Let’s face it. This president has major problems.
He is about as popular as leprosy. Especially compared with the guy he followed into the White House. He is coarsely spoken. To many Americans his accent grates. He says inappropriate things. He mangles the language. His gaffes fill a book. Elites from both coasts consider him a dumb crude guy from flyover country.
His enemies call him small-minded, shallow. “He should never have made it to the White House,” they remind us. “He is an illegitimate president.”
They go on and on about his foreign policy mistakes. Especially his Mideast decisions. “He is sucking us into what will be a massive war in the Mideast,” they predict. “His ideas will never work there. His dreams are just that and only that.”
He has mis-managed the war. We can never win it. It was a dreadful mistake - his mistake - to ever drag us into it. His military knowledge is dismal.
Elsewhere his policies have earned us enemies. His British partner in this war will soon be history. He has allowed the Russian leader to bully us. Half the Europeans hate us now.
We should have seen these failures coming. After all, he failed in his own business, years ago.
He cannot even keep up with his social responsibilities. He rarely hosts White House dinners. He and his wife hit the sack before “Society Washington” goes out to dinner. He is uncomfortable amongst the sophisticates of D.C. And they with him. They never know when he will plunge foot into mouth.
He is a small stubborn man struggling to fill the shoes of big men who came before him. In this struggle he damages this nation’s fortunes.
“This president” I write about is not George Bush. Although in a way it is. The president I just described is Harry Truman. We are likely to see his name a lot the next few years. Many of the candidates are likening themselves to him in the runup to the election. Most of them are not qualified to buff up his shoes. Whereas Bush resembles him in the ways I have just listed.
Most historians today praise Truman. They describe his toughness. He grabbed the biggest issues by the throat. Issues other politicians scurried from. They admire his vision. He saw Europe rising from the ashes of World War II. If only we would protect it and grant aid. Petty politicians saw nothing but a money hole for us. He risked Mideast contagion by recognizing Israel minutes after its creation. He stuck with the war in Korea while political hacks from both parties tried to hoist the white flag. And every other general crowed that he knew how to fight it better than his president did. He poured our resources into a cold war against communism. “What a fool,” historians and politicians on the left and right howled.
Today historians admire his courage. Truman made decisions that enraged his enemies as well as his friends. He made them because he knew in his heart his decision was the right one for this country.
So easy it is for people today to think Truman may have not been the most popular man, but Americans appreciated his efforts. Bull. He was one-third less popular than Bush is. The press ignored his departure, his retreat back to Missouri, when he left office. In fact, millions despised him. And wrote so. They scoffed at every word he uttered. And at every thing he did as President. If he had orchestrated the Second Coming they would have given him zero credit. They derided him out of town at the end of his term.
Truman possessed a wisdom regarding all this. “A President cannot always be popular,” he told the few who would listen. “The President is always abused. If he isn’t, he isn’t doing anything.”
I believe most people who read much about Truman have to see how similar his presidency is to George W. Bush’s. In his day if you predicted he would be regarded some day as one of our finest presidents you would have heard your friends howl. I have heard friends howl when I suggest the same about Bush. That there is a good chance that thirty and fifty years from now historians will call W. an excellent president. They will laud his decency, his dignity while pelted with insults. As they now laud Truman.
Those friends howl. As so many did in the late 1940’s. Yet history tends to repeat itself. And in the last six years it already has. Or, as Truman suggested, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”
From Tom ... as in Morgan.
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