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News

Eisenhower: The One-Man Hall of Mirrors

  • Official Photograph 1956
    Official Photograph 1956
    U.S. Government
  • Eisenhower as the Cheshire Cat
    Eisenhower as the Cheshire Cat
    Esquire Magazine 2967
November 20, 2017

          Journalist Murray Kempton in 1967 published one of the first Eisenhower revisionist efforts, in Esquire magazine, which in those days was a serious current affairs and literary journal. The departure of that publication from truly thought-provoking in-depth work symbolizes the decline of our culture more generally. Kempton was a partisan New Deal/Fair Deal Democrat; his praise of Ike is therefore all the more notable. 

          By 1967, the Vietnam War undeniably had become a costly quagmire, tearing our country apart while domestic violence escalated for a variety of reasons. In hindsight the stability and apparent calm of the 1950s began to look much more desirable. Kempton reflected this, and also shrewdly perceived the exceptional complexity of Eisenhower’s personality and leadership. He described the former president as being as indifferent as Calvin Coolidge, as absolute as Abraham Lincoln, more contained than John Kennedy, more serpentine than Lyndon Johnson, harder to work for than Andrew Johnson. A drawing of Ike as the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland illustrated the article.