We have the word of fashion writers and gossip columnists that Mr. Eisenhower’s second inaugural, like his first, is going to be the reverse of ascetic. According to present plans, the occasion will be celebrated with furs, diamonds, gowns by famous designers and every conceivable luxury short of Adlai Stevenson walking in chains behind the Eisenhower chariot. And if the world stands still long enough, this conspicuous consumption will be reported in considerable detail, as having what is called “human interest.”
To the sociologist or the cultural anthropologist, however, the celebration of Mr. Eisenhower’s second inaugural may very well have a significance somewhat transcending ordinary newsworthiness. Washington correspondents—possibly through an understandable professional bias—tend to interpret everything in terms of politics. But this is sometimes a constricting approach. The observer whose interest is psychological rather than political is already toying with the idea that the inaugural festivities may be, for Mr. Eisenhower’s popularity, what the Battle of Gettysburg was to the Confederacy—a high water mark that Evill be seen in retrospect to have been the turn of the tide. It is one of the imbalances of American life that we spend too much time on Presidential elections before they take place and too little time on them after they are over. The 1956 Presidentiad, to use Walt Whitman’s word, went into the deep freeze even faster than usual because of Hungary and the Middle East. And yet the very fact that there is such a phrase as “the Eisenhower magic” shows that the political comments on Mr. Eisenhower’s popularity—voluminous as they have been—have not yet completely explained the President’s triumphant return to office.