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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....And he gave one of the most prescient warnings in American history too.
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.
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