I, as many others watched the recent presidential news conference, was somewhat surprised at some of the language that the President used in his monologue. I, at times, could not believe the tone and type of language that he used, but after some research looked for some Presidential language that could be better. However, I found the following quotes from a past US President. Can you identify who said this quote…
“He is a Hitler at heart, a demagogue in action and a traitor in fact. In 1942 he should have been hanged for treason. In Germany under Hitler, his deal, in Italy under the great castor oil giver, or in Russia now he would have been eliminated.”(1)
…or this one?
“The White House is open to anybody with legitimate business, but not to that son of a bitch.”(2)
Or the fact that, at one point, this US President was just $10 away from being a member of the Ku Klux Klan?!
“At one point, …he enjoyed meeting with the white-sheeted brotherhood of the local Ku Klux Klan. Coveting its electoral support, he was ready to join it, even depositing his ten-dollar initiation fee. They demanded, however, that he support no Catholics in patronage positions. He drew away — and demanded his ten dollars back.” (3)
He changed his mind, letting his better inclinations overcome his political inclinations. Whew!
It is also interesting that people thought of this President as “unfit, unwise, or just plain out of his depth…”(4)
I point these very real historical events and words to reveal that there are presidents that have spoken their opinions, had brushes with the side of society that we would rather not discuss or acknowledge, and yet have been considered some of the best presidents in our country’s history. In fact, the US President that said (and did) the above is considered by the American Political Science Association’s Presidents & Executive Politics section as being one of the top 10 US Presidents! (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2015/02/16/new-ranking-of-u-s-presidents-puts-lincoln-1-obama-18-kennedy-judged-most-over-rated/?utm_term=.acae4803997f)
The US President that did and said the above? Harry Truman! That’s right, the man who ordered the bombing of the Empire of Japan and ended WWII in the Pacific. A diehard Democrat, he at one point would not ride the Dumbo Ride in Disneyland because he did not want to be seen riding an Elephant, the symbol of the Grand Old Party (GOP)!(http://disneyparks.wikia.com/wiki/Dumbo_the_Flying_Elephant_(Disneyland_Park)
What does this mean? It means that history judges differently than the present. The idea that a person makes statements (or actions) that are unbelievably harsh, or uncompromising, does not mean that person is a bad President, just someone who fails to consider what they said (or did) when they said (or did) it. I am not saying the current President is right when he said the things in that news conference. I just urge people to check history and see the relationship to others in that same office. It will at least put historical context to the overall discussion.
It is very difficult being in a leadership position, especially THIS leadership position. You are in the “fishbowl” at all times with people watching your every move. Speaking your mind is not taken the same by everyone (or anyone for that matter). However, the data does not match great Presidents with their speaking ability. It matches it with their actions in office. This is going to be an interesting 4 years. I do not envy ANYONE in that elected position. You lose in the present, but may win in the future.
(1)Kenneth Weisbrode, The Year of Indecision, 1946, Viking Publishers, 2016, page 145 (Truman was referring to Joe L. Lewis, Union Leader).
(2)Ibid., page 146.
(3)David Pietrusza, Harry Truman’s Improbable Victory and the Year That Transformed America, Union Square Publisher, NY, 2011, page 5.
(4)Weisbrode, page 149.
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