Robert Welch was the epitome of the paranoid anti-Communist, a man who made Joe McCarthy seem placid and reasonable by comparison. Co-founder of the rabidly right-wing John Birch Society, headquartered in McCarthy’s hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin, Welch believed the red-baiting senator didn’t go far enough in exposing the Communist infiltration of American society. According to Welch, none other than Dwight Eisenhower—World War II hero and twice-elected president of the United States—was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” Moreover, Milt Eisenhower, the president’s younger brother, was his “superior and boss within the Communist Party.”
To which the conservative intellectual Russell Kirk mockingly retorted, “Ike’s not a Communist, he’s a golfer.”
Just a few months into the presidency of Donald Trump, I’m beginning to feel Kirk’s estimation of Eisenhower—that he was too guileless and banal, almost laughably so, to be considered an extremist of any kind—also applies to the current leader of the free world. Donald Trump is not a fascist, he’s a golfer (albeit one who cheats at it).