High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Part I

The current POTUS (President of the United States) is chased by scandal, whether ridiculous conspiracies ginned up by those too simple-minded too accept the nation has moved beyond their narrow views or alternatively they might indeed have some meat. The truth of the matter since the election of Barack H. Obama, our government seems incapable of doing the work of the people, the work we pay them to do, the work we send them to Washington to do. Instead, we are fed a constant barrage of trash talk, conspiracy theories and Committee Investigations, most leading nowhere; most frankly an insult to the intelligence of any person of normal intellect.

With this in mind, let’s investigate the Administrations since Dwight D. Eisenhower, who in my opinion (humble or otherwise) was the last great Republican President. So lets us together pull the curtain back, we seem to have very short memories.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, POTUS January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961Dwight_5

The years of President Eisenhower’s administration were comparatively scandal free, sure his Vice President embarrassed him a time or two, most specifically when VP candidate Richard Nixon had to explain away his acceptance of personal gifts, the Checkers Speech is classic in response to this charge.

Also during his Administration his Chief of Staff, Sherman Adams was forced to resign under a cloud, including Contempt of Congress, they were investing whether his wife received personal gifts. There were a few scattered personal scandals within the legislative branch, nothing that could be tied back to the President. Interestingly, there was never an investigation whether the President was receiving nookie on the side during his service as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, though his relationship to Kay Summersby was well known and questionable. I suppose people, including press and his political adversaries simply thought this was none of their business, funny how that worked in the far more conventional 1950’s.

What happened during the Eisenhower presidency of note?

  • He signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which gave us the Interstate Highways and national investment in our infrastructure.
  • He signed the very first Civil Rights Act of 1957, creating the very first office within the Department of Justice to investigate Voters Rights; Congress amended and weakened its effectiveness significantly.
    • Despite President Eisenhower’s commitment to Civil Rights on paper, his failure to immediately, actively and publicly support the Brown decision slowed down integration of schools. Had he acted sooner and more publicly there would have been far greater support for the later Civil Rights Act he also signed and it is likely integration would have been achieved with less violence.
  • He balanced the budget, not one time but three times, through moderate, even progressive fiscal policies including his refusal to raise defense spending and cut taxes. This despite pressure from his own party.

The presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the last of the moderate and reasonable Republicans wasn’t without its detractors. In fact, because President Eisenhower was a moderate, even progressive Republican many of the Old Guard were tactically against his policies. President Eisenhower continued many of the policies of the New Deal, even strengthening Social Security and creating a new cabinet level agency, The Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He finished what the previous administration of Truman had started, the integration of the Armed Forces, over the objection of those in command. He declared segregation of the military a National Security Risk.Dwight_4

What did President Eisenhower consider his personal failures? Good question, one I suspect he would be hard pressed to answer today in retrospect of fifty-two years, however based upon easily found quotes of the time, here are my suppositions or assumptions:

  • President Eisenhower saw his party moving more and more to the Right, growing more conservative and less mainstream. One of his personal goals was to re-energize his party, make it more mainstream and acceptable to the average citizen. Many of his speeches indicate his desire to reach out to all citizens, engage all members of society. He was deeply disappointed by the nomination of Barry Goldwater as the Republican candidate in 1964.
    • Hmmm, sounds like even then he recognized the big tent was getting smaller and less welcoming. Wonder what he would think now, don’t you?
  • McCarthyism was officially ended in 1954. However, the Red Scare Purge continued for several years after the Senate ended Senator Joe McCarthy’s career. President Eisenhower failed to put a stop to it and thus many innocent lives were destroyed.
  • Expansion of the Industrial Defense Complex, he warned of this more than once and in many speeches. He derided those who built upon fear of the populace to gain power for powers sake. His most powerful warning came in his farewell address on January 17, 1961.
    • Despite, or perhaps because of his successful career as a General in the US Army he despised war, he ended the Korean War and for the most part kept us out of others.
    • His one great failure? He put the first troops in Vietnam!
  • I don’t think President Eisenhower would consider this a failure, I however do. During his Administration, Congress and he gave into a high-pressure campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic Fraternal Order, to change the currency and the Pledge of Allegiance of the nation. The change to our currency removed our motto, “E Pluribus Unum” or in English, “One from Many”. While the history of the change of the motto on coinage in fact goes as far back as 1886, it was struck down during the Roosevelt Administration and not reinstated until Eisenhower’s Congress and Administration gave into the campaign of the Knights of Columbus.
    • Now our Pledge is both a patriotic pledge and a public prayer.
    • Now our currency is a statement to the rest of the world we are a theocracy rather than a Democratic Republic.
    • Talk about short memories, how many people do you know (including elected officials) who are quick to say, “We are a Christian Nation” and believe it.

Dwight_2

It is unfortunate, despite some of his personal failures the Republican party of today do not look back on this humble man, this war hero and truly great American and hold him in better regard. As we will see, his tenancy in the White House was the last of the scandal free Administrations, of either party. Though certainly many of the scandals of the Left tend to be more manufactured and those on the Right tend toward high-crimes. But don’t let me sway you stick around for the next in the series, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson years.

First Inauguration Address: http://bartleby.com/124/pres54.html

Second Inauguration Address: http://bartleby.com/124/pres55.html

Farewell Address: http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/farewell_address/1961_01_17_Press_Release.pdf

Comments

  1. Fortunately, I’m a bit removed from US news here in Ecuador. But, clearly, scandal is the name of game when it comes to US media.

    Unfortunately, I was not born in time to enjoy Eisenhower’s presidency. But those quotes are amazing. Love the warning that we will bankrupt ourselves in pursuit of absolute security. Boy, do we ever need to hear that now!

    Sara and I have finally moved into our long-term rental here in Ecuador, and furniture arrived over the weekend. Now we have some place to sit. Maybe that means I’ll be able to write again.

    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • I have so missed your writing and was just thinking of you over the weekend!

      So glad to know you are settling in.

      That is one of my favorite quotes also.

  2. Oh I feel the frustration Valentine. I have always prided myself in not voting for a specific party but for the person who would best serve our country and its people. At present, neither of our two parties have leaders who deserve that privilege.

    It is an absolute disgrace. Both are like bullies in the playground, attacking each other and digging up dirt to blacken the other’s name. I am so angry and frustrated at this pathetic behaviour. Meanwhile we have people sleeping in cars, businesses closing doors, hospitals overflowing and an economy about to implode.

    Today’s politicians are all about their “party” . Where the hell is a politician who cares about their country and people….where?????

    • Agreed, up until very recently I always looked at candidates with a very pragmatic eye. Spent time looking at their history both in public and private sector. Listened to their speeches, parsed their words carefully, read their writings. Paid attention to them. I never registered with a party, ever.

      Party politics is getting worse and worse all the time. The leaders are petty tyrants. The followers are small time crooks and liars. Smarmy and snarky.

      Disgrace? I think that is kind. Worse is it isn’t just in any single country but worldwide. Pitiful.

  3. Oh, man oh man. You know, I know nothing at all about Dwight D. Eisenhower beyond his serving as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. And this makes me think, just what you said, why hasn’t the Republican party looked back to this man as the example? And for that matter, why aren’t Democrats? Why the Reagans or the Clintons? Why not this guy, this POTUS, whose measures seem, for the most part, pragmatic and sound of reason? My guess would be money (I assume greed or some form thereof, by default, is the root of every other corruption that exists). And for that matter, why don’t they consider the allusion to the potential dangers posed by the press for absolute security? It’s as if he’s shouting out from the grave, “Don’t go that way because there you will find the iron fist and killing of a dream.”

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. I can’t wait to see what you post up on President’s Kennedy and Johnson.

    • I suspect you are right, greed is a big portion of the reason he is not considered when either party looks back. I agree with you though, his pragmatic governing style is one both parties should be looking back at and emulating.

      In his second run, he actually wanted to split the ticket. He wanted a Democrat for his VP but could get no one to agree. Finally, he had to go with his parties nomination of Nixon. It is unfortunate.

      I have always liked Eisenhower. Always found him to be unique and interesting and always wished he received more ‘adulation’, especially from the Republicans.

      • I think I need to learn some more about him. Funny, I don’t recall ever hearing anything about him when I was high school…

        • I think they have erased all the really interesting ones from the history books. The good ones are gone, it is only the Azzhats who remain. It is a damned shame.

  4. Maybe there’s something to be said for “military rule” after all. LOL. Our current crop of politicians around the world certainly don’t seem to know what they’re doing.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. The Ike years, despite Vietnam were overall years of peace for most of the world. He truly did hate war and said so often. His detractors often said he was ineffectual, but I think in reading his own words and those of others during his time, he played a long-game.

  5. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    This is a brilliant read, Valentine. Firstly, I didn’t know Barack – or really, the govt seems incapable of doing the work it is set to do/paid to do/there to do. I didn’t know it wasn’t going well except for (what we’re hearing here in Australia) the invasion of privacy in that texts & phone calls are recorded. To think of the billions of such calls from school kids to terrorists, I really don’t know how they work out who to listen to. I’m stunned by it, actually.

    Eisenhower – all that was interesting, again. Fantastic read: thank you.

    • The invasion of privacy? Nothing new, been going on for 10 years. This is not a Barack Obama thing, so I am not overly excited by it. Once power is given, it isn’t going to be taken back.

      Thanks my friend glad you enjoyed the read.

  6. I always liked Eisenhower without knowing much of anything about him. This post is most illuminating and I enjoyed every word.

    • I also always liked him, he was humble and quite. Not a firebrand by any means, but certainly thoughtful. Obviously imperfect, but then who is perfect?

  7. Val this is a great Historic lesson for me.. Not really understanding whose party is who as I can not distinguish who is a ‘Publican’ or Demo-critic 😉 .. 🙂 … But I do remember the USA presidents as they were portrayed to us over the ‘pond’ in the UK.. And I have learnt a lot from this post.. Your talents as a mine of Political information pours forth should be commended…
    having not enough knowledge upon Crimes or Misdemeanour’s I will abstain from casting a VOTE!.. But I will put my X on the spot of your Comment Box Val with a vengeance..

    In fact I will probably spoil my ballot paper with too many X’s but here goes

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXLove to you Val……… and THANK YOU for your supporting Dreamwalker’s… always a huge pleasure to have you visit..
    Big Hugxxxxxxxx ((( Hugs ))))

    • Ah well you see Sue, the Republicans and the Democrats have truly traded hats over the years. So what is better? Look at them from the view of Progressive/Liberal vs Regressive/Conservative, simply erase the party labels.

      I am glad you enjoyed this one. I hope you will enjoy the next ones. The will come maybe one or two a week.

  8. Great piece, Val, looking forward to your take on the next ones… and will you be doing the great Adlai Stevenson??? I always thought that his affair with Kay Summersby was his business… if he needed that to get him through the horror of directing war, then that’s what he needed! There was no question of blackmailing for sexual favours, or military secrets being leaked…it seemed a very adult relationship.
    On the other hand, haven’t I heard that he drove his great new freeways through black communities and destroyed settlements and home that had been in black families for generations, and that many of those places are still un-used wastelands?
    And as you show, he was still one of the sanest and most honest of office-holders…

    • President Stevenson was prior to the last great Republican of our times, Ike. I agree with you on the issue of Kay Summersbe, his business. The difference though, had it been now it would have been fodder for discussion and potentially his political downfall.

      The freeway system certainly went through many communities and settlements, that had been in existence for years. Went through Reservations as well. There are many issues, it was imperfect in its execution. However, the long-term results for the nation overall was astounding.

  9. I enjoyed reading this Val. Not being a history buff, i enjoyed hearing about the things that happened before i was born. I am really looking forward to hearing you write about Kenedy. My wife and her whole family loved that guy.

  10. A very good read. I’ve always had a sneaking liking for Eisenhower, without knowing too much about him. I hadn’t read any of those quotes apart from the “Military industrial complex” At the end of WW2 America was suprime in the world and they saw that the oceans do not protect them from the old world. So they decided to remain in a permenant war footing for ever. Dwight saw this. He must have seen that you cannot have this kind of machine and agresive energy without using it.

    Enter the Kennedy episode. I look forward top your posting.

    • I also have always liked Eisenhower, he was a bit off engima. H didn’t fit his party well and worked quite effectively across the aisle. He was I think much smarter than many gave him credit for, but he was also not as effective as he could have been. Example of this can be seen in his vehement dislike of Joe McCarthy but his reluctance to take him on.

      Kennedy and Johnson are going to likely be one, since their administration was really one. We shall see.

  11. Great post. He was a great man, and an underrated president. I agree with everything you’ve mentioned. I do wish, however, that he had chosen someone else to be his VP. The world would have been a better place had Dick Nixon remained a congressman.

    • Do you know when he ran for his second term he actually wanted a Democrat for his VP but could not get either of his two picks to agree. I have to go back to my archives to get their names, I don’t remember them now. Nixon wasn’t his first choice, he went with the party choice in the long-run.

  12. I’m convinced that representing the people to work for the people is only an ideal. Love the quote Eisenhower made at Columbia!

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