Top Links: A brief history of the Obama-as-Eisenhower meme

Updated
Pundits can't resist comparing our 44th president to our 34th.
Pundits can't resist comparing our 44th president to our 34th.
AP Photo/NASA

Top story: People like comparing America’s current two-term occasionally aloof, golf-loving president to its most famous.

  • The New York Times’ Peter Baker has picked up the Obama-as-Eisenhower meme, noticing how both practice use a “hidden hand” approach to politics. That is, a preference to stay low and out of sight on major issues – but actively engaged away from the cameras. (The New York Times)
  • This comparison isn’t new. Heck, the “hidden hand” comparison was used two years ago by National Journal’s Ron Brownstein. (National Journal)
  • It’s just the latest iteration of a meme that’s developed as both men entered office toward the end of an unpopular war (Korean War vs. second Gulf war) and after a deeply unpopular president. Interestingly, it may have been President George W. Bush who kicked everything off, suggesting that he would be another Truman — hated at the time, beloved a generation later. Right, George. (Slate)
  • By the time he was President-elect Obama, pundits like Michael Barone were writing things such as, “Like Eisenhower, I think he’s drawn the conclusion that his party needs him more than he needs his party.” And, “Eisenhower, I suspect, regarded himself as a unique national figure and believed that maximizing his popularity far beyond his party’s was in the national interest.” (Real Clear Politics)
  • Gallup even found that, by the time both men were half-way through their first term, they provoked similar levels of anger on the part of the opposition. (Gallup)
  • Which is strange. Because today’s Republicans should have been happy during the 2012 election that discretionary government spending under President Obama was the lowest since, well, guess. (White House) and (Bloomberg)
  • Heck, Ike’s granddaughter even endorsed President Obama. Twice. (Susan Eisenhower)
  • And when Obama won re-election, he became the first president since you-know-who to win two terms with at least 51% of the vote since Eisenhower. (Bloomberg)
  • And, of course, critics like to hit both men for their love of playing golf (which can actually be said of just about any president). (NPR) and (Amanda Terkel)
  • There is also the bad ways in which the two are alike. As The New Yorker’s Steve Coll noted in May, “Obama’s enthusiasm for drones — which he believes minimizes the risk to American forces and non-combatants on the ground — is unnervingly reminiscent of Eisenhower’s enthusiasm for poisoning schemes and coup plots”. (The New Yorker)

Top Links: A brief history of the Obama-as-Eisenhower meme

Updated