Tag Archives: Harry Truman

How the Tables Have Turned

The buck stops here, General.

Harry Truman’s delightfully salty answer to why he fired Douglas MacArthur… spoke volumes about the division between our civilian and military authorities:

“I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President…I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the laws for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.”

The buck is in his pocket

Today it appears the proverbial shoe is on the other foot… the ignorant whelp with conjectural progeny is in the oval office.  Generals are now trying to steer a rational course and save the republic from a man-child with a serious Napoleon complex.  The lines between the civilian and military are dangerously blurred.

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Mild about Harry

Harry Truman was not a popular politician in 1948… Labor unrest, foreign crises, and domestic communism scandals plagued his time in office- the bulk of FDR’s fourth term.  A Presidential term no one really wanted Truman to serve- FDR’s administration had ignored Truman in the first 80 days and became openly hostile during the transition.   Truman had no choice but to make key changes in the cabinet to counter the insubordination from Roosevelt’s aides.  Even Elanor Roosevelt questioned Truman’s foreign policy decisions- FDR’s widow was cordial with his successor, but had never enthusiastically endorsed his position.

Keeper of the New Deal faith

Keeper of the New Deal faith

FDR supporters saw Truman as… provincial, uneducated, and just plain average.  He lacked a college education, performed poorly in social situations, and didn’t possess  the charismatic presence that endeared so many Americans to  Roosevelt the icon.  Truman’s Midwest roots alienated him from the Democratic power structure of the Northeast.  Roosevelt diehards resented that he had replaced long-time confidant, Henry Wallace, on the 1944 ticket.  Truman angered them further when he dismissed Wallace from the cabinet for insubordination in 1946.  Wallace used this animosity to garner the Progressive party nomination in 1948.  The Roosevelt coalition had been irreparably broken, so Wallace had little chance of winning- but his campaign threatened Truman’s Democratic base.

Trust me, I'm President

Trust me, I’m President

This uncouth, undereducated, Midwest rube… was now trusted to keep the US out of World War 3, get the economy moving again, root-out communist subversives, and continue the struggle for civil rights-  all while his party divided twice beneath him during a reelection campaign.

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Mild about Harry

Harry Truman was not a popular politician in 1948… Labor unrest, foreign crises, and domestic communism scandals plagued his time in office- the bulk of FDR’s fourth term.  A Presidential term no one really wanted Truman to serve- FDR’s administration had ignored Truman in the first 80 days and became openly hostile during the transition.   Truman had no choice but to make key changes in the cabinet to counter the insubordination from Roosevelt’s aides.  Even Elanor Roosevelt questioned Truman’s foreign policy decisions- FDR’s widow was cordial with his successor, but had never enthusiastically endorsed his position.

Keeper of the New Deal faith

Keeper of the New Deal faith

FDR supporters saw Truman as… provincial, uneducated, and just plain average.  He lacked a college education, performed poorly in social situations, and didn’t possess  the charismatic presence that endeared so many Americans to  Roosevelt the icon.  Truman’s Midwest roots alienated him from the Democratic power structure of the Northeast.  Roosevelt diehards resented that he had replaced long-time confidant, Henry Wallace, on the 1944 ticket.  Truman angered them further when he dismissed Wallace from the cabinet for insubordination in 1946.  Wallace used this animosity to garner the Progressive party nomination in 1948.  The Roosevelt coalition had been irreparably broken, so Wallace had little chance of winning- but his campaign threatened Truman’s Democratic base.

Trust me, I'm President

Trust me, I’m President

This uncouth, undereducated, Midwest rube… was now trusted to keep the US out of World War 3, get the economy moving again, root-out communist subversives, and continue the struggle for civil rights-  all while his party divided twice beneath him during a reelection campaign.

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More Effort Needed

Tom Dewey seemed to be the perfect candidate… to unseat Harry Truman in 1948.  He staged the strongest challenge to FDR’s four electoral victories, losing the election of 1944 by only 3 million votes.  Handsome, charismatic, with a silky-smooth baritone delivery, Dewey had the reputation of a no nonsense crime fighter and effective executive.  His matter-of-fact style carried him to three terms as New York’s Governor and led to his surprisingly effective campaign against Roosevelt.  Harry Truman appeared to be easy prey to Republicans in 1948; Tom Dewey’s time had finally come.

I believe the polls

I believe the polls

The old Republican guard led by Senator Robert Taft… resented Dewey and considered him weak.  Taft and his allies believed Dewey to be far too Liberal to represent the Conservative movement.  Dewey had supported parts of the New Deal and continued to advocate increased social spending in New York.  To Taft, Dewey’s moderation brought him more in line with Harry Truman than with the Republican base.  The party disagreed, passing over Taft yet again in favor of the moderate Dewey.  Dewey was a safer candidate- and not tied to the 80th Congress- the only part of government less popular than Truman in 1948.

Harry giving hell

Harry giving hell

Dewey and all those advising him believed the polls… in the Summer of 1948.  His lead over Truman was so substantial that pollster Elmo Roper refused to take any new surveys that summer- the election appeared to be decided.  Dewey played it safe- deciding upon a non-partisan, purposely vague campaign.  As Truman took his case to the American people on the famous “whistle stop tour,”  Dewey meekly followed speaking only in generalities.  The American people were left wondering what Dewey stood for-  Truman left little doubt.  Dewey’s passive approach allowed Truman to take the election away in our greatest electoral upset.

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