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Saturday, November 04, 2006

November 4, 1960: Eisenhower Criticizes Kennedy as 'Young Genius' and Calls Candidate's Peace Corps Proposal 'Immature'

President Eisenhower today derided Sen. John F. Kennedy as a "young genius." In Pittsburgh the president warned of the threat that "communism would darken the light of the world" and added this: "This international struggle defines the character, scope and importance of every domestic question argued and publicized in this political campaign.

"The primary importance of these debated issues is their effect upon our ability to win the ideological war. ... When the push of a button may mean obliteration of countless humans, the president of the United States must be forever on guard against any inclination on his part to impetuosity; to arrogance; to headlong action; to expediency; to facile maneuvers; even to the popularity of an action as opposed to the rightness of an action."

In Cleveland, during the same campaign swing, Eisenhower said this of the Democrats and Kennedy: "More money, they say will be saved by military reorganization. Where did this young genius acquire the knowledge, experience and wisdom through which he will make such vast improvements over the work of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the dedicated civilian and service men who have given their lives to this work?"

Eisenhower also criticized Kennedy's Peace Corps proposal: "Within the last few days I have heard of a plan for forming a great corps of 'workers for peace.' The time given to this project -- for which the federal government would of course pay -- would be a substitute for a tour of duty in the uniformed service.

"This is apparently intended as one of the new ideas that will help produce the New Frontier. Strangely enough this brand new plan is amazingly similar to a proposal made in 1954 in a book by Heinz Rollman, who is not a member of the party whose spokesman made the recent announcement. Mr. Rollman, the original author, is the Republican candidate for Congress from the Twelfth District of North Carolina. It makes us wonder how many other porposals are equally not original and not new -- merely immature."

Eisenhower also criticized appeals to individual voting blocks: "... in this campaign we witness a deliberate appeal to Americans, not as Americans, but as members of specific groups. This can only promote an intolerable antagonism between economic and social elements of our country. In that, there is profit for none.

"No group in our sort of society can for long prosper unless all groups prosper. When we cease to recognize ourselves as full and equal citizens of the United States and act as selfish members of a selfish group concerned only with our own interests, we fragmentize America. Thereby we reduce the probability of achieving any of the goals that all of us seek and that we can achieve -- when we work as a united people, free from the labels of division."

In Chicago today, Sen. John F. Kennedy said the primary issue of the campaign was "world freedom or world slavery, world peace or world war."