As the Republicans grind inelegantly through their nominating process, a controversy has arisen over one of their greatest past leaders, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the subject of only the fifth presidential memorial in Washington, D.C. Though he is increasingly seen as a distinguished president, he is not generally thought to be one of the five greatest presidents, so his memorial may be assumed to celebrate his attainments as a military commander as well as his time as president (1953–61).
The controversy has arisen over the proposed design of the architect, Frank Gehry, the renowned octogenarian (and originally Canadian) specialist in flamboyantly sculpted aluminum or stainless-steel walls, most famous for his Guggenheim art museum at Bilbao, Spain. Gehry proposes to hang stainless-steel-mesh tapestries from stone columns to depict Eisenhower’s Kansas origins: an imaginative and attractive technique. Where it becomes more complicated is in the proposal to have, as the only representation of Eisenhower himself, a statue of him as a barefoot teenage boy in Abilene.
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