Chapter 40 - The Eisenhower Era 1952 – 1960
1. The Advent of Eisenhower
1. Election of 1952: Democrats not favored- had not succeeded in Korea, Truman had retired McArthur, war had caused inflation, and there were accusations of scandal amongst communist-hunters
2. Democrats chose Adlai E. Stevenson, the witty, eloquent, idealistic governor of Illinois
3. Republicans rejected isolationist Robert A. Taft and instead chose World War II hero Dwight D. Eisenhower to run for president and California anticommunist Richard M. Nixon to be his running mate (pleased Taft’s supporters a bit).
4. Eisenhower was a war hero (supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, army chief of staff and supreme commander of NATO after war) and was liked by everyone (had a good TV grin and personality—she loves to ask about their looks on tests!). Also briefly president of Columbia University.
5. Took the grandfatherly approach and left the rough part of campaigning to Nixon, who attacked Stevenson as soft against Communists, corrupt, and weak in the Korean situation.
1. Nixon then almost got caught with a secretly financed “slush fund” from when he was a Senator, but to save his political career, he delivered his famous, touching “Checkers Speech,” in which he talked about his family and specifically mentioned his cocker spaniel, Checkers—this is another VERY IMPORTANT name you MUST keep in mind for the AP test, because the AP people love to hear about Checkers and Spot and on occasion even Paul Revere’s horse, Brown Beauty. In case you are wondering, too, our current president’s dog’s name is Bo.
6. The “Checkers speech” showed the awesome power of television, (foreshadowed by FDR w/ radio), since Nixon had pleaded on national TV, and even later, “Ike,” as Eisenhower was called, agreed to go into studio and answer some brief “questions,” which were later spliced in and edited to make it look like Eisenhower had answered questions from a live audience, when he hadn’t.
1. Showed the power that TV would have in the upcoming decades, allowing lone wolves to appeal directly to the American people instead of being influenced by party machines or leader, must bargain, compromise with the people themselves= “Plebiscitarian” politics
2. Influence of TV ten-second “sound bites” (main method of political communication) criticized- oversimplified complicated social and economic issues. One critic cried it was just “selling the President like toothpaste”
7. Ike won easily (442 to 89) with some support even from the South! Managed to pull enough Republicans into office to ensure GOP control of Congress (barely)
8. True to his last-minute campaign promise, he flew to Korea in December 1953 to help move along peace negotiations…and failed…but seven months later, after Ike threatened to use nuclear weapons, an armistice was finally signed (but was later violated often).
9. 54,000 Americans had died in 3 years of fighting, and tens of billions of dollars had been wasted in the effort, but American’s took a little comfort in knowing that Communism had been “contained” and war had been “limited” from a full-scale global war
2. “Ike” Takes Command
1. Eisenhower was able to make cooperation possible between anyone, so he seemed to be a perfect leader for Americans weary of two decades of depression, war, and nuclear standoff- allowed the people a period of rest and consumerist affluence in the midst of clashes over communist subversion and civil rights
1. He served that aspect of his job well, but he could have used his popularity to champion civil rights more than he actually did.
2. Success of brutal anticommunist “crusader” Joseph R. McCarthy alarming: damaged American traditions February 1950 charged Secretary of State Dean Acheson was knowingly employing 205 Communist Party members (a claim he never proved for...
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