What evaluation can be made of the leadership style of President Eisenhower?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eisenhower's leadership style could be described as following a centrist course of action.  Eisenhower believed that the steady and deliberate leadership of the President was critical to United States success and positive perception both domestically and abroad.  Eisenhower acted when he needed to in foreign affairs, seeking to lessen the degree of potency in "hot spots" around the globe.  Domestically, Eisenhower favored economic growth and his leadership style in this realm was to advocate a strong domestic program of economic independence to guide foreign policy.  Despite being a war hero, or perhaps because of it, Eisenhower reduced military spending.  He sought to define American interests around the world in a centrist manner, and not one that was prone to excessive intensity in Cold War rhetoric.  

His leadership style was one that prevented him from speaking out in distinct arenas where history tells us that force and zeal were needed. Eishenhower never censured Joseph McCarthy and the rise of McCarthyism.  A pox upon American government and a black eye for a nation predicated upon individual expression and inalienable rights, Eisenhower remained silent while McCarthy enjoyed a meteoric rise and a rather splendid fall from such grace.  The Journalist Edward R. Murrow did more to censure McCarthy than anything Eisenhower did publicly.  Eisenhower's style was not one that permitted him to speak out against McCarthy and while Americans of the time period did not really fault him for it, reflection through the lens of history enables one to see that there might be grounds for critique on a leadership style that does not permit criticism of a figure like McCarthy.

Eisenhower's leadership style did not lend itself to morally supporting the cause of Civil Rights.  One cannot dismiss Eisenhower as someone who did not do much to the cause.  The landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision was led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, an Eisenhower appointee.  Yet, Eisenhower's leadership style rooted in the sense of deliberate centrism seemed to prevent an embrace of "the fierce urgency of now" that Civil Rights demanded.  He signed two pieces of Civil Rights Legislation, but he never willingly lent his voice or the credence of the office of the President to support the cause.  On some level, a criticism of his leadership style in preventing the embrace of such a monumental cause has to be warranted.  While so much in Eisenhower's leadership style can be worthy of praise, there are some areas where his model of leadership seemed to be inadequate to the issues at hand.