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tv   The Presidency Dwight D. Eisenhower as a Leader  CSPAN  May 7, 2020 2:02pm-3:08pm EDT

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with the federal government at work in d.c. and throughout the country, use the congressional directory for contact information for members of congress, governors and federal agencies. order your copy online today. at up next we here from louis galambos, editor of the papers of dwight eisenhower. he talks about the evolution of eisenhower's leadership style from a westpoint cadet to president of the united states. the kansas city public library hosted this program. good evening. i'm meredith slicher, i'm the executive director of the eisenhower foundation. and it's wonderful to see such an outpouring of support from our friends of the eisenhower foundation as well as the friends of the kansas city
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public library tonight. our world class exhibits and programs like this are made possible by the friends of the eisenhower foundation and other donors. i especially want to thank the ewing marian coffman for supporting this lecture series tonight. now perhaps you're aware that the eisenhower foundation is raising money to conduct a comprehensive exhibit renovation, it's the largest fund raising campaign in our foundation's 73-year history and it's the first comprehensive exhibit renovation in more than 45 years. the new exhibits will be unveiled this summer. en by the response that we've received thus far and i'm pleased to report that we've raised 98% of our goal. [ applause ] >> we want to finish the campaign before june 6th so that we can publicly announce this milestone to all the veterans who join us at the eisenhower
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presidential library and museum that day to commemorate the 75th anniversary of d-day. now, many of our friends have already made a gift to the exhibit renovation, and i'd like to thank you for your trust and participation in this project. there's still time to participate, and i hope everyone will consider a gift so that we can reach our goal. now it gives me great pleasure to introduce tonight's program. louis galambos is a professor emeritus in the department of history and editor of the papers of dwight d. eisenhower. he has served as president of the business history conference and the economic history association, a former editor of the journal of economic history he has written extensively on u.s. business history, business government relations and the rise of the bureaucratic state. he is president and principal of the business history group, a business consulting organization, and has a historical -- has been a
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historical consultant to merk&co, toyota and the world bank group. here to share with us is louis galambos. [ applause ] it's very nice to be here. we'll see if i can get this to stand up. oh, very good, okay. the library has been very important to me. it was very important doing the papers, absolutely essential to do the eisenhower papers, and it was important in doing a book. now, i don't know how much most of you know about editing papers. you do it day by day.
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you read what the subject, in this case ike, what ike wrote, and then you read what was written to him. and then you read what happened as a result of what he wrote. and then you go on day by day doing that. and then you produce volumes that are about that thick. now, these are like the big biographies that you may read. these are what i call chest crushers. you read them at night when you're going to bed, and you read a few pages and, boom, they come down on you. so that's part of the problem they produce. the other problem is they produce guilt because i don't know how many americans, but i would guess many more than 100,000 have never finished with the war and peace."
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they take it on vacation every year, and it sits there. and then they put it back in the car when they go home because they didn't read it, they went to the beach, they were on vacation. and so i decided to avoid that, and write a slim book that could be read by a busy person in two or three nights. and if it came down on you it wouldn't hurt you too much. okay. so i had you in mind in writing the book. and as i said i drew heavily upon the library and their expert assistance in working on that. now, most of you, i would say many in this audience, know a lot about president eisenhower. and you know first that he was president and you know roughly when that was and you won't make the mistake that someone, a friend of mine made, in writing
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a textbook in which he had -- i think he had eisenhower taking office in '52. no, i want to tell you, you'll never make a mistake, except about george washington, they always get elected in an even year and they always take office in an odd year. well, there's a book out there published by a really good publisher that got it wrong. so i won't tell you anymore about that. but at any rate i won't repeat some things that i know you already know. he was born in 1890. and that date is important. i'm not going to give you a whole lot of dates to remember, and i didn't bring any blue books so you don't have to worry about a test after this talk, okay. so he was born in 1890. and that was just when the united states was becoming the leading industrial power in the world. the united states was making a
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transition. we had long been a labor poor and capital poor country and we were drawing, we were drawing, all right, capital and labor from around the world. because we needed it. we had great natural resources. well, at this point we started to be a capital rich country and labor had a different relationship to what we were doing. so that was when ike was born. there were no cars. you had horses. wagons. dirt roads. dirt streets. and it was a different world. and particularly a small town world. i associate with that. i was raised in a town that got to 7,000 by counting some sheep. they wanted to be bigger than they actually were in southern indiana. but it helped me understand ike.
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the united states then started to assert its power overseas for the first time. we became, some say we had created an empire. my students object to that. i asked them if they vacationed in puerto rico and noticed that the people speak a different language. how did that happen? and they look at me with that blank look, you know, so every once in a while i do ask them for a date. i once asked them about when the first world war took place. some of them had it in the 19th century. some of them had it about the time of the second world war. it was a problem. most of them were international relations majors. so i guess they didn't have to do a whole lot of history. well, that was very important that america became a powerful country. and ike's career, of course,
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starts just about the time of the first world war and reaches a very impressive climax in the second world war. okay. there's probably no professional of any sort that i can think of for whom one event was a fulcrum for his whole career. and that was d-day and the decision he made. powerful, powerful impact upon his career. so when i started to work on this book, first thing i did was try to go back into his early life. we had edited from the second world war on. so i'd done the presidency, i'd done the chief of staff. i'd done columbia university. we'd done all that. but i didn't know that much about ike as a child and as a young man. so i did a lot of research on
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that. i used two ideas. one is identity. everyone in this room, including me, has an identity. that's the story you tell about yourself. you tell your story every day to other people, to your wife, husband, daughters, sons. some people have sons. i have four daughters. you tell that story to the people you work with and work for and have something to do with. so your identity is that story. your personality doesn't change much over your lifetime but your identity will change a lot. and ike's changed significantly over his career. the other idea i want to use is reputation. reputation is the story other people tell about you. now, there may be a little
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incongruity between your story and their story. that sometimes causes pain. now, i noticed the -- i liked the introduction today but they didn't tell you that i once failed organic chemistry did they? no, no. some of you may have sons or daughters or grandchildren who fail organic chemistry, so take it easy. you can still earn a living in america after you fail organic chemistry. okay? now, i started to look at his career thinking about identity and reputation. at first he was a sort of indifferent soldier. he was an indifferent professional soldier. he was indifferent at westpoint. he was really smart. terrific poker player. but he had a little problem about authority. and then i said where did that
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come from? why, i associate ike with being the master organizer, why would he have a hang up about authority? daddy. daddy was the hangup about authority. and his big brother. his big brother was called big ike. and in high school he was called little ike. now, that's a burden to carry around for four years. and who was the captain of the football team? not little ike. no. okay, you've got to suffer through that. so we put those two men together, one young and one older, and you get a real hangup about authority. so ike kind of rejected his father. he started to smoke cigarettes. at d-day he was smoking four packs a day.
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four packs. that means you're lighting a cigarette off of a cigarette to do that. i do not recommend that for anyone. i have a strong interest in public health. and believe me, and my father died of lung cancer, smoked all of his life. so i don't recommend that. but he rejected his father. he learned to play poker. his father hated cards. he learned to drink. his father hated that. so he was turning away from his family in a significant way and they were pacifists. and he went to the military academy. well, okay. so he had a hangup about authority. and he got a lot of demerits, a lot of them for smoking. he'd sneak around. they weren't allowed to smoke. he would sneak around and do things. so i wondered about that. i thought, well, here's a man who became a terrific professional soldier. and he doesn't seem to care as much, say, as some other
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soldiers who are already there. at that same time. in the 1920s, however, he finally acquired a mentor. and whenever i talk to other groups who are professional military, i make a lot of this because it's a tremendously interesting problem. how does a mentor know, how was it that general fox connor met eisenhower and discerned he thad th -- had that potential to go to the top? he took him on, took him to panama. educated him. he didn't read these boring books once, he had to read them three times. he had to practice writing orders of the day every day until it was grooved into his mind. so fox connor converted him, and
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inspired him to look forward to something more than being a retired lieutenant colonel. so it's an amazing thing, one that he recognized it, and two, that he would actually do it, and then three, that he followed up. now, why did he have to follow up if he'd already gone through this conversion experience? well, there was a bureaucracy called the army, and the army had a fixed view of what eisenhower was capable of. while he was at westpoint, one of the things he did after he blew out his knee, was coach. and he was a terrific coach. he was an instinctive leader with small groups. he was good at that. at the platoon level. he was always good. he didn't need to be taught anything about that. he was respected by his peers. and was a good leader at that
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level. but the army bureaucracy said he's a good coach and a good man to have around, but he's not going to go to the top. so they resisted bureaucracy don't change their mind overnight and any of you have authority over other people, think about this. they were insensitive to what ike was learning and what he was doing to go ahead now that he had turned his career around. he had turned it around in a significant way. and fox connor kept maneuvering him so that he could get ahead. it took some maneuvering. he got him into a position with the former head chief of staff of the army and then with general douglas macarthur who was army chief of staff in the 1930s. ike served as a staff officer,
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and he followed macarthur to the philippines. now, their personalities clashed, as you might imagine. and ike was enormously bitter about certain things that happened. for years he showed restraint with general macarthur. but he finally broke in the philippines. because macarthur cheated him. he sent him to the united states and in effect replaced him on his staff. so when ike came back from the united states all of his jobs had been taken over by somebody else. there he was sitting, and he couldn't do anything. now macarthur was clever. he didn't raise a stink with what was called then the war
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department. he just did it very quiet wily. i call it a macia vellian moment, it's one of those moments in life, some of you may have had a moment like that when somebody cheated that you respected, or at least you were working with. and you realized how the world operated. this, for ike, was a major machiavellian moment. he was tricked by macarthur, he was bitter, the first of two turning points in his career. he learned that sometimes he was going to have to do some things, okay, to achieve a major end, that he found distasteful. the second came in north africa. in north africa he at last and he had sought through his whole career to have command of combat troops. he was dedicated to getting to
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that point where he would have direct command of combat troops. that was his ambition, major ambition. the british, however, maneuvered at the casablanca conference in 1943 and cleverly and with terrific staff work they were very good, they were really good, they were almost as good as the navy is, the navy is tremendous about sort of achieving their political ends as were some other people in ike's career. but the british maneuvered and they inserted a brit in between ike and the combat forces. did that hurt him? whoa, yes. he had worked all this time, hard, to get to that point. he was supreme commander in africa. and now he did not have direct
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command. he had to go through a british officer. now, you probably already know this. there was a lot of strain within the alliance. the brits were contemptuous of american troops. the brits were absolutely certain that they had won world war i, not us. the brits were absolutely, absolutely convinced that eisenhower was a dolt. yes. they had no respect for ike. and they showed it in a lot of ways. one of the ways he first met a distinguished british officer, monte, the first time he met him ike was, as i said ike smoked all the time, particularly when he was nervous, if you met with monte you were nervous. anybody would be nervous meeting with general montgomery. and general montgomery told him
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to put his cigarette out, he wasn't allowed to smoke. that hurts. that hurts when you're in the position that ike was in. okay. and it was just an assertion of authority by somebody who thought that that was important for the moment, okay. so the british had achieved their end and ike had to put up with it. now, what's important was at this point he did not throw down the gauntlet. in a career like this people sometimes come to a point where they'll tell you if you don't do it my way i'm leaving. and we're going to get to a point where ike did that. but not now. all right, in north africa he continued to preserve the unity
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of the forces, and some of you may remember he sent one officer home because he called a british officer a british s.o.b. he said you can call him an s.o.b., but not a british s.o.b. so ike had standards for this, okay. and he put up with that. and he put up with monte. all the way through africa, sicily and italy. and then that brought him to the decision, the big decision which was d-day. and this is phenomenal when you think back, what a giant ar mma that was, and what a narrow window they had and he made that decision to send those people in and he hated the thought that a lot of them were going to die. he was touched by that. some military officers are not. general patton in africa told his soldiers the point of all
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this is to kill them before they kill you. he had a different attitude toward war. he was a terrific officer, particularly on the offense when you had offensive operations, he was great. so ike made that decision. he kept the allies together. and he kept the british working together with americans through all of that time and the difficult time that followed the invasion. now, by this time he was committed to the concept of unity. unity in war, unity in peace. he thought in a very general sense that that's how you achieve things. and that had an impact when he went to the chief of staff, went back to washington and became chief of staff of the army. he was upset, enormously upset and this came out later in his
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farewell address. he was upset by the fact that they couldn't agree on strategy because you couldn't get the services to agree. for years. for several years we didn't have a strategy because the services wouldn't agree on what the strategy was going to be. each favored one idea. and he looked on the services then as interest groups and he hated interest groups. he'd never adjusted to it. richard nixon loved interest groups, dealt with them, had no trouble at all. eisenhower hated them. and you know why? because after the decision was made they kept on fighting. they didn't accept the decision that was made. if they lose in congress, we'll go to the courts. if we lose in the courts we'll go to the people. we won't give up. they get paid for doing that, relently. so that irritated ike all the time.
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he felt -- and when he became president this is the way he ran his cabinet. everybody had a right to say something. everybody can get into the decision-making process. but after we make a decision, and he never left any doubt about who would make that decision, then we join hands and do it together. so unity was extremely important to him. and he saw it in very general terms, not just military, but also political, thought that way about american society. in the post-war period he worked for unity as chief of staff. and that's, i think, what explains the military industrial complex, that remark. everybody remembers that. everybody remembers the military industrial complex. they don't read the first part of the speech. he said "we must be strong." we must be strong, we have to have a powerful military. okay.
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but he was worried about the military industrial complex in the way those interest groups worked in washington and in our government in general. so he was worried about that from chief of staff on. when he was president of columbia university. he spent a great deal of time on the train going back and forth between washington to try to implement that policy. it was very difficult. he tried to implement that as commander of nato. he worked hard to instill unity, to get people to work together. people who had been bitter enemies, and he wanted them to work together to achieve a major objective which by this time was the cold war. now, the cold war had a great deal to do with his presidency. and, again, he tried to unite americans to deal with the cold war enemy. he said if we don't have peace
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we don't have anything. from 1946 on he was saying -- he said that if we have another major war it will not be the great tank battles of the second world war. it will not be the infantry, heroic as they were in the battle of the bulge. we'll not have that. the war will be over in three days. he said the war may destroy much of civilization, but it will be over quickly. and we have to realize that. and so that had a great deal to do with the way he exercised his authority as commander of nato. and then in the presidency. now, some people think he had to be persuaded to be president of the united states. i disagree completely. he was afraid he might lose. he didn't like to lose. he was very competitive.
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he didn't like to lose. he didn't like to lose in football, baseball, or even in politics. even though he knew he didn't know a lot about it. he had to learn a lot. he talked to people. he took lessons. he had people prepare papers for him. he was going to have to learn how to operate the presidency. and when he got in there he was ready for the job. he had his cabinet picked before he took office, the entire cabinet was ready to go. so he was prepared, like a brilliant staff officer would be. he was a brilliant staff officer. when he was in the army. and it showed in his presidency and the way he handled his relationships. so he sought peace and he knew he had to compromise. he compromised in korea, okay. he wasn't going to nuke north korea.
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he wasn't going to nuke the chinese. he was going to get a compromise and live with it. we're still living with it today. all right, we've still got it around. you have to compromise. he recognized that he was going to have to cut the budget. he was going to have to compromise. he was going to have to cut the military, in fact, so he developed a new look, a new strategy. was that strategy important? no, it goes back to that decision about the war. if there's a major war it's going to be over quickly. it's going to be a nuclear war. and so he said the military had to be reshaped along those lines. that's true today. that's still true today. we still depend ultimately upon the threat of nuclear war. and so eisenhower was the major factor bringing that about. so he recognized that we had to have not only a good strategy
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but we had to have economic policies that supported it. because he said this is a long run battle. ike, as far as i know, never predicted when the soviet union would collapse. there had been a few people who might have predicted that, but it was not ike. he thought the war was probably going to go on, the cold war, was going to go on for 100 more years and he said we had to be ready for that. and one other thing is we can't spend our economy into the hole. he kept taxes high. this is a republican president. he kept taxes high until he balanced the budget. okay. he had three balanced budgets in his eight years. stop and think about what it would take to get a balanced budget now. okay, he had three. that was an incredible accomplishment. he recognized that he was going to have to compromise in other
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ways. he didn't cut where it was absolutely necessary. and finally, finally he told his brother off. all these years, permitting inside of ike, and ed kept giving him advice about this and about that and finally he told about him about social security. he said, ed, if anybody in america wants to get rid of social security, you'll never hear of them again, meaning you, ed. he's talking directly, he's right, he wrote this to his brother in a famous letter. and those are the kind of letters that they have. so those are great things to read. yes, he said we're going to have certain programs. and he had conducted a tour -- a military tour of the united states and he said we needed roads. i'm going to be on i-70
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tomorrow. i love those roads. i used to go back and forth between graduate school through west virginia. oh, my god. if you've never followed a coal truck in the rain up a hill in a 1950 chevy you don't understand what the roads really meant to people. these roads changed our lives in many ways, and many important ways. so he said he'd have to compromise to do that. and so he did that. and he did that sometimes with a little bourbon. you talked, have a little bourbon and branch water there and have a chat. he kept communication open with congress, even though congress was nominated by the other party. this was extremely important to what ike was doing. now, he felt that innovation, which was a particular interest of mine, one of the things that
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distinguishes capitalism from communism is its ability to innovate. to produce new goods and services. new ways of doing things. and to do it quickly. ike thought that would take care of itself if he just kept the government from interfering with people. and that lasted for his policy until 1957. beep, beep, beep, beep. okay, when sputnik came he suddenly realized that he couldn't just wait, okay, he had to do something politically. so it worked. we got darpa, arpa, darpa, whichever one you want to call it and it produced the internet. now, some of you may think that was terrible, i don't know. but some of the impact on our children is probably negative. but the internet certainly the extremely important to our
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society. if you remember the transistor was produced in the 1940s and the integrated circuit, which is a key to the digital revolution. we've gone through two revolutions in your lifetime. actually, we've gone through -- yes, two. you've been through the second industrial revolution, all right, which gave you those giant automobile companies, created giant steel companies, all of that. now we're in a biodigital revolution. biology has changed. it's changed the way we live and stay alive. i'm a walking testament to the good effects of biology. and but digital. it's also digital. that's changed the way we do things. it's changed the way i do things almost every day. and it's changed the way most of you do things. so we've been through a biodigital revolution that followed sputnik, really, and
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the results for ike, for his policy was a low rate of inflation. one. a low rate of inflation. moderate growth, moderate growth, approaching but not reaching 3% a year. okay. and many -- brought many new people into the workforce including many, many women. now, ike had sort of a blind spot on his -- he understood men a lot better than he understood women but if you ask me in his family who was the important person who shaped his life in the end in his whole career it was his mother. it was his mother and not his father. she was the one who preached compromise and conciliation, the kind of professional effort that shaped that family. so we got the middle way from
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ike. now, i don't know whether we could have the middle way now. i don't know. a lot has happened since then. and maybe we're past the middle way. but it looked pretty good to me. and i think i would like to see a little more compromise, a little more communication, and a whole lot more unity. we need it. and ike gave it to us. and i think that that's the important point about his presidency. thank you. [ applause ] now we're going to have q&a, and you have to come up and do the microphones to ask a question. if i don't get any good questions out of this group, i'm really going to be disappointed.
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so i want some really good, hard questions. don't fool around. yeah. >> can you talk about how ike with all of his knowledge and experience got, you might say, misled by dulles at the cia and got involved in -- >> well, i can elaborate a little bit more on that, and probably should. i don't think he was so much misled by dulles and his brother as he was looking for easy solutions. if he had a blind spot in foreign affairs it was the revolutionary process. americans have had a lot of troubles, we had our own revolution, remember, but we forgot about that. and we have a hard time dealing with other people's revolutions. we had a hard time at that time recognizing that, for instance, the vietnamese and the chinese
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were different people and the russians were different people and there were going to be differences. it was not just a big red blob. and so i think in handling revolution in iran was probably the weakest point for him. i think he had trouble. and he looked for easy solutions. and given the amount of pressure that he was under i'm sympathetic of that but i think when we look at it in terms of history that was a mistake. that was a good question. >> yeah. i've always -- the thing that's always amazed me about eisenhower, first of all he was a german extraction, eisenhower was a german. >> yes, my family on one side is named hin burg, and i got my cardio vascular genes from them, ever grateful. >> anyway we fought germany twice, world war i, world war ii, where germany was the enemy and a lot of times there's a lot of prj against the enemy of your country. what's amazed me is, i've studied ike, not as much as you have, of course, but i've
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studied eisenhower, i never, ever come across any situation where he faced anti-german prejudice, even world war i or in world war ii where you think the brits think you want to put somebody named eisenhower in charge of this deal. did he run into any, as far as you know, anti-german prejudice coming up through the ranks, becoming commander in chief against germany because his name, he obviously was ethnically german, did that ever cause him any problems that you know of? >> he hated hitler. he hated the holocaust. he went and looked at those camps. he wanted american soldiers to see those camps. and see what happened. he hated that. and i think that spilled over. he had a soldier's respect for the german army. the germans fought well, even
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when they were fighting with 16-year-olds as they were late in the war when they ran out of men. so he admired their discipline and their skill but he hated what the country had done. so that -- that's my answer. i don't see any of that in his early career. so i can't find that there. but i know ultimately it was very important to him. >> was his ethnicity something he ever talked about? >> he didn't really talk about that, no. it was not a big subject with him. i'm just going by the long written record and what we see there, and you go by what's there. and you don't see it. >> don't see it, thank you. >> over here. >> yes, i admire -- i have such admiration for the range of
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ike's accomplishments. but i keep coming back to the question of iran and guatemala in the first two years of his presidency. and an interesting data point of the first national security conference meeting that he had with the cia where they proposed a coup against mosedak and the iranian leader, ike's first impulse was why can't we loan him $100 million to help him stabilize his government, they declassified minutes of that meeting. but by the end of that meeting he's steam rollered. and the outcome of that is a nightmare for iran, that continues to today. >> yes. >> and the following year guatemala, the poor president said plainly i want to make guatemala a capitalist country, modern capitalist country and the cia stages a coup, and those poor people are still -- you
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know, they're still reeling with the blood bath from all that. so there's the initial moment of pure decency in ike. why can't we loan mosadek $100 million. what happened to that guy? you hear him again in his farewell speech but i just think about half a dozen democracies in the emerging world that suffered horrifically from the wrong turn he took. >> well, i agree with you. as i said i thought that the revolutionary process was the hardest thing for him to understand. and particularly if it was on the left. and he tended to emphasize the communist aspect of things rather than the national aspect of things. and so i think that led him into what in hindsight, and being a historian, i am told repeatedly by people that hindsight is perfect. actually, it isn't. historians disagree like
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everybody else. but i think that was one of the weak points. his response to that, i think, would be we had eight years of peace. we had eight years of peace and prosperity. that's how he would answer. and so he would say yes -- and i would agree with this. we're not saying he's a saint. he was a president, a president, okay. and he's like other men and women, they make mistakes. and so i see the iranian policy and the guatemala policy as mistakes myself looking back but i have a tremendous advantage. in knowing how things turned out. yes. and you do too. i agree with you. yes. >> i'm kind of out of my element here. i'm going to ask several
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questions, if i may. >> let's do one at a time. i have a limited mind, you know. and i do things sequentially. so ask one first. >> okay. so my first one is, is d-day the same as doomsday? >> well, it was for germany in the end, okay. >> and then the balanced budget -- >> just a second, though, when he -- the day before d-day he met -- and this is going to go in the eisenhower memorial, is all of those young soldiers, the para troopers that he met with, and he hated the thought that they were going to die. so he was acutely aware of this. and knew that that was the price of victory. but he didn't go see the generals, he went to see the troops. so go ahead. >> okay. and then was this the era --
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because this is not my era, was the era of the north and south, confederate flag and dixie lines. >> civil rights, where was ike on civil rights, for his entire military career, up until 1945, he seemed to not be bothered, at least he didn't write anything that suggested to me that he was bothered by segregation in the military and segregation in american society. so i would say in 1945 he changed his mind. why? we were running out of men too. first the germans ran out of men. then the british ran out of men. and now america was running out of combat soldiers. so he decided to give african-americans the first opportunity to engage in combat equally.
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and that was a turning point in his life when he returned to washington he was much more vigorous about social -- about civil rights as chief of staff and he worked with lyndon johnson to get a weak form of the civil rights laws, all they could get through congress was a weak form of the civil rights act in the 1950s. does that answer your question? >> it kind of do. but the tuskegee airmen, before or after him? >> that was in the second world war, yes, that was part of the -- i will stop and talk a little bit about the air force, just for a moment, hang on. and he -- that was the only time in his career that he said he would leave. he told churchill, if i don't get the strategic air force support at d-day, i'm not your
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man. churchill recognized -- he threw it right down to, that's an ultimatum. you don't do that more than once. with someone like churchill. so he did that and he got the support he needed. but that's the only time in his career, that i know, that he actually did that. >> and then was industrial power versus the farmers of america? >> oh, in 1870 agriculture and commerce produced more national income than industry. by 1890, the sides were reversed. we were becoming an industrial urban society. and farmers were holding on politically, and they've been very good at that, at preserving
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their position. we worked out -- worked all the way through the '20s, mcnary hogan and all those bills, we worked through the '20s to try to get some way to deal with agriculture. it gave ike fits. we were in the new crops, new things were emerging that were extremely important and he thought we could be getting rid of some of the subsidies. by the end of eight years of fighting, they were right where they were when he started. he didn't win that fight. he fought for eight years, but didn't win. >> i was not born in that era. >> i was wandering around like a politician. >> i thank you for that. i was wondering your insight.
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take us back to when president ike versus president or running stevenson. >> yes. well, he ran against stevenson and won. he was a national hero. he had to learn how to do it. he came to kansas and gave his first speech in the rain. whoo, it was awful. it looked really bad at that point. what he did was, he was flexible. he knew he could be educated and he got instruction and help to teach him how to run a political campaign. stevenson was i would say moderate, in the middle of the democratic party. he was running uphill because of ike's popularity, partly as a person. people trusted ike. they looked at him -- that had
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been true from west point on. his colleagues trusted him. >> lastly, this is my last question. you mentioned something about scarlet. that's not scarlet fever, is it? is the baby boomer generation after ike's generation? >> which generation? >> the baby boomers. >> baby boomers. the baby boomers come out in the post war period. that's the first baby boom, yeah. when the soldiers came home, they had more on their mind than education. [ applause ] there you go. that light is right behind you. that's why i keep ducking down. >> i was wondering if you could comment on endo china or vietnam and the nixon trips to china and
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the soviet union. >> yes. ike's policy toward china was, it seems to me, pretty much set by the fact that america had a strong sense -- it never had -- we thought we had china. we never had china. we thought that they were, because of the second world war, they would be our allies. we were very disappointed when the revolution took place and when our side lost and the communists won. ike's tendency was to see communism as one thing, a unity. a kind of all encompassing. i think a lot of us were influenced by that. i was alive in those years.
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i think a lot of us were influenced by that to see communists everywhere as one thing. i think eisenhower was influenced by that. i think he was influenced to think in terms of dominos. remember, the dominos falling? when one falls, the whole row falls. he was very worried about that. so i would say his problem was that he didn't give the credit to nationalism that he should have and he should have -- not just ike, but also the people who gave him advice should have looked deeper into those societies. a lot of them have changed. >> you talked about ike and his brother ed. you might tell us more about ed. the brother we all remember was milt
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milton. >> me too. >> he was president of johns hopkins university. you might have known him. >> i remember milton really well. i used to finish editing in the basement. we were in a bunker of the basement of the library. i would walk home. at that time milton was living right on charles street. so we would sit and chat. he would always make a martini for me and for him. i want to tell you that was back when i drank. i haven't had a drink for 20 years, but i remember those. whoo! i had three and a half blocks yet to walk after i left there. it was not always easy. i loved milton and talked a lot with him and ike did too. >> what was ed's claim to fame? >> ed was superior
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intellectually. he was older. he stayed out of school for two years, so he was in ike's class. you have somebody who's two years older, stronger, faster and smarter. that's hard to deal with right in your class. ed went on to have a very successful career. he was an extremely good athlete, a great golf player and great lawyer from everything i know. he and ike disagreed about whether there should be a middle way or there should be ed's way. so that's where they parted ways. but ike was in the white house and ed was out on the west coast. yes? awfully good questions. you get an a plus today. [ applause ] i even grade the pilots when we
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land. we had a c plus landing. [ laughter ] i've never had an f. >> spy plane and gary powers, did ike consider that one of his worst mistakes? >> run that again. >> u2 spy plane that they denied, that eisenhower denied. >> he got caught like a little boy. he was like a little boy. did you take those books out of the book shelf when i told you not to? his mother told him to stop reading those books in the book shelf and he snuck them out. well, the little boy gets caught and he got caught. the important thing about u2 is that it was the measure at that time of our technological superiority. ike knew that. so did the soviets.
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why didn't they make more of a stink about it before that happened with u2? because it showed their weakness. they were unable to do anything about it until that time. ike, just as with the cia, he was -- he was dread fulfully concerned about a surprise attack. why? pearl harbor. he had been in the philippines working on that issue. ike was dreadfully concerned about a surprise attack. the u2 gave us incredible information. we were right at the point where we could do that with spy satellites and do now. they take these incredible pictures. ike took a chance and he threw
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the dice and that one he lost. it hurt the relationship. >> did he consider that that tarnished his reputation as he was leaving the presidency for several years after that or was -- at the time? >> well, at that time i don't know whether you ever read these polls they put out in newspapers. i personally use a 50% discount on anything in the media. if they say it's going to be great, i say it's going to be half great. if they say it's horrible, we'll lose the war tomorrow. i say probably not tomorrow. it's about half that bad. ike, when he left office, didn't have a very high ranking among presidents among most academias. if this is the center, most
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academias i know are to the left of center. most are to the left of center. at columbia that new york intellectual group really despised ike. they thought he was a military officer and so what. they didn't appreciate that. so his reputation was down here. we kept getting other presidents and every time we have other presidents his reputation goes up a little bit. now he's in the top five. you're competing with george washington, abraham lincoln. this is a man who was told he could just be a football coach. yes, remember? so his reputation went up. he thought he would be the wise man. in fact, i deal with that at the
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end of the book. he thought he would be the wise man for america. i steal that from a title of a book, from isaacson, a great writer. he thought he would be the wise man and he would give counsel. they ignored him. they were going in their own directions doing their own things for their own reasons. they talked to him, but they didn't do what he said. he did not turn out to be the wise man in retirement. yes? this better be very good. it comes directly from the military. this is the army speaking now. >> nothing officially representing -- >> nothing official. >> i wanted to ask you about the relationship between eisenhower and academics. i was thinking about the book "presidential power" and how they cast ike as a prisoner of
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his staff system. no eisenhower scholars today use that interpretation. i was curious about what ike thought about the academics and the scholars he dealt with in his presidency. >> he got along with columbia of a select group of academias. he had interests that were academic. he was upset by people who were widdled out and unable to serve because of health or mental aspects. he wanted some study of that and why that had been a problem in the second world war. he dealt with academics on those grounds. in his personal life, i think he was -- he was inclined to like business men, golf players, power players, people who he thought made the kind of decisions that he made.
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i think he was -- that showed. columbia is the nexus of it. he wanted to get the budget balanced. he wanted to do good things for the university, but he never -- remember, he replaced a president who had tremendous ties to the departments. so he never dipped down into the departments even though he liked history. he liked history, liked to read history, liked to study history. i do not think he really had the kind of respect that other presidents have had. he did not have a, quote, brain's trust as fdr did. fdr recruited intellectuals to give advice about policy and ike was not really inclined in that direction, although he would
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listen to economists and try to understand. he was converted to some extent to a tanzian view of the economy. in that regard he would work with people. generally, no. that probably was another one of those things that was not part of his personality. >> thank you very much. >> you're on. >> getting back into the 1960s, president kennedy ended up taking the responsibility for the bay of pigs. i'm curious. he's such a great military strategist, did that disappoint ike and what was your understanding of ike's position in the bay of pigs and helping plan it and getting it going? >> well, he never i think would have launched the bay of pigs in the way it was launched.
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you remember d-day was done with overwhelming power concentrated. concentrated over welling the power at the point you attack. i think he was skeptical of it as he was skeptical of the french in vietnam. he was skeptical of their ability and he was skeptical of our ability to handle the situation at the bay of pigs. he didn't make any -- he was not inclined to come out and make announcements to gloss his own reputation at that time. i think he thought it was int t intact. but, there's no question about it being an ill-planned venture. >> thank you for a great presentation. >> thank you. [ applause ]
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