Saturday, February 02, 2008

An Eisenhower Endorsement and a Memory

Barack Obama's Kennedy coup is followed today by an endorsement from an Eisenhower, a lifelong Republican who believes the Illinois Senator "can encourage ordinary Americans to stand straight again...salve our national wounds and...assure the world and Americans that this great nation's impulses are still free, open, fair and broad-minded."

Barbara Eisenhower likens Obama to her grandfather who was elected with "the indispensable help of a 'Democrats for Eisenhower' movement. These crossover voters were attracted by his pledge to bring change to Washington and by the prospect that he would unify the nation."

Her decision recalls a night in 1964 when Ike was wrestling with his conscience about an endorsement that might have changed the Republican Party and American history.

Sitting on his darkened porch in Gettysburg with half a dozen visiting editors, Eisenhower talked about a barrage of advice from friends to save his party from nominating Barry Goldwater by a backing a liberal Republican, Gov. William Scranton.

Clearly opposed to Goldwater's brand of conservatism, the former President spoke bitterly about the Arizona Senator but could not bring himself to go public with his concerns and back Scranton.

Barbara Eisenhower's younger sister, Mary Jean, then eight, was sitting in a corner, wide-eyed, taking it all in. Now, her generation of Eisenhowers is having its say.

In her Washington Post OpEd, Barbara Eisenhower quotes from Ike's farewell address: "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."

She might have added something else he said then: "People want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's Susan Eisenhower- not Barbara.I think she's the first of the Nunn/Bloomberg/Oklahoma bipartisan group to endorse a canidate