Bush=Truman? Have Another Sip!
"The human animal cannot be trusted for anything good except en masse. The combined thought and action of the whole people of any race, creed or nationality, will always point in the right direction."
Harry S Truman
"Our system of free enterprise rests on the conviction that the federal government should interfere in the marketplace only when necessary."
George W. Bush
September 19, 2008
The stupid bastard. He still doesn't get it.
Charles Krauthammer is a disabled conservative columnist. I am referring not to his physical disabilities, but his intellectual ones. In a piece published yesterday in the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, NY, the perennially clueless Krauthammer wrote the following observational knee-slapper:
"In this respect, Bush is much like Truman, who developed the sinews of war for a new era (the Department of Defence, the CIA, the NSA), expanded the powers of the presidency, established a new doctrine for active intervention abroad, and ultimately engaged in a war (Korea) - also absent an attack on the U.S. - that proved highly unpopular. So unpopular that Truman left office disparaged and highly out of favor. History has reversed that verdict. I have little doubt that Bush will be the subject of a similar reconsideration."
To quote the recently deceased Margaret Truman, whom when told during the campaign of 1988 that George H.W. Bush was comparing himself to her father had only this to say:
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
You've got to hand it to those Trumans. They really had a way of getting right to the heart of the matter.
Recent years have seen a curious transformation on the part of the GOP as far as the subject of Harry Truman is concerned. Once anathema to every thing the right wing stood for, Truman is now viewed by many of them as a kind of secular saint. On his radio program last week, Ed Schultz accurately described him as the Republican party's favorite Democratic president. And why wouldn't this be so? When he left the White House on January 20, 1953, Truman's approval ratings were hovering in the low 30's - not quite as low as George W. Bush's, but low enough to be sure.
His decision to invade Korea was not (as Krauthammer contends) "absent an attack". When North Korea crossed the thirty-eighth parallel in 1950 and invaded its neighbor to the south, President Truman committed American troops to a multilateral, United Nations counter invasion in order to force back the aggression. By January 1953, Korea seemed to be at a stalemate and Americans were growing weary of the "police action" (It wasn't officially a "war"). To makes matters worse, his decision to fire the insubordinate but wildly popular General Douglas MacArthur, only added to the public perception of Truman as a demagogue and a fool.
What a difference fifty-five years makes. When viewed through the subjective lens of 20/20, historical hindsight, Truman's administration stands out for the brave stands it took and and its progressive accomplishments. Whether you agree with his decision or not, America and its allies had committed themselves to defending any nation against Communist aggression. General MacArthur wanted to expand the Korean conflict by invading China - and seemed determined to do so regardless of the president's orders. Had that happened, it most certainly would have precipitated World War Three. Truman had no choice but to discharge him.
He made many other courageous decisions. It was President Truman who, on July 28, 1948, desegregated the armed forces of the United States in the face of near rabid opposition, particularly in the south. At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1948, Truman forced the delegates to accept a comprehensive civil rights platform. That was more than the southern delegation could handle - most of them walked out. Facing a fourth party uprising of Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats on the right and Henry Wallace and the Progressives on the left, everyone believed Harry Truman would be beaten senseless come November. Everyone, that is with the exception of one person - Harry Truman. On Election Day, to the shock of every political "expert" on the scene, he handily defeated Republican Thomas Dewey. As David McCullough wrote in the final sentence of his over one-thousand page biography of the man, "He stands like a rock in memory now." Indeed he does.
True, Harry Truman was not without flaws. This descendant of Scotch-Irish settlers could be stubborn to the point of absurdity - a trait characteristic of his forebears. Although honest to a flaw, his administration was tainted by small elements of corruption. However, to his credit, if an incident of official skulduggery came to his attention, the president would fire to the person or persons involved. To the best of my knowledge, not one of them ever received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His Supreme Court appointments were not particularly notable; and his habit of surrounding himself with cronies from Missouri - loyal men though they were - didn't do him much good in the long run.
But his imperfections aside, Harry S Truman was a good American and a great president - one of the greatest of the twentieth century. Comparing him to George W. Bush is the equivalent of comparing the Bald Eagle to a barnyard chicken.
More than anything, what jumped off of the page of Krauthammer's puff piece on Bush, was the first paragraph:
"For the last 150 years, most American war presidents - most notably Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt - have entered (or re-entered) office knowing war was looming. Not so George Bush."
It has been documented - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that the Bush Mob had the invasion on the sovereign nation of Iraq on the table from their very first cabinet meeting in January 2001. The arrogance of Charlie Krauthammer, that he can print as fact something that can be disproven with a modicum or research, is truly stunning. You can be sure that somewhere in the void, Westbrook Pegler is smiling.
"Harry S Truman and George W. Bush".
Wow! Even seeing both of their names printed out in the same sentence is disconcerting, to say the least. It's like comparing apples and rotten mangoes.
Harry S Truman spent his formative years working on his family's modest farm.
George W. Bush was born with "a silver foot in his mouth" (God bless you, Ann Richards).
Harry S Truman eagerly enlisted enlisted in the military at the onset of World War One in spite of the fact that that he was a farmer (a vital occupation during the two world wars) and his poor eyesight (He was technically blind in one eye).
George W. Bush did everything possible to avoid fighting in Vietnam. Once he was safely in place in the National Guard thanks to the connections of his congressman father, the cowardly little thug proceeded to go AWOL.
Harry S Truman believed that big business exists solely for the purpose of serving the American people.
George W. Bush believes the exact opposite. By now that should be obvious to all.
Harry S Truman had an astute understanding of American history and believed - to his core - in the principles put forward in the Constitution of the United States.
George W. Bush has soiled the Constitution.
Harry S Truman understood that government regulation of the marketplace is essential to a healthy economy.
George W. Bush doesn't have a clue (I would only remind you of the quote near the top of this piece). Had strict governmental regulation been in place to begin with and not systematically dismantled during the last twenty-eight years, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in at the moment.
Harry S Truman knew that a healthy and thriving middle class was the fuel that moved America forward.
George W. Bush spent his entire term of office destroying the middle class.
Harry S Truman believed in the promise of America and its people.
George W. Bush believes in George W. Bush.
Harry S Truman once said, "A president either is constantly on top of events or, if he hesitates, events will soon be on top of him.
George W. Bush once said,"There's an old saying in Tennessee....I know it's in Texas....Probably in Tennessee, that says 'Fool me once [four second pause] shame on you [six second pause] Fool me....can't get fooled again".
The comparisons between the two men invite so many irresistible analogies: Fine wine and Thunderbird; chicken salad and chicken shit; Tchaikovsky and Lawrence Welk; Billie Holiday and Anita Bryant; Marilyn Monroe and Medusa; caviar and cotton candy; the Rolls Royce and the Hugo; Citizen Kane and Porkys III; Pavarotti and Patti Page; opera and vaudeville; champagne and shampoo; Albert Einstein and Bobo the simpleminded; Laurence Olivier and Larry the Cable Guy; Abraham Lincoln and....well....George W. Bush....I could literally go on for pages and pages.
Twenty-five years from now, historical hindsight will only reaffirm what those of us who bothered to pay attention all these years have known from the beginning: Sending Bush to the White House eight years ago was the worst electoral mistake in American history. Harry Truman he ain't. Give 'em hell, Georgie.
"Truman" by David McCullough
Oh! I almost forgot! There are one-hundred and eighteen days left to go until George W. Bush ("That good fer nothin' son-of-a-bitch" as Harry S Truman would no doubt have described him) is out of office and out of our lives forever!