Quote of the Day: 'The Greatness of Ike'

An appreciation of an underrated president



Why was President Eisenhower great? Ross Douthat explains:

He did not create unaffordable entitlement programs, embrace implausible economic theories, or hand on unsustainable deficits to his successors. He ended a stalemated conflict in Korea, kept America out of war in Southeast Asia, and avoided the kind of nuclear brinkmanship that his feckless successor stumbled into. He did not allow a series of Middle Eastern crises to draw American into an Iraq-style intervention. He did not risk his presidency with third-rate burglaries or sexual adventurism. He was decisive when necessary, but his successes -- prosperity, peace, steady progress on civil rights -- were just as often the fruit of strategic caution and masterly inaction. Perhaps "other men" could have achieved this combination of steadiness, competence and successful crisis management....

But few of them have occupied the Oval Office these last 50 years. Instead, from the 1960s down through the eras of George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- from "pay any price, bear any burden" to "you never want a serious crisis to go to waste" -- the defining vices of the modern presidency have been hubris, recklessness and overreach.
And he gave one of the most prescient warnings in American history too.
Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

The Man Who Owns 40,000 Video Games

A short documentary about an Austrian gamer with an uncommon obsession

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Politics

Just In