LeRoy Collins Commentary 246

Commentary #246
29 November 2008

Where is a Harry Truman?

Harry Truman was our President when I reported in to start my Navy career at the U.S. Naval Academy in the summer of 1952. I remember exactly where I was when he became President, following the death of President Roosevelt in Spring 1945, i.e. I was staying after school in Carmel CA for some misbehavior, and in came someone to announce this tragic event. I can even remember at age 11 wondering if the "haberdasher from Missouri" was up to the job of leading us to finish WWII...as the victor.

He did that and more...e.g. made the decision to employ the only two nuclear weapons ever used in war; he officially ended racial discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces; he led the creation of the U.S. Air Force out of the Army Air Corps; he commited U.S. troops to help oppose the Communist invasion of South Korea; he crafted and invoked the Marshall Plan to rehabilitate Western Europe following the end of WWII; he personally fired General Douglas McArthur for insubordination (who wanted to chase the retreating Chinese Communists from Korea back to where they came from), And, he led the revitalization of the U.S. economy and the start of a post war prosperity which has endured for the past 60 years...until now.

Harry Truman was famous for his directness and clear articulation of his points of view…..irrespective of the political consequences. We have plenty like him in America, but not many in public office. Here are some insights to perhaps the most surprising leader of the 20thth Century...

/s/LeRoy Collins, Jr.

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'It doesn't matter how big a ranch you own or how many cows you brand, the size of your funeral is still gonna depend on the weather.' ~ Harry Truman.

When President Truman retired from office in 1952, his income was substantially a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year. When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, 'You don't want me. You want the office of the president, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale.'

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, 'I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.'

We now see that other past presidents have found a new level of success in cashing in on the presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale.

I think good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, 'My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And...to tell you the truth, there's hardly any difference. I, for one, believe the piano player job to be much more honorable than most current politicians.'

Where do we find another Harry??? We sure could use one -- now!

(Author unknown)

P.S. I think the answer is that they're around us, but their kind (irascible, scrupulously honest, and unafraid of difficult choices), really don't seem to have a high political sale value in these times. -Skip

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P.P.S. I think Ross Perot is such a person, and you see what we did to him. John McCain is another. Newt Gingrich comes close; Newt has some morality flaws in his past, but he may be the smartest person out there who has the political savvy also. One-issue people are very condemning, and seem incapable of realizing a person in public office needs to respond to many constituencies with other issues as well.  LC

/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.


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