I’ve been reading about Ike for the last six months and have been wondering how to introduce him to my blog. We have a personal connection, Ike and I, because I participated in an Easter Egg hunt on the White House lawn during his presidency, when I was two years old.
You probably remember him as the president who played golf all the time and didn’t seem to worry too much about governing the country. But this guy, as commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, besides beating Hitler and Mussolini, had to govern all the liberated territory of Europe, had to make arrangements for all the millions of displaced people in the wake of the most devastating war in history, had to provide for the future of all the countries devastated by Nazi occupation, had to deal with allies who were constantly causing problems for him (i.e. the French), and allies who were lots of help but caused a few very significant problems (i.e. the British) etc. etc.
After that job, the presidency of the United States was a piece of cake. He had plenty of time to go golfing and still accomplish more than any president since FDR. Consider the interstate highway system. Consider the St. Lawrence Seaway.
You’ve probably never considered the St. Lawrence Seaway, and neither had I until I read Ike’s books. With a bit of dredging, this channel brought deepwater ocean vessels into the Great Lakes with untold economic benefits all around. And it paid for itself in tolls.
The department of long-term thinking, the people who devise and bring about projects like that, it’s not just gone; it’s long gone. Long-term thinking? Are you kidding? Our leaders are too busy digging up dirt to smear whoever criticized them in the last news cycle.
Ike didn’t give a rat’s rear what anybody said about him. He had a genuine commitment to the people of the United States. Late in the 1956 campaign Ike was arbitrating some international conflict and a British diplomat asked him how the election was going.
“Oh that,” says Ike. “I guess it will turn out all right.” He had forgotten all about it.
Contrast that with a president who starts a needless war on purpose and causes thousands of children to be killed and maimed, not to mention their parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents, all to pump up his prestige and compensate for his obvious inadequacies. It makes me sick, and I believe it would make Ike sick, too.