The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, July 18, 2014


There have been exceptional Democrat presidents. FDR was an aristocrat who guided the country through the a depression and the beginning of a world war. He made mistakes, but on balance was an exceptional president. LBJ was a hard-core politician who inherited a bad war (Viet Nam) but understood how to work with his opponents to establish historic legislation (the great society). He made mistakes, but got things done. Bill Clinton was a loveable scoundral, a consumate politician who also worked across the aisle and got thing done. But my personal favorite is Harry Truman, an unassuming man from very humble beginnings who ended World War II.

Peggy Noonan writes a beautifully crafted remembrance of Truman, a man who said on the day he left office, "I'm just plain Mr. Truman now, a private citizen."He meant it, never taking a penny in speaking fees, endorsements, or other swag that has become de rigueur for modern politicians. He left office broke (not Hillary Clinton "Broke", but really broke) and had to scramble to make ends meet in Independence, MO.

Noonan comments on the current state of affairs, using Truman as a backdrop:
Why are we talking about Harry Truman? You know.

We live in a time when politicians relentlessly enrich themselves. We are awed and horrified by the wealth they accumulate, by their use of connections, of money lines built on past and future power. It's an operation to them. They are worth hundreds of millions. They have houses so fancy the houses have names. They make speeches to banks and universities for a quarter-million dollars and call their fees contributions to their foundations. They are their foundations.

They grab and grub. They never leave. They never go home. They don't have a "home": They were born in a place, found a launching pad, and shot themselves into glamour and wealth. They are operators—entitled, assuming. They "stand for the people." They stand for themselves.

So I just wanted to note how it used to be, when leaders thought they had to be respectable. When they were respectable.

"Harry Truman, not a money-grubbing slob." Who, years ago, imagined that would come to be remarkable?
Truman lived in an age when humility was praised and straight talk was expected. Today, arrogance is the norm and mendaciousness has become expected. That's a shame.