers the “New Frontier” speech

The 1960 Democratic Convention was still a fairly competitive contest when it opened on July 11 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Kennedy was the obvious front-runner, but Lyndon Johnson was still in the game. However, after Kennedy defeated him in a televised debate, Johnson’s fortunes began to fade. Kennedy was elected with an absolute (if narrow) majority on the first ballot of the convention, becoming the nominee. After some backroom negotiations, Johnson agreed to be Kennedy’s Vice-Presidential running mate.

And so it was that on the final day of the convention, Kennedy gave a speech accepting the nomination of the Democratic Party as their candidate for President of the United States. The speech he gave, widely known as the ‘New Frontier’ speech after the metaphor that drove most of it, was a high water mark of progressive rhetoric, and remains so even today:

We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier — the frontier of the 1960s, the frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, the frontier of unfilled hopes and unfilled threats. … Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.

As President, Kennedy would be quite successful in progressing towards these policy aims, and Johnson would continue with them when he succeeded to the office.

1988 – “Die Hard” is released

Die Hard was the first film in what would become one of the most popular franchises of the last three decades. A massive commercial success, it also created a set of expectations for the career of Bruce Willis: people expected that his every new film would start a franchise. From Hudson Hawk on, through The Last Boyscout and Striking Distance, every film was supposed to be the foundation of another great franchise.

But these other characters did not have the staying power of John McClane. It turns out that the same shit tends to only happen to the same guy once when it comes to successful film franchises (unless that guy is Harrison Ford, obviously).

Referenced in:

“Live Free Or Die Hard” – Guys Nite

1958 – Lebanon calls on U.S. for military aid

Lebanon had spent the previous few years threatened by a civil war between the Maronite Christians and the Muslims who were its two major religious divisions. As a rule, the Maronites were aligned with the West, and the Muslims with Egypt under Gamel Nasser. Relations with Egypt and Syria had grown tense, further exacerbating the situation.

Finally, the toppling of Iraq’s pro-Western government on July 14 provoked President Chamoun’s call for U.S. assistance. President Eisenhower responded with Operation Blue Bat, commencing on July 15, and ultimately lasting until October 25, 1958. In that time, US forces quelled dissent and helped to stabilise the government. At the time, it was considered a great success, but there are always unintended consequences: in historical terms, however, it can be seen as one more resentment spurring Muslim extremism against the US.

Referenced in:

We Didn’t Start The Fire – Billy Joel