Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Eisenhower And Bill Clinton: 16 Years Of Inspiring Leadership


Battle Flags Memorialize Texas History
Battle Flags Memorialize Texas History

Republican Dwight Eisenhower and Democrat Bill Clinton were both strong and effective Presidents who gave America 16 YEARS of effective leadership. 
I have found over the past nine months of studying politics that it’s easiest to find what doesn’t work well in government. There are seemingly endless , dramatic and nasty conflicts from collisions of self-interest. Sneakiness, deception and deceit are easily found. 
So when I find any good story about politicians, government, or issues, I want to broadcast examples of what’s good.
Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton are two Presidents with great intelligence, political skills, and substantial accomplishments. Their ideal was to serve America, all Americans, and I believe they performed very well. 
This blog episode does not discuss any sexual indiscretions.

Eisenhower (nickname Ike) served as a Republican President from 1949 to 1961. Here are highlights of his career of service to America.
He had always been interested in military subjects, was educated at West Point, and was commissioned an infantry branch second lieutenant in the United States Army. During the first years of his Army career he demonstrated an exceptional capacity for hard work, intensive thoroughness, and a desire to do his absolute best at assigned responsibilities. He had the personality of one who could find ways to get along with just about everyone, including foreign leaders who hated each other.
Eisenhower wanted a military career and to be in command of a fighting unit. He attended the expected military officer advanced courses. He found himself being assigned to staff positions in which he was meeting and working for a variety of famous senior officers, including Generals George Marshall and Douglas MacArthur. When he served in Europe during peacetime, he on his own initiative thoroughly toured and studied the battle grounds of World War I. Eventually, according to his biographer, the Army liked the command potential they saw in Eisenhower. And the Army saw to it that he was provided mentoring from high level officers above and beyond the usual training and postings. 
Not only did Eisenhower work smoothly with a very wide range of officer personalities, he performed staff work at the highest level. As rumors of future war arrived from U.S. Allies in Europe, Eisenhower’s promotions came very quickly. 
Germany started by invading France and attacking Great Britain and in 1940 after six weeks of the Blitzkrieg, France surrendered. Then Great Britain alone was fighting Germany. America came to the aid of its European allies and quickly began setting up it’s military operations in Great Britain. 
The General of the Army George C. Marshall sent Eisenhower to Great Britain to inspect U.S. forces there. Then he had Eisenhower draw up a preliminary plan for getting U.S. forces ready for the Operation Torch Amphibious landing in Africa. Marshall subsequently promoted Eisenhower to brigadier general and assigned him to implement the very plan he’d just written up. 
General Eisenhower was bright, hardworking, detail oriented and managed people brilliantly with minimal drama. He graduated first in his class at the Command and General Staff School.

His Army mentor provided what would be two of Eisenhower’s most used quotations for dealing with his subordinates (Korda, 2007, page 165):
  • Always take your job seriously, never yourself.”
  • All generalities are false, including this one.” Unspoken in this saying is that generalities are merely words unless all the specific variables are spelled out (for example: highly detailed directions of who, what, when, where and how). And all the interactions among the variables must be forecast. 
  • He used these sayings “time and time again to make people concentrate on the facts of a matter, not their opinions about it” (Korda, 2007).
Here is what I don’t want anyone to miss: 
Eisenhower’s biographer Michael Korda explains that battlefield generals, as the top-level commanders, had to insure their staff produced a plan of attack equal to the complexity of the military operation
Korda writes: “…the challenge is to present it [the plan] in clear-cut steps and in language that cannot be misinterpreted or misunderstood even in the heat of battle, and to draw up an operational plan to respond to a specific strategic problem that covers every element of an army unit’s movement, down to the smallest detail, in the right sequence, and taking into account every possible difficulty, from the weather to unexpected movements of the enemy” (Korda, 2007, page 171).
Better than anyone else, author Michael Korda has put into words the necessity for making sufficiently complex plans which direct soldiers (and politicians) how to succeed in complex operations. Some things in life are, indeed, very simple and make appropriate the saying, “Keep it simple, stupid.” (Also known as the “KISS Principle.”) But often things really are complex and hard and it’s naïve to think them simple. So then, when things don’t work we can say, “It didn’t work. But don’t keep butting your head against that brick wall!”
In World War II Eisenhower successfully oversaw the making of plans for: whether and how to defend the Philippines; then he successfully developed the plans for and oversaw the moving of massive U.S. armed forces to Britain; then he was ordered to develop the plans for Torch, the amphibious invasion of North Africa and was placed in command of all Allied forces
Torch reached all its very challenging goals. At this point, Eisenhower was the only Allied general to have been in charge of an enormous, modern amphibious landing. When the time came for the invasion to liberate Europe, he was the obvious choice to be the Supreme Allied Commander over all the European armies. What a hero!
After the end of World War II Eisenhower was sought out as a candidate by both the Democratic and Republican Parties. Both parties knew he was highly electable. He opted for the Republicans. He was elected and served two terms. 
Eisenhower’s successes were dramatically successful. His life and career lacked the personal problems and serious misjudgments which detract from greatness. In war and politics he was smart, hard working, and decisive. 
I highly recommend Korda’s book, IKE: An American Hero.
See more information at:
Bill Clinton showed a strong interest in politics from high school forward. Prior to serving as Democratic President from 1993 to 2001, he served two separate terms as governor of Arkansas and once as Attorney General of Arkansas. His formal education included an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctorate from Yale University. His accomplishments as President clearly show him to have been a dedicated and exceptionally effective politician. 
I highly recommend Bob Woodward’s book on Clinton’s presidency: The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House (Woodward, 1994). 
Clinton came to the presidency well trained and experienced in government structure, law, and politics. As President, he was hard working and intensely involved in the successful passing into law of his Economic Development and Recovery Plan (hereafter called “Economic Plan”) between 1992 and 1993. Clinton had his Economic Plan well mapped out prior to his becoming President. As revealed in Woodward’s book, the Economic Plan’s purpose was to:
  • Reduce the federal deficit which was hurting the economy
  • Increase some taxes with which to pay off a sizeable amount of the deficit
  • Lower inflation, which had become an increasing economic worry
  • Stimulate the economy by freeing up international trade
To Clinton’s credit, he was not proposing a fake economic plan for political purposes, as often has occurred. No. He came into his presidency with a plan based on valid principles of economics. At the time, Alan Greenspan was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve (1987 to 2006). Greenspan’s thoughts on Clinton’s Economic Plan were as follows:
  • Greenspan saw Clinton’s plan, if passed into law by the House and Senate, as the “…greatest potential short-term stabilizing force in the economy…” (Woodward, 1994, page 192).
  • He told Clinton and his advisors that “…the economic outlook was the best he’d seen in 40 years” and the economic strategy was working and there wasn’t really any alternative (Woodward, 1994, page 192).
  • Greenspan himself, in his book The Age of Turbulence wrote about Clinton’s Economic Plan. He said, “I encouraged him as best I could. I told him that his plan was our best chance in forty years to get stable long-term growth. I tried to get him to see that the strategy was on track, was working-- long-term [interest] rates were already trending down, I showed him” (Greenspan, 2007, page 149).
Clinton’s Economic Plan did work, but how did they get the Plan passed in the House and Senate?
Nowhere else besides in Bob Woodward’s book The Agenda ( 1994) have I found a better description of politicians wrestling and negotiating with each other to get and secure the votes they needed to pass a bill into law. Read about it in the final chapters of The Agenda. I summarized this process in a previous blog “Politicians & Citizens Living in the Machinery of Government (Part Two).” 
Any young person imagining they’d like to become a politician should definitely read this book. 
The House and Senate passed the Economic Plan because of the Clinton administration’s intensive, nonstop, bargaining, and promotion. 
Here’s what I don’t want anyone to miss:
  • Getting the votes was a serious battle, a sometimes agonizing negotiation process. Bob Woodward’s book reveals the process in all its ugly glory.
  • Politicians in Congress make promises but their loyalties often can change as a result of who last talked to them and “twisted their arm.” When there is an important vote, often it all comes down to the last vote in the final seconds.
  • Such a voting process clearly requires tremendous knowledge about the issues, the individual agendas of other politicians, and it isn’t clear who can be trusted to do what.
Read more about Bill Clinton here:

From all I have read, Bill Clinton was a very skilled politician who outperformed many presidents in getting honest and effective legislation passed which succeeded in its goals. He knew real economic principles and listened to his economic advisors.
Both Bill Clinton and Dwight Eisenhower are examples of political skill and wise judgement which has helped America remain a strong and healthy democracy serving all citizens. They are inspiring persons and their accomplishments worthy of our reading and study.


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