New insight into Dwight Eisenhower’s silent methods of facing down enemies, particularly Joseph McCarthy.
Eisenhower expert Nichols (Eisenhower 1956: The President’s Year of Crisis—Suez and the Brink of War, 2012, etc.) clearly explains his strategic deceptions and ability to use others to enact his orders. Regarding McCarthy, one of his most effective ploys was to never speak his name. Acknowledging McCarthy’s love of attention, Eisenhower knew that ignoring him would work. As chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, featuring control of the permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, McCarthy used his position in his fervent search for those who might subvert American values. He was an impulsive loose cannon, rarely planning his denunciations. Feeding his mania was his chief counsel, Roy Cohn, whose main objective was to keep his chief consultant, David Schine, close to him and out of trouble. When Schine was drafted, Cohn immediately began pushing to get special privileges for Schine, using the clout of McCarthy’s name. When that failed, Cohn swore to “get” the Army, setting the McCarthy committee on its road to ruin. He effectively conducted one-senator hearings, abused senatorial privilege, and, in one particular incident, insulted a highly decorated general—the last straw for Eisenhower. He had his officials prepare a dossier on Cohn and Schine, releasing it just after Edward R. Murrow’s scathing See It Now episode. The Army-McCarthy hearings were the result, ultimately signaling the end of McCarthy’s reign of terror. Nichols has studied Eisenhower diligently and fully understands his subtle methods, especially his ability to never lower himself to McCarthy’s level. He actively promoted his style as the golfing president, and he had the Machiavellian method down pat, never making himself personally responsible for what became the answers to his problems.
A thorough, well-written, and surprising picture of a man who was much more than a “do-nothing” president.