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Friday, July 22, 2016

Eisenhower Nostalgia

There's a lot of warm feelings for Dwight Eisenhower these days. The 34th President of the United States, he was a Republican, but today would be considered a moderate if not a liberal Democrat. I was visiting the family in Gettysburg earlier today and visited his home there, where he lived as president and in retirement.

Eisenhower is buried in his home town in Abilene, Kansas, so I sensed no spinning in the ground from the events of the Republican convention this week. I didn't watch any of it, as life is too short and I'd rather keep my blood pressure down, but I enjoyed reading the highlights of what sounds like the continuing Dumpster fire of the Trump campaign.

First, poor Melania Trump gave what everyone thought was a nice speech, but it was revealed to be partly plagiarized from Michelle Obama. The Trump campaign denied it until the actual speech writer confessed. Rudy Giuliani ranted about safety in the streets, looking more dangerous than any black teen in a hoodie. Chris Christie called for the imprisonment of Hillary Clinton, while a New Hampshire delegate advocated her death by firing squad. Ben Carson compared her to Lucifer.

Trump's speech last night received roundly bad reviews, as he misstated facts and figures and used the fear-mongering card, a tactic Pat Buchanan used in 1992 that may have torpedoed George H.W. Bush's re-election. But most damaging may have been Ted Cruz's repudiation of Trump, stating that delegates should vote their conscience, and then getting himself booed off the stage. It seemed like a daring move for Cruz, but really it was a calculated move to put him at the top of the list for 2020, presuming Trump loses.

Eisenhower, as shown by the popular meme above, had very progressive ideas, and the U.S. enjoyed it's greatest economic period (of course, it was not exactly paradise for blacks and women, though Ike was on the right side of history on civil rights, sending the National Guard to integrate Little Rock schools). He did not believe in cutting taxes, raising the defense budget, and was for government programs, such as NASA and the Interstate Highway System.

As I learned during today's tour, Eisenhower, after leaving the military, became president of Columbia University, then thought he would retire to his house in Gettysburg (he loved the place from when he commanded tank troops there during World War I). But both parties courted him for the presidency, and he chose the Republican Party because he believed in a two-party system and at that time the Democrats had held the White House for twenty years. The suggestion was that he could have just as well run as a Democrat if the reverse were true.

Eisenhower, from all that I've read, was a man of great integrity (although he probably did cheat on his wife) and was sensible and a straight-shooter. The Republican Party he represented has long gone, and he wouldn't recognize it.

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