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The following program is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Three days from now after half a century in the service of my country I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as in traditional and solemn ceremony the authority of the presidency is vested in my successor. So in this my last good night to you as your president. I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and in peace. I trust in that or you find some things worthy. As for the rest of it I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future. You and I my fellow citizens need to be strong in our faith that all nations under God. Will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle. Confident but humble with power.
Diligent in pursuit of the nation's great goal. Now on Friday noon I am to become my private citizen. I am proud to do so. I look forward to it. The Eisenhower years. A Chronicle in sound of the life of the white Eisenhower produce by extension Radio-TV at Kansas State University this week. Peace with Honor. This is the final program in our series. In it we hope to offer some assessment of Dwight Eisenhower as a president and general. What more to offer a further view of Ike the man the voices you will hear will be those of the people interviewed for this series. The
voices you've been hearing people who knew and worked with Dwight Eisenhower. It's by no means an objective sample it amounts only to a handful of his friends and colleagues but their views offer I hope a deeper insight into our third or fourth president. Most scholars tell us it's still too early to judge the greatness of Eisenhower as a president. I came south said his greatest accomplishment in the White House was keeping the peace for that period and his greatest disappointment that he was unable to create a lasting peace. Some views of the thirty fourth president now our sampling includes two journalists a former Eisenhower Presidential Aide and writer a politician from the opposition party first former White House aide Arthur liason. You know the tremendous intellectual grasp of the problems of the time. And I don't think it really is much help to play around with words like great they are loaded words they don't mean much especially in political conventions where the word great occurs every fourth word.
I think the important thing is that he did the job he set out to do which was to keep the peace for eight years. I think we have to learn in the area we're heading into or that we've been going through how to judge presidents on a peacetime achievement because so often in the past it's become habitual to think of the great presidents as the war presidents Lincoln Wilson Roosevelt and so on and it's much harder to to set standards by which you judge a president's ability to see that we don't get into war because it's a sort of a negativity and I think when we got the sophistication to do that the general estimate I used are will go sharply author and biographer kind of as Dave it's the thing that was wrong with his presidency from my point of view was that there were eight years there where power should have been exercised when
great opportunities for Ford for doing things were presented to him in the world. Stalin died. There were there was a shift of the balance of power in the Far East. There are as you know on the home front there was there's the rise of the civil rights movement. There were all sorts of decisions that should have been made and a man who had the power and he had it by virtue of his office should have exercised it. The refusal of the greatness I would say this is tragedy if you can call it a tragedy. Former Vice President Hubert Humphrey. I think that the contribution first of the Eisenhower administration was that it brought some sense of sanity and decency to the American political scene. It also brought a continuity of foreign policy which was important in those critical years of the 50s very very important to continue and to end day indeed to energize and they told
to it did bring of course with Mr. DULLES certain features of foreign policy that some of us didn't care for too much protected particularly the brink this so-called brinkmanship. But most of that was rhetoric. Rather than actual policy. And when the chips were down Eisenhower came down reasonably right. What it did not bring to us I think however was a sense of direction and leadership on this crucial social problems that were afflicted affecting the country. The problems of the cities were with us in the 50s. The problems of race were with us in the 50 and I've always felt that the president could have done much more after the Supreme Court decision in 1054 had he put the weight of his personal prep prestige and his personal magnetism and popularity on the side of that decision rather than just kind of leaving it in the nebulous atmosphere of the law. I think it would have changed much of the race problem much of the race relationship in the country under good auspices. See what President Eisenhower had to offer was as I said in the beginning
this warrant this affection distrust syndicated columnist Roscoe Drummond. He will not go down and see a great president. But I don't know where it will go down. I believe in history as a man required at the time because I think that he rescued the party the Republican Party from its perilous historic isolationism and brought it into the post-war world. America's responsibility. I think that was one of his great contributions. Eisenhower lives through a very fortunate period from his standpoint too. It was a period of quiet times. It was a lull between the storm a World War Two and the Christianization a work a post World War Two foreign policy which was really brought into being and almost largely carried out by President Truman and the subsequent domestic storms and of the
1960s. The trouble wasn't there. He didn't have to avoid because it didn't exist in the terms that we are thinking about trouble today. I think sometimes it's often overlooked however that in the early years of the Eisenhower administration that Eisenhower carried through a set of significant expansions of social welfare which had not been undertaken since the New Deal. Truman couldn't get it in the Republican Congress your party 748. And he couldn't get it out of the Democratic Congress that took its place from 48 to 52. And it was only in the first two or three years of the I is now administration that Social Security was expanded covering more people and other welfare measures so that the idea that the Eisenhower administration were wholly a businessman's administration I think. It was untrue. He was not what we needed at the time. It was right after a war and people did want have
relaxation and he was always soothing father image there was no doubt about that so he did give the American people what they wanted in the way of a soothing syrup. But what the people want is not necessarily what the people need and this was not a time it seemed to me when we could stand still. It just seemed to me we had to be one of the effects of whatever war and certainly World War 2 was a terrific acceleration of technology which is breeding problems like crazy. These problems were accelerating during this period and while they don't didn't look like they weren't political problems they should have been political problems they should have been realized at the time that we're going to have to get control of our technology or it's going to overwhelm us. Now it practically has overwhelmed us we we can't control anything and the chances to control it were much better from 50 to 60 in they are now every year it gets tougher. I've never had to take a Gallup poll he was a walking Gallup poll. You know he and his instinct was with the country as a whole. Yes I think he was.
He was an expression of the times and I think he was perhaps a needed transition between the end of World War 2 and the beginning of the domestic Walker since 1960. The failure to really to pick up the mantle after the Korean War and utilize federal revenues and federal resources to clean up slums to improve education to really attack the fundamental social ills of this country was a most unfortunate. I think that the sores just continued to fester and much of the problem of the 60s was due to the lack of attention to those problems at an earlier stage in the 50s. The that I think that perhaps his most important contribution in foreign policy was that he consolidated bipartisan support for the U.S. role in world
affairs. He helped to bury for all time. Well no wonder nor for all time did not. But he helped to bury for his period and the Republican temptation to go back to pre-war isolationism. I think in. Domestic affairs that the progress that he progress he made on some social welfare measures was constructive and it was well that they were carried out by conservative administration. I think his failure to to deal with the recession of the late 50s in part through Keynesian economics is a rejection of Keynesian economics which was a mistake and I think his failure to give his moral support to the nine hundred fifty four Supreme Court decision would be perhaps the other aspect of the administration that I think reflects less the least credit upon the president.
But on balance I think you'd have to say that President Eisenhower guided our country through a very perilous period but he did it not so much by dynamic leadership as he did by comforting us with some views that Eisenhower the president. Let's go back a few years what about Eisenhower the soldier the general who commanded the largest military operation ever yet never had battlefield experience during war. Some of said that I quiz a better administrator than strategist. I put that question to General Omar Bradley. Well he was good at both. He was very good at strategy. He had kept good come out number one and used lasted 11 with Command and Staff go. Nineteen twenty six or seven and he knew what he was doing. And about in there I mean it has a high position has to be a good administrator and you'd have to learn to be an administrator. You will big job you get
big budgets you get a lot of people wonder but he was he was going to put a military just or in Dr Stephen Ambrose depends on the time period you're talking about in the early part of the war. He didn't do. Much on his own as a strategist he provided arguments to support the position that George Marshall had taken. But it was always clear that was Marshall's position that he was defending. In a very real sense Intel 1044. His role was more in stride and the strategic field was more that of a staff officer that next year. It was Marshall's ideas. Marshall's initiative Marshall's foresight and Marshall's drive that Eisenhower supported. Rather than. Creating a strategy of his own this. Most of all applies to the question of when do you invade. When I became the supreme commander of the allied expeditionary force. He had in South gained a lot of confidence. It's very easy to
see for me at least a steady growth in his own self-confidence. The rare time he took over in London in January of 44. Through a. Subtle process. But nevertheless very real and. He had become his own man in a way that he had been for. He no longer followed Marshall's lead. He had some very sharp disagreements with Marshall as a matter of fact over strategy. He insisted on his own way he insisted on his rights as commander to handle this operation the way he saw. Fit. You took the line at the combine He says staff seen fit to entrust me with it and it's therefore my responsibility to be in my decisions as to Ike as a strategist and 44 when he was on his own. One of the dangers is one tends to. There's an. Almost irresistible tendency to think that what happened was the only thing that could happen. With that caveat.
I think is a brilliant strategist. The ultimate test was it worked. Well. He won. This is somewhat like the question of who is a better general grant or Lee I've always felt that the guy who won is a better general. I always thought that Eisenhower was a lot brighter and a lot more knowledgeable then the intellectuals. His intellectual critics were prepared to concede now he was no great creative brain and no doubt about that. But he could think and he had a logical coherent mind. And he what he was a sharp prober and. I think the new military biographies that are being written about Ike now tend to put his intellectual competence more in perspective. He was very good at the kind of job he had in Europe really the particular job he had in Europe was was to
to create this supreme headquarters the allied expeditionary force shape. This required a certain kind of genius. He could use his personality to as a sort of a medium of communication to fuse things together so that people who thought otherwise have been fighting were working together and this would give him more credit for this is an important thing to do in history and he did it. Was that his most important contribution I think so. You know I think so. It's a common wisdom which is that he was the only guy who could make the alliance work in practice is I think probably right. That's right in this case. Eisenhower spent an enormous amount of his time. Mollifying. Other important people. Modifying in the sense. Playing else making sure they knew that he was taking their views into consideration when he made a decision and that he had heard them out fully. This required it's not a characteristic that I know he would be given credit for having But what he had in abundance it required enormous fund of
patience. He would literally argue with Churchill. For 10 hours at a time. Allowing Churchill to have his full say. To use every gimmick that Churchill could think of to try and get it changed his mind and so on. But listening. And listening carefully. Paying Attention. He could move from that kind of. Discussion sometimes in the same day. Very often the next day. To a five hour rap with the gall. In which he had dared to go all through. To read he might have to go to a conference with Patton. Following the next day. Might be a conference with my gunnery. Run little incident my gummi always refused to go to safe headquarters so whenever I went to see my government he had to go to visit my gunnery at his headquarters. Eisenhower had enough.
I don't know what the word would be humility. Self confidence in himself so that he didn't need to stand on the prerogatives of his office. Whatever it was I said I would go see like gunnery. He would hear Montgomery through and then make his decision. Very seldom that I can explain chain these things but I don't know of a single instance in which he sent someone away and we kept person didn't feel like. All right I've made my full case the best that I can and the guy really listened to me. That was the ability more than the grin. Which of course helped more than the optimism which of course helped. That was a quality It seems to me that made him a success as a supreme allied commander. General Ike's wartime aide Harry butcher. I think probably assuming a man has the kind of personal qualities that makes him get on with various types of persons and of Dashon out it. That's a prerequisite. And General Ike had
that in big smile and courteous and he was frank. And he was the sort of generated a feeling of integrity. His personality helped him a great deal and in exercising his military function because he was able to get along with people so he was well rounded and probably that was a great quality that made him a success as an allied commander. Ike's wartime Public Relations Officer Thor Smith you've heard heard a lot of the anecdotes about I can make and making people work together I mean if he had to you know knock two heads together if it didn't if they didn't weren't working together they both get canned that type of thing. When I came back from the war I was.
You have a lot more credit than I deserve because I had been his public relations officer during those critical days and they say my gosh what a terrific job you did you know he's going to end up being president what not. I said I didn't have anything to do with with that I was just it was a great product to sell. Which brings us to the question most everyone asks about Dwight Eisenhower. What was he really like. Even his detractors agree. I thought he was a great guy. Everybody did he was very charming and a locker room type a little bit. But he is the kind of fellow you like to be outdoors with and do things with Eisenhower I always felt above everything else was a great human being. And here is his integrity and here decency emerged in all of our personal relationships. He was just a nice companion a human
thoughts pleasant to be with. And I think this is what I don't think there was a mean bone in his body really. I think this is the impression the American public have of it. Lisa smiled when I came back live then and for years thereafter when anybody found out that I had been one of Ike's personal staff I'd say well what's he really like. I said you get the greatest ever. I said I don't think the world has too big a job to give him and this is a long time before he had done that they need to board or Columbia or the presidency. And that's where he get he was big enough to cope with the world's biggest job some of the biggest World's Biggest Problems. Well when I interviewed him it was in the mid 60s.
He was. Very old by that time. Physically. Mentally he was quick and bright. Very sharp and every. Thing that stood out most was his humanness. He was. So dried nearly relaxed. But more than that and this is part of what I was just talking about he had that ability to tune to you and to become interested in your problems. And a willingness an eagerness even to help you with your problems. So that he establish an atmosphere in his office as soon as you walk down. Of trust. And openness. Relaxed and you immediately got down to business. It was as helpful as he could be. You had no feeling. I at least did not other people who have interviewed him said the same thing. I had no feeling at all of standing on ceremony or that this is an ex-president the United States here was a guy I knew a lot of stuff was really eager to share it
with you. Kind of an atmosphere. This applied however I found later more to. Discussions that revolved around World War 2. Then. Discussions about. Post-war events and expected political and strange presidency. I was frequently surprised when I'd ask him questions about either his presidency or the time when he was chief of staff of the army from 46 to 48. If memory wasn't good. And yet he could remember the names of us all of his division commanders and could tell you where a division was. And could really get into those kind of problems. I remember them as if they happened yesterday. An example of this and one that sums up interviewing Eisenhower for me. Came when we were discussing one day the Bennell Kasserine Pass. And we had some maps spread out on his desk kind of pored over them and we spilled some coffee on and then. We ate and I had been working on this for about a year so I knew a lot of the details you know and I could jog his
memory and he could supply stuff that I of course didn't know it was a there was a real flow of information going back and forth in the process his coat came off. And he rolled up his shirt sleeves. Eventually his feet got up in his desk. And. His language. Was very much in the barracks room. Which was fairly typical of use a lot of Anglo-Saxon phrases he had after all spent 30 years in the regular army and it was inevitable that. After about two and a half maybe three hours of this his secretary walked in and said to the editors and Doubleday were there. And he was writing his presidential memoirs at the time and the editors had come to talk to him about those presidential memoirs. And he asked me to stick around to meet him so I was get kind of gathering up my notes and getting the map off the desk and out of the car and I noticed his shirtsleeves had come down and he buttoned them. He put on his coat and he sat up stiffly at the desk. The Doubleday editors came in and I said they realize it before my eyes I had seen a
transformation. From a three star general in the mud of North Africa in the spring in 1903. To the President of United States. And the language it was immediately apparent. That he had switched from being a general to being the president. The sentences were no longer complete sentences. The context was getting garbled in the same way it used to in the press interviews. All of the curse words and. Disappeared from the vocabulary. He was very stiff and very ill at ease and he just. Fascinating transformation right in front of my eyes. Oh really. Just the very best he it's so tremendously friendly human warm. He was the best. God has. A long way to get.
It with were bored with it. I'd like to close the series if I may on a personal note to mention some of the scores of people instrumental in its creation. Some of the people who took time a good bit of it considerable time to talk with me about Dwight Eisenhower. Sometimes would play through every bridge and would sit there and talk the general of the army Omar Bradley one of Mike's closest friends General Bradley lives in Beverly Hills California now he's chairman of the board of the bed of a watch company remains active swimming and playing golf and a special note of thanks to his former aide Colonel Huddleston for his assistance to me. The British have a word for an aide they call aid a dogsbody something always underfoot an easy to kick Iraq carry but yeah it was I say during the war but much more than that. A close and valued friend upon whom I could relied to get him frank opinions. Harry butcher lives now in Santa Barbara California. He wrote a book on his wartime experience with Ike
started radio and television stations on the West Coast. Now has interests in cable television on the West Coast even later after he was in the White House why he invited me down to do one of his day like war time Public Relations Officer Thor Smith now lives in an apartment overlooking the bay in San Francisco. He is vice president of Mills College in Oakland and we set in this year a shelter and he told me about a strategy of war that wasn't really anything. Davis has a fistful of books to his credit including biographies of Eisenhower Stevenson and Lindbergh. He's a frequent writer for periodicals is completing a biography on Franklin D Roosevelt to be published by GP Putnam's Sons. The Germans have been able given the progress they are making with the V weapons. Dr Stephen Ambrose Holmes the Eisenhower chair of military history at Kansas State University. Yes six books to his credit including the current Supreme Commander warriors of General Dwight Eisenhower published by Doubleday. There are others to thank. Senator and former Vice President Hubert Humphrey columnist Roscoe Drummond
former secretary of Health Education and Welfare Arthur Fleming a special note of thanks to Gail Kubik who graciously wrote the music for the series and to the Kansas State University Chamber Symphony for recording it. A big note of thanks to Dr. John Whitman and his staff at the Eisenhower Library and especially to Willie Scott who labored over the tapes and film tracks for us. And finally I hope. That the series has provided some insight into the life of Dwight Eisenhower. If we have accomplished that. The series is a success. The Eisenhower years was produce by extension Radio-TV at Kansas State University on a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The producer narrator was Ralph Titus. Research by Anne Frank. Music for the Eisenhower years was written by Gail QB. Performed by the Kansas State University Chamber Symphony
The Eisenhower years
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Chicago: “The Eisenhower years; 13,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 5, 2021,
MLA: “The Eisenhower years; 13.” 1971-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 5, 2021. <>.
APA: The Eisenhower years; 13. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from