Thursday, April 29, 2010
Eisenhower was a unifier, a consensus-builder. A Republican, he viewed Democrats as collaborators rather than political enemies. This was a skill he acquired as Supreme Commander of the allied armies during World War II, where dealing with the likes of de Gaulle and Montgomery often proved far more problematic than fighting Rommel’s Germans.
Fortunately, Ike served in an era of consensus-builders - political statesmen who put the public good above their own partisan interests. In today's political and media climate, he might have trouble finding a single political partner to collaborate with. Instead, with a little help from his friends (including Democratic Senate Majority Leader LBJ), he presided over a decade that people now look back upon (often erroneously) with a sense of nostalgia.
Last week, while in Kansas to keynote the state DBSA conference, I paid a visit to the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene.
The home Ike grew up in.
General Eisenhower inspecting a liberated Nazi death camp. Significantly, as one all too familiar with the realities and limitations of war, one of his first accomplishments as President was to end the bloody stalemate in Korea. Throughout his Administration, he proved exceptionally adept at waging peace.
Nevertheless, Ike aggressively faced down the Soviet challenge. This was an age of comical air raid drills, but the stakes were deadly earnest. Thanks in large part to Ike, the Cold War remained cold.
My answer to anyone who spouts mindless nonsense about big government: "How was your drive here?"
Ike was the prime mover for the Interstate Highway System that we all take for granted, that none of us can do without. Brought to you by big government. Also, thanks to Ike and big government: The space program, expanded social security, and a strong military deterrence.
"Ike was with us when America needed him." - LBJ.
See also: An Eisenhower Appreciation