Trump & Truman, Birds of a Feather?
Why don’t more people compare Harry Truman and Donald Trump? They should because it would provide insight into oversight. Most people don’t go there because Truman was a Democrat and Trump is a “sort of” Republican, but that won’t get in the way of this history lesson.
Harry Truman was not President Roosevelt’s only Vice President. Most younger Americas don’t remember that FDR served eight terms, a loophole that was taken away when the Twenty-Second Amendment said a president may be elected for only two terms with a total of eight years.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President, had three Vice Presidents. He changed his VPs more often than his boxer shorts, mostly for political reasons. Harry Truman was kind of like FDR’s Mike Pence. He hailed from the Midwest and was more conservative than FDR. His claim to fame before becoming Vice President was running a committee that investigated waste and corruption in the military. He became president when FDR died shortly after being reelected for the eighth time.
Here’s where the comparison between Trump and Truman gets a little scary. President Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bomb on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some say the two bombings killed as many as 230,000 civilians and they remain the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of armed conflict. Thank God. Truman claimed that dropping the big bomb had saved more than a million US lives by not prolonging a war with Japan. Well, we proved it could work and learned how terribly bad a nuclear weapon truly is.
When Harry Truman was confronted about waging war in Korea without a formal declaration and vote in congress, he allegedly told reporters, “I don’t ask their permission — I just consult them.” Appalled by Truman’s comment, Robert Taft from Ohio proclaimed that Harry Truman was courting a “Constitutional crisis.” Trump may say he’s a deal maker, but he’s just doing what HE THINKS is best. At least Truman took advice.
Like most presidents who have Congressional monkeys on their backs, Truman was not liked by the “other party” in Congress. When Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur for insubordination, the not so fearful General went to Capitol Hill to speak before a joint session of Congress. Many of Truman’s rivals wept openly. They thought MacArthur was infallible. It has been said that Truman was disgusted by the sight of “damn fool Congressmen crying like a bunch of women” after hearing “nothing but a bunch of bullshit!” The description of Democrats is that they wet their seats when witnessing such emotional loyalty to MacArthur. If Trump gets reelected, Democrats and the nation will need a big box of Depend adult diapers.
When a person hears others saying they are the world’s most powerful person, they start to believe it. Oversight simply becomes an unnecessary burden on their lifestyle and ego. Trump’s similarity to Truman comes in the form of mismanaging crises. Truman used the atomic bomb to end a war but played the Korean conflict like he was walking on eggshells. He also showed the world he was afraid of China and Russia.
Trump is walking away from the fight with the coronavirus like he’s worried about making a mistake. His failed response is only made worse by his inability to know what Americans really need right now, a decisive leader. I question the loyalty to home and flag on the part of those who think Trump’s doing a good job. He’s not.
What makes our situation with the coronavirus even worse is that Trump, like Truman, will leave behind a pile of dung that we will have to clean up. By not using Congress to endorse his war, Truman paved the way for Vietnam, with all its feature creep and death. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon believed they didn’t have to consult Congress on war because Truman set a precedent. Trump doesn’t believe he must engage with Congress during a crisis. Where was he all weekend? Playing golf and entertaining rich people.
Trump is unwilling and incapable of enacting an aggressive plan to end this insane attack on the health of Americans. It’s beyond deer in the headlights. The Donald is nothing but roadkill at this point. COVID-19 is his Korean Conflict and Vietnam war rolled into one and the virus has already killed more people than those conflicts.
We must not get too cocky here. Truman’s approval rating was down to 29% at one point and America elected him. Maybe Donald Trump thinks getting the US into a war will help him win another term, but he’s too chicken shit to fight a germ let alone the Chinese or the Russians.
One of the post-COVID cow patties we are going to have to scrap off our collective shoes is a notion of oversight, and it’s going to take smart people in the White House and Congress to pull it off. The old school politics of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell and old goats like Chuck Grassley and the slowly withering Dianne Feinstein are over. On a cautionary note, we don’t need frat boy pranksters like Florida’s First District Representative Matt Gaetz or troublesome formulators of English words like Representative Ilhan Omar. They are trying to make their mark, but they’re trash ideologs who should never be taken too seriously. Watch the HBO documentary called The Swamp and you’ll see why.
Our inspector generals must be better vetted and protected. There are currently 1,600 people working in the 73 offices of US inspectors general. In the beginning we had only 12 offices. What caused the growth? Harry Truman used those offices to investigate fraudulent contracts and financial improprieties in military procurement. Harry was called on the carpet for employing his wife, Bess, in the government. Trump has his family working for the White House, his campaign and the government, while the family skims money by commanding departments to support Trump kingdom’s hotels and services.
Sure, Harry Truman advanced the concept he called the Marshall Plan, which was a US program to provide aid to Western Europe following the devastation of World War II. Those ideas, like NATO, were designed to keep us out of war yet they’re the very things Donald Trump wants to throw away. Dumb.
As many as 34,000 Americans and allied troops died in Korea, and we ended up right where we started, the 38th Parallel. Sure, Truman avoided a war with China and Russia by not letting MacArthur take the whole Korean peninsula, but Truman’s fear of World War III gave us Kim Jong-Un with a nuclear arsenal. Some would say reasonable tradeoff, but our current president has made that worse.
Trump wants to kowtow to Moscow while taking on China. In the nightmare vision pictured in George Orwell’s classic book, 1984, three nations survived an atomic war. There was Oceania, then, Eurasia, and finally Eastasia, and they were not democracies, at all. They were in constant conflict with two ganging up on one. Then, they would switch sides and do the same thing to the new “enemy of the state.”
The three most powerful nations today are the United States, Russia and China. Truman knew more about the world than Trump could ever dream to fathom. China might be a stronger economic force than Russia, but how many nuclear bombs do you need to end the world? Think about all the terrible things that could possibly happen to the United State of America and there’s Trump, stumped by a virus. It’s totally pitiful and embarrassing. Trump with a phone and a Twitter account thinks he’s the big player. They are laughing in Beijing and Moscow and the Donald doesn’t even know it.
NOTE: Read this book, it’s where I am learning a lot about presidents.