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Politics Life Sci. 2012 Spring-Fall;31(1-2):16-35. doi: 10.2990/31_1-2_16.

The impact of presidential illness on the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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Department of Political Science, 301 Meserve Hall, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


In March 2008, I published an article in this journal that examined the ways in which the White House managed the news--and minimized the political impact--of Dwight D. Eisenhower's massive 1955 heart attack. In addition, the analysis explored the manner in which Eisenhower himself, in handling this issue, had brilliantly "manipulated his medical team, safeguarded his image, cajoled his staff, confused the press, managed his advisers, dominated his party, and ran a campaign that was virtually impossible for the opposition to counteract" (p. 18). This article expands on my previous work by considering the ways in which Eisenhower's ill health had significant public policy repercussions that went beyond the immediate political effects evaluated in 2008. These included the drawbacks associated with Eisenhower's concept of "Team Government," a tragic war in the Middle East, a serious deterioration of the U.S. relationship with three very close allies and, finally, the beginnings of a presidentially led effort to add a much needed "presidential disability" amendment to the United States Constitution. These latter effects have been studied here through use of primary source materials located at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, commentaries written by Eisenhower himself, members of his family and other close associates and the voluminous secondary literature that has appeared over the years focusing on the Eisenhower presidency.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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