The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne has a column this week about
Harry (Give 'Em Hell) Truman and one of his conclusions (correct, I
think) is that Americans like presidents who are fighters. I think
that's so. Franklin Roosevelt led us successfully through two of our
biggest fights--the Depression and World War II--and we elected him to
four terms--something that's illegal now. Truman took over when
Roosevelt died early in that fourth term and made some pretty big
decisions of his own.
He dropped the first atomic bombs ever onto Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, ending World War II. He helped found NATO and the United
Nations and made sure the U.S. joined them. He integrated America's
armed forces. He,,,well, I could go on.
As an ex-president, he came back to Washington often, always
stayed at the same hotel (the old Mayflower) and went for a walk every
morning, accompnied by a gaggle of reporters and tourists. Reporters
all knew the "hell" question, of course, but some tourist would always
ask it. Mr, Truman's answer never changed. "I never gave anybody
hell," he would say, "I just told the truth and they thought it was
Not much has changed here, sir.