Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Harry S. Truman – 33rd President of the United States of America (1945 – 1953)

Independence Missouri seems the perfect place for Truman’s library.  It’s now a suburb of Kansas City, with the ability to see the skyline in the distance from it’s highest point. It’s on the edge of being modern, but still traditional.

The museum has been fortunate to have a recent renovation within the last ten years. Displays and facts are presented in a very interesting and digestible format. The second room one enter after the welcome movie, shows a series of newspaper front pages. It’s clear to see that from the time FDR passes and Truman takes office, to the time of VJ Day is a few mere months. This is the power of presidential momentum. Over thirteen years of work from FDR is enjoyed over the first few months of Truman’s term in office. He didn’t invest in the bomb, know about it’s construction, or all of the tribulations raised by those averse to its use, until it came time to make a choice to use it. Which he did, twice.

The highly trusted adviser George C Marshall had a plan for the Berlin airlift. He knew how to prepare, execute, and make it happen. Harry got to tell him to do it. There were years of policy and negotiation about civil rights, economy, and other domestic policy which Truman allow to happen when serving out the last FDR term.

When it came time to get reelected, it was close. Under his own command of design things became shaky. Of the Fair Deal, only two items were enacted, and two more in part. Foreign policy choices in APAC had long lasting impact on the following five Presidents. A policy of containment with the Soviet Union was not realized during his time in office as he chased hot spots across the globe.

Truman came to power with great assistance of a local Kansas City party chief Tom Pendergast. He got to the Senate with this backing, a black mark that stayed with him until being nominated for Vice President.

I may not be the first person to be disappointed in Truman. While the museum is a good quality, there is nothing here that is inspirational. His rise seems the most political of opportunity and circumstance. It was surprising that the people writing his legacy would spend so much time justifying his decision to dismiss Douglas McCarthy while fighting the Korean War. The trial of Alger Hiss, the rise of McCarthyism, and his break with the Southern Democrats are topics that are in desperate need of review. Information on these three areas fall flat. I find it funny to have enjoyed the Nixon and Hoover museum more, finding more about these individuals’ lives or actions that I could relate to.

Here is a man who was alive during two presidential assassinations, with an attempt on his on life, and you would think someone would ask his perspective on this. You would think there is an interview to show with his answers.

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