President Dwight David Eisenhower isn't someone I often hear invoked in the gatherings of his party's faithful -- like, say, the Conservative Political Action Conference. Basically this is because, on the one hand, military-industrial complexes and land wars in Asia are bad, but on the other hand, maybe we could build a military-industrial complex to facilitate land wars, in Asia?
But today, on Budget Kabuki Day, President Barack Obama (a Democrat!) went heavy on the Eisenhower iconography, twice referring to the level of discretionary spending in his proposed budget for fiscal 2012 as the "lowest share of the economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president." The Plum Line's Greg Sargent zooms right to the heart of the subtext:
It's about painting today's GOP as extreme, by reminding people that there was a time when Republicans had a far more moderate view of the proper role and scale of government than today's crop of GOPers do. After all, under Eisenhower, the federal government launched construction of what Michael Tomasky recently described as the "largest public works project in the country's history," i.e., the interstate highway system.
What's more, Eisenhower famously said it was folly for anyone to deny that the American public envisions a central and robust role in defending ordinary Americans from the vagaries of the economy, and strongly defended Social Security, unemployment and labor laws.
The key thing is to be reminded that Eisenhower "won the future." (It also closes a circle: if you cast your mind back to the 2008 campaign, Ike's granddaughter Susan Eisenhower, saw future-making potential in the current occupant of the West Wing.)
Obama invokes specter of Eisenhower [The Plum Line @ WaPo]
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