Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Truman Reconsidered

I have consistently put Truman amongst my top five favorites Presidents (the fact that his economic policies ultimately deviated from both FDR and Keynes being one the primary reasons). But I have to admit that economist and historian, Ralph Raico, has certainly provided some interesting counterpoints and now I have at least a little pause...................................................................................The main point that Raico addressed was the fact that Truman (continuing to expand the power of the Presidency) took the country to war in Korea without a declaration from Congress and that this act set an extremely terrible precedent for subsequent American adventurism. He also feels that Mr. Truman greatly exaggerated the Soviet threat and that, while, yes, these folks certainly possessed nuclear weapons, their economy was a veritable basket-case (many of the hospitals didn't even have hot water, for Christ) and the amount of money that we spent on defense was monstrously excessive (former Reagan budget director, David Stockman has on numerous occasions said essentially the same) - hence, the Military Industrial Complex..................................................................................And, so, yeah, Truman, just like Presidents Reagan, FDR, TR, McKinley, Polk, and the rest of them is probably much more of a mixed-bag than I initially thought (though, yes, I would still probably put him in the top five mainly because the rest of the bunch is mostly putrid).

5 comments:

BB-Idaho said...

"Truman greatly exaggerated the Soviet threat". IMO, just about everyone in those decades did, the MAD doctrine, U-2 debacle, Churchill, the Marshall Plan,etc. As a kid, I read about A-bombs, H-bombs and their effects and spent sleepless nights. James Carroll's 'A House of War', is a study of the baseless paranoia, which unfortunately persisted long after Truman. The guy came completely cold into the maelstrom of the ending of WWII and could have done a lot worse, IMO.

Rational Nation USA said...

Plain and straight talking Harry. What I'd give to see a politician of his caliber from either party today. I'm not holding out much hope one will surface anytime soon.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

We absolutely could have done worse, BB, and we have, many times.......I hear ya', Les, and, like I say, I'd still probably put him in the top 5 (with Ike, JFK, Cleveland, and maybe Coolidge).

dmarks said...

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0508.html

In general, fairly moderate. In particular his acting to rein in the job-destroying greed of the lazy union thugs (who expected raises not due to better work, but as a reward for loafing about and insulting real workers) in the coal strike of 1946.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

And he rejected the Keynesians (Samuelson and his ilk) after the war and significantly CUT spending (the Keynesians wanted yet another massive New Deal caliber intervention). That act I believe is his most positive legacy.