Eisenhower and the American Crusades

By Herbert S. Parmet | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 36
Patience and Moderation

N INE MONTHS AFTER his second inauguration, Dwight Eisenhower, following a usual late-night routine, sat at his White House bedroom desk answering some of the accumulated correspondence. "Someday, if the opportunity ever presents itself," he wrote to a friend, "I shall tell you the story of how I developed the characteristics of patience and moderation that some of our people find so objectionable. For a man of my temperament, as you can readily understand, it wasn't easy."1

The route from November of 1956 to the following October had indeed seemed long and puzzling. Never before in his brief political career, even during the days of McCarthy's greatest strength and his early battles against the Republican rightists, had those attributes seemed so vital. Never before, further, had their limitations upon the application of Presidential power become so apparent to both professional and lay observers of the man in the White House. Far from the pattern of the first four years, the personal characteristics of the first President legally restricted from running again by virtue of the Twenty-second Amendment received challenges that were blunt and sometimes not far from contemptuous; moreover, Republicans had begun to tolerate and even second Democratic barbs. Nothing reflected the changed mood better than the temper of his press conferences. One week before confiding to his friend about patience and moderation, Eisenhower felt compelled to respond to a reporter's question about the harsh things being said about him by recalling that the "greatest human the English-speaking race has produced," George Washington, had endured far harsher criticism.2

The immunity of his great prestige no longer seemed to protect him

-488-

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