Eisenhower, Europe, President Trump discussed on John Bachelor

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

John Batchelor. William Hitchcock's new book is the age of Eisenhower America and the world in the nineteen fifties. This is a conversation about Eisenhower as a leader, and as a politician and as a man who rides through the the turmoil roller coaster ride of the nineteen fifties. After the great success. The crusade is our calls it in his bestselling book the crusade in Europe comes the period that we understand as the Cold War. Will this is the beginning of it? And I go now to a moment when it was recognized that Eisenhower this modest man who was enthusiastic for hard work. But it never been a a combat general in similar to say patent for the glory of his successes crossing Europe. How when he was an understood himself as a as a magnet for other strongmen who saw him as a way to change the argument going forward. Professor, this is what you call star power and it strike. Checking that Eisenhower attracted very confident self made men, most of whom were enorm- all of whom were enormously wealthy did that make him comfortable to be with men who were far more wealthy than he was. Well, Eisenhower was a winner. There's there's no other way to put it everything that he did in his life. He worked hard at any succeeded at so by the time, he became the great conqueror of Europe. The man who had was so identified in the public by having won the war. He came back to the United States to a to a an America that that was ready to just fall in love with Eisenhower, and he attracted a great many people around him who wanted a piece of him, and that's inevitable. But he had he had developed a pretty good sense of who were the kinds of people. He could trust and one of the things that's interesting about Ike in the immediate postwar years as he starts to build a circle of influential Republican friends who he believes are going to help him sort of guide his career. He's not quite sure what he's going to do next. But he knows he needs advice. He doesn't really know. How America works? He's been overseas a lot he's been fighting the second World War, and he wants good advice. He wants good feedback from sense. Sensible men of of affairs. Well, who does he reach out to the kinds of people, but he's attracted to our people in a way like him, not military men, but men who started out in life kind of at the bottom end of the totem pole and worked themselves up who he likes self made men. He likes businessman. He likes men who are wealthy, but not because they inherited a great deal of wealth. But because they've figured out how the American system works and they've succeeded in it. So some of his earliest friends are men like Bill Robinson, a man who was the publisher of the of the New York Herald Tribune for a while Robert Woodruff who was the great founder, and and I'm sort of creator of Coca Cola Coca Cola company Alton Jones, who who had found, you know, had built a an enormous energy based empire people who basically had you know, figured out that hard work, and and and talent could could make you rich in America. They were not politicians, and they were not people who sought the public limelight. But they did believe that Eisenhower himself could become a great public figure public servant and rally the country around him, and they were all men who were very critical of the new deal and quite critical of what the what they felt were the legacies of the Democratic Party. So so throughout the late nineteen forties. I get gets pulled into this circle of wealthy public-minded, but somewhat private Republican rich folks who they feel I could be the guy to finally break the hold of the Democratic Party on American public life. He's offered and accepts the presidency of Columbia University. Which is not a good fit for a hero. A who thinks of himself as a man who wants to secure America and advance the the democracy that he saw in Europe. However, he has this political possibility, and it is not in nineteen fifty because he's called out of Columbia University. By Truman and sent to Europe to create and build what we call today. Nato? This is during the Korean war when Stalin was threatening early Europe, we're going fast in the presidency now, so there's a lot of richness in the professors book, but I take a mmediately to the campaign of nineteen Fifty-two is now he's in Europe. He is an officer in the United States army called out, and he's leading a very serious effort to reorganize European defenses. When Germany's still in ruins and France is chafing at the idea of being under the command of the Americans. However is in how're has friends back home one in running for president? This is the question professor at what moment did he see himself as a president of the United States? Is it is it in Europe is it when he comes home is it when he wins New Hampshire is there a moment. It's one of the great mysteries. That Eisenhower is Wendy. He decided he wanted to run and indeed become president patent. What of his oldest friends said that Eisenhower wanted to be so bad. I wanted to be president so bad. He could taste it. And he said that years before Eisenhower ever ran for office. So it gives you an idea that maybe somewhere in the back of his mind he was ambitious for the nation's top office. But it's really after the beginning of the Korean war which breaks out in June of nineteen fifty and he feels that Harry Truman is not really the man for the job. Now, we all love, Harry, and Harry has a good reputation in history. But Harry Truman wasn't embattled president and the Korean war really hurt his reputation. I didn't go very well he tangled as you remember with general MacArthur. It was an unpopular war. There were economic strains at home, and he faced a lot of strikes on the home front, and I felt that Truman was swamped. He was out of his depth in the presidency in the year. Nineteen fifty one and nineteen fifty two. And I think it was around nineteen fifty one when he was in Europe, he was leading the NATO the newly formed NATO alliance, and he worried about the direction of the country felt things were going badly at home and in the Korean war. And so many people beat a pathway to his door and said general Eisenhower, you must run for president only you can save the country, you know, and after a while when lots and lots of distinguished people come to your office and say that over and over again, you begin to think maybe I can save the country. So I would say it was in while he was in France in in Paris, running the NATO alliance that he finally realized you know, I think this is something that I I really have to do the campaign is striking in that it compared to today it goes very quickly towards Eisenhower. He has rivals Senator Taft from Ohio the man who understood as the conservative powerhouse at the time is a challenger early on. But I. Stays back. From the fray of backroom politics is Chicago, the Blackstone hotel doesn't get any more famous than this than the smoke filled room itself. However, he makes an an important decision to choose Richard Nixon as vice president and professor reading through your very careful recitation of this is now how quickly had reason to regret his choice of Nixon was it just the investigation of the slush fund that made him regretted. Or was he uncomfortable with Nixon from the first? The Eisenhower Nixon relationship is a fascinating one. And it's a somewhat bittersweet one. Because whatever you may think about Nixon or Eisenhower, they they there was always a lot of a lot of difficulty attention in the relationship between the president and the vice president, and that's never something that you would wish on an administration. Nixon is now didn't know Nixon before he was put on the ticket is an hour. Of course, didn't have much experience in American politics. Professor. I'm going to interrupt us right now having set and Richard Nixon up just a moment. We'll we'll return to this important relationship because we're talking about two presidents here is in our Nixon the book is the age of Eisenhower, William Hitchcock is the author. I'm John bachelor. Kim commando.

Coming up next