The Ripon Forum

Volume 0, No. 0

Winter 2009 Issue

In this Edition

By on December 1, 2015

Why did Barack Obama win this election?

There are many theories that attempt to answer this question; books are being written on the topic as we go to print.

Surely he is a good speaker. And clearly he is a charismatic figure, the likes of which we haven’t seen at that level since Reagan or JFK. But Obama’s victory went beyond his oratorical skills or his personality.

What won Obama the election in the final analysis was that he exuded competence. Not Michael Dukakis-silly-looking-helmet-on-head kind of competence. But the kind of competence that convinces people that, if they vote for him, he’s going to get the job done.

It remains to be seen whether Obama will live up to his promise. But in his basic pledge – that of delivering a government that is accountable and responsive to people’s concerns – he resembles not so much Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom he has been compared to in several media profiles, but Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The 34th President has become something of a forgotten figure when it comes to performance and competence among our Nation’s chief executives. In this edition of the Forum, we take a look at Eisenhower’s record and his approach to governing. Our intent is not to compare him to Barack Obama. It is, rather, to hold his Presidency up as an example for Republicans to look to and learn from as they seek to reclaim all that was lost this past November, and in the elections of 2006.

It has indeed been a long spiral downward for the GOP. There is, hopefully, nowhere to go but up. And as every journey needs a guidepost, we point to Eisenhower as a lodestar for Republicans to follow today. He was, as Kasey Pipes writes in our feature essay, a pragmatic warrior. And he exuded, as former Congressman Tom Davis alludes to in our lead piece, a form of prudence in his decisionmaking that served the country – and the Republican Party – well. In short, Eisenhower was the kind of leader for the GOP to emulate as it attempts to dig itself out of a hole today.

We are pleased to feature a host of talented writers and leaders in this edition – among them Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Peter Hoekstra, Maine Senator Susan Collins, Blue State/Red Governor Jim Douglas, and former Reagan/Nixon speechwriter Jeffrey Hart. And don’t miss Thaddeus McCotter’s description of his dinner with a friend. It presents an excellent summation of the challenges facing Republicans this year, and is also very likely the first time the phrase “spit out a gnawed crouton” has ever been printed in our pages.

More significantly, it offers a refreshing take on this year’s political landscape, and is the type of nontraditional messaging the GOP will need as it attempts to gain traction, and a foothold, in the elections of 2010.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the Forum and encourage you to contact us at 
editor@riponsociety.org
with any thoughts you may have.

                                                                                                                         Lou Zickar
                                                                                                                         Editor
                                                                                                                         The Ripon Forum

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