The Eisenhower Memorial, and the not so conservative Republicans.
There is an interesting article by Geoffrey Kaboservice on The New Republic’s website today about the controversy over the Eisenhower Memorial that is to be built on the Capitol Mall. You may not have heard about the controversy, because it’s not something that enough liberal Democrats or not so conservative Republicans really seem to care all that much about.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
“At a moment when Republicans are posing as stalwart defenders of a balanced federal budget, they dismiss the example of the most fiscally conservative president of the past eighty years. Eisenhower balanced the budget three times in his eight years in office, a feat that neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush came close to achieving. Ike cut federal civilian employment by 274,000 and reduced the ratio of the national debt to GNP, though not the absolute level of debt. The economy bloomed under his watch, with high growth, low inflation, and low unemployment.” . . .
. . . “But Eisenhower’s economic success matters little to today’s Republicans given his deviations from conservative orthodoxy. Ike disdained partisanship, praised compromise and cooperation, and pitched his appeals to independent voters. He approved anti-recessionary stimulus spending, extended unemployment compensation, and raised the minimum wage. He pioneered federal aid to education and created the largest public-works program in history in the form of the interstate highway system. He levied gasoline taxes to pay for the highway construction, and believed that cutting income taxes when the federal government was running a deficit would be an act of gross fiscal irresponsibility. The Republican presidential candidates who are beating the drum to bomb Iran are in stark contrast with Eisenhower’s refusal to intervene in Vietnam. And conservative hawks find something vaguely pinko about Ike’s drive to restrain the pace of the arms race and his famous warning about the dangers of the “military-industrial complex.”
Eisenhower was a fine example of a time long gone when the Republican Party had something worthwhile to contribute to the public debate. He is a conservative worth holding up as a hero of the best the GOP has stood for in the past. The only trouble is that they don’t seem to stand for those things anymore, and so those they hold up as heroes are people like Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. It really is a crying shame.
“IN FAIRNESS TO today’s Republicans, Eisenhower’s values—prudence, pragmatism, reasonableness, frugality, and respect for the past—find little resonance on either side of our present partisan divide, or in American culture as a whole.”