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June 06, 2006

Bush as the new Truman?

The NY Sun has run OpEd columns comparing Truman's weak standing in contemporary polls and strong position in history to that of President Bush for the last two days. Maybe they have a point there.

Here is a sample of Paul Greenberg's effort in today's Sun:

A stubborn president, determined to end a war that has bogged down, watches his standing in the polls slip month by month, year by year. His dramatic victory in the last presidential election now seems long ago; his popularity sinks to historic lows for an American president. He has become an object of derision and even a little pity. As one wit put it, "To err is Truman."

Yesterday was Michael Barone's turn:

. . . Speaking last week at the commencement at West Point - above the Hudson River, where revolutionary Americans threw a chain across the water to block British ships - Bush noted that he was speaking to the first class to enter the U.S. Military Academy after the Sept. 11 attacks.And he put the challenge these cadets willingly undertook in perspective by looking back at the challenges America faced at the start of the Cold War 60 years ago.

“In the early years of that struggle,” Bush noted,“freedom’s victory was not obvious or assured.” In 1946, Harry Truman accompanied Winston Churchill as he delivered his Iron Curtain speech; in 1947, communists threatened Greece and Turkey; in 1948, Czechoslovakia fell, France and Italy seemed headed the same way, and Berlin was blockaded by the Soviets, who exploded a nuclear weapon the next year; in 1950, North Korea attacked South Korea.

“All of this took place in just the first five years following World War II,” Bush noted. “Fortunately, we had a president named Harry Truman, who recognized the threat, took bold action to confront it and laid the foundation for freedom’s victory in the Cold War.”

I don't think anyone is listening right now. But -- if we ultimately prevail in the GWOT (and hence get to write the history of this era) -- they will.

Update

LAT columnist Max Boot jumps on the Bush as the new Truman bandwagon.

June 6, 2006 at 01:53 PM | Permalink

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