Monday, June 06, 2011

Americans Once Prized Plain Speaking

Not unintelligent. Plain.

Eisenhower required his subordinates to submit their proposals to him on one foolscap page. His detractors said that that was because he was dumb. He said that if what you're proposing is longer than that, you're obfuscating to cover your ass.

Eisenhower may have been the greatest planner and coordinator of men and materiel in US history, perhaps with the exception of his boss, George C. Marshall. He knew that somewhere, someone had to say, "I think we should invade mainland Europe by an amphibious landing in France," before all the work got done. Only a proposal that unequivocal, carefully reasoned beforehand but distilled to its essence, is worth consideration.

It's all equivocation now. In between the lying, that is.


Casey Klahn said...

How many hostile beaches did the Russians invade again? Oh, that's right: zero!

It is worth understanding what made our fathers tick. And, it was action over words.

John Seymour said...

I find it instructive to compare this speech with the one he prepared in case of failure:

"Our landings in the Cherbourg and Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."

The order: "You are about to embark . . ." "the eyes of the world are upon you. . . " "you will bring about . . . " "your task . . ." "your enemy" "I have full confidence in your [capabilities]"

The announcement not given: "I have withdrawn . . " "My decision to attack . . ." "blame or fault . . . is mine alone."

Praise and credit to the troops, responsibility taken by the boss. Sure makes our current leaders look pretty small.