"He took it on himself to lower the sense of crisis in the country," L.A. Times editor Jim Newton says of the subject of his new book Eisenhower: The White House Years. "He was going to sort of calm the country down."
Yet while his self-effacing leadership, his skepticism about calls for collective action, his lack of sentimentality and his cautious stewardship of the federal budget all make Dwight Eisenhower seem far removed from contemporary Washington, Newton makes the case for Ike's presidency as a modern, progressive phenomenon.
Among other things, Eisenhower signed a landmark interstate highway act, expanded executive authority, aggressively supported overseas coups and presided over the historic civil rights changes of the 1950s. He also left office with a budget surplus after inheriting a large deficit from Harry Truman.
Newton sits down with Reason.com's Tim Cavanaugh to talk about President Eisenhower's time in the oval office, a time that Newton calls one of "enormous change in the United States and really an effective presidency".
President Eisenhower would have celebrated his 121st birthday this Friday, Oct. 14.
Topic include: "The Middle Way"; Eisenhower as a television president; the military industrial complex, Cold War politics and the role of Ike's brothers in shaping his presidency.
Shot by Paul Detrick, Zach Weissmueller and Sharif Matar. Edited by Tracy Oppenheimer.
Photographs courtesy of Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kan.