"I Knew Harry Truman, Harry Truman Was a Friend of Mine, and George W., You're No Harry Truman"

Well, OK, I didn't actually know Harry Truman, except that he was pure Missouri as was my mother, so I feel as if I could have known him. And, I cannot claim he was friend of mine, but his "Fair Deal" gave my grandparents and parents their chances in life, so he was bequeathed to me as a friend.

The last part, however, is certainly true: George Bush is no Harry Truman. Delusions of grandeur are especially dangerous in those with power who can use other peoples' sacrifices to try to achieve their fantasies. It is, therefore, important for George W. to understand that there ain't no resurrection in his future even as he uses the example of Harry Truman to convince himself that his disastrous policies must be shoved down the throats of the American people.

This is how Zbigniew Brzezhinski summarized US foreign policy under Truman, who set the parameters for the post-WWII strategy: "After World War II, the United States prevailed in the defense of democracy in Europe because it successfully pursued a long-term political strategy of uniting its friends and dividing its enemies, of soberly deterring aggression without initiating hostilities, all the while also exploring the possibility of negotiated arrangements."

Let us examine the Bush policy for strategic congruence:

1. "Uniting its friends". Bush has accomplished this in only one sense: he has united our friends AGAINST the United States, not exactly what Zbig was describing. This is all the more appalling because he had an extraordinary opportunity to rally our friends after 9/11 that by choice, by choice, he squandered. Of all his malfeasance and incompetence, that choice may return to haunt us in more ways than any other. Truman gave the world the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, the Bretton Woods agreement on international monetary policy, NATO. Bush and the Neocons take it as a badge of honor to do the opposite of what our allies favor.

2. "Dividing its enemies". Bush has achieved what was once thought impossible, uniting the Shia Persians of Iran with the Arab Shias of Iraq. Al-Qaeda, once at odds with Iraq, has taken up residence. This might not be so important except that Shia Iraq sits on 80% of its oil reserves. What better way there would have been to INCREASE our dependency on Saudi Arabia.

3. "Soberly deterring aggression without initiating hostilities". Although Cheney told us on 9/23/01 (12 days after 9/11) that "Iraq was contained", and a year later Iraq was undergoing intrusive inspections, Bush initiated hostilities under the doctrine of pre-emption for which a clear-and-present danger, the smoking gun as the mushroom cloud, was created. He is now rattling sabers against Iran (one of his neocons, who avoided military service himself, told Bob Woodward, "the wimps go to Baghdad; the real men go to Teheran"). Truman, by contrast, responded to Soviet aggression in Europe with the Berlin airlift, supported Western-leaning Greeks in their civil war. He did not initiate hostilities, but was not afraid of responding to aggression as he did in Korea. Even in Korea, however, Truman resisted the opportunity to expand the war to China.

4. "All the while exploring the possibility of negotiated arrangements". Bush's attitude toward negotiations is matched only by his attitude toward volunteering for overseas duty during Vietnam: in both cases, he checked the "no" box. Speak to Iran, to Syria, to the world on an improvement to Kyoto, engage deeply in the Israeli-Palestinian matter? Bush says, "no". For Bush and the neocons it is a badge of honor not to "sully" themselves even speaking to our adversaries. Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, Carter, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt....all engaged in important negotiated arrangements. With the exception of Libya, where Bush negotiated the last remaining point--and (correctly) caved in on it--Bush et al. believe that the world is best handled by announcing what others' should do and, if they do not, to go after them with our military (so long as it is other peoples' children doing the fighting of course..., by the way, Truman volunteered for World War I despite the hardship it caused his family losing him as a farmworker).

Bush and Truman had one common experience prior to becoming President was running failed businesses: Bush's was Harken Oil, and Truman was a haberdashery. The difference is that Daddy had his Saudi friends buy out W's stake BEFORE the company failed, whereas Truman saw his through. Each ascended to the Presidency following a charismatic leader, FDR and Clinton respectively. Truman rose to the occasion, while Bush has just gone from bad to worse.

Bush had every educational opportunity (from prep school to Yale to Harvard Business School, each of which he entered because of family influence, not performance) but wound up uninformed with lack of curiosity. Truman, who had no educational opportunities, trained himself through extensive reading, and was a very learned man with a broad knowledge of history and culture, and insatiable curiosity.

Truman, of course, had his problems, his own cronies, and he overreached his Presidential powers by seizing the steel industry. No one, however, even those he fired, wrote a "kiss-and-tell" book about him. Bush, who fires no one, and awards Medals of Freedom to complete failures, has already had several highly critical books written before his term is over, and there are likely many more.

Upon Truman's death, Adai Stevenson III, said: "The lesson of Truman's life was a lesson about ourselves: an object lesson in the vitality of popular government; an example of the ability of this society to yield up from the most unremarkable origins, the most remarkable men." (from Truman, by David McCullough, p. 992). George Marshall said, in 1948, it was the "integrity of the man that would stand down the ages, even more than the courage of his decisions".(ibid).

Not a single word of these eulogies describes, or will ever describe, George W. Bush.