U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower Pros and Cons of Presidency

About the U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a list of pros and cons in the history of his presidency.

34th President

DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER

PRESIDENCY

His 8 Years as President:

PRO

Eisenhower was a great symbol of national unity, who helped bring the nation together after the partisan bitterness of the Truman years. By placing himself above the day-to-day business of politics, Eisenhower brought new dignity to the presidential office.

CON

Despite his enormous personal prestige, Eisenhower ignored the pleas of responsible leaders of both parties, and did nothing to stop the virus of McCarthyism, a disease that was wrecking the lives of thousands of Americans. In the campaign of '52, Ike even endorsed Senator McCarthy for reelection, and during the early years of his term, the President said nothing while the Wisconsin demagogue assaulted one federal department after another.

PRO

Eisenhower made unusually distinguished appointments to the Supreme Court. In his selection of Earl Warren, Ike picked one of the great Chief Justices in our history.

CON

Eisenhower did little to support the Supreme Court when it made its most important decision--ordering the desegregation of the public schools. When a racist governor of Arkansas openly defied the court's decree, Ike moved slowly, and only with great reluctance, to enforce the law of the land.

PRO

Unlike Democrats Truman and LBJ, Eisenhower never sent American boys to fight and die in an Asian war. Despite a shaky world situation, Ike succeeded in his tireless efforts to keep the peace. As president, he consistently favored cuts in the bloated defense budget. Though his proposals for international nuclear control were never implemented, they were an important first step toward East-West cooperation.

CON

Under Eisenhower's flamboyant secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, the U.S. followed a policy of "brinksmanship"--bringing the nation to the brink of war as often as possible without allowing it to fall over. In eastern Europe, the U.S. encouraged "captive nations" to rise up against the Soviets; but when Hungary followed this advice, the U.S. government did nothing while Russian tanks rolled through the streets of Budapest. U.S. blunders also helped bring on the Suez Crisis, and indecisive handling of the situation, once it developed, produced a severe strain on the Atlantic Alliance. When America lied to the world over the U-2 incident, U.S. international prestige approached an all-time low.

PRO

In domestic affairs, Eisenhower followed a sensible and moderate policy that offended many conservative Republicans. Under his leadership, tariffs were reduced, the minimum wage was increased, and Social Security benefits were broadened. Alaska and Hawaii were admitted as states, the St. Lawrence Seaway was built, and the Air Force Academy was established.

CON

Under Eisenhower, the U.S. pursued a policy of drift, while the most serious problems--racism, poverty, urban decay--were generally ignored. Ike moved decisively only when the interests of the big corporations were involved. One of his first acts as president was to give away federal offshore oil reserves--thereby allowing private industry to plunder one of the public's most valuable resources. Ike also attempted to dismantle the TVA, favoring private utility companies at the expense of the ordinary citizen. His administration was characterized by a cabinet full of big businessmen ("What's good for General Motors is good for America," asserted Defense Secretary Charles Wilson) and by tax cuts that favored the wealthy and the corporations. Only with Russia's launching of Sputnik, late in 1957, did the country begin to awake from its complacency--from the long slumber of the Eisenhower years.

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