Oddly enough, (because I don’t usually write political stuff) my column this week might also be one you might want to use. If so, you have my permission.
Last week I was watching the movie Truman on YouTube. I’ve always liked the movie, because I’m a big fan of Harry Truman. Not only was he a good president in some pretty challenging times, what with WWII and the Korean War, he was also a good person and probably the closest to a regular guy we’ve had as a president for a century or two.
After the movie ended, I scrolled down to the comments section and saw someone had posted, “I believe Donald Trump is just like Harry Truman.”
I guess I disagree. Now, I’m not going to tell you who to vote for – it’s a free country and if you’re a United States citizen you can vote for whomever you wish. But, if you’re choosing to vote for Donald Trump because he’s just like Harry Truman, I’d like to point out a few minor quibbles with that theory.
Harry Truman grew up the son of a not-very-successful farmer in Missouri. Donald Trump grew up as the son of a successful real estate developer in New York. Trump’s family had the only Cadillac in the neighborhood – Harry didn’t have a car at all until he bought one to impress the young woman he was dating.
Speaking of young women, when Harry Truman was six he saw a girl across the room at Sunday school and he fell in love. He never wavered in his affection and they were married for 53 years, until his death. Donald Trump has been married three times.
Donald Trump had four student deferments that kept him from the Vietnam War. After college he got a medical deferment – bone spurs in an ankle – that ended his military aspirations. Harry Truman tried to join the army, but was turned down because his eyesight was 20/50 in one eye and 20/400 in the other. That 20/400 number means he was considered legally blind. Harry memorized the eye chart, went back in and was tested again, this time passing with flying colors. During WWI he was a captain, commanding an artillery detachment. He was famous for two things – his stunning command of profanity when his men started to run during a battle and the fact that he brought all the men under his command home alive. He remained active in the National Guard and was a colonel when WWII began. He volunteered for active duty, but was turned down because by then, he was a United States Senator and President Roosevelt thought he was more valuable where he was.
Donald Trump worked in the real estate business with his father when he was very young. He says by the time he graduated from college he was already worth $200,000.00. Harry Truman lost the business he started after the war, a men’s clothing store that went belly up during the recession of 1921. It was a bankruptcy, but Truman paid off all the creditors anyway. It took him until 1934. Donald Trump’s businesses have declared bankruptcy four or six times, depending on whose statistics you use. He once said, “They’re very good for me as a tool for trimming debt.”
Harry Truman desegregated the military. Trump Enterprises was sued by the federal government for refusing to rent to minorities.
Donald Trump is known for not drinking. Harry liked to have a bump every now and then. He would sometimes set a glass of whiskey on the piano and play for hours. In fact, he used to say, “When I was young I had to choose between going into politics or being the piano player in a whorehouse. Come to think of it, there isn’t much difference.” That line always got a big laugh, although I believe his wife got a little tired of it.
Harry Truman belonged to the Masonic Lodge. Donald Trump started a private club in Palm Beach with membership fees of $150,000.00.
Donald Trump isn’t a huge fan of working with other countries. Harry Truman pushed through NATO, the United Nations, and the Marshall Plan.
Mr. Trump takes a certain amount of pride in not doing much research, just going with his native intelligence and gut instincts. Quite the opposite, Harry Truman knew stuff. Because he was a frail child, he read every book in the Independence, Missouri library. He worked his way to the top, serving as a county commissioner in Missouri, figuring out how to afford decent roads for farmers and helping to plan the economic development projects that transformed the Kansas City skyline. As a senator, he led investigations that saved the country fifteen billion dollars, back when that was real money, and as president he brought to the table a depth of history and knowledge about the world, gained from that worn-out library card.
Maybe where that commenter saw the resemblance between Harry Truman and Donald Trump is that Trump is famous for not being politically correct, and Harry Truman once threatened to kick a music critic in a very sensitive area. Here’s the deal: the critic had slammed Harry’s daughter in a review. I’m sorry, but insult a man’s daughter…all bets are off. Everyone should know that.
So, vote for whomever you wish. But if you’re thinking about voting for Donald Trump because he’s just like Harry Truman, perhaps you should think again.
Copyright 2016 Brent Olson www.independentlyspeaking.com