One of my favorite scholars, Professor Jean Smith of Marshall University, in Huntington, W.Va., has a typically well-written and thought provoking op-ed in today’s New York Times, “We Should Still Like Ike,” in which he recommends that Barrack Obama reach out to traditional Eisenhower Republicans, an often neglected group. (Smith’s op-eds appear in the Times fairly frequently, but this time his Marshall connection is omitted in favor of a reference to his most recent book, a fine biography of FDR.)

Smith makes a compelling case that Eisenhower was, after FDR, the most successful president of the 20th century. He cites Ike’s successes on the home front – integration, the Interstate Highway System, defense of Social Security and unemployment insurance – and his refusal to embark on foolish military adventures abroad. “After Eisenhower made peace in Korea,” Smith writes, “not a single American died in combat for the rest of his presidency.”

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