Monday, April 24, 2006

Where have you gone, Dwight Eisehnhower?

That may be a strange question to see on this blog, seeing as my political leanings, especially recently, are towards the liberal/Democrats/Green Party/progressive POV, and Dwight Eisenhower was a conservative. But, while driving across the country to move, I stopped in Abeline, Kansas for a rest break. Knowing the Eisenhower Library and Museum (scroll down the page and click on the Exhibit was in Abeline, I decided to make a short detour. I missed the video that is shown near the gift shop, which I wish I hadn't, but did walk around the grounds a bit.

You may miss it driving down Fourteenth Street, Abeline's "main drag" if you didn't know it was there. But that may have been by design, as Eisenhower was a humble man from a humble background. I walked into the house where he, his parents, and five brothers grew up, it amazed me. Why? Truth be told, the whole house has barely more square footage than my apartment. It was tiny, albeit two floors. The whole family worked their asses off for everything they had.

Did you view the exhibit yet? It explains what I was getting at in the title. While a conservative, Eisenhower was tactful, diplomatic, and astute enough to realize that the Cold War would not have been won by carpet bombing any communist target of choice. He realized that peace was the objective, and worked to achieve it. However, when peace was not possible without conflict, he knew how to target those who attacked and threatened the United States, kick ass, and take names. Also, under his direction, a fair amount of the groundwork for many Civil Rights enjoyed today (until recently) was laid down. One potential negative caveat was the Red (Communist) Scare, but it seems to me like he used high, high level diplomacy to avoid us and the Soviets bombing the crap out of each other. I don't even know if the assclown that's in the Oval Office today even knows how to spell diplomacy, or even level. I think he can spell high though.

In summary, considering I never paid a ton of attention to politics until a few years ago, I was amazed at how Dwight Eisenhower rose all the way from very humble, modest roots in central Kansas (it's as dusty, dry, and desolate as people say, definitely a place that breeds toughness) all the way to the Presidency. Maybe it's just today's pay millions to play political culture that makes me think it would be tough to rise from a working class background to being President (I don't give Democrats a pass on this). But I was amazed at how modest the entire library complex was, it fit Dwight Eisenhower's legacy nicely. Although I would have disagreed with his conservative stance a lot of the time, I would have greatly respected him, and probably have been very proud to call him my President. He warned us of a lot of the dangers facing us today, I only think that if he were alive today, the USA would be a lot less partisan and the key debates would not have been hijacked by those that do so otday, and we would be focused on those who caused us harm.


David Lifton said...

I don't blame him for the Red Scare. Stalin was clearly a threat, and needed to be contained. It's only now that it has collapsed, and the inherent problems of their system were revealed, that we can say "What were we scared of?" Besides, McCarthyism had started under Truman back in 1950.

maryjanejeff said...

Good point Dave. I remember seeing "Good Night and Good Luck" on a flight from DC to Denver recently. It took a long time to get rid of McCarthyism.

I forgot to mention the huge public works project he got done, the interstate system. We curse highways now because of gas prices, but the tansportation foundation of modern America was built on those highways. Really helped out cross country commerce. Thankfully we have not needed them to mobilive weapons quickly, yet.

maryjanejeff said...

A quote I just found:

"Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice."

Another reason why I would have been proud to have him lead the country.

David Lifton said...

And there was this gem upon leaving office:

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

maryjanejeff said...

A different kind of Russian scare is in the works right now, but my gut feeling is that if oil prices keep dropping, a lot of their bravado drops too.