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Politics

COULD WE STAND IT IF LIBERALS WERE LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVES CONSERVATIVE, MINUS THE HYSTERICS? LIKE WHEN IKE WAS AROUND.

It’s always Silly Season in American politics, even at a time like this when we have a calm man at the top of the food chain. President Obama is the most even-tempered, lucid and reasonable person to occupy the White House since Dwight D. Eisenhower. A lot of people said that Eisenhower was an inactive president, a kindly war hero/father figure who became president as a reward for saving the world from Naziism. His amiable personality, good humor and complete and total sanity makes him perhaps the most normal and well adjusted of history’s great conquerors and leaders. Everyone liked Ike. Respected him, too.

His unshakeable faith in the American people, his quiet competence and transparent optimism were contagious, and the 1950s were perhaps the most hopeful of American Eras. And contrary to his reputation, this guy did plenty as president. He ended the war he inherited, The Korean War, within 5 months of taking office. This general that will go down in history alongside Caesar, Alexander and Napoleon, when it was his turn to run a war as his nation’s ruler, declined the honor and pursued a policy of peaceful coexistence with the other big victor in World War 2, The Soviet Union.

Presiding over the only modern economy untouched by the war’s devastation, Eisenhower put this unprecedented prosperity to good use. Inspired partly by the strategic advantage in rapid mobility that the Autobahn gave the Wermacht in Germany, and partly by his native Texan-American wanderlust, Eisenhower built the Federal Interstate Highway System, and in the process transformed America completely and permanently into the Mobile Society. Without endless highways, what the hell would the young Bruce Springsteen have written about?

Ike also got America involved in the space race, even though JFK got most of the credit. He presided over 8 years of peace and prosperity and left office with the most accurate prophecy by any president exiting the office when he warned of the grave danger posed by “the military-insdustrial complex.”

When Eisnehower left office is pretty much when America started getting weird, with the assassinations, the Civil Rights riots, Vietnam, Nixon, and so on and so on through the Cheney Administration. The Generation Gap became the Red and Blue Gap, a Them-vs-Us attitude usually reserved for one’s wartime enemies, not your neighbors.

Now that we don’t hate each other over race anymore, we all hate each other for political reasons or religious reasons (or both), and call one another horrible names. Half our leaders on both the political right and the left are scary megalomaniacs that need to be sedated. The hatred they spread is almost Biblical in its complete unreasonableness. It’s not enough to disagree these days, now you have believe that only a traitorous heretic could possibly see things differently. Ike wouldn’t have put up with that childish crap for a second.

Eisenhower swiftly ended the Korean War and passed his proposed agenda with the cooperation of members of both political parties. This was a time when members of Congress actually considered the merits of an idea idea more important than who thought of it. When a maniac rose up among them, one Joseph McCarthy, and threatened this nation with Stalin-style loyalty purges, members of his own party joined with opposition leaders to defeat and completely discredit him.

Eisenhower detested McCarthy and all he stood for, and didn’t let the fact that they were both Republicans stop him from showing his contempt for the man and all he stood for. There would be no room for a reasonable and responsible man like Dwight D. Eisenhower in today’s Republican Party. These days, integrity and conscience are subordinate to party loyalty on both sides of the aisle, even though our public servants swear an oath of loyalty to the United States of America, with no mention of party affiliation.

Maybe Obama is trying to tear a page out of the Eisenhower field manual, playing the mature gentleman and telling the unruly kids in Congress to stop their silly squabbling and do their damned jobs. He’s got an uphill climb with this batch of Representatives and Senators, a Congress with no shortage of very strange and shrill voices in these strange and shrill times. Many people openly question Obama’s patience and wish he would spend more time trying to talk the spots off leopards rather than do his job. They wish that President Obama would get all worked up into a lather and lose control of himself like they do.

There’s a reason why the President doesn’t do this, the same reason why America elected him. He is not a hysterical person. He’s not going to lose it. Which, along with brains, ethics, commitment, ideas and a basic human decency, is one of the things you look for in a president. LIke it or not, the American President is the most prominent leader in the world, perhaps the only nation on earth where every other country takes notice of who’s in charge and what he’s all about.

This was not lost on Eisenhower, and it is not lost on Obama. With perhaps only their even temperaments in common, these two Presidents brought a mature sanity rarely seem in modern politics to the Face of America on the world and the national stages. This is how a grownup is supposed to act, like an adult comfortable in his beliefs and choices, but one who realizes that reasonable people might disagree. These things happen.

Those waiting for Obama to lash out will be disappointed. Tantrums are for children, and they get reprimanded when they throw one. For our president we picked a serious man this time around; modest but confident, optimistic but realistic, even-tempered but resolute in purpose. In short, a grownup. Well, if he can do it, maybe it’s time for the rest of us to play nice with those no good rat bastards who disagree with us.

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