I Like Ike -- and Reagan, too
Over the years it has been popular for liberal intellectuals to downgrade President Eisenhower and his eight-year administration. After all, he was a striking contrast to their hero, Adlai Stevenson, whom they twice nominated. The fact was the Adlai Stevenson saw 12 sides to every octagonal problem and often remained in his tent thinking, perhaps not sulking but, shall we say, relishing his diffidence. He had an uncanny knack for making Ike look uneducated, and the press loved it.
There is really no question about the fact that Dwight David Eisenhower will enjoy an important place in military history. Gn. Douglas MacArthur was probably a more brilliant strategist with a very useful sense of the dramatic, George Patton probably a more inspirational leader, but it was General Ike who put it all together. It was General Ike who skillfully hanled Montgomery, Patton, et al., in addition to working with Sir Winston Churchil! After all, ike commanded the largest invasion force in the history of mankind and there was no question in anybody's mind who was in command.
So much for Ike the soldier.
When the Eastern wing of the Republican Party decided to recruit Ike in 1951 he was much less of a political pig-in-a-spoke than the Taft wing averred. He had good common sense about the big issues. He saw the world in its true light. Men were human. Rulers were human. It was not and never will be possible for the United States to remake the world. He did not believe in the omniscience of "big government," and he was an ideal candidate form a political campaigning point of view. The Taft people kept questioning his conservatism. I believe that close examination of his eight years in the White House would satisfy every reasonable conservative who is willing to look at those years ojectively.
I had the good fortune to know President Eisenhower when he was president of Columbia University. He hired me to make a quick analysis of Arden House, the Harriman homestead, which Mr. Harriman wnated to give to Columbia as a conference center. It was interesting to observe Eisenhower and the way he handled his faculty and his administrative staff.
Ike had imagination and, of course, was a born leader. My own entry into politics was due entirely to my enthusiasm for him. Like many newcomers to this "interesting" profession, I was a citizen for Eisenhower and, with no experience whatsoever, put in charge of the Third Congressional District in Masschuseets. There the top political brass -- Lodge, Saltonstall, Herter, and Weeks -- were for Eisenhower. But all working Republican politicians, members of the state committee and of the town committee, were conventionally and quite emotionally for Bob Taft. After all, he had worked for years in the Republican vineyard and was a highly principled conservative.
I can remeber as if it were yesterday the excitment and the emotional pitch at the 1952 convention. I believe it was Wednesday when the question of which Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia delegaton would be seated, and I will never forget the organist playing "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You" and the Texans with their big hats and their whooping yells marching down the aisle. I was in the gallery at the time and my only job was to comfort a lovely but weeping Taft lady who really felt that this was probably the end of the world and certainly the end of the Grand Old Party.
One of the measures of Ike as a campaigner and President was that he went over to see Bob Taft in his suite directly after his nomination. Ike's sensitivity and understanding of people was as great as his understanding of the bigger world issues.
The presidency of the United States in not and never has been, successfully, a one-man operation. One of the most striking weaknesses in the Carter administration is that President Carter tries to do too much himself and has not been good at delegating or trusting a broad-gauged staff drawn from parts of the country other than the state of Georgia.
There was a consistency to President Eisenhower's foreign policy, and the rest of the world understood it, admired it, and adjusted to it. John Foster Dulles was consistent, and there was no Vance/Brzezinski dichotomy. On the domestic side, Ike had an unusually able man in Sherman Adams, who ran a tight ship and was a good administrator. Internationally and domestically, it was a quiet era; and era that prompts the often ignored truism that to do nothing is far better than to addirmatively and dramatically do the wrong thing.
To sum it up very simply, Ike and Common Sense, and -- just so myu Republican partisanship should not go unnoticed -- so has Gov. ronald Reagan. Also, like Ike, Ronald Reagan is business-oriented, which is developing into a plus in this campaign. More and more blue-collar workers are getting to undestand their vested interest in business's success. After all, is not the bottom line peace and jobs?