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Sometimes we get so tied to current events that we forget history.   Today is a day that progressives and democrats should remember: when a Republican stood up for his ideas, public good, and progress.  And we aren't talking a hundred years ago, though it has been a while.   We get so wrapped up into the debate of the parties, where each side views the other with suspicion and derision.. but today, I'm reminded of a unifier and the message that Democrats should send.  Happy Birthday, President Eisenhower.

I'm sure every day we read blogs and writings about the evils of a Democrat or a Republican.  How stupid an entire organization may be.   But, as a standard joe in the street, I can tell you: the vast majority of people, Republican or Democrat, are not the crazy types who you want to run away from.  They are people too.   But the greatest reminder to me of what Modern Republicanism was supposed to be celebrates a birthday today, and it's important to remind Republicans that, like Democrats, at one time.. at one point in history, we believed so many things together - and we accomplished great things because of it.

I'm of the firm belief that no president is perfect; all have had incredible failures and successes.  Primarily because they are human.  But the way to judge a presidency is by the intent of the president, what was accomplished, and the means that were used.

So, Today is a birthday of an American President, a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, and these are the things I cherish with my friends Republican and Democrat, to remind them of what leadership was about.

Eisenhower, while a military general, and considered one of the most brilliant strategic thinkers in the military, saw immediately that the Korean conflict had to end.  

In his first State of the Union, Eisenhower issued words that more Americans need to remember now:

As Eisenhower explained in his First State of the Union message in February 1953, "To amass military power without regard to our economic capacity would be to defend ourselves against one kind of disaster by inviting another."

Eisenhower walked in a decorated General, and negotiated from strength - but he also saw and conveyed to the public rational thought: fighting a cause and sacrificing our economy IS a disaster.  A lesson he was able to tell the public, and to make them understand, and end an ongoing conflict before it became a disaster.

Eisenhower led the Republican cause without rebel rousing.  Understanding that the civil rights movement was a very difficult issue, especially in the South, Eisenhower is sometimes criticized for not doing more.   But what Eisenhower did do is turn the issue into a matter that didn't turn Americans on each other, but rather he asked of all Americans to "be better versions of ourselves"

While Truman is often credited for integrating the military (Truman's Executive Order 9981) it was Eisenhower, who in 2 years sold the US Military on actually doing it, and in 2 years he accomplished something that Truman couldn't.. he swept change into the military, and made acceptance of African American troops as equals.

Chronicled in the brillaint book:

Eisenhower was not, at any point, a great public speaker.  At times, he was a terrible one.  His cold, quick demeaner and calm would be a hard sell today, but his words helped shape that generation.  

Eisenhower, in his first year in office did something exceptional, outside of working to unify the military, he gave one of the first speeches to an entirely African American organization, throwing his support behind their goals:

I believe those of us who preach so loudly about constitutional government advance our cause as we meticulously observe that particular factor or foundation of that great Document.

Another thing I have preached, as have many others, is against the theory that there can be any second-class citizen. I believe as long as we allow conditions to exist that make for second-class citizens, we are making of ourselves less than first-class citizens.

In other words, I believe the only way to protect my own rights is to protect the rights of others.

Everything that the Constitution accords to me, I must defend for others--or else finally there will be nobody left to defend me.

How those words ring as true today as they did then, in 1953, when a new president uttered them.

In 1955, Eisenhower took another trip.. to Geneva, to have a meeting with "Our Enemies", The USSR, who had just obtained nuclear technology.  And he offered them full schematics on US weaponry in exchange for theirs "Full Disclosure and Safety" Eisenhower offered.   Meeting with the enemy?  Gasp!  But Eisenhower believed in the good of the American People with the exchange of information.

In his final speech to the nation, which I put here in most of it's entirety, Eisenhower shared more flat out truth with the country then most talking heads do in their lifetime.

Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960, p. 1035- 1040

My fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.

My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.


We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.


Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.


A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

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

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.


Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.


Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.


So -- in this my last good night to you as your President -- I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

Eisenhower reached out to the US Public with a hopeful message: We must view other nations as people who also are looking for peace, hope, and the welfare of their families.   We must strive to be better then we are.

Rather then tear the government Apart, Eisenhower grew federal programs, like the Interstate Highway Initiative, welfare, and social security, and he advocated that we help support science..

And he did so with such a passive demeanor that the rage and rancor that people on both sides, stood back and the fights ended.  Some have said Eisenhower was too passive about the Little Rock 9.  But his calm demeanor and past actions told the public that he was doing it because "It was right" not because he was making a point.  And that firm moral stand did more to calm then to harm.

I mention this today, on his birthday, because I am reminded that most Republicans, not party leaders, not those running for an office, are this kind of Republican.  Yes, I hear the villany for some, but I think the vast majority of Republicans want peace, hope, time for their family and a government that works.   If you told them of the standards that Eisenhower set, they would be no-brainers to them now, it is part of our national fabric at this point.

Eisenhower called on his party, on all of the nation to find a "balance" between what the government could and should do.  He asked for the help of Americans in his goal.

He'd never be allowed to run as a Republican today, in this setting.  But most Republicans sitting at home don't really grasp that; they would still see the things he accomplished, and I believe most of them are proud to see Eisenhower with an (R) after his name.

The message I send to those Republicans, those who are voting is: you and I are Americans.  And we have a proud and shared history.  Today, you get to celebrate an icon who brought real change to this country and to his dying day advocated people be better then they are.

So, I'll celebrate that moment with them.  And remind them that what made Eisenhower great, even in his failures - and like all, he had them - was that he never was afraid to admit he needed to strive to be better.  I'll remind them that Eisenhower believed in a country because he believed all people were fundamentally good.  And at this moment, it is not the people of the Republican party who are saying differently, it is the leadership that is telling us that some people, by who they are, are inherently "not good".  That Eisenhower was willing to meet directly with our most deadly enemies, personally, and he was not castigated for it.  That we did things that were at times unpopular because they were right.  

And I will tell them, Like Eisenhower, I wish for this:

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Originally posted to tmservo433 on Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 04:24 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    Having Hope and using action to give people hope are different things. Make a difference for someone.

    by Chris Reeves on Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 04:24:28 PM PDT

  •  I'd rather have Ike back than (6+ / 0-)
    the turkeys and nitwits the Rpublicans are offering us now.

    For relevant sci-fi and fantasy, go to

    by Kimball Cross on Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 04:32:09 PM PDT

  •  Damn that Amurca hatin socialist! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    All these socialist interstate highways! The founding fathers traveled through DIRT Roads like God intended!

    •  Funny you should bring that up. (0+ / 0-)

      The Interstate Highway System, which Eisenhower indeed championed, is the single greatest factor in the urban sprawl that has blighted our countryside and brought about our massive dependence on foreign oil, a root cause of our present day wars.
      I wonder how many know that Ike's infatuation with the system can be directly traced to young Major Eisenhower's participation in the transcontinental motor convoy of 1919?
      Or that Eisenhower was the Army liaison with the DC police who was principally involved in the decision to fire live ammunition on the veterans who had camped out as the Bonus Army in the depths of the Great Depression.
      Sure, he's only the second man to successfully launch an invasion across the English Channel in almost a thousand years, and he did warn of the dangers of the military-industrial complex, but in the long run his net effect on America is a mixed bag indeed.

      Pancho needs your prayers it's true, but save a few for Lefty, too. Townes van Zandt

      by DaNang65 on Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 06:00:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Blaming the IHS (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt, DaNang65

        For urban sprawl is one of those things that is a logical leap that makes "some" sense, but would be a bit like saying: we were opposed to developing antiobiotics because antibiotic resistant drugs came about.

        The development of the IHS also provided opportunity, jobs, and work for many who needed it.  It provided access to people in rural communities.  It allowed for the spread of ideas in a time where it was otherwise impossible.  And it made it possible for people to move and change communities, which opened up doors for people seeking a new life elsewhere.

        I'd also argue that the IHS didn't cause the dependance on foreign oil.. that was something that was brewing based on invention; and long before IHS, people were driving country wide on more dangerous state regulated paths, in many cases using far less efficient vehicles because vehicles were built heavier in anticipation of rougher roads.

        Sometimes it's easy to say "what could have been" but no one knows.  All we know is what is.

        Having Hope and using action to give people hope are different things. Make a difference for someone.

        by Chris Reeves on Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 06:12:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You present defensible positions, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tmservo433, kurt

          and I'm sure that in an interpersonal setting, maybe over a beer or glass of wine, we could discuss this at length, perhaps neither or both walking away closer to agreement.
          In this forum, at this time, I'm not prepared to get into that discussion, so for the moment I think we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.
          Have a wonderful evening.

          Pancho needs your prayers it's true, but save a few for Lefty, too. Townes van Zandt

          by DaNang65 on Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 06:20:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Eisenhower Quote (10+ / 0-)

    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."

  •  According to the head of the John Birch Society (4+ / 0-)

    Robert Welch, Eisenhower was "a conscious dedicated agent of the Communist conspiracy."

    Could Eisenhower really be simply a smart politician, entirely without principles and hungry for glory, who is only the tool of the Communists?  The answer is yes.  With regard to ... Eisenhower, it is difficult to avoid raising the question of deliberate treason.

     The tea baggers are compared to the Birchers of the 1960's.  Have things really changed?

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 04:52:54 PM PDT

  •  I used to respect (even if I didn't agree with) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, kurt

    most Republicans.  Where are the Ikes, Teddy Roosevelts, Abraham Lincolns - hell, even Gerald Ford was a reasonable man...???   Today's GOPers are shameful obstructionists with no plans to help the people or the country.  Their only goal is to increase their own power and wealth.  Ike is rolling over - big time.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe." A. Einstein

    by moose67 on Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 05:15:20 PM PDT

  •  Eisenhower was a genuine progressive... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, kurt his time and he even said as much when he locked horns with Robert Taft and Joe McCarthy for control of his party. He was nominated by the Northeastern liberal wing of the party with the help of Thomas Dewey, and he carried that banner through his presidency and on to Nelson Rockefeller.

    This wing no longer exists in the Republican Party, as evidenced by Mike Castle's failure in the Delaware Senate primary, the geographic shift towards the South after the Civil Rights Act, and the fading and passing of many other noble politicians like Robert Stafford and Jacob Javits.

    The fact that some Republicans continue to tout Eisenhower as an example of who they are is utterly disingenuous and misleading. Even more grossly distortive is their use of Teddy Roosevelt's image on the GOP website. Teddy Roosevelt was expelled from the party by William H. Taft for being the true progressive that he was, and the toxic brand of increasing conservatism associated with the Tafts, the John Birch Society, Goldwater, Reagan, and now the Tea Party is what embodies contemporary Republicans.

    •  Ike (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penguins4peace, kurt

      The Republican party spent 20 years fighting the New Deal.  By the time Ike came along they had decided to make peace with it instead which opened up a split within the party between those who wanted to make peace with it and those determined to dismantle it.  

      The struggled continued with those who wanted to dismantle it facing a setback with Barry Goldwater lost in a landslide.  

      By 1980, with Ronald Reagan, the dismantlers had again won control of the party and they have held it for 30 years.

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