Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy President's Day!

Today state and federal workers all rejoice with a day off from the government cheese to celebrate Washington's birthday, and others, depending on where you reside in our glorious Union. I thought I would take the time to discuss a couple of my favorite Presidents in honor of the holiday.

Naturally it would be an easy and worthy pick to claim one of our founding fathers as my favorite President. Adams or Jefferson if you like. Instead I'm going to focus on my two favorite Presidents of the 20th century, namely Harry S. Truman and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Harry Truman as everyone knows succeeded Franklin Roosevelt after his death in 1945. Truman, as often quoted, disliked being President but surely he knew that one day he would hold the office after being the compromise pick for Vice President during the 1944 Democratic Convention. Of course Truman is probably most remembered for giving the order to drop two atomic bombs on Japan in order to bring a swift end to the war in the Pacific. While this is an historic event, the man from Missouri brought so much more to the office of the Presidency. His visionary plan for America and even the world post World War II still have ongoing repercussions today. He used his pulpit to help create and support the United Nations as well as the implementation of the Truman Doctrine, a philosophy still carried on today, for good and ill, by our government. Of this he said: "the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." He seemed to follow a path of what he thought was right regardless of the political consequences and with his stubbornness he enjoyed great successes and crushing defeats. I think today's politicians could use a little of that attitude today.

Lyndon Johnson is kind of a mixed bag with me. I greatly admire the man for continuing the civil rights legacy that John Kennedy left behind as well as many aspects of the "Great Society" program. The elimination of poverty and racial injustice was part of Johnson's sweeping domestic legislative agenda in part through the creation of Medicare, Medicaid, and public funding of education. It couldn't have been easy for a southern Democrat to push this legislative agenda during the mid to late 60's. Of course on the other hand Johnson has the distinction of being the Commander-in-Chief who escalated the Vietnam conflict resulting in unnecessary loss of life of both Americans and people of Southeast Asia. Ultimately this proved to ruin his political career and by all accounts left him a broken man until his death in 1973.

Just a couple of my thoughts on this holiday. Who is a past President that you hold in high regard?


Dann said...

Well, you know we share high regards for Truman. I also, believe it or not, like Nixon. He did a lot for the environment. Besides, how many Presidents have their own opera?

Brilliantly Blonde said...

I'm a huge fan of Clinton, but not for his politics. His aptitude for naughtiness was always intriguing, and the presidency hasn't been nearly as fun since he left office. Had he NOT been quite so scandalous, I probably never would have had any interest in politics whatsoever.

I actually sent him an invitation to my high school graduation, and he sent me a lovely card in reply.

Jason said...

Truman is also the President that integrated the Army via executive order, championed the formation of the United Nations, instituted the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, asserted civilian control over the Army by firing Douglas McArthur, and changed political polling for the better. He also never owned his own house, did not have a college degree, and left office in virtual poverty. He was ROCKIN!