I have come to appreciate Dwight Eisenhower. At the time he was president I thought he was terrible on civil rights, and I was so angry about the whole Hungarian Revolution fiasco.
I thought he was too careful, too plodding, too conservative. Kennedy was an action-oriented guy, quick to move, energetic. Later I read a telling comparison of the two men. It was the difference between D-Day and the Bay of Pigs.
Eisenhower was often seen as inarticulate, but anyone who thinks that has not read his Farewell Address, often referred to as the “Military Industrial Complex speech.” On a night when Trump is proposing a vast increase in military spending for a country that spends as much on its military as the next six countries combined, I would like to quote two paragraphs of Ike’s speech.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.