"If it wasn't for his name," President Eisenhower once said of his youngest brother, "he would have a very high governmental post." In fact, Milton Stover Eisenhower, who died Thursday at the age of 85, had held very high governmental posts when Dwight Eisenhower was still an obscure officer in the peacetime Army. He was, as those who knew him were well aware, a great deal more than the "Ike's Brother" of a thousand newspaper headlines.
Milton Eisenhower was super-bureaucrat, diplomat, university president and the good gray eminence on any number of panels, commissions, study groups and task forces. As The New York Times wrote many years ago, "His friends have come to think of him as . . . supremely endowed with the gift of getting the word across. They say his success is based on his ability to express exactly what he means, the way he can knife through to the heart of an issue and the way he can get others to work with him and for him gladly."
Dwight Eisenhower said that it was these qualities, and not just the fraternal bond, that made Milton one of his most trusted confidants during his two administrations. His stature was such that his presence in any venture could lend it an additional degree of respect, which was why he was called to serve on 12 presidential commissions over the years, including the one appointed by President Johnson to study the causes and prevention of violence in 1968. Dr. Eisenhower (his many doctorates were honorary) was not a popular figure with the right wing of his brother's party, and in fact he admitted to occasionally voting for a Democrat for president. "I'm a middle roader," he said in a 1949 interview, "and it burns me up when people call that a neutral or negative position. It isn't. I believe in getting things done -- in attempting only the possible."
For the past 28 years Dr. Eisenhower had lived in Baltimore, where he served two stints as president of Johns Hopkins University and spent a good deal of time watching the Baltimore Orioles. He was regarded with great affection there, and a new library on the Hopkins campus was named for him 20 years ago. It is perhaps the most appropriate memorial to a man who believed in the rational application of human knowledge to vexing problems.
In June 1968, two years before the violence at Kent State, he gave a speech on that Ohio campus. "As never before in our history," he said "we now need citizens who can reason objectively, critically and creatively within a moral framework. We need, in other words . . . Americans who will devote as much time and energy to being wise, democratic ctizens as they do to being good physicians, egineers or businessmen."
We need, in othr words, more Milton Eisenhowers.