Quotes from Eisenhower Highlight the Sorry State of the Republican Party
New York Times columnist Jon Meachem today published an article on Trump’s exploitation of mainstream and social media, and how it may yet have a backlash. But in the article, Mr. Meachem used some quotes from respected previous presidents that throws insight on what separates them from Trump. I found the words of Dwight David Eisenhower particularly revealing.
Eisenhower was being pressed by his advisers to get more air time on the emerging medium, television.
Like President Franklin Roosevelt before him, Eisenhower reportedly made the case about the need to ration his exposure: “I keep telling you fellows I don’t like to do this sort of thing. I can think of nothing more boring, for the American public, than to have to sit in their living rooms for a whole half-hour looking at my face on their television screens.”
But it is another quote from Eisenhower that establishes the difference between a true leader and the demagogic, loud-mouthed bullying of a hollow man that the Republicans mistake for leadership:
“Now, look, I happen to know a little about leadership. I’ve had to work with a lot of nations, for that matter, at odds with each other. And I tell you this: You do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it’s usually called ‘assault’ — not ‘leadership.’” He went on: “I’ll tell you what leadership is. It’s persuasion, and conciliation, and education, and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know, or believe in, or will practice.”
Just compare that approach with one year of the lies, bluster, personal insults, slander, and bombast that is a daily staple of our Republican President’s Tweets and public statements.
And the real difference is not just between Eisenhower and Trump—it’s the difference between the Republican Party of Dwight David Eisenhower—and Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln—and the hollow shell, the burnt-out case of a Republican Party given us by the ilk of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, Nikki Haley, Steve Bannon, and Roy Moore, to name a few.
The Republican Party, also, of Georgia’s own Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, Barry Loudermilk, and Karen Handel, the people who carry forward the legacy of Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew—and the 118 Republican Executive Branch officials who were criminally indicted and the 34 who were found guilty in the 28 years in which Republicans occupied the White House, compared to four criminal indictments and one prison sentence for Democrats in the 20 years of their control.
As Joseph Welch said 60 years ago, so still it must be said: Republicans have no sense of decency.