Eisenhower and the American Crusades

By Herbert S. Parmet | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 34
The Travail of Childe Harold

IN MANY WAYS, the man who entered the President's office that morning embodied the kind of Republicanism Dwight Eisenhower hoped would revitalize the party. Long convinced that the GOP's lost progressivism had to be replenished, he became Governor of Minnesota at the age of thirty-one and visualized himself among the vanguard of those desiring to rectify the loss that had followed Teddy Roosevelt's 1912 revolt. As early as 1939 Harold Stassen had advised the party to select a liberal candidate and platform and learn to live with the social reforms of the New Deal. Rejecting the fashionable isolationism of his region, he led Wendell Willkie's fight on the convention floor in Philadelphia in 1940 and then, after serving in the South Pacific on the staff of Admiral William F. Halsey during World War II, he became one of the American delegates at the UN's charter session in San Francisco in 1945. The following year he delivered the Godkind lectures on Human Rights at Harvard University. After his own chances for the nomination had disappeared in 1948, he favored Arthur Vandenberg, with whom he had worked closely.

As a member of Eisenhower's team he remained the idealist. Where Dulles scorned neutralism, Stassen emphasized the need of the underdeveloped nations for food, technical skills and literacy as prerequisites for ideological compatability. Where Dulles thought in terms of the deterrent uses of power, Stassen looked toward breaking the nuclear deadlock and reducing the arms race. As Mutual Security Administrator and director of the Foreign Operations Administration he worked with the kind of zeal that often conflicted with Dulles's carefully protected do-

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