“Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this--in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon ‘moderation’ in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”—President Dwight David Eisenhower, letter to brother Edgar Newton Eisenhower, November 8, 1954, quoted in The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, Volume XV - The Presidency: The Middle Way, Part VI: Crises Abroad, Party Problems at Home; September 1954 to December 1954
Even in his time, Dwight D. Eisenhower—born on this day 125 years ago in Denison, Texas—attracted little affection from the conservative wing of the Republican Party he led. William F. Buckley, for instance, in 1956, called him “a man more distinguished for his affability and skills in reconciling antagonisms than for a profound understanding of his country’s political institutions.”
Journalists—particularly liberal ones—mocked him for his tangled syntax. But the President’s letter to his brother indicates just how mistaken detractors from both sides were. He could write quite clearly about, and he could see even more starkly, the dangers confronting his party by its far-right wing.
Unfortunately, as we have seen particularly over the last few years, while this “splinter group” remains irredeemably stupid, they are no longer a negligible portion of the GOP.