Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton and Omar N. Bradley “were immensely ambitious.” So says The New York Times, reviewing the recently published summary of their relationship, “Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley and the Partnership that Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe,” by Jonathan W. Jordan. Like many politicians in Washington today, these three great generals disagreed frequently. But, as Jordan’s book describes, they worked together to win World War II in Europe. Their shared objectives took precedence over their personal perspectives.
In his review of Jordan’s book, Michael Korda writes, “… In the end, they somehow got it right, and managed to deploy America’s strength on the battlefield in a way that not only defeated, but destroyed, an army that was in some respects better equipped, better trained, undoubtedly more battle hardened and, until the very end, motivated by a degree of fanaticism that went beyond mere dedication to country.”
In 2011, the economic situation we find ourselves in resembles war. Tens of millions of people are suffering. The nation’s health is in jeopardy. More will suffer if our national credit rating becomes a casualty. The most tragic loss of all would be the premature death of the American dream.
Our national leadership is flawed, yet no more flawed than their constituents, the American people; no more flawed than the leaders of other peoples; no more flawed than the entire human constituency. Civilization’s challenges are not going away. A century of problems and solutions lie before us. What we hope is that our elected and appointed leaders find ways to minimize the damage and maximize the opportunities on behalf of the American people.
The Founding Fathers’ design of our government with a separation of powers presupposed that a spirit of compromise would encourage differing branches and factions to unify in the best interests of the American people. Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton, Montgomery and de Gaulle worked together because the situation they were appointed to deal with demanded it. Eisenhower was in command.
In Washington today, uncompromising politics is in command. Many of our government leaders – in the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the executive branch – are so committed to political dogma and their financial backers that they are unwilling to find common ground. But there will be no unconditional surrenders and no total victories. Let compromise be the order of the day.