Monday, April 26, 2010

Memoirs by Harry S. Truman, Vol. One (3)

Year of Decisions. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1955.

Why Read It? Truman had to end the war, decide on the atomic bomb and then shift to a peacetime economy in which he had to fight a Cold War with the Soviets, fight the Korean War, battle through labor troubles and to remind everyone of the necessity to maintain civilian control of the military through relieving MacArthur of his command. Although he appeared to be a normal U.S. citizen, he was anything but. His character was almost the ideal of a U.S. President. His decisions were well thought out and decisive. He was well known for his plain spokenness.

“He [Harry Hopkins] was a dedicated man who never sought credit or the limelight, yet willingly bore the brunt of criticism, just or unjust.” p. 30. ………. “All Presidential messages must begin with the President himself. He must decide what he wants to say and how he wants to say it. Many drafts are usually drawn up, and this fact leads to the assumption that Presidential speeches are ‘ghosted.’ The final version, however, is the final word for the President himself, expression his own convictions and his policy. These he cannot delegate to any man if he would be President in his own right.” p. 36. ………. “I had hurried to the White House to see the President, and when I arrived, I found I was the President.” p. 44. ………. “I decided also to continue the practice established by my predecessor of barring direct quotation of my replies [in press conferences]  and comments while permitting indirect quotation.” p. 47. ………. “I felt as if I had lived five lifetimes in my first five days as President.” p. 53.

“I had each member of the Cabinet lay important matters before the Cabinet as a whole, and each person present was given an opportunity to discuss the subjects that were under consideration to have his views.” p. 55. ………. “The relationship between the President and the Vice-President is complicated, and it is complicated further by the fact that the Vice-President  is in between the legislative and the executive branches of the government without, in the last analysis, being responsible to either. The Vice-President cannot become completely acquainted with the policies of the President, while the senators, for their part, look on him as a presiding officer only, who is outside the pale as far as the senatorial club is concerned.” p. 57. ………. “Nations which can plan and fight together shoulder to shoulder in the face of such obstacles of distance and of language and of communication as we have overcome, can live together and can work together in the common labor of the organization of the world for peace,: p. 65. ………. “The Soviet Union, Harriman replied, had two policies which they thought they could successfully pursue at the same time. One was the policy of cooperation with the United States and Great Britain, and the second was the extension of Soviet control over neighboring states by independent action.”

To be continued.

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