As far as farewell addresses by U.S. presidents go, Dwight D. Eisenhower's address to the nation on the eve of his leaving the White House January 17, 1961, is almost on a par with that of George Washington.
Sixty-one years later, people of all political persuasion are still quoting Ike's storied admonition that "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."
Less remembered was his warning in the same speech to be alert "that public policy itself could become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."
"The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded," declared Eisenhower in his 15-minute televised address.
"Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. ... The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present ..."
Today, Eisenhower's parting words about the elites of science and technology still resonate. Could he perhaps have foreseen Dr. Anthony Fauci and the tremendous influence he wields, or possibly the coming of heavy-handed technological goliaths such as Google, YouTube, and TikTok?
"Dwight Eisenhower dealt with the polio problem and a flu pandemic [H2N2 virus, known as "the Asian Flu"], but they do not figure in his farewell speech," University of Pennsylvania Prof. David Eisenhower, grandson of the 34th president, told Newsmax.
"But his warnings probably apply to the COVID crisis today, especially the broader warning about the scientific-technological elite, which I think is as interesting as — and encapsulates — his oft-quoted warning about the 'the military-industrial complex.'"
Professor Eisenhower noted that in the past year, he has "made a point of quoting that very passage in different contexts as a way of suggesting — politely — that the COVID 19 policy has been showing signs of being 'captive' of a technological elite invoking the same challenges to citizenship."
Referring to the growing questions raised about the response of the government to COVID, he concluded that "Americans are beginning to respond in the vaguely defined manner my grandfather envisioned when he observed that liberty and security prospering together required 'an alert and knowledgeable citizenry' ready to 'compel the proper meshing' of technical and political factors."
Historian Craig Shirley, who has written biographies on Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich, was blunter in his assessment of the warning about the "scientific-technological elite."
"I think [President Eisenhower] could see someone like Fauci coming," Shirley told us. "Power is dangerous in the hands of anyone, and especially someone without conscience or morality who pretends to be looking out for the good of all when in fact, they are only looking out for the good of a few."
Shirley said that like his warning against the military-industrial complex, Eisenhower's words about the "scientific-technological elite" captured the nature of "bigness — our enemy is Bigness; Big government, Big corporations, Big science, Big education, Big media, Big technology. They are the real threats to culture and freedom and humanity."
"We live in a cocoon of technology — and technology has its own imperatives," nationally-syndicated columnist and "White House Chronicle" host Llewellyn King told us. "Overall, technology has improved our lives since Eisenhower's declaration.
"My own sense — and I think Ike would agree with this — is that malice often commands technology, at least when it is first launched on the world, and things right themselves in time. We got used to the printing press and we'll get used to TikTok."
Adding that "the new and worrying dimension is that technology creates its own instant monopoly as with Facebook, Google, Twitter et al.," King concluded that "the challenge of today, the challenge possibly foreseen by Ike, is the challenge of monopoly in the world of the common carriers, Google, Facebook, TikTok, etc."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.