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Trump, Truman

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Columnist John Brummett often criticizes President Donald Trump: Trump is a “bratty male child” with a “my-way-or-the-skyway manner.”

Brummett got my attention with the final sentence of a recent column (I do read to the end!). We are “demeaned by this clown of an accidental president.” Accidental president! Trump’s win was no accident.

Brummett’s claim reminded me: We did have an accidental president in the middle of the last century, Harry Truman, at that time a little-known and hardly respected senator from Independence, Mo., a few hours north of Bella Vista. Third-term President Franklin Roosevelt named him the vice presidential candidate for his fourth term in 1944. News articles attacked Truman like they recently ridiculed Donald Trump: “One of the weakest candidates ever nominated” (Pittsburg Post-Gazette).

Time magazine called Truman ”… a drab mediocrity, the mousy man from Missouri.” The New Republic wrote, “Poor Harry Truman. And poor people of the United States.” The quotes are from the David McCullough excellent biography named simply, Truman.

President Roosevelt died a few months into the fourth term, making Truman a truly accidental president. He proved to be hard-working, a decisive man who made difficult, controversial decisions that helped end the Second World War and begin rebuilding war-torn countries. Like today, the world was then full of difficulties and controversies. In 1946, Republicans swept both houses of Congress and most state governorships for the first time since before the Depression. The attacks against Truman remind me of today. Then-famous showman Billy Rose suggested W. C. Fields for president in 1948: “If we’re going to have a comedian in the White House, let’s have a good one.” Sounds familiar!

By 1948, Truman, like Trump in 2016, was given no chance to win a presidential term. From The Truman biography, the accidental president was now also a minority president. He was so unpopular that the then-young Democratic Congressman from Arkansas, J. William Fulbright, seriously recommended that Truman appoint Arthur Vandenberg Secretary of State and then resign so Vandenberg would be President. From that day forward Truman called Fulbright “Halfbright.”

The 1948 presidential election was nearly identical to 2016: neither Trump nor Truman was given any chance to win. Election night both men were declared losers. Truman went to bed believing Thomas Dewey was the winning candidate. The Chicago Tribune was so sure it printed the morning newspaper headlined: “Dewey Defeats Truman.” Truman won in a squeaker. In the best political photograph ever, Truman, with his big grin, held up the premature headline paper for all to see the world over.

Biographer McCullough notes that Truman is still controversial; much like Trump might be a few decades from now. “Was Harry Truman an ordinary provincial American sadly miscast in the presidency? Or was he a man of above-average, even exceptional qualities and character, who had the makings of greatness?” We might insert Trump’s name into nearly identical speculation. But Trump is not an accidental president.


Bella Vista

Vicious animal

laws need teeth

When a vicious dog attacks an innocent person in our city or county it’s interesting that the animal has the right, through its owner, to appeal its punishment.

It would be more effective to arrest the animal’s owner and let that person appeal his punishment for the offense of not controlling his animal, or for not having the dog licensed and vaccinated.

Dog attacks are terrifying and often disfiguring if not deadly. The seriousness of the recent attack on a 4-year-old child shows that our county and cities need very effective laws and regulations and enforcement of these regarding dog ownership responsibility. Victims may sue for damages, but how will an owner be held accountable if he is indigent or if he moves away?

It would be interesting to know the amount of the child’s medical costs, letting alone recompense for his physical pain and psychological suffering.

Just like dogs, our animal control laws and regulations need teeth.



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