Bush compared himself and his "war on terror" at yesterday's West Point graduation to Harry S Truman and his Cold War.
Can we get a grip on this? Just saying it doesn't make it so.
Some scholars suggest that Truman followed then Senator Arthur Vandenburg's suggestion that Truman had to "scare the hell out of the American people" if he wanted to get funding from Congress to fix elections in Greece and Turkey to insure that governments would be established there that were friendly to the United States and not the Soviet Union. Where the Red Army occupied, governments friendly to Moscow were in control. Where the American forces occupied, governments friendly to Washington were in place. Truman and then Prime Minister Winston Churchill went to Missouri and Churchill delivered the Iron Curtain speech saying that the specter of Soviet Communism was descending like an Iron Curtain across Europe.
Which would be a neat trick because the Soviet Union had lost at least 20 million people to the war and most of its industrial bases. But never mind, we were on a tear. We had The Bomb and we knew how to use it.
Truman too thought that he was a war president. He attempted to control the steal industry and the Supreme Court reminded him that he could not because he was not running a declared war.
Bush thinks that he too is a war president. He too does not have a declared war. The Supreme Court has told him that he cannot hold combatants without charges and without providing them access to attorneys. Truman believed that the Supreme Court had the final word. Even though he said that when a president puts a friend on the Supreme Court, the president has lost a friend. Truman did not attempt to expand the reach of the American Presidency--certainly no further than atomic weapons pushed it. He stopped his efforts to run the steal industries. Bush has ignored the Court. Their rulings are mere suggestions to Bush.
Truman believed the buck stopped with him. Bush made a truly strange concession speech late at night, late last week with Prime Minister Tony Blair. He admitted he made mistakes, thought their had been WMDs, shouldn't have said, "Bring it on." As Truman would say of Richard Nixon, even when Nixon didn't have to lie "he did just to keep his hand in." Would he say that of Bush? Even the apology seemed to be a lie because Bush didn't apologize for anything substantive. Apologizing for thinking their were WMDs when he knew that there weren't isn't much of an apology. He didn't apologize for lying.
When Mrs. Roosevelt called Truman who had been presiding over the Senate to the White House, Truman didn't say I will be right there after I finish my drink with Speaker Sam Rayburn. He walked to the White House not knowing he was now the president of these United States. He didn't wait or hesitate or as Bush stayed on task in a school room in Florida as the country was under attack. He didn't know why Mrs. Roosevelt called, but he went because duty called.
Truman made the decision to use atomic weapons against Japan. Will Bush draw on the Truman example if he decides to use nuclear weapons in Iran? Will Bush then travel to Iran to survey the implications of his decision as Truman went to Japan?
Truman, a Southern Baptist, was thrown out of his church for his insistence the Army be integrated. He laughed it off. Bush doesn't laugh at the religious conservative's far out plans, he implements their desires. Truman didn't speak to anyone in code. Bush speaks to the religious right in their coded language promising them all they want in exchange for their votes for tax breaks and welfare for the wealthy while the religious right can't qualify for those tax breaks.
Truman never "swift boated" any veteran. Or cut their benefits. And he certainly never said the job of the president is hard. He never justified his actions by saying he was the decider.