Only Nixon could go to China

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Fri Jan 12 00:50:21 UTC 2001

On Thu, 11 Jan 2001, Jeffrey William McKeough wrote:

> I just heard the phrase "Only Nixon could go to China" attributed to
> Mr. Spock in Star Trek 6 for the millionth time.  (When Captain Kirk
> asks Spock why Kirk was chosen to be the envoy to the Klingons, who
> killed his son, Spock says this to him and claims that it's an ancient
> Vulcan saying.)
> I once did some research on the saying and I found a bunch of
> references over the years, but I couldn't find out who first said it.
> Does anyone know?

This is proverbial in nature, and I doubt there is a traceable coiner.
The earliest use on Nexis is New York Tiems, 29 Dec. 1984.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Public Services     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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