Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Posts tagged "Dwight D. Eisenhower"
One thing that might help win this war is to get someone to shoot [Admiral Ernest] King.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, writing in his private diary about his frustrations with U.S. Navy Admiral Ernest King during World War II
Asker Anonymous Asks:
Are there any wild card candidates who would make a difference if they ran for president in 2016?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I don’t know what party he belongs to, but if the GOP were smart, they’d be BEGGING Admiral William McRaven to declare that he is Republican and anoint him as their 2016 Presidential nominee tomorrow. Admiral McRaven is a star, he’s a hell of a public speaker, he’s the commander of the special operations forces that played such an integral part in the War on Terror, and while President Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Admiral McRaven planned the details and oversaw the operation as it was being carried out. General David Petraeus would have been a perfect choice before his extramarital affair took a bit of the shine off of him (General Petraeus could still bounce back from that if he wanted to run); Admiral McRaven would be a dangerous candidate against any of the most-talked-about potential 2016 candidates. He could even beat Hillary Clinton.

Would he run? I don’t know. And if Admiral McRaven did run, is he even a Republican? That’s what the GOP should be trying to figure out. Like I said, General Petraeus could rise above the affair he had and still be a Presidential contender, so I think the GOP should be targeting him, too, trying to ascertain whether he is a Republican, and urging him to consider seeking the Presidency.

We haven’t elected a President primarily known for his military career since Dwight D. Eisenhower, but we also haven’t had top-level military commanders seek the Presidency very often since then. General Wesley Clark sought the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination, but I thought his campaign was really low-key and half-assed. I actually supported General Clark at first in 2004, but it seemed like I was more excited about the prospect of his candidacy than the General was. Other than Clark, nobody primarily known for being a military commander has even sought a major party’s Presidential nomination since Eisenhower was elected. 

Al Gore will always be a potential wild card who could shake up the race, as well, but someone like Admiral McRaven would really turn things on their head. The least popular Americans in the country right now are politicians with the exception of a few state Governors who still enjoy a bit of popularity in their own regions but are largely unknown outside of that area. Who better to run for President at a time when Americans have a record-low opinion of politicians than someone who ISN’T a politician? It is difficult for non-politicians to gain traction in Presidential elections because as unpopular as politicians might be, the electorate immediately wonders whether a person who hasn’t held elective office is qualified to lead. Those questions would be null-and-void with Admiral William McRaven. Of course he is qualified to lead, and he’s not only undamaged by the toxic political climate of the 21st Century but he’s so above politics that we don’t even know what party he belongs to until he tells us. I never mention him with potential 2016 candidates because I’ve never heard his name connected with a possible run (or connected with any of the parties), but Admiral McRaven could win and win big (even against Hillary Clinton) if he could be convinced to run.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Is it true that we didn't lose a soldier during the Eisenhower administration? I'm thinking particularly of the end of the Korean War (July 26,1953) and start of U.S. involvement in Vietnam (1956) taking place during his tenure.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

No, not technically. I doubt that we’ve ever had a President, with the possible exception of William Henry Harrison (because of his brief term), who didn’t have at least one American soldier die for one reason or another during their Administration. Eisenhower was trying to get across the point that the United States didn’t get involved in any major conflicts while he was in office because he hoped a big part of his legacy would be that the U.S. was focused on “waging peace” during his Presidency. Of course, in hindsight, that claim doesn’t hold much water because while there may not have been any full-scale wars involving American troops during the Eisenhower Administration, we know what U.S. involvement in Vietnam eventually turned into.


34th President of the United States (1953-1961)

Full Name: Dwight David Eisenhower (Born: David Dwight Eisenhower)
Full Name: October 14, 1890, Denison, Texas
Political Party: Republican
State Represented: New York (1st term: When running for President in 1952, Eisenhower was stationed in Paris as NATO Secretary-General and New York was his official residence) and Kansas (2nd term: During his Presidency, Eisenhower switched his official residency back to Kansas)
Term: January 20, 1953-January 20, 1961
Age at Inauguration: 62 years, 98 days
Administration: 42nd and 43rd
Congresses: 83rd, 84th, 85th, and 86th
Vice President: Richard Milhous Nixon (1953-1961)
Died: March 28, 1969, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
Age at Death: 78 years, 165 days
Buried: Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, Kansas

2012 Dead Presidents Ranking: 9 of 43 [↑1]

Ulysses S. Grant is on American currency because of his successes as a Union General during the Civil War, not because of anything he did as President of the United States.  For decades, the first thing that Dwight D. Eisenhower has been remembered for is his leadership as the Supreme Allied Commander during World War II.  Perhaps that will never change, and maybe it shouldn’t since he was the successful commander of the largest, the most intricate, and possibly even the most important amphibious invasion in the history of the world. But as the years pass and the Eisenhower and we are able to compare him to others, it is clear that Eisenhower was a great President as well as a great soldier.  Eisenhower was an incredibly clever and able politician, and he modernized the way the Executive Branch works and is organized.  Eisenhower brought the military-type of chief of staff position to the White House and it changed the way that Presidential power was used and protected.  The eight years of the Eisenhower Administration were prosperous and peaceful, and despite his age and his supposed “inexperience” with politics, Eisenhower was hands-on and directed every aspect of his Presidency.  That made for a strong Presidency and a country that was steered into the 1960’s by President, not General, Eisenhower. Dwight D. Eisenhower was a career soldier who spent decades training to be a warrior and preparing to wage war, but after World War II, few citizens worked harder at “waging peace”. As Ike said while reflecting on his Presidency, “The United States never lost a soldier or a foot of ground during my Administration. We kept the peace. People ask how it happened — by God, it didn’t just happen!”

1948: Schlesinger Sr./Life Magazine:  Not Ranked
1962: Schlesinger Sr./New York Times Magazine:  22 of 31
1982: Neal/Chicago Tribune Magazine:  9 of 38
1990: Siena Institute:  12 of 40
1996: Schlesinger Jr./New York Times Magazine:  10 of 39
2000: C-SPAN Survey of Historians:  9 of 41
2000: C-SPAN Public Opinion Poll:  8 of 41
2005: Wall Street Journal/Presidential Leadership:  8 of 40
2009: C-SPAN Survey of Historians:  8 of 42
2010: Siena Institute:  10 of 43
2011: University of London’s U.S. Presidency Centre:  10 of 40

Asker Anonymous Asks:
How did the Truman-Eisenhower hatred towards each other start?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I’ve answered a similar question about their relationship before, so I’m just going to cut and paste my previous answer:

Truman and Eisenhower had a very complicated relationship.  It started out well enough and in 1948, Truman even privately suggested to Eisenhower that Ike run for President and Truman would serve as his Vice President.  Part of that was probably Truman trying to draw Eisenhower out to see whether Ike was a Democrat or a Republican (he hadn’t come clean on his party affiliation yet) and whether Ike had any designs on the Presidency (he did but not as a Democrat and not in 1948).

When Eisenhower did decide to run for President in 1952, Truman, while campaigning for Adlai E. Stevenson, was vicious and unrelenting on the campaign trail when talking about Eisenhower.  Eisenhower, in turn, was critical towards Truman about Korea, among other things.  Truman was most vicious when it came to what he saw as Ike’s failure to defend his friend General George C. Marshall, who Truman felt was one of the country’s greatest patriots and had been slandered by Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy.  Eisenhower, in reality, was angry about McCarthy’s attacks towards General Marshall, but McCarthy was popular within the GOP in 1952 as Eisenhower was seeking the Presidency and he allowed himself to be photographed with McCarthy at a rally in Wisconsin.  This really set Truman off and resulted in harsh words.  During the 1952 campaign, Truman said of Eisenhower, “This much is clear to me:  A man who betrays his friends in such a fashion is not to be trusted with the great Office of President of the United States.”   

Then, there was a misunderstanding involving Eisenhower’s son who had been fighting in Korea but was back in the United States for Eisenhower’s inauguration.  Truman had ordered Eisenhower’s son, John, home so that he could attend his father’s inauguration, but Eisenhower thought that Truman was trying to embarrass him and make it appear as if John Eisenhower was receiving preferential treatment. 

Everything boiled over on Inauguration Day 1953 as Truman handed the Presidency over to Eisenhower.  At one point, Eisenhower had threatened to break tradition and not even ride to the Capitol with Truman.  He didn’t follow through on that threat, but he did arrive at the White House too late to share a small lunch that the outgoing First Couple had prepared for the incoming First Couple.  Truman and Eisenhower did end up sharing a car, as by tradition, from the White House to the Capitol, but the conversation was anything but light.  They were still sniping at each other by the time they arrived at the Capitol.

Still fuming about his son’s surprise appearance at the inauguration (which Truman actually meant as a nice gesture), Eisenhower asked Truman just minutes before Ike took the oath of office, “I wonder who is responsible for my son John being ordered to Washington from Korea?  I wonder who is trying to embarrass me?”

Truman, still Commander-in-Chief for a few more minutes at least, responded in the third person, “The President of the United States ordered your son to attend your inauguration.  The President thought it was right and proper for your son to witness the swearing-in of his father to the Presidency.  If you think somebody was trying to embarrass you by this order, then the President assumes full responsibility.”

A few minutes later, Eisenhower was officially sworn in as President.  Ike did eventually thank Truman for the gesture in a letter, but the relationship between the two Presidents remained very, very frosty.  During Eisenhower’s two terms in office, Truman was not hesitant to take shots at Ike and continued even as late as 1961 as Eisenhower was leaving office, saying, “All I’ll say now is that when the people elect a man to the Presidency who doesn’t take care of the job, they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves.  The trouble with Eisenhower is he’s just a coward.  He hasn’t got any backbone at all…Ike didn’t know anything, and all the time he was in office he didn’t learn a thing.”  Eisenhower was quieter than Truman, but snubbed him in different ways such as skipping the opening of the Truman Presidential Library - — and asking the only other living President, Herbert Hoover, to skip it, too (Hoover, who was close with Truman, said “I wouldn’t miss it” and was front-and-center).

Truman and Eisenhower saw each other briefly every once in a while — mostly at funerals — but it was at JFK’s funeral that they finally put everything behind them.  They shared a limousine the funeral service, sat in the same pew, and chatted with each other to-and-from the Cathedral.  When the Eisenhowers dropped Truman off after the funeral, Truman invited them inside and over drinks, in the wake of a young President’s tragic assassination, the two old Presidents squashed the longtime bitterness that they had towards each other.

Eisenhower, as you know, thought highly of Bush. He was very impressed by business types — most military men are — and with the class thing. Bush was old money, and Eisenhower related to that.
Richard Nixon, on what Dwight D. Eisenhower thought of George H.W. Bush and the Bush Family, to Monica Crowley, July 7, 1992

In 1969, the man who once served as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Vice President, Richard Nixon, had an address prepared that he was ready to deliver in case the Apollo 11 mission to the moon ended in disaster.

Twenty-five years earlier, as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces on D-Day, General Eisenhower also had a statement prepared if the Normandy invasion had failed. After penning the Order of the Day that he wanted to deliver to the troops, Eisenhower scribbled notes for an “in case of failure” message, dating it incorrectly as July 5th instead of June 5th:

"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

Eisenhower stuck the note in his wallet and, fortunately for the world, didn’t have to deliver the speech.

For quite a while I have been reading all I can find about Mr. Reagan. Mostly I see him in TV scenes that are purely entertainment but he does seem to have a very pleasant and appealing personality. The only thing I know about his politics was that he earnestly supported the Republican ticket in 1964.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, giving his thoughts on Ronald Reagan as Reagan prepared to run for Governor of California, letter to Jim Murphy, September 1965
Asker Anonymous Asks:
If Dwight Eisenhower were a politician today do you think he would still be a Republican?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I think the better question is if Dwight Eisenhower and Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford were in politics today, would they have allowed batshit crazy extremists who have NO chance of ever winning a national election to hijack the Republican Party? 

No, they would not have allowed that.  Because Eisenhower, Hoover, Nixon, and Ford were leaders.  And the GOP doesn’t have any leaders right now.  That’s why hey have to have a 15-person Royal Rumble every four years to decide on their Presidential nominee.  That’s why they haven’t elected a President not named “Bush” since 1984 — 1984!  If JFK hadn’t been assassinated, he would have been 67 years old in 1984 — the same age Hillary Clinton will be this year.  That’s the last time the Republicans nominated someone not named “Bush” who could win a Presidential election.  And the most reasonable of the rumored 2016 GOP contenders is the guy with that same last name, too.

The question isn’t if so-and-so would be a Republican if they were around today; it is who does the Republican Party belong to?  What does it stand for?  What country does it really believe it represents?  Where is Lincoln’s Republican Party?  Where is Theodore Roosevelt’s Republican Party?  Eisenhower’s Republican Party?  Hell, where is NIXON’s Republican Party?  Because I don’t know many people who today’s GOP represents, and I’m certainly not close with anybody who represents today’s Republican Party because those aren’t the type of people I surround myself with.  The GOP had an identity that I might not have agreed with, but I respected it and Republicans could be proud of it.  They were the party which helped make Civil Rights a reality — not just with Lincoln, but by delivering the votes that LBJ needed in 1964 and 1965 to offset the Southern Democrats.  Today, if the GOP has an identity — and they don’t, I don’t know what they truly stand for, I just know what they are adamantly opposed to — it’s that they are the dysfunctional family that thinks Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and Rick Santorum are viable contenders for the Presidency.

So, this is a long way of saying, yes, Dwight Eisenhower would be a Republican if he were active in politics today.  Why?  Because Dwight Eisenhower was a warrior and a true leader.  Dwight Eisenhower believed in himself, in his ideals, and in this country and the American people.  And if Dwight Eisenhower were around today, he’d take charge of the Republican Party, clear out the crazies, stand his ground, and say, "I am a Republican.  This is what the Republican Party represents.  And you — Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Cory Gardner, Raul Labrador, Dan Burton, David Vitter, Michele Bachmann, Tim Scott, Eric Cantor, etc, etc, etc — are NOT Republicans. Give us back our party so we can make our country work again."

I suppose this means I’ll be Martin Van Buren — one term, no war, no greatness.
Dwight Eisenhower, on worries that his ill health would limit him to one term in the Presidency like Martin Van Buren, 1955
Asker chrisdelberk Asks:
Why was Eisenhower called Ike?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Eisenhower and all five of his brothers were nicknamed “Ike” at one point.  Eisenhower himself was never really sure where the nickname came from, but some suggested that it was a shortened version of his nickname, although it seems like it would be much easier for his parents to just call the sons by their first names instead of shortening the last name that they all shared.  Then again, the parents gave all of the boys the same nickname, so who knows?  They also called the future President by his middle name of “Dwight” rather than his given first name of “David” since that was his dad’s name instead of just naming him “Dwight David Eisenhower” in the first place.

Dwight Eisenhower was the only one of his brothers who continued being called “Ike” past his childhood.  By the way, when Eisenhower’s first son, Dwight Doud, was born (he tragically died at the age of three), he was nicknamed “Icky”.

I tend to pair up Benjamin Harrison and Dwight Eisenhower because they’re the two Presidents I can think of who most preferred laziness to labor…There’s not much else you can say about Harrison except that he was President of the United States.
Harry Truman