Friday, October 24, 2008

I Like Ike's Kind of Freedom

Monday night I encountered a surprising bit of wisdom from a fellow I hadn't thought about in a while: Dwight D. Eisenhower.

I was a kid when Ike was president. He's the first prez I remember, and I was not of an age to be very politically minded. Curiously, I had fantasies about him calling me up and asking me to play golf with him. (Deluded child!!)

Second surprise, I was watching Jon Stewart's must-see distinctly-lefty satire-on-the-news Daily Show when I ran into word from this '50s Republican military man.

The guest author Eugene Jarecki was talking about his new book, The American Way of War. He said that Eisenhower, five star general and supreme commaner of the Allied Forces in World War II, warned us in his farewell address of excessive defense. Extreme efforts to ward off intrusion from the outside result in destruction from the inside.

As Jarecki elaborated: the cost of excessive vigilance is enormous and damaging financially--and it erodes civil liberties, the very thing we fight to protect. A pretty good description of the mess we're in now.

We need to take reasonable national precautions and otherwise exercise the same boldness we do by getting up in the morning. It isn't risk-free. We know that. And it's better to accept the risk of getting hit by a car on the way to school than staying home hiding under the bed and not getting an education.

Trying to completely guard ourselves is like trying really hard to broad-jump the Atlantic. No matter how hard we train, we'll wind up in the drink. Better to spend the energy some other way.

I like that philosophy. I think it's the only one that can work. Because total security simply cannot be achieved. No matter how much we spend.

I'm with Ike: let's take the reasonable and necessary risks that freedom requires. And no more.

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kenju said...

AMEN. My grandmother thought the sun roe and set in Ike. I see no reason to differ.

Larraine said...

I think Eisenhower was underestimated by a lot of Democrats. It would have been nice if he hadn't taken on Nixon as his running mate. From what little I've read, I don't think he cared for the man at all. I also think it would have been a good idea for him to speak out against all of the "Red" talk that was going on in the 50's. Still, everyone has a mixed legacy, I think. As far as the South goes, I know there are a lot of people like you. They just don't get the coverage.

Peggy Payne said...

Well, Kenju and Larraine, I left you a lengthy and brilliant comment this morning, and not-brilliantly I apparently didn't post it.

In short: Too bad about Nixon. That choice was an unfortunate game-changer for sure.