Archive for August, 2016

The Truman (and Vandenberg) I Forgot

The last ‘story” which contained information about Harry Truman, stirred my memory of him, his presidency and the world in which I lived to put together my first political ideas. When I started to read about Franklin Roosevelt as president, I was familiar with most of what I read: using the CCC to develop newly acquired wild lands into parks, protecting wild life that was disappearing, feeding the poor, etc. As President of the only stable, prosperous, militarily well rounded nation, he and others thought some kind of world organization was necessary to prevent a return of unregulated military growth in nations following World War II.

When Harry Truman became president upon Mr Roosevelt’s death, he was faced with ending World War II and dealing with the revised world it was creating. Since Mr. Roosevelt did not fill him in on what was going on about the relationships he had created with Great Britain and Russia, he was almost overwhelmed with the situation. Two things became obvious in less than a year. One was the aggressiveness of Russia and the determination of its leadership to move communism into European states. The other was the inability of Great Britain to continue to finance its major role in world affairs. It slowly dawned on the American government that it was in line to pick up that role.

One of Truman’s early decisions was about how to use the new atomic bomb. The decision to use it on the Japanese not knowing what kind of destruction it would create had to be made. The concomitant decision was how to deal with this new realization that the Russians intended to shove communism (and their control of it) across all of Europe.

All of these decisions meant a new understanding of the position of the U. S. in world affairs, and the realization that Congress had an essential role in understanding and financing this basic replacement of Great Britain as monitor of world affairs. Arthur Vandenberg, Senator from Michigan had, like his colleague Truman, been working on the expanding involvement in world affairs. When Truman became President, the two of them gradually came together as Democratic president and Republican leader of the Senate.

The key act that welded them together was General George Marshall’s brief speech at the 1946 graduation at Harvard in which he laid out in less than fifteen minutes the needs of Europeans and the steps to be taken to put Europe back on it’s feet. Thus, was born the Marshall Plan that was essentially guided through Congress by Senator Vandenberg, supported by President Truman, and then implemented by the Administration.

What a perfect example of the functioning of the Federal Government. Now, zealots are rendering Congress ineffective. What will come is unknown, but it is not following in the direction led by Truman and Vanderbilt.

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Truman and Vandenberg

What a great two weeks (for me). The week before this past was spent at the beach with the family in Sanibel Florida. Living with the same people in a different environment is a different experience. In addition, watching the Olympics with my son in law was a great opportunity to trade comments-of all sorts. This past week, more Olympics watching, punctuated by grass cutting and errand running. And, the not so great return to reading about and watching the coming elections.

Mr Trump reorganized his effort once again, though the commentators think he will not change what he says and does. As for Mrs Clinton, she ignores Trump and plows on visiting places where her campaign managers think there are voters to be corralled.

One of these people will become president and in my mind I keep going back to Harry Truman, his 1948 election and subsequent actions as President. Much of his activity when he became President involved dealing with the aggressive Russians and helping a flattened Europe get back on its feet. In both cases, he was involved increasingly in foreign affairs, a role the United States had always avoided. So, he had very little previous experience to go on. In addition, Congress was in the hands of Republicans, though fortunately their leadership did not allow some members to run wild with their pet issues.

He based his actions on working with some outstanding men; Dean Acheson as Secretary of State, George Marshall as Secretary of Defense (and anything else he was asked to do) and Arthur Vandenberg as well as some others.  It was not a given that American leadership would move in the direction of supporting continuing involvement in Europe, and this was especially the case with the Republicans in the Senate where this new position would have to be worked through.

As President, he also worked with Senator Arthur Vandenberg, leader of the Republican controlled Senate. Both men had the interests of the country at heart and worked to pass legislation that they both approved of. They developed a mutual trust that led to the Marshall Plan as the tool that led the restoration of Europe’s economic and political structures. Through building support in Congress for rebuilding the military as backbone of resistance to the Russians, Vandenberg was of great support to Truman. In short, together they led the United States into replacing Great Britain as the stabilizer of world affairs.

Congress does not have to be at daggers drawn with a President on every issue.

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Next Post In Two Weeks (after the beach)

Well, here we go again. The Democratic convention opened somewhat the way the Republican did, but in its first night seemed to settle in behind the leading candidate. The losing candidate fell in line behind the leader acknowledging his loss and urging his supporters to do the same. The Convention Hall stayed mostly full with delegate listening to the speakers. The speakers themselves mostly stayed on the topic and within their time limits.  And, one of them, Khizr Kahn became a hero for the way he went after Donald Trump sneering at asians.  And, of course, this called forth more sneering from Donald Trump.

The Republican convention was less well organized, a group of candidates tried to nominate their candidate, but were ruled out of order. A major speaker failed to endorse the apparent candidate and there seemed to be fewer delegates in the auditorium. However, they nominated their candidate who is on the campaign trail bashing Democrats through e-mail.

So, did they make any difference? Not in who was nominated for each party. Mrs Clinton had the Democratic nomination locked up when it convened. Senator Sanders had enough delegates to negotiate, but he ended up supporting Mrs Clinton. Mr Trump started out being treated as a joke, but appealed to a lot of people on the thin edge of work as well as others who were looking for a unique candidate. What was interesting to note was that the Republican party did not develop one or two candidates with substantial support in the time between elections.

So out of the array of mostly unknown candidates, a man who has never held a public office or been in public affairs got a major party nomination. And, he has come from being nobody to at least equal with a candidate who has been actively setting up her candidacy for the last four years.

Well, the campaign is on and it promises to be bitter, especially with the Russians involved.