The General's Constituency
N O PARTICULAR EVENT, no specific political consideration (except winning elections), no cause was necessary to get the American public excited about a possible Eisenhower candidacy. Sufficiently vague was the notion that, somehow, he had those qualities that were desirable for the White House, or, at least, that such assets would make him a deserving and trustworthy occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Consequently, the years before 1952 had been marked by the longest continuous non-partisan Presidential boom in American history.
It was made possible by the phenomena of what appeared to be the General's simultaneous appeal to a great array of interests, all of whom were convinced that he was their man. Their desire to have Eisehhower as President was the clearest solution for the plague of corruption, limited wars, twenty years of Democratic rule, communism and greedy labor unions.1 His victory in 1952 was the direct result of circumstances favorable to the man whose ascent had been anticipated by millions.
On that day in Abilene in 1945 when reporters had inquired about the Presidency, the General heard a suggestion that was no longer new. Eisenhower himself reported that, in 1943, Virgil Pinkley, a West Coast journalist, had been the first to discuss the idea with him seriously. The General's comment, according to his own account, was "Virgil, you've been standing out in the sun too long."2 Also in 1943 the World War Tank Corps Association, headed by a former corporal in Eisenhower's command at Camp Gettysburg adopted a resolution that, although lacking any knowledge of his political convictions, declared that Ike was fit for the Presidency because of his "leadership qualities." Eisenhower,