III. The Advent of Eisenhower
1. In 1952, the Democrats chose Adlai E. Stevenson, the witty governor of Illinois, while Republicans rejected isolationist Robert A. Taft and instead chose World War II hero Dwight D. Eisenhower to run for president and anticommunist Richard M. Nixon to be his running mate.
2. Grandfatherly Eisenhower was a war hero and liked by everyone, so he left the rough part of campaigning to Nixon, who attacked Stevenson as soft against communists, corrupt, and weak in the Korean situation.
Nixon then almost got caught with a secretly financed “slush fund,” but to save his political career, he delivered his famous and touching “Checkers Speech.” In it, he denied wrongdoing and spoke of his family and specifically, his daughter’s cute little cocker spaniel, Checkers. He was forgiven in the public arena and stayed on as V.P.
3. The “Checkers speech” showed the awesome power of television, 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 in fact he hadn’t.
This 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 leaders.
4. Ike won easily (442 to 89), and true to his campaign promise, he flew to Korea to help move along peace negotiations, yet failed. But seven months later, after Ike threatened to use nuclear weapons, an armistice was finally signed (but was later violated often).
5. In Korea, 54,000 Americans had died, and tens of billions of dollars had been wasted in the effort, but Americans took a little comfort in knowing that communism had been “contained.”
6. Eisenhower had been an excellent commander and leader who 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.
He served that aspect of his job well, but he could have used his popularity to champion civil rights more than he actually did.
IV. The Rise and Fall of Joseph McCarthy
1. In February 1950, Joseph R. McCarthy burst upon the scene, charging that there were scores of unknown communists in the State Department.
2. He couldn’t prove it, and many American began to fear that this red chase was going too far; after all, how could there be freedom of speech if saying communist ideas got one arrested?
3. The success of brutal anticommunist “crusader” Joseph
R. McCarthy was quite alarming, for after he had sprung onto the national scene by charging that Secretary of State Dean Acheson was knowingly employing 205 Communist Party members (a claim he never proved, not even for one person), he ruthlessly sought to prosecute and persecute suspected communists, often targeting innocent people and destroying families and lives.
Eisenhower privately loathed McCarthy, but the president did little to stop the anti-red, since it appeared that most Americans supported his actions. But Ike’s zeal led him to purge important Asian experts in the State Department, men who could have advised a better course of action in Vietnam.
4. He even denounced General George Marshall, former army chief of staff during World War II.
5. Finally, in 1954, when he attacked the army, he’d gone too far and was exposed for the liar and drunk that he was; three years later, he died unwept and unsung.
JOHN FOSTER DULLES:
VIII. A New Look in Foreign Policy
1. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles stated that the policy of containment was not enough and that the U.S. was going to push back communism and liberate the peoples under it. This became known as
“rollback.” All-the-while he advocated toning down defense spending by