I like Ike!

Posted: April 26, 2022 by chrisharper in politics
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By Christopher Harper

By many accounts, Dwight Eisenhower was a lazy caretaker of the U.S. presidency.

Again, these analysts missed the boat by a wide margin.

In my continuing deep drive in the presidency, I found that Eisenhower was one of the best presidents ever.

In his 2013 analysis of Eisenhower’s efforts as a general and president, the late Jean Edward Smith dismisses many of the criticisms of Ike’s time in the White House. See https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11958983-eisenhower-in-war-and-peace

Moreover, other historians are taking a more positive stance toward the 34th president, who served from 1953 to 1961. C-SPAN’s 2021 ratings of American presidents show that Eisenhower has moved up the ranks from 2000 to No. 5 in the 2021 survey.

In Eisenhower in War and Peace, Smith writes, “With the exception of Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower was the most successful president of the 20th century,” citing his avoidance of several military actions, creation of the interstate highway system, and the restoration of “the nation’s sanity” after McCarthyism.

In my opinion, FDR and cousin Teddy, who rank No. 3 and 4, should be put way down the list; Eisenhower should stand just behind Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, the top two on the C-SPAN list.

In 1952, Eisenhower entered the presidential race as a Republican to block the isolationist foreign policies of Senator Robert A. Taft, who opposed NATO and wanted no foreign entanglements. Eisenhower won that election and the 1956 election in landslides, both times defeating Adlai Stevenson II. 

Domestically, Eisenhower balanced the budget, lowered taxes, and reduced the country’s debt. He signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and sent the 101st Airborne to enforce federal court orders to integrate schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

His lasting legacies include the Interstate Highway System and his warning about the “military-industrial complex,” which had become a dominant force in increasing defense spending for power and profit.

Internationally, Eisenhower, the soldier, knew the human price of war and kept the United States at peace for eight years. 

Ike got the United States out of the Korean War. He vetoed his adviser’s suggestions of using nuclear weapons to help the French in Vietnam and Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan. He forced the Israelis, French, and British out of the Suez Canal in 1956 when the three countries seized control of the critical transit route from Egypt. 

Unfortunately, he chose Earl Warren as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also allowed the CIA to expand its reach by overthrowing the leadership of Iran and Guatemala and agreed to the U-2 overflights of Russia, which soured the relationship with the Soviet Union.

Since I was only nine when Eisenhower left office, I didn’t realize what an exceptional president he was. I now understand why so many liked Ike.  

  1. bob sykes says:

    I remember Eisenhower. He was the last legitimate, elected President of the US.