Harry Truman beats up on Republicans in Congress while courting labor.

12 02 2009

President Harry Truman criticizing Congress and Taft-Hartley while running for President in 1948:

You, Madam, are no Harry Truman.

18 09 2008

I’m subscribed to Newsweek for one reason and one reason only: Northwest Airlines frequent fliers miles, which I used to pay for the subscription because I never used them otherwise anyway. My new issue came today, and I was forced to read this:

Veep nominee Sarah Palin answers concerns about her inexperience by comparing herself to Harry Truman, who became president three months into his term, when FDR died…

Why It Works
Both had non-elite upbringings and, as Palin says, “unlikely” paths to high office. In the reformer category, both were early supporters of pork projects (Truman’s early political career was backed by the Pendergast machine) who later lambasted wastefulness and fraud.

To be fair, since this is part of a lame Newsweek effort to be even-handed, there is a counter argument, but it should be much stronger:

Why It Doesn’t
Truman, a World War I vet, was selected more for his 10-year service in the Senate, where he voted on major national legislation and steered a war-preparedness committee, than his origins as a small-town Missouri haberdasher, as Palin has suggested.

That “war-preparedness committee” was the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National defense Program. better known as the Truman Committee. Its mission was to stamp out waste, fraud, abuse and other intellectual precursors to the “Bridge to Nowhere” in the Pentagon budget. According to David McCullough [Truman, pp. 287-88]:

[O]verall the commitee’s performance was outstanding. It would be called the most successful congressional investigative effort in American history. Later estimates were that the Truman Commitee saved the country as much as $15 billion. This was almost certainly an exaggeration–no exact figure is possible–but the sum was enormous and unprecedented.

Contrary to popular belief, Harry Truman was not an unknown when FDR selected him to be his Vice President in 1944. His work on this committee had made him famous. He even criticized the Roosevelt administration for the waste that occurred during War Mobilization. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it. Being a creature of the Pendergast machine did not make Truman corrupt by definition.

In short, David McCullough knows Harry Truman, and you, Madam, are no Harry Truman.


%d bloggers like this: