Ike's Warning and JFK's Summons

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The Danger of Partisan Intolerance

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(Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

Ike's first idea for a farewell address appears only in passing in the famous speech, but it's still worth recalling. His earliest concept for the address was outlined in a May 1959 memorandum summarizing a meeting of some of the president’s top advisers, including his brother Milton: "Speech stresses the need for common sense to accommodate the broad range of belief in the political spectrum of America, particularly in an era when the nation may have an Executive of one Party and a Congress of another." The phrase "common sense" is today so overused as to be commonly nonsensical, and that broad range encompassing the American political spectrum has become Balkanized, with too many factions—from the Tea Party movement to the so-called professional left—convinced that they alone represent its breadth.

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