Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ike's Call for Sanity

Jon Stewart and President Eisenhower make an odd couple, but they have a similar message for today's politicians.

As the Daily Show host does an enraged rant about Congressional hypocrisy in caring more about tax cuts for the rich than the health of 9/11 responders, Ike's voice comes from the past, warning about falling "into bitter, unreconcilable factions which in other nations have paralyzed the democratic process."

Fifty years after his farewell address, newly discovered papers reveal that, in addition to a legendary warning about growing power of the "military-industrial complex," Eisenhower considered an admonition against Congressional paralysis by political divisions, followed by the lesson he learned from leading a divided government:

"Despite our differences, we worked together, and the business of the nation went forward, and the fact that it did so is in large measure a credit to the wisdom, forbearance, and sense of duty displayed by the Congress."

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell may want to consider such advice from the Republican president who brought egomaniacal commanders together for a World War II victory and, as President, left office respected by Americans across the political spectrum.

Half a century ago, it was possible for a lifelong Democrat to fall in love with Eisenhower for his palpable decency, honor and adherence to true American values.

If he were still with us, Ike would get a rousing reception from Jon Stewart's audience as he offered a bit of advice to the Tea Party, "Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels--men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion."

In his lifetime, Eisenhower was wooed by both Republicans and Democrats to run as their candidate for the White House. Would he be today?

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