Articles

EISENHOWER

Can the ex-general win over the Republican voters still bitterly hostile to him? And if elected, can he maintain an internationalist policy?

September 15 1952
Articles

EISENHOWER

Can the ex-general win over the Republican voters still bitterly hostile to him? And if elected, can he maintain an internationalist policy?

September 15 1952

EISENHOWER

AT LUNCHTIME just halfway through the Republican convention the sidewalk of Chicago's Michigan Boulevard swarmed with politicians both professional and amateur. Every second person was festooned with buttons reading "TAFT" or "I LIKE IKE.” Banner carriers, some hired and some volunteer, paraded between the Conrad Hilton and Congress hotels uttering strange chants.

Through this mob and paying no heed to it, « short homely middle-aged woman shouldered her way. Across her chest she wore a crude hand-lettered placard not at all like the smoothly professional jobs the snake-dancers were carrying. Quite obviouslv she had made it herself and quite obviouslv she meant what it said: I WON’T VOTE FOR EISENHOWER.

No one could have looked less like a machine politician. This was a humble private citizen offering her own testimony against / the ‘‘Taft can't win” propaganda of the Eisenhower forces. She was very much in earnest, and she wore an expression of sullen, rooted indignation not far short of hatred.

She and several million .Americans like her represent the gravest single problem of the Republican campaign. Can Dwight D. Eisenhower, the great conciliator, win over this bloc of bitterly hostile Republican voters? Failing that, can he win the election without them? And if he does win can he maintain the international co-operation in which he believes, but which

these right-wing Republicans sincerely and implacably oppose?

It is Senator Robert Taft's own fault that most Canadians and a good many Americans hardly realize this problem group exists. "Because of the way the Taft campaign was conducted, the spotlight fell on a very different kind of Taft supporter. Henry Zweifel, of Texas, a paunchy fellow with purple cheeks who would need little make-up to play the Hollywood conception of a ward heeler: Ross Rizley. of Oklahoma, a genially bumbling Mr. Malaprop who could provide the comic relief for the same him: "Judge" William Dawson, of Kentucky, the very caricature of an old-stvle southern orator: Guy Gabrielson. Republican national chairman who did the Democrats the favor of supplying a Republican target during the probe into influence-peddling —these were presented by news reports and television screens as typical Taft men.

If they were, the problem wouldn't exist. Eisenhower won’t want manv of these discredited outmoded professionals, but any he does want can be had. They will work for the party, the bulk of them, regardless of its leadership.

Far more typical Taftites were the dear old couples who ate supper at the tables next to mine in the Sherman Hotel. They were folk in their late fifties to middle sixties, with a daughter married in Albanv or Pensacola and a son in Seattle or Philadelphia or New York. They Continued on page 62

Continued on page 62

Can the ex-general win over the Republican voters still bitterly hostile to him? And if elected, can he maintain an internationalist policy?

Eisenhower

CONTINUED FROM PACE 8

came from South Dakota or Wisconsin or Indiana or Ohio (or any one of half a dozen other midwestem states' and they got a real thrill out of discovering mutual acquaintances with the total strangers, very like themselves, whom they’d met in the elevator or at the convention hall. They spent about two thirds of the mealtime talking about their grandchildren, who were all bright but who all had problems. The rest of the time thev talked about Poor Mr. Taft.

Poor Mr. Taft was the symbol of everything they believed in. everythingthey had voted for in the past forty years and most especially in the Last twenty years. Poor Mr. Taft was a friend of General MacArthur. who had been Right (just when, or about what, they are not quite sure, but they know that MacArthur was Right i. Mr. Taft was an implacable enemy of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had not only fathered the New Deal and thus introduced socialism but who had also Sold Us Out at Yalta after Dragging Us Into War.

Poor Mr. Taft was a “real Republican.” the kind they were themselves. Twice already he had been elbowed out of the nomination by "Me Too” candidates, New Dealers in Republican clothing, and now it looked as if the same sinister crowd would do it again. Only a few believed, after the first day or two. that Eisenhower would be beaten and Taft would get the nomination after all.

Before the Republican convention was half over the elderly men were looking grim and disheartened and the women, when you met them at Taft headquarters, looked ready to burst into tears. They did. when the final defeat came. •

On that same day I happened to stand next to one of them in an elevator queue at the Conrad Hilton Hotel. She had been out at the convention hall Listening to the oratory of Senator Joe McCarthy. I had just come from a meeting of the credentials committee where the issue of the contested delegates, the issue that won the convention for Eisenhower, was entering its penultimate stage.

"How does it look for Senator Taft?”

I said it looked pretty bad. Her face twisted with anger.

"If Taft loses, we might as well haul down the red. white and blue.” she said. "Iris time to hoist the world flag or the L’nited Nations nag or something. not the Stars and Stripes.”

To a Canadian, accustomed to think of Eisenhower as the man everybody likes. it was a shock to realize that this woman hated him. To her he WITS the very symbol of all she had been

You don’t have to be : native American, either, to contract some share of this feeling. Two days Later, after Eisenhower had been nominated.

I was talking to a shopgirl who turned out to be a fellow Nova Scotian. After we had swapped Maritime place names and acquaintances she .asked what I

glad Eisenhower had won.

"It may be good news to you.” said my ex-compatriot. "It isn't such good news for us. We have to pay the

Ancient prejudice of that rind set alight long ago by the Chicago Tribune and other organs of isolation, had been fanned to a white heat by a campaign of really startling invective. In Canada

I have never heard such language, even between political parties in the heat of a general election, as these Republican Party factions were using against each

Jack Porter, head of the Eisenhower group from Texas which finally beat Henry Zweifel's hand-picked Taft slate, issued a press release on the lerterhead of the Eisenhower office. It said in

"This Texas steal is the rottenest thing in American politics. Of course Zweifel doesn't want it the hearing televised. No thief wants to be caught in the act . . . Hitler never did anything rottener than what Zweifel did in Texas."

On the day the nomination speeches were made the Taft committee prepared. over its own official signature, a broadsheet which was headed in 96point black capitals "SKIN DEWEY.” They ran off a few samples, took a look at the heading and decided it was a Little too strong, so they transposed two lerters and made it read "'SINK DEWEY.” Thus modified, it was handed out to the press while the seconders of Senator Taft were speak-

“By now every delegate knows that it is Tom Dewey who is calling the shots in this convention." the message said. “He is not the candidate this time but he is the man who pulls the strings. He is the candidate in everything but name.

"Every delegate knows what Dewey and his ruthless team have been doing. They have no qualms and no scruples. They go to any lengths to pressure delegates . . .

“Tom Dewey is the most coldblooded. ruthless, selfish political boss in the United States today. He stops at nothing to enforce his will. His promises are worthless. He is the greatest menace the Republican Party has. Twice he led us down the road to defeat and now he is trying the same trick again hidden behind the front of another man.

“Behind Tom Dewey is the same old gang of eastern internationalists and Republican New Dealers who ganged up to sell the Republican Party down the river in 1940. in 1944 and in 194?. They are trying it again this year . . . Until and unless Dewey and Deweyiszn are crushed our party can never win and America can never be made safe from the insidious efforts of the New Dealers, whatever their party label, to take us down the road to socialism and dictatorship."

No doubt the trained seals who wrote that masterpiece are still working for the Republican Party, trying now to get Eisenhower elected. But what about the people, the gentle and naive and terrifyingly" nice people, who believed such stuff"? Have they too changed sides?

Adlai Stevenson hit the Republican solar plexus with one sentence in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination: “Is it the part of wisdom to

change, for the sake of change, to a party with .. split personality? To a leader whom we all respect, but who has been called upon to minister to a hopeless case of political schizophre-

Oniy one thing can be said with certainty: Dwight David Eisenhower is

the first Republican candidate since Theodore Roosevelt to have a chance, at least, of uniting these two wings of

True, he has not turned out to be the instantaneous popular idol that some of his backers expected. Eisenhower is not particularly good at reading prepared speeches, and he has with him some of the same ghost writers who carpentered Thomas Dewey’s losing

campaign in 19-48. They have managed on several occasions to obscure the natural charm which is Eisenhower's great gift. But the charm still shines through.

He demonstrated both these facts in a speech to the annual reunion of the 82nd Air-borne Division this summer. The address was preceded by a brief memorial service for the dead, and Eisenhower was visibly moved. Those who sat close by said he had tears in his eyes, and the whole audience knew he was speaking with some difficulty as he began.

“This is a deeply moving occasion to me,’’ he said, “and it’s entirely possible that I may break down before I finish.”

He went on to tell why’. The 82nd Air borne Division had been part of every major operation he had ever commanded, from the beginning in North Africa to the very last operation of the war in Europe, the rescue of Denmark from Russian “liberation." But the time he remembered best, the time he would never forget was the D-Day operation in Normandy.

“The hardest decision I ever had to make,” Eisenhower called it —whether or not to send in the S2nd and two other air-borne divisions to seize the bridges and gun emplacements behind the beaches. Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, the man whose job it was to know about air-borne troop movements, had advised against it all along. At the last minute he had come to Eisenhower with a personal appeal: “You can't

do this, it’s plain murder. You can't send American boys into such a spot.” Leigh-Mallory estimated casualties for the air-borne divisions at eighty per-

Eisenhower told them how he had walked up and down, alone, and made the decision to go ahead according to plan. He, Montgomery and Bradley were all agreed that the invasion plan couldn’t be carried out otherwise they simply had to have the airborne attack.

And then he told, in a voice choked again with warm gratitude, how he had gone down to see the 82nd Air-borne Division and how the men themselves liad eased the weight on his mind. How they had grinned at him and said, “Sure, we’ll do it.”

He had been trying ever since to pay the debt he owed to these men and the millions like them who had offered their lives for their country’s honor and safety. He was still trying trying to secure the peace they had bought. He didn’t know what the future might hold, “but I'll tell you one thing. I’ll never give up.”

At those words the whole audience stood up in a spontaneous burst of cheering. If Eisenhower had stopped there his performance would have been perfect. Unhappily he continued. He gave this nonpolitical audience a condensed version of The Speech the one the ghosts had composed for him. the one he’d been delivering at whistle stops from Denver to Des Moines. It wasn't bad sensible enough, constructive enough but as he droned on the emotional impact of his opening remarks was forgotten, and its glory faded into the light of common day.

But even Thomas Dewey s speech writers cannot wholly disguise the Eisenhower character. Here is a fivestar general, with enough decorations to cover his chest from c hin to belt-line, vet still a genuinely modest man who has lived America's fav orite life story

He was a poor boy . His father va a sober worthy industrious man who died at seventy-nine after a lifetime in humble manual jobs that never paid more than a hundred and fifty dollars a month. His mother, a remarkable

woman, managed nevertheless to educate all six of her sons and launch them on successful careers.

It looked for years as if Dwight was the least successful of the lot. In the 1930s his youngest brother, Milton, now president of Pennsylvania State College, was a prominent man in the government service in Washington.

‘'Everyone knew Milton Eisenhower.” an American civil servant once remarked, “and those who knew him well knewhe had a brother in the

There wasn’t much more to know. Dwight was two or three years late entering West Point, years he spent working nights, seven twelve-hour shifts a week, to help his brother Edgar through college. He was nearly twenty-five when he graduated. By 1940 he was still a lowly lieutenantcolonel. fifty years old. who had never in his life heard a shot fired in angei. He still hadn't when he took command of the North African invasion.

These years of frustration and disappointment probably gave Dwight Eisenhower the unioue advantages of personality which w ill, if anything will, win him the election. These years must have built his humility.

Eisenhow er is quite ignorant of many important domestic issues and somewhat naive and old-fashioned in his reaction to others. But his humility keeps him out of many scrapes that hi« ignorance might lead him into.

“What's your view on the St. Lawrence Seaway?” a Canadian reporter asked him at a recent press conference.

”1 don't know enough about it,'’ Eisenhower replied. “This thing contains a lot of different problems— engineering, power development, material allocation. All I can say is. I hate to see Canada going ahead with it alone when we might be doing a share of the job and earning a share of the advantages.”

That was a typical Eisenhower answer to a specific policy question Taft men found it infuriating. Evasive, they called it: “Why doesn’t he have the courage to say what he thinks?" Their man had never hesitated to state opinions. As a result his record is nowcluttered with inconsistencies, but at least you can always tell where Senator Taft stands at any given moment.

Eisenhower people prefer Eisenhower's way. He didn't become the victor of North Africa and Sicily and Normandy and Germany by laying down new military doctrine, or taking sides in theoretical arguments. His genius lay in persuading the apostles of opposing doctrines to work together. And that, they say, is what the U. S. needs today.

Chester Wilmot, whose book. The Struggle for Europe, is sharply critical of American generals, says this of Eisenhower:

"In this post Commander-in-Chief. North Africa the personal and political integrity of the man was more important than the professional ability of the soldier. Others could and did provide , expert and experienced leadership in | the field, but nobody else revealed Eisenhower’s remarkable capacity for integrating the efforts of different allies and rival services, and for creating harmony between individuals with varied backgrounds and temperaments."

Among the shocking divisions and hostilities of American politics today, it is again manifest that "the personal and political integrity of the man is more important than the professional ability" of the president. Whether or not Eisenhower can succeed in unifying the nation and restoring its self-confidence and its self-trust, he has at least shown more aptitude for doing so than i

anyone else in the Republican Party.

But what about the “expert andexperienced leadership in the field”? Has Eisenhower now, as he had in Africa and Normandy, the kind of devoted and competent subordinates who can win battles for him?

In one sense they are very competent indeed. It is amusing now to recall the remarks that were made about Senator Taft's support among professional politicians. Taft’s professionals were a ludicrously obsolete lot. still using the methods that won a nomination for Taft's father /and incidentally lost the election/ in 1912. Eisenhower's team, by contrast, was made up of 1952 professionals whose skill was unobtrusive but superb.

They recovered very fast from their initial overconfidence in the mere personality of "Ike.” They saw at once they had a real fight cn their hands and they fought it brilliantly, turning each of Taft's apparent victories into ever more serious defeats.

Taft controlled the machine in enough states to give him a very large first-ballot vote, probably the largest any candidate had ever rolled up in advance of a convention. Taft's "hard core" may be measured by the first vote of the convention, on the seemingly technical issue of amending the rules. He got 548 votes against u. combined opposition of 658—an opposition which, at that time, was supposedly split among several candidates. In so far as there was a preconvention bandwagon. Senator Taft was driving it.

Eisenhower strategists realized that if Taft were to register that amount of strength on the first ballot while the non-Taft vote was dispersed among three or four “favorite sons.” the effect would be to establish a “trend for Taft" which could hardly fail to win him the nomination on the second or third ballot. Theii problem was to find an issue which would unite all non-Taft votes in a showdown before the balloting itself had even begun.

They spotted that issue in early June at Mineral Wells. Texas. Taft men. controlling a machine which had kept the Republican Party a priváte club in Texas ever since the Civil War. had used their power to throw out some five hundred delegates to the state convention, legally elected and pledged to Eisenhower. At the machine level the Taft men won. not only at Mineral Wells but all the way up to the Republican National Committee. Not until the last minute did they realize that every victory they won in the machine was a defeat in the eyes of the public. Eisenhower's men had already made sure that the public was watching attentively.

Meanwhile the Eisenhower group had exceeded their own wildest hopes by persuading all twenty-five Republican governors, including three Taft supporters, to join in demanding a change of convention rules that would keep these contested delegates from voting on each other's cases. They called it "the fair play amendment,” a label which was itself a victory.

Too late the Taft men realized how they'd fallen into the pit which they had dug. Desperately they offered compromises—they'd settle for half the Texas group, they'd give up Louisiana entirely. Anything to avoid that open vote on the convention floor which, as the Eisenhower side had known from the first, would unite the opposition and give the impression of a first-ballot defeat for Taft. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. Eisenhower’s backer, was adamant: “No deals.’’

All came about as the Eisenhower strategists had foreseen. This is not to imply that the moral issue was faked

or phony. There was a moral issue: the Texas and Ixiuisiana "steals" really were disgraceful and it's surprising that a man of Senator Taft's proven integrity should have allowed such goings-on by even his least respectable supporters. But it does not follow that the Eisenhower side is made up exclusively of dewy-eyed idealists.

Until nomination day there had been a well-founded rumor that Frank J. Kenna, Republican leader in the Borough of Queens, would lead a lozen or more New York State delegates in i bolt for Taft, defying Governor Dewey’s orders to vote Eisenhower.

“I just don't believe it,” one of Dewey’s men told reporters. "He may talk that way now, but in caucus lie'll have to stand up and be counted. He knows, and if he doesn't know he will be told, that if he votes for Taft lie'll lose all stale patronage, all local patronage and have a primary i.ght started against him in a matter of

On the eve of balloting Kenna announced he had changed his mind and w'ould vote for Eisenho er. The final New York vote was ninety-five for Eisenhower, one for Taft. Evidently the Taft charges of “ruthless pressure" were not without some foundation.

It’s doubtful, though, whether this sort of thing matters two nins in appraising an Eisenhower administration. Governor Dewey ira,r take a rough hand to keep his del -rates in line, but he has a good record for administrative competence in New York State. What is more to the point, he has been on the internationalist side in most of the great international issues of our time.

The same might be said of Senator Henry Cahot Lodge, of Boston, another

“Eisenhower original” among Ameri can public men. Like Dewey-, Cabot Lodge lacks popular appeal. He is suspected of being an incurable snob

"Lowells speak only to Cabots, and Cabots speak only to God” -and he has Dewey’s gift for infuriating political opponents Hut he. too, has a pretty consistent record of support for co-operation abroad and progressive social legislation at home.

But the great strength of the Eisenhower slate is Eisenhower. However ignorant he may be of detail and of specific issues, he has proved often enough that his heart is in the right

Senator Taft, for example, knows all about the Reciprocal Trade Agree ments Act by which, under Roosevelt and Cordell Hull, the United States has come quite a long wav out of the tariff shell constructed bv the last Republican Administration Senator Taft is against it.

Eisenhower admitted, at an early press conference, that he knows nothing about it at all. But Eisenhower is the symbol and moving spirit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the very voice of international co-operation. He couldn't be isolationist in economics.

A far graver question is whether Eisenhower would be able to carry out his own policies with a Republican Senate. There are all too many reasons for doubting it

LTnder the American Constitution the lower chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives, is elected every tvvo v-a-s hut the Senate is elected one Bird at a time. Only thirty t-'o of the ninety-six senators are involved in any one election, and each is elected for a six year term.

Because of vacancies and deaths there may in fact be one or t .vo more

senatorial seats involved this year.

The present Senate has fifty Democrats and forty-six Republicans. To control the Senate the Republicans must have forty-nine seats and cut the Democrats to forty-seven. They must therefore hold every seat which is now Republican and. in addition, defeat three sitting Democrats.

In several of the thirty-two Senate seats now open, the Republican candidate is sure to win — states like Maine. Vermont. Others are Deep South states where, even if Eisenhower should win the electoral vote as he

hopes to do. the Democratic senator is certain of re-election. There are only twenty-four Senate seats in real doubt, and it is among these twenty-four that the Republicans must fight to hold what they have and gain three.

Michael Straight, editor of the liberal magazine. New Republic, recently made an analysis of these twenty-four seats which is acutely discouraging from the viewpoint of international co-operation. Of the twenty-four Republican candidates no fewer than eleven are proven isolationists, bitter and consistent enemies of everything Eisenhower

stands for. Five more are cool to his program: only five have a record of steady support for it. and the rest are doubtfuls. Yet Eisenhower as Republican candidate for president must do all he can to elect every one of these men and to defeat a Democratic slate which includes some of the warmest supporters of his program.

To take a few examples. Senator -Joe McCarthy is running for re-election as a Republican in Wisconsin. Senator McCarthy is well known, among other things, for his low opinion of General George C. Marshall. Eisenhower's men-

tor and idol. Said McCarthy of Marshall: “I ask in all gravity whether

a man so steeped in falsehood, who has recourse to the lie whenever it suits his convenience, is fit to hold so exalted a place as U. S. Secretary of State'?”

Nevertheless it will be difficult, if not impossible, for Eisenhower to avoid campaigning for Joe McCarthy’s reelection. Whatever he may think of McCarthy, he needs that Republican

Another Republican whom Eisenhower can ill spare is William E. Jenner, of Indiana. In the same debate on Marshall’s confirmation as Secretary of State. Jenner said: “General Marshall is not only willing, he is eager to play the role of front man for traitors. The truth is that this is no new role for him. General George C. Marshall is a living lie.”

Of the Marshall Plan, which Eisenhower found to have effects “little short of miraculous,” Jenner said: “With every day the Marshall Plan becomes more of a fraud and a swindle.”

Another critic of the Marshall Plan is Senator James P. Kem of Missouri, who called it “a great political slush fund to assist the Labour Party and socialism in the coming British election.” He called NATO “a sink-hole for untold billions of the money of American taxpayers.”

Kem may be defeated in Missouri, but this is not a hope that Eisenhower can share. He must hope, instead, that a steady internationalist like Senator Dennis Chavez, Democrat of New Mexico, will be beaten by that windyold MacArthurite, Pat Hurley. He must hope that internationalists Joseph O’Mahoney in Wyoming and Blair Moody in Michigan go down before two former Congressmen who have been isolationist on almost every critical vote of the bipartisan policy.

This is Eisenhower's dilemma in victory. His defeat would create a different dilemma which might, in the long run. prove equally grave for the United States and for the free world.

Eisenhower’s election has become a life-and-death necessity for the liberal wing of the Republican Party. This makes four times running that the Old Guard has been shoved out of the way. Once with Willkie and twice with Dewey they have been dragged along to defeat under the banner of “Me Too-ism.” They believed then and they believe now that this compromise with "real Republican principles” caused the Republican downfall, and that Americans are waiting in millions for a chance to elect a "real Republican candidate."

If this fourth attempt ends in failure there will be no holding the Old Guard. The free world, now irretrievably committed to American leadership, will face either a perpetual Democratic Administration perpetually riven and harried or else a Republican regime in which Colonel McCormick of the Chicago Tribune will be an authoritative voice, and Senator Joe McCarthywill be a tribune of the people. This time, the Colonel is grumbling that one candidate is as bad as the other. His leading editorial on the Republican nomination was entitled "A Feast for Vultures.”

During the campaign, Eisenhower may be able to soften some of the forbidding realities but he will not be able to avoid them. If he is elected they’ll still be with him at least to some extent. One of the inescapable—and perhaps tragic—anomalies of our times is that neither candidate Eisenhower nor should the Republicans win1 President Eisenhower can ever be exactly the same man the world knew so short a time ago as General Eisenhower. ic