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#204: The Election of 1952

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President Harry Truman, left, and his successor, President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower during inauguration ceremonies on January 2, 1953
President Harry Truman, left, and his successor, President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower during inauguration ceremonies on January 2, 1953

STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember

(MUSIC)

This week in our series, we look at the presidential election campaign of nineteen fifty-two. President Harry Truman decided not to seek re-election. The continuing war in Korea and economic problems at home had cost him the support of many Americans.

His Democratic Party needed a new candidate for president.

In the spring of nineteen fifty-two, Harry Truman offered his support to Adlai Stevenson. Stevenson, however, said he was not interested in any job except the one he had as governor of Illinois.

Someone asked what he would do if the Democratic Party chose him anyway as its presidential candidate. Stevenson jokingly answered that he would have to shoot himself.

So, President Truman and other party leaders discussed different candidates. Each one, however, seemed to have some political weakness.

The Republican Party was also discussing possible candidates. It was much easier for the Republicans to choose. Earlier, General Dwight Eisenhower had said he would be interested in running for president.

Eisenhower was the highly respected commander of Allied forces in Europe during World War Two. Many members of both parties supported "Ike," as he was popularly known. Eisenhower agreed to campaign as a Republican.

His closest competitor for the Republican nomination was Robert Taft. Taft was a senator from Ohio and the son of a former president, William Howard Taft.

Senator Taft had strong support among Republicans for his conservative positions. But he did not receive enough votes at the party's national convention to defeat Eisenhower for the nomination.

In his acceptance speech, Eisenhower told the delegates:

DWIGHT EISENHOWER: "Ladies and Gentlemen, you have summoned me on behalf of millions of your fellow Americans to lead a great crusade -- for freedom in America and freedom in the world. I know something of the solemn responsibility of leading a crusade. I take up this task, therefore, in the spirit of deep obligation. Mindful of its burden and of its decisive importance, I accept your summons. I will lead this crusade."

(MUSIC)

Eisenhower chose Senator Richard Nixon of California as his running mate for vice president. Nixon was known for strongly opposing communism.

RICHARD NIXON:  "I am holding in my hand a microfilm of very highly confidential secret State Department documents. These documents were fed out of the State Department, over ten years ago, by communists who were employees of that department and who were interested in seeing if these documents were sent to the Soviet Union, where the interests of the Soviet Union happened to be in conflict with those of the United States."

Earlier, as a member of the House of Representatives, Richard Nixon had led the investigation of a former State Department official, Alger Hiss. Hiss was accused of helping to provide secret information to the Soviet Union. He denied the accusation and was never charged with spying. But he was tried and found guilty of lying to a grand jury and was sentenced to prison.

(MUSIC)

Democrats opened their presidential nominating convention in Chicago, Illinois, ten days after the Republicans closed theirs in the same city. Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson welcomed the delegates, but still seemed like he did not want to run for president. That only made the delegates want him even more.

 Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson at the Democratic National Convention in 1952
Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson at the Democratic National Convention in 1952

They were unable to choose a nominee on the first two votes. Then, on the third vote, a majority of the delegates chose Adlai Stevenson. And he accepted. He urged Democrats to campaign with honor.

ADLAI STEVENSON: "Let's talk sense to the American people. Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that we are now on the eve of great decisions, not easy decisions, like resistance when you're attacked, but a long, patient, costly struggle which alone can assure triumph over the great enemies of man - war, poverty, and tyranny - and the assaults upon human dignity which are the most grievous consequences of each."

A political observer described the differences between Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhower this way: Stevenson was a man of thought. Eisenhower was a man of action.

The Republican Party hired an advertising agency to design a campaign to "sell" Eisenhower and Nixon to the American public.

ANNOUNCER IN COMMERCIAL: "The man from Abilene. Out of the heartland of America, out of this small frame house in Abilene, Kansas, came a man, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Through the crucial hour of historic D-Day, he brought us to the triumph and peace of V-E [Victory in Europe] Day. Now, another crucial hour in our history. The big question..."

MAN IN COMMERCIAL: "General, if war comes, is this country really ready?"

EISENHOWER: "It is not.  We haven't enough tanks for the fighting in Korea. It is time for a change."

ANNOUNCER: "The nation, haunted by the stalemate in Korea, looks to EisenhowerEisenhower knows how to deal with the Russians.  He has met Europe's leaders, has got them working with us.  Elect the Number One Man for the Number One Job of our time.  November fourth, vote for peace. Vote for Eisenhower."

(MUSIC)

Adlai Stevenson was known as an intellectual -- an "egghead." He dismissed some traditional political advisers and replaced them with fellow "eggheads" when he launched his campaign.

The biggest issue in the nineteen fifty-two campaign was communism. Stevenson said America needed to guard against it. Yet he repeatedly criticized the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy. For years, the senator from Wisconsin had been denouncing government officials and others as communists.

Eisenhower did not criticize McCarthy, even when the senator accused Eisenhower's good friend, and fellow World War Two hero, General George Marshall, of being a traitor.

The Republican campaign went smoothly until Nixon faced a campaign finance dispute. The vice presidential candidate was under pressure to withdraw. That led to Nixon's famous "Checkers" speech. He made the speech on national television on September twenty-third nineteen fifty-two.  In it, he denied any wrongdoing. He defended his actions regarding the disputed funds -- and his decision to keep a special gift from a political supporter.

RICHARD NIXON: "One other thing I probably should tell you, because if I don't they'll probably be saying this about me, too. We did get something, a gift, after the election. A man down in Texas heard Pat on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog.

"And believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore, saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was? It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he'd sent all the way from Texas, black and white, spotted.

"And our little girl Tricia, the six year old, named it "Checkers." And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we're gonna keep it.

(MUSIC)

The speech was a major success. Many Republicans voiced support for Nixon to stay on as Eisenhower's running mate. And Eisenhower agreed.

A few weeks before the election, Eisenhower made a powerful speech. He talked about ending the war in Korea.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER: "Now, where will a new administration begin. It will begin with its president taking a firm, simple resolution. That resolution will be to forego the diversions of politics and to concentrate on the job of ending the Korean War, until that job is honorably done. That job requires a personal trip to Korea. Only in that way could I learn how best to serve the American people in the cause of peace. I shall go to Korea."

Adlai Stevenson also gave a powerful speech before the election. In it, he told of seeing "an America where no man fears to think as he pleases, or say what he thinks ... an America where no man is another's master -- where no man's mind is dark with fear."

Adlai Stevenson spoke of a nation at peace with the world -- "an America as the horizon of human hopes."

Americans voted in November. Eisenhower won almost thirty-four million votes. That was more than any other presidential candidate had ever received. Stevenson won about twenty-seven million votes.

Dwight Eisenhower was sworn in as America's thirty-fourth president in January of nineteen fifty-three. He was sixty-two years old.

Many problems awaited the new Republican president.

Republicans had only a small majority in Congress. Many of them were very conservative and unlikely to support many of Eisenhower's programs. The cost of living in America was rising. Senator Joseph McCarthy was still hunting communists. And the war was still being fought in Korea.

But Ike had a lot of experience serving his country.

Dwight Eisenhower came from a large family in Abilene, Kansas. They did not have much money. He received a free university education when he was appointed to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, in New York state.

He remained in military service for many years. He was a top Army officer by the time the United States entered World War Two in nineteen forty-one. In June of nineteen forty-four, he led the Allied D-Day invasion of Europe.

In nineteen fifty, President Truman named him supreme commander of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

MUSIC: "I Like Ike" campaign song

When Dwight Eisenhower ran for president, supporters shouted "I like Ike!" People like him because he always seemed calm under pressure. As president, one of the first pressures he would have to deal with was the continuing war in Korea.

That will be our story next week.

You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts, and pictures at www.unsv.com. And you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

___

Contributing: Jerilyn Watson

This was program #204. For earlier programs, type "Making of a Nation" in quotation marks in the search box at the top of the page.

1952年总统大选前,韩战和国内经济问题的继续,让现任总统杜鲁门的民众支持率下降,杜鲁门决定,不再参选连任。民主党需要一位新的总统候选人。

1952年春天,杜鲁门表示,支持伊利诺伊州州长阿德莱.史蒂文森代表民主党参加总统大选,但是史蒂文森说,他只想当好自己的州长,对选总统没兴趣。

有人问史蒂文森,如果民主党一定要推选他,他会怎么办,史蒂文森半开玩笑地说,那他只好开枪打死自己了。杜鲁门和民主党其他领导人只好考虑别的人选,但每个人在政治上似乎都有不足之处。

共和党此时也在考虑总统人选,但是他们的工作要容易得多,因为艾森豪威尔将军已经表示,愿意考虑参选总统。艾森豪威尔是二战时的欧洲盟军总指挥,很有威望,在民主、共和两党里都有很高的支持率,艾森豪威尔同意代表共和党参选。

艾森豪威尔在共和党里的主要竞争对手是俄亥俄州的联邦参议员罗伯特.塔夫特,他是美国前总统威廉.塔夫特的儿子。

塔夫特参议员立场保守,在共和党里呼声很高,尽管如此,在共和党全国代表大会上,他还是没能击败艾森豪威尔,赢得党内提名。艾森豪威尔在接受共和党总统候选人提名的讲话中说:"女士们先生们,你们代表数百万美国民众,叫我领导一场伟大的运动,为美国和全世界争取自由。我知道领导这场运动的庄严职责,我责无旁贷。我深切了解自己身上的重担,也知道其重要意义,我接受这项使命,我愿意领导这场运动"。

艾森豪威尔选择加利福尼亚州的联邦参议员理查德.尼克松做自己的竞选伙伴,尼克松以坚定反共而知名。他曾说过下面这段话:"我手里拿着的这张微型胶片,上面有国务院的机密文件,这些机密文件是十多年前由国务院里的共产党人传出来的,涉及的都是一些苏联跟美国有利益冲突的问题,他们想让苏联得到这些文件"。

尼克松还在担任美国国会众议院议员时,就曾主持过对前国务院官员希斯的调查,希斯被指控向苏联透露机密信息。希斯矢口否认,而且也没有因间谍罪受到正式起诉,但是法庭认定,希斯向大陪审团做伪证的罪名成立,将希斯投入监狱。

共和党全国代表大会在芝加哥开会,提名艾森豪威尔为总统候选人,十天后,民主党全国代表大会也在芝加哥召开。伊利诺伊州州长史蒂文森欢迎民主党代表的到来,但表示,依然没有参选的打算,这反而更坚定了与会代表们推举他的意愿。

头两轮投票,民主党代表都没能推举出候选人,第三次投票,大多数代表都选择了史蒂文森。史蒂文森接受了党内提名,并呼吁民主党人,选举要做到光明磊落。

史蒂文森说:"让我们跟美国民众讲道理,告诉他们事实,让他们知道没有付出就没有收获,让他们知道,我们如今要做出重大决定,不是别人打你就要反抗的那种简单决定,而是一场持久的,需要耐心和巨大投入的斗争,以确保我们击败战争、贫穷和独裁这些人类的敌人,不让这些敌人侵犯人类的尊严"。

一位政治观察家曾描述说,史蒂文森和艾森豪威尔之间的区别是:史蒂文森是一个思想家,而艾森豪威尔是一个行动家。

艾森豪威尔是共和党1952年总统大选的候选人,他的竞选搭档是美国加州的联邦参议员尼克松。共和党找了一家广告公司,向美国民众推销艾森豪威尔和尼克松。

广告旁白说:"他来自阿比林。艾森豪威尔来自美国腹地,堪萨斯州阿比林的这栋小房子。在诺曼底登陆的历史时刻,是他带领我们走向胜利。如今,我们又走到了另一个关键时刻。"

这时候,广告里的一名男子问,"将军,如果战争来临,我们做好准备了吗?"艾森豪威尔回答说:"没有。我们参加韩战,没有足够坦克,这种情况必须改变。"

广告旁白继续说:"在韩战僵持不下的时刻,国家把目光投向艾森豪威尔。他知道如何对付苏联人,他认识欧洲领导人,曾说服他们跟我们合作。让最出色的人选担任最重要的职务,11月4日,把票投给和平,把票投给艾森豪威尔"。

史蒂文森是个学者。选战开始后,他遣散了一些资深的政治顾问,换成跟他一样的学者。1952年总统大选最重要议题是共产主义的威胁。史蒂文森说,美国需要防范共产主义的影响,但他同时又多次批评麦卡锡参议员消除共产势力的行动。很多年来,来自威斯康辛州的麦卡锡参议员不断指责政府官员等人是共产党人。

艾森豪威尔并没有批评麦卡锡,甚至当麦卡锡指责艾森豪威尔的好友,同样是二战英雄的马歇尔将军是叛徒时,艾森豪威尔也没有跟麦卡锡展开正面交锋。

共和党选战一开始进行得十分顺利,但后来尼克松遇到了竞选资金的纠纷,很多人要求尼克松退出选举。尼克松1952年9月23号发表全国讲话,否认自己的行为有任何不妥,为自己做出辩护,解释了接受一位支持者的一份特别礼物的原因。这就是后来着名的Checkers讲话。尼克松说:"不管你信不信,我们开始这次选战行程前,巴尔的摩火车站通知我们,说有个包裹,我们去了才知道,是那个支持者从德克萨斯不远万里送来的一只小可卡犬,毛色黑白相间。我们家六岁的小丫头Tricia给狗取名叫checkers--跳棋。你们都知道,孩子喜欢狗,所以我现在要说明,不管他们怎么说,这狗我们是收下了。"

这次讲话获得了巨大成功,很多共和党人都支持尼克松继续参选,艾森豪威尔也表示同意。选举日前的几个星期,艾森豪威尔发表重要讲话,提出结束韩战。

艾森豪威尔说:"新一届政府从哪里展开工作呢?"第一步,总统要做出坚定果断的决策,那就是,摆脱政治纷扰,集中精力结束韩战,为此我要亲自去一趟韩国,只有这样,我才能知道如何最有效地让美国人们享受和平。我要到韩国去。"

大选前,史蒂文森也发表了一次重要讲话,他在讲话中勾勒了"一个人人享受思想自由,言论自由的美国,一个人人平等的美国,一个没有人整天担惊受怕的美国,一个与世界各国和睦相处的美国,一个象征着人类希望的地平线的美国"。

美国人11月投票选举,艾森豪威尔获得了将近3400万张选票,是美国历史上得票最多的一位总统候选人。史蒂文森得到了大约2700万选票。

很多问题都等着新总统去解决。共和党在国会里只占微弱多数,而且很多人都是极端保守派,不太会支持艾森豪威尔的所有计划。美国消费水平不断上涨。麦卡锡参议员四处搜查共产党人,韩战战火仍在继续。但同时,艾森豪威尔经验丰富。

艾森豪威尔来自美国堪萨斯州阿比林的一个大家庭,家里并不富裕,他上了西点军校,免费接受大学教育,毕业后服役多年,美国1941年加入二战时,艾森豪威尔已是陆军高级指挥官了。1944年6月,艾森豪威尔领导了著名的诺曼底登陆行动。

1950年,杜鲁门总统又任命他为北约最高统帅。大家喜欢艾森豪威尔,因为他历来处世不惊,做为总统,他一上来要面对的棘手问题就是仍在继续的韩战。

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