Collision Course

Monday, February 27, AD 2017


The things that you find on the internet.  I recently found on You Tube a television movie from 1976, Collision Course, which deals with the conflict between Douglas MacArthur and Harry Truman over Korean War policy.  I had seen the movie when it was first broadcast, and was delighted to watch it again.  Go here to watch the entire movie.  The late Henry Fonda stars as MacArthur and the late E.G. Marshall portrays Truman.  The Truman MacArthur conflict is often seen as a vindication of the right of the President to call the shots when it comes to foreign policy and waging war, but the conflict was actually caused by an abdication of presidential responsibility.  Truman viewed Korea as a potentially dangerous annoyance, and he wanted this “police action” wrapped up as soon as possible.  No planning was made about what to do if the Chinese intervened.  A sensible policy would have been to order MacArthur to form a defensive line north of Pyongyang and across to Wonsan.  The Korean peninsula narrows to a hundred miles at this point and would have been quite defensible with American firepower in the event of Chinese intervention.  Instead MacArthur, who was convinced that the Chinese would not intervene, was left free to conduct a helter-skelter advance to the Yalu, secure in his misguided belief that the Chinese would not intervene, and that if they did, he could easily defeat them.  MacArthur was guilty of military malpractice and Truman was guilty of presidential nonfeasance.

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July 14, 1948: Truman Begins Giving Them Hell

Monday, August 1, AD 2016



This being a presidential election year I have been thinking lately of prior presidential election years.  In 1948 the Democrats held their national convention in Philadelphia as they did this year.  No president seeking election has ever faced a more daunting prospect than Harry Truman.  His party was fractured, with the pro-segregation Dixiecrats, under Governor of South Carolina Strom Thurmond, peeling off Democrats of the right and the Progressives, under former Vice-President Henry Wallace, peeling off Democrats of the left.  In his acceptance speech Truman gave notice to the nation that if he was going down in November, he was going down swinging.  Here is the text of his speech:

I am sorry that the microphones are in the way, but I must leave them the way they are because I have got to be able to see what I am doing– as I am always able to see what I am doing.

I can’t tell you how very much I appreciate the honor which you have just conferred upon me. I shall continue to try to deserve it.

I accept the nomination.

And I want to thank this convention for its unanimous nomination of my good friend and colleague, Senator Barkley of Kentucky. He is a great man, and a great public servant. Senator Barkley and I will win this election and make these Republicans like it– don’t you forget that!

We will do that because they are wrong and we are right, and I will prove it to you in just a few minutes.

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5 Responses to July 14, 1948: Truman Begins Giving Them Hell

  • I apologize in advance
    Truman reaches out from the grave to help us understand Hillary.
    “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.”
    I thought Harry S said the following about MacArthur (after firing the general and listening to Mac’s speech to Congress). But, this is from the movie, “My Cousin Vinnie.” To wit, “Everything that woman just said is bullshit.”
    Brevity is the soul of wit.

  • Geez, makes me feel less depressed somehow to see that the Dems have a long history of griping and moaning about the evil Repubs not agreeing to a fast enough expansion of the welfare state. Yes, those 4 Dem administrations did a bang up job in the executive branch, which was honeycombed with Soviet agents and sympathizers by 1948, had given large swaths of Europe to what looked like permanent Communist enslavement, and had blundered us into WWII by either (depending on how charitable an interpretation you want to place on it) negligently missing the signs leading to Pearl Harbor, or deliberately turning a blind eye to them in the hopes that war would solve the depression they’d caused.

    Refreshing in a way to know that not much has really changed with that pack and their phony rhetoric.

  • Henry II: The Vexin’s mine.
    Philip II: By what authority?
    Henry II: It’s got my troops all over it; that makes it mine.

    Lion in Winter

    The Democrats didn’t give Stalin Eastern Europe, his Red Army did. It would have taken World War III to get them out, which we would probably have lost, absent the use of hundreds of atomic bombs in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

  • FDR got owned at Yalta and got nothing in return for promising to allow the Soviets to do as they would with Eastern Europe. He did not, when he had the opportunity, negotiate a better outcome. Worse, he agreed to “repatriate” people fleeing communism, effectively handing them over to imprisonment and often death.

    Solzhenitsyn, who knew a little bit first hand about the matter, summed it up thus:

    In their own countries Roosevelt and Churchill are honored as embodiments of statesmanlike wisdom. To us, in our Russian prison conversations, their consistent shortsightedness and stupidity stood out as astonishingly obvious. How could they, in their decline from 1941 to 1945, fail to secure any guarantees whatever of the independence of Eastern Europe? How could they give away broad regions of Saxony and Thuringia in exchange for the preposterous toy of a four-zone Berlin, their own future Achilles’ heel? And what was the military or political sense in their surrendering to destruction at Stalin’s hands hundreds of thousands of armed Soviet citizens determined not to surrender? They say it was the price they paid for Stalin’s agreeing to enter the war against Japan. With the atom bomb already in their hands, they paid Stalin for not refusing to occupy Manchuria, for strengthening Mao Tse-tung in China, and for giving Kim Il Sung control of half Korea! What bankruptcy of political thought! And when subsequently, the Russians pushed out Mikolajczyk, when Benes and Masaryk came to their ends, when Berlin was blockaded, and Budapest flamed and fell silent, and Korea went up in smoke, and Britain’s Conservatives fled Suez, could one really beleive that those among them with the most accurate memories did not at least recall that episode of the Cossacks?

    Certainly the military situation on the ground dictated that the Soviets would retain immense influence in Eastern Europe. But FDR cemented it into place at Yalta. Not a proud moment for the Dem administration, which was my point in bringing it up.

  • “FDR got owned at Yalta and got nothing in return for promising to allow the Soviets to do as they would with Eastern Europe. He did not, when he had the opportunity, negotiate a better outcome.”

    In regard to who controlled Eastern Europe that was never a subject of negotiation. The Red Army controlled it by virtue of military conquest. MacArthur took the same attitude in regard to Japan. When the Soviet ambassador told him that the Soviets were planning to occupy northern Japan as a member of the Allied occupying force, MacArthur told him that if one Soviet set foot in Japan without his say so he would lock up every Soviet in the Home Islands beginning with the ambassador. An ounce of military control is worth many pounds of diplomacy.

Freedom Train

Saturday, July 7, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.  Freedom Train by Irving Berlin and sung by Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters.  In 1947 President Harry S. Truman commissioned a special train, staffed with United States Marines, to tour the country and display precious documents of American history to remind all Americans of their heritage.  The train’s cargo included:  the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, one of the 13 original copies of the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, one of Lincoln’s handwritten drafts of the Gettysburg Address, the large flag raised on Mount Suribachi by the US Marines on Iwo Jima, the German and Japanese surrender documents that ended World War II, and much more, including one of the originals of the Magna Carta.

The train toured the US for two years and was surrounded by throngs of visitors wherever it stopped.  It traveled 37,160 miles, stopping in 326 cities and towns.  Over three million Americans went on board the train, many waiting up to six hours to do so.  A second Freedom Train toured the country during the Bicentennial in 1975-1976.

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10 Responses to Freedom Train

  • Wish we could have a FREEDOM TRAIN now. FREEDOM TRAIN

  • I shudder to think how such a train would be curated under this administration.

  • Wow ! ::: “the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, one of Lincoln’s handwritten drafts of the Gettysburg Address….”

    When I lived in D.C. we went down to the National Archives. Quite a day.

    Bringing these documents out to the people mattered !!

    Btw: the “vampire hunter” version of Lincoln is spot-on as can be. Slavery wasn’t an inch short of sucking blood from humans.

  • Clinton: I had the same thought. I would put only copies of real documents on the train, because they need to be seen and appreciated. In the old days, the Vatican transported the Pieta to Flushing Meadows, New York for the World’s Fair in 1962. The Times Building had copies of all the Sistine Chapel paintings of Michaelangelo that could be seen upclose. Since then, the Pieta has been attacked and must be seen under bullet proof glass. Larger than life COPIES of our founding principles could be easily read and even pamphlets with the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution might be available. Impersonators of Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, the film strips of the movies might be continuously shown. The Lincoln, Jefferson Memorial, pictures of the capitol, the Supreme Court in session. Boy is my age showing. Hey, some people will come for the show who otherwise might not. Civics 101. Perhaps a class credit might be givern to any student who attends. It is very exciting for people who may not be able to visit Philadelphia, Washington D.C. The Statue of Liberty. It is better for the children than condoms.

  • “Btw: the “vampire hunter” version of Lincoln is spot-on as can be. Slavery wasn’t an inch short of sucking blood from humans.”
    How current, the HHS mandate is sucking the life-blood from humans.

  • “I shudder to think how such a train would be curated under this administration.” Obama can get on the train or get off. Obama is becoming very irrelevant.

  • I remember the Bicentennial Freedom Train of 1976 because my family went to see it when it stopped in Peoria, Ill. It was very much like touring a museum on wheels. However, I had no idea until now that there was an earlier Freedom Train in the 1940s.

  • More fun facts about the later Freedom Train: Over 7 million Americans toured the Bicentennial (American) Freedom Train, which included not only historic artifacts such as the original Louisiana Purchase document, but cultural artifacts such as Judy Garland’s dress from “The Wizard of Oz,” Joe Frazier’s boxing trunks, Martin Luther King’s clerical robes, and a rock brought back from the moon by the Apollo astronauts!

  • We would benefit from a freedom train more than ever before!

  • Today’s version would be a “Worship Train” with copies of His Pomposity’s speeches, books and life-sized standup cutouts available for photo opportunities.

Previewing President Obamas State of the Union Address

Wednesday, January 27, AD 2010

[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 1-27-2010 at 4:20pm CST]

Victimhood personified by a modern liberal of the Democratic Party.  Where is Harry “the BUCK stops here” Truman?

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3 Responses to Previewing President Obamas State of the Union Address

  • I am sure he will discuss his spending freeze proposal. Supposedly, he increased government spending by about 25% but only plans to freeze about 4% of his spending.

  • Maybe you should go back and read Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s first state of the union addresses. Did they personify Harry “The Buck Stops Here” Truman? I think not. They talked about where the country wason the day they gave their speeches in terms of how the country had gotten there – in other words, they looked back. So, Reagan and Bush 43 must have been cases of victimhood personified by “modern” conservatives of the Republican Party, don’t you think?

  • Linda,

    They talked about America in general.

    They didn’t cite the previous president’s name and blamed him for all the problems that they were still having.

Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

Monday, December 14, AD 2009

As the recession continue to take its toll on our fellow Americans, rendering more and more of them homeless, tent cities have begun sprouting up across this great country.  It would not be fair to blame President Obama for the predicament that our nation is in, but President Obama has done nothing to help the situation.

President Obama’s ‘stimulus package’ only rewarded government contractors with more spending.  It is also correct to point out that former President George W. Bush’s ‘stimulus package’ did nothing more than President Obama’s spending bill.

Small businesses and the private sector in general got almost zero benefit for either porkulus spending bills.  Though this recession is typical of a business cycle, there are some things that can be done to alleviate the stress the economy is undergoing and maybe expedite the expiration of the current recession.  President Obama has done neither.

So it is fitting and fair to label the tent cities that are sprouting across America as Obamavilles.

(Note: In case the above YouTube video is taken down by the Blueshirts, you can see the entire story and video here.)

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23 Responses to Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

  • Perhaps this can be the campaign song for Team Obama in 2012:

  • I would like to know what you think Obama could have done differently over the past year.

    There’s so much misunderstanding over the role of fiscal policy during this recession. It was precisely the huge expansion in the public deficit that counteracted the collapse in private demand, preventing huge negative growth rates, and equally dire employment numbers. Think of it this way: we went from a deficit of 2 percent of GDP in the balance between private income and spending shifted from to a surplus of over 6 per cent – in increase in private savings by 8 percent of GDP. What do you think would have happened without the fiscal crutch?

    It’s fustrating how few people get this point. I listened last night to John King lecture Larry Summers on how government debt is exploding at the very time when households are tighening the belt. Honestly, I thought this fallacy went out with Herbert Hoover! Here’s the issue: the vast majority of the increase in debt during this recession was because of the recession (lower taxes etc). In the jargon, it comes from automatic stabilizers. You work against the stabilizers, you make the recession worse. Moxt experts quite rightly felt that the depth of the collapse in private demand justified going even further than automatic stabilizers – hence the stimulus. The standing “crowding out argument” does not work in an environment when interest rates are near zero and nobody is lending (the case of a liquidity trap).

    Anyway, have a look at this post I did on what governments did right, and 4 key fallacies surrounding this recession.

  • MM,

    he vast majority of the increase in debt during this recession was because of the recession (lower taxes etc)

    Don’t you think if there was less federal government bureaucracy and programs, instead of raising taxes, that we wouldn’t have gotten to this point?

  • MM:

    Moxt experts quite rightly felt that the depth of the collapse in private demand justified going even further than automatic stabilizers – hence the stimulus.

    Except as the author rightly pointed out that the stimulus didn’t do ANYTHING. Most of the money in the Obama stimulus has yet to be spent.

    I supported TARP under the idea that despite that it would be mishandled, the banks needed shoring up. But make no mistake, there was a ton of corruption in TARP and even more under Obama’s stimulus.

  • Think of it this way: we went from a deficit of 2 percent of GDP in the balance between private income and spending shifted from to a surplus of over 6 per cent – in increase in private savings by 8 percent of GDP. What do you think would have happened without the fiscal crutch?

    My guess is that if Congress hadn’t passed a stimulus the Fed would have engaged in more quantitative easing, and we’d be pretty much where we are now. I don’t think Obama is to blame for our current troubles, but the things he’s done haven’t been particularly helpful either.

  • It also would have been nice if they had used tax cuts, or focused a higher percentage of the spending in 2009 and 2010, rather than just handing out money to every Democratic Congressperson’s favorite pork project.

  • Tito – I don’t get your point. The recession was caused by greed in the financial sector. Government softened the blow …. dramatically. And by that I mean monetary, fiscal, and financial sector policy.

  • I reckon living in a tent in Colorado in mid winter won’t be too much fun.

  • MM,

    This is a normal business cycle. Recessions occur every 5-7 years.

    To blame anyone is like throwing darts at a dartboard.

    I was just touching on the debt. Meaning that if we had less wasteful federal programs to defund the debt would be a bit more manageable.

  • John: I take your second point, but not the first. Multiplers are much larger on the expenditure than tax side. And I never got the whole “pork” thing — that’s the whole point of stimulus. Of course, it would be nice to get some socially worthwhile investments going (greening buildings, trains etc) but that’s not really the point of stimulus. The whole “pork” fetish is really an argument for good times – when you are supposed to be building your reserves to use them in times like this.

    On the tax point, Krugman just referenced some cutting edge new research suggesting that tax cuts are a really bad idea in liquidity type situations –

  • Tito,

    No, this was not a normal business cycle. It was the buggest global slowdown since the Great Depression. The fact that a meltdown was avoided comes from policymakers learning the lessons of the Great Depression (see the chart in my post).

    On your second point, it certainly makes sense to run prudent fiscal policy in good times to store up reserves for the lean years. And the debt profile today would not look so scary if we had gone into this in good shape. But we did not – the major fiscal loosenings of the last administration were not paid for – Iraq war, tax cuts for the wealthy, medicare part D expanion. Each of these added more to the debt than any single Obama initiative, and they didn’t even pretend to pay for them.

    The key fiscal challenge is that taxes are too low for teh level of desired spending. And if you disagree, you need to be willing to cut military spending or medicare – nothing else is going to cut it.

  • Blackadder, that’s possibly right, but (i) QE doesn’t come without cost; (ii) its success has been limited – again, it comes back to the fact that monetary policy has limited value in a liquidity trap.

  • MM,

    I agree with you that taxes are too low for the level of desired spending.

    Which to me means that we need to cut more federal programs.

    We have never had an income tax at all in this country, with a couple of exceptions, until the current income tax I believe was finally imposed in 1913.

    There is nothing that warrants to take people’s hard earned money.

  • Tito,

    Much as it might hurt to admit it, MM is right here. This wasn’t an ordinary business cycle.

  • Tito:

    (1) But what programs? As I said, you can’t do this without touching the military and medicare.

    (2) Your last sentence is not fully aligned with developments in Catholic social teaching, and reflects more a laissez-faire liberalism. Remember Pope John XXII: “the economic prosperity of a nation is not so much its total assets in terms of wealth and property, as the equitable division and distribution of this wealth” (Mater Et Magistra, 1961). Powerful stuff, that!!

  • MM,

    There’s room for disagreement on taxing hard working Americans and redistributing to the proletariat in Catholic Social Teaching.

    Pope John XXIII’s teaching is not set in stone nor is it mandatory.

    And by wealth he didn’t mean taxes, he meant equitable distribution, ie, opportunities to capital, resources, etc. Not take from workers and redistribute to the proletariat.


    I’m not debating whether it’s ordinary or extraordinary (if I gave that impression, I didn’t mean to). But the fact remains it’s a business cycle that the socialist leaning Democratic Party is exploiting to further control our lives.

  • But what programs? As I said, you can’t do this without touching the military and medicare.

    Means testing Medicare and Social Security would be a start.

  • Multiplers are much larger on the expenditure than tax side.

    You will get quite an argument from some macroeconomists on that assertion.

    I would like to know what you think Obama [ie the Administation and Congress] could have done differently over the past year.

    1. Undertake a special audit of Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo / Wachovia, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and GE Capital [?] to determine their authentic book value.

    2. Erect a fund of about $300 bn to compensate defined benefit pension funds and purchase preferred stock in insurance companies as needed, as these entities are abnormally invested in bank bonds.

    3. Prepare articles of incorporation for the successors of each of the foregoing. Each should have at least two successors – an ongoing business concern and a holding company which owns certain assets (illiquid securities, delinquent loans, and swaps & derivative). Citi, Bank of America and JP Morgan might have three successors: the dead asset holding company, their deposits-and-loans business, and their capital markets business.

    4. Recapitalize the aforementioned banks and investment firms through swapping debt (bonds, securitized receivables, l/t loans, &c) for equity in the successor corporations. If any one corporation retains a positive book value, it should be divided between its erstwhile creditors and equity holders; otherwise, the former bondholders, &c. get the whole enchilada.

    5. Call in all outstanding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt and replace it with common stock. If necessary, agree antecedently to exchange the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds held by sovereign wealth funds abroad with U.S. Treasury debt.

    6. Suspend collection of federal payroll taxes. Phase them back in per the performance of the macroeconomy.

    7. Transfer responsibility for unemployment compensation to the federal government.

    8. Institute reductions in pay and benefits for all federal employees. Compensation would be cut each quarter in step with the decline in domestic product per capita.

    9. Remove all conditions on intergovernmental transfers from the federal government to state and local governments bar one: they have to cut the compensation of all public employees in their purview in step with the decline in per capita income in the country at large.

    10. Legislate a pre-packaged bankruptcy for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler which would feature compensation cuts of at least a third for the workforce and legatees in return for equity shares in proportion to losses. The bondholders might get preferred stock. In lieu of making use of TARP funding, have the Federal Reserve provide a bridge loan by purchasing their commercial paper.

    11. Cut the minimum wage to $4.60 an hour.

    12. Institution a mortgage modification program along the lines suggested by Martin Feldstein (with NO means testing): those whose mortgages are held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or banks held by the FDIC might apply for a reduction in the principal equal to the fall (since they purchased the home) in the OFHEO price index for their area; in return, their chattels could be attached and their wages garnished if they defaulted.

    13. Institution of comprehensive tax reform as part of medium term planning for a return to fiscal balance: the elimination of deductions and exemptions, the gradual replacement of the payroll tax with enhanced income levies, the gradual institution of a component which taxes an index of one’s personal consumption, and a an enhanced per-dependent credit.

    14. Introduction legislation to erect a revised financial architecture some features of which might be as follows:

    a. Divestiture of subsidiaries which hold deposits domiciled abroad;

    b. Prohibitions on the ownership of financial firms by non-financial firms, or (for more than a temporary period) of non-financial firms by financial firms.

    c. Separation of deposits-and-loans banking from securities underwriting, proprietary trading (in securities, futures, options, &c.), ‘prime brokerage’, and private equity.

    d. Separation of securities underwriting from all activities other than corporate lending.

    e. Separation of proprietary trading from all other activities.

    f. Separation of prime brokerage from all other activities.

    g. Separation of private equity from all other activities.

    h. The separation of mutual funds from retail brokerage, trust companies, and treasury services firms.

    g. The separation of mid-market, corporate, and governmental lending from mortgage, farm, consumer, and small business lending. The former would be lodged in national banks which take deposits only from governments and incorporated entities; the latter would be lodged in banks which could take deposits from anyone but would constrained to operate within geographic catchments.

    h. Erection of an exchange for trading in swaps and derivatives.

    i. Prohibition of credit default swaps and insurance on securities.

    j. Prohibition on the use of credit to purchase securities other than initial public offerings; limit the ratio of margin loans in individual portfolios to one quarter of total assets; limit the permissible leverage of hedge funds accordingly;

    k. Erection an agency similar to the FDIC to act as a receiver of bankrupt securities firms and roll them up as rapidly as possible.

    l. Prohibition on the securitization of receivables.

    m. Turning Fannie and Freddie into self-liquidating entities.

    15. Postponement of action on medical insurance UNTIL THE BLOODY BANKS ARE REPAIRED.

  • Means testing Medicare and Social Security would be a start.


  • socialist leaning Democratic Party


  • Morning’s Minion writes Monday, December 14, 2009 A.D.

    “preventing huge negative growth rates”

    I have read this phrase in several places. I have not succeeded in understanding what is “a negative growth rate”. Is it shrinking?

    [I make the point chiefly to illustrate that much discussion about matters economic has similar fine-sounding nonsensical phrases].

Bush: Nixon or Truman?

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2009

One hears rather often that George W. Bush has ended his presidency with record low approval ratings. Some articles I’ve read have said (apparently incorrectly) that they are the lowest ever.


The above was sent to me yesterday, and it provides an interesting comparison. Two presidents left office with approvals as low as Bush’s: Truman, who faced a struggling post-war economy and a increasingly difficult situation in the Korean War; and Nixon, who was in the middle of being impeached when he resigned.

History has been far kinder to Truman, overall, than Nixon. Indeed, I suspect that few people know that Truman ended his presidency as unpopular as Nixon and Bush. Certainly, I hadn’t realized it. It remains to be seen whether, in 50 years time, Bush will be seen as more like the former or the latter.

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24 Responses to Bush: Nixon or Truman?

  • It might be instructive to line these numbers up with congressional approval ratings, which have been generally about 1/2 George Bush’s since shortly before the Democrats took over.

    God Bless,


  • Approval ratings at the time one leaves office are a poor indicator of what one’s historical legacy will be. It’s too early to make any definitive judgments about our most recent presidents, but I’ll venture a guess as to one of them.

    Bill Clinton left office with the highest approval ratings ever recorded. Yet, this time last year, he was being treated as the enemy by the very people who were most supportive of him when he was in office – African-Americans and left-leaning pundits. How many times in 2008 did we hear people lamenting that they wished Bill Clinton would just go away.

    In 50 years, what will Bill Clinton be remembered for? What were the “big” things that he accomplished for which history marks presidential greatness? The economy? I doubt it. That may help keep one’s approval numbers high, but it’s not the kind of stuff history is made of. I can’t name one other president not named Herbert Hoover or FDR who is remembered for the economy.

  • Good point, Jay.

    I think the reason Truman is remembered as a mixed-to-good president is because it’s recognized that he strove with big problems and got a certain number of them right. Nixon isn’t remembered very positively because he didn’t have any big historic successes, and he went out in disgrace.

    In that sense, I’d say that how Bush is remembered will have a lot to do with what the historical legacy of the events he was involved with were. Primarily — if Iraq and Afghanistan somehow settle out to islands of liberal democracy in the Middle East, and that has good effects in the long run, I would imagine that Bush will be remembered well. If not, then probably he won’t be remembered much, well or badly.

  • can’t name one other president not named Herbert Hoover or FDR who is remembered for the economy.

    In a sense I think Reagan is as well. Surely the Cold War stuff and battling the Soviets is a big part of his legacy, but a lot of people also remember the roaring 80s and tie that in with Reagan. The economy is not the first thing I think about regarding Reagan, but I would guess that’s a big component of his legacy.

  • The economic stuff during the 80s isn’t enough to mark Reagan as a “great” president. Coupled with things such as the Cold War victory, it merely “pads” his legacy.

    But even then, the economy in the 80s was a mixed bag both at the beginning of the decade and by the end of the decade, and I bet people remember the 80s as much for the movie Wall Street as they do for the role Pres. Reagan played in bringing about sustained economic growth.

    My point is that unless your name is Herbert Hoover or FDR, the economy, alone, is not enough to build a historical legacy for good or ill.

  • “Nixon isn’t remembered very positively because he didn’t have any big historic successes …”

    Well, he does get credit from historians for going to China. It’s even become a figure of speech.

  • “My point is that unless your name is Herbert Hoover or FDR, the economy, alone, is not enough to build a historical legacy for good or ill…”

    And, potentially, Obama….

  • While FDR is remembered for ending the Great Depression, in fact, he did more to prolong it than any other factor.

    Thomas Woods a Catholic historian has studied this in detail.

    the lesson is that how presidents are remembered does not necessarily reflect reality.


  • “And, potentially, Obama….”

    I believe we’d have to have a crash of epic proportions … another Great Depression, if you will … for that to happen. It might, but short of that, presidents just aren’t remembered for economic successes or failures.

    President Obama’s place in history is already secured by virtue of being the first black president. The economy isn’t going to make or break that legacy. Regardless of what he does – barring an epic failure (and maybe even despite such), he’ll likely forever be rated by historians as among the top 10 presidents in U.S. history.

  • I think Bush will likely be most remembered by his “Bush-isms” – simply put, all the silly things he’s said over the past 8 years. Cobble that together with the war in Iraq and possibly 9/11. The economy? I seriously doubt anyone will remember Bush for that…

  • Additionally, you have to be a bit careful about who you are talking about when referring to how someone is going to be regarded in history – are you referring to how history buffs and historians will regard him, or how the general population will remember him?

  • Ho hum. So much has happened in the War On Terror that neither GWB nor his top aides may yap about in their lifetimes. Heavy deep cover stuff involving branches of armed forces not made public. Wait about 50 years. Hear that sound of silence? No car bombs going off in U.S. downtown areas on regular basis. No hostage dramas consuming cable teevee nets- now that Official Obama Worship is declining, back to missing Caucasian women and children as their obsessives. Thank You, Mr. Bush and Company.

  • A large part of how Bush will be remembered is how Obama does. One large attack on a continental US target by terrorists during the Obama administration and public attitudes toward Bush will change overnight. Additionally if future historians credit Bush with initiating policies that lead to the ultimate defeat of the Islamic jihadists, then his stock will rise just as Harry Truman received credit long after he left office for initiating policies which helped ultimately to win the cold war. It will also depend on whether academia continues to be largely dominated by the Left or if future historians are a more ideologically diverse bunch than the current servants of Cleo.

  • The Truman comparison is apt. Truman was also a war criminal. See Anscomsbe, Elizabeth.

  • Morning’s Minion,

    and yet his unpopularity was in no way related to what you consider a war crime, which the vast majority still support to this day as justified. I don’t think that’s the point of this post anyway.


  • “Truman was also a war criminal.”

    I think he was hero who saved millions of lives including one of my uncles who was scheduled to participate as a marine in the invasion of Japan. Of course I can understand how people can have different opinions on the matter. What I can’t understand is how someone who can have so much concern about civilian casualties at Hiroshima and Nagasaki could vote for a pro-abort like Obama. I doubt that the late Elizabeth Anscombe, who got arrested late in life in an Operation Rescue style sit-in against abortion in England, could understand that either. If Harry Truman is a war criminal for civilian deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what sort of criminal does that make our newly elected President who conducts a never-ending fight to keep the ongoing slaughter of the innocents a constitutional right?

  • Under Truman, the Marshall Plan was implemented and Europe, a smoking ruin of a continent in ’45, was rebuilt. Of course, that left the post-war generation of Europeans, raised in peace and prosperity, with the means and lesiure time to denounce American imperialism and capitalism. Gratitude is the most transient of human emotions.

  • Donald,

    Given that Anscombe was probably the greatest Catholic philsopher of the 20th century, I’m sure she “understood” the issues perfectly. Anscombe had the virtue of consistency, sadly lacking among many American Catholics today– she was indeed arrested for protesting abortion, and she also had a champagne party to celebrate Humanae Vitae in 1968– but she also denounced Truman as a war criminal in the most strudent terms. By the way, she invented the term “consequentialism”, and this was picked up and condemned explicitly by John Paul many years later in Veritatis Splendour. I would hope that a Catholic blog understands that evil cannot be condoned, no matter what good might come of it.

  • Thank you for your information Tony, all of which I was already aware of. Now, once again, if President Truman is to be considered a war criminal for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the killing of noncombatants , what sort of criminal is President Obama, who you supported in the last election, for his unwavering devotion to abortion, including the disguised infanticide which occurs in partial birth abortion?

  • evil cannot be condoned, no matter what good might come of it.

    Neither can you condone pro-choice policies just because you might get universal health care out of the deal. Wait a minute, you do just that.

  • I think it would be more useful to discuss the morality of Hiroshima without bringing every conversation back to tu quoque comments about the election.

  • Although, I probably should add that the morality of Truman’s actions wasn’t really the original subject of the thread either.

  • John Henry, I respectfully disagree. Whenever anyone starts tossing around the term “war criminal” then I want to understand if they are consistent in the application of the term “criminal”, or if the term is simply used as a pejorative. If Hiroshima and Nagasaki are to be condemned for the taking of innocent human life, then one can only imagine the magnitude of evil in the taking of 44,000,000 innocent lives in this country since Roe, and what term should be applied to politicians who support abortion as a constitutional right.

  • Well, does bringing up abortion help define the term ‘war criminal’? I agree that there are many suggestive analogies between war and abortion, but they are separate things. I would not classify an abortionist as a ‘war criminal’.