Character

My suggestion is that any time an election gets you down, look up some Harry Truman quotes. I bet they will cheer you. Or encourage you. Or restore your faith in the presidency.

By the time he left office Truman was reviled by a majority of Americans. So much for popularity. Today he stands like a giant among our presidents. So many of his decisions and policies proved over the years to be wise.

In fact, he remarked about popularity. “Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures – character.” Most of us could live better with that stuck on our wall.

That is true of so many of his comments, and that is why he is my favorite president.

“The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.” He knew. Because he probably knew more history than any of our presidents. He was a scholar who never went to college.



“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” That is a thought worth savoring.

“We must remember that the test of our religious principles lies not just in what we say, not only in our prayers, not even in living blameless lives – but in what we do for others.” This from a politician. A politician who millions labeled as stupid.

“We should resolve now that the health of this nation is a national concern; that financial barriers in the way of attaining health shall be removed; that the health of all of its citizens deserves the help of all the nation.” By whatever means we achieve this, it seems as worthy a goal today as 70 years ago.

“The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount… If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State.” Is that warning any less needed today than when he issued it?

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves…self-discipline with all of them came first.” Can you think of any nearly-great men who might have been considered great – had they not slipped in the self-discipline department?

“The ‘C’ students run the world.” He’s got something there. ‘C’ students of the world take a bow.

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” That is not a bad thought to consider at the start of every day.

“A president either is constantly on top of events or, if he hesitates, events will soon be on top of him. I never felt that I could let up for a moment.”

That belongs with another: “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods when there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

And they both fit well with two more: “Carry the battle to them. Don’t let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don’t ever apologize for anything.” And… “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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