Friday, May 31, 2013

That Not-So-Shallow Ike

Dwight Eisenhower worked for such demanding bosses as Douglas MacArthur and George Marshall. He squared off with Churchill and De Gaulle. He supervised Montgomery and Patton. He made the big decisions on the Normandy invasion. All before becoming president.

And yet one of the amusements of the intellectuals in the Fifties and Sixties was to depict him as a clueless duffer, at home on a golf course and incapable of any heavy mental heavy-lifting. It is nice to see that he is now getting the praise and recognition he deserves.

One of my favorite stories involves a general telling then-former president Eisenhower about a comment by Herodotus regarding the Peloponnesian War. Eisenhower politely listened but later, when a speech writer who was present asked him where the quotation came from, said, "First of all, it wasn't Herodotus. It was Aemilius Paullus. Secondly, it wasn't the Peloponnesian War. It was the Punic Wars with Carthage." He also noted that the man had misquoted.

I can't think of any recent occupants of the White House who, when it comes to experience and insight, would be in the same region, much less the same league.

By the way, when the speech writer asked Ike why he didn't correct the man, he replied, "I got where I did by knowing when to hide my ego and hide my intelligence."

1 comment:

twistedByKnaves said...

We all have cause to be grateful to the man who refused to deploy nuclear weapons on Korea. If he had allowed nukes to become an acceptable weapon, the world would now be a very different place. One of the truly great Presidential decisions.