Harry Truman VS Barack Obama

I recall hitchhiking across America in 1948 and reaching the Midwest where billboards proclaimed in blaring headlines, “Impeach President Truman.” His crime was to fire a popular general and to fight for the end of segregation. In 1948, every public opinion poll had him losing by several points to Republican Governor Tom Dewey and at least 75% of newspapers were against him. Unlike, Barack Obama, Harry Truman believed in the American people and went to them by getting on a train and traveling thousands of miles. Unlike, Obama, he had a message that was clear and a program that was specific. In speech after speech he blasted the “do nothing Congress” until even Republican newspapers began printing his expression. After a while, most people in this nation knew that Congress had obstructed the president.

Secondly, he had the Fair Deal program which outlined in specific ways what his party planned to do once in control of Congress. The Fair Deal included, (a) extending Social Security to more people, (b) raising minimum wages, (c) health insurance for all Americans, (d) passage of laws preventing discrimination in hiring against Catholics, Jews and Negroes, and so on. A successful leader is specific, presents ideas that immediately benefit most Americans, and is repeated over and over again until everyone knows what is entailed in your ideas.

Barack Obama has, from day one, been unclear how his ideas directly impact Americans. The health care program is of scant help to someone without a job since they cannot pay the premium. There was need in January, 2009 for a specific job program that got millions back to work. Since last year, Obama continues telling unemployed people things are getting better and they should be patient. As Harry Hopkins, an advisor to President Roosevelt, once responded to someone with that message, “people eat today, not in the long run.” That basic concept is unknown to those around Barack Obama. Perhaps, if Obama had learned from FDR who hired Hopkins, a former social worker, that a president needs advisors who are daily in touch with people, not just bright people who graduated from Harvard and have never known a day of poverty in their lives.

Oh, despite the polls, Harry Truman was elected.