Sunday, November 02, 2008

Harry And My Dad

The One Man Show
This upcoming Tuesday has me thinking about my favorite president, Harry S Truman. Now it's true until Ole W, he had the highest and lowest poll numbers of any president but history has shown us while he was no perfect president and certainly an imperfect man, he's now considered one of our greatest presidents usually hovering between the #9 and #5 spots depending on the survey.

I first learned about Harry while watching "Give 'Em Hell, Harry" which is a film of a one man show with James Whitmore. It was filmed on stage in Seattle in 1975 and I remember it was one of the very few times we didn't eat dinner at the table, but instead ate our dinner in front of the television.

I recall being enthralled and then enamored of Harry because he reminded me so much of my Dad. He's down to earth and straight talking like my Dad, cussed up a blue streak like my Dad used to, wore glasses like my Dad, and seemed to possess an unusual sense of fairness, open-mindedness, and humbled public service like my Dad.

When I took U.S. History in high school, my teacher confessed that Harry was his favorite president as well. When I told him I liked Harry because he reminds me of my Dad he said I was very lucky. I guess that's about 1,000,000 times better than saying Nixon or even W reminds you of your Dad.

I'm not going to give you a litany of Harry's history or accomplishments. You can check the Wikipedia article up there at the beginning of this post, but I will give you three quotes each from each man:

Harry -
"All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway"

"It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours."

"I remember when I first came to Washington. For the first six months you wonder how the hell you ever got here. For the next six months you wonder how the hell the rest of them ever got here."

My Dad -
After Barbara Boxer made a speech at my Dad's retirement dinner. It was the first year she was running for Senate. Me: "She's really nice." My Dad: "Of course she's nice. She's a politician."

"Just because I tell you I understand doesn't mean I agree with you. You need to get it into your head what the difference is."

"We hired this openly gay man in the early 1980s to do AIDS education. He did a great job for years until he came to me to tell me he was leaving. I asked him why and he said 'Because all my friends are either dying or dead. I just can't do it anymore.' I don't know what happened to him. For all I know he could be dead himself, but he did a hell of a job. A hell of a job."

You're No Harry Truman
Sarah Palin, and certainly not George W. Bush could ever be compared to Harry Truman even though they've both tried. W is hoping that history will judge him well even with his abysmal poll numbers. Sarah hopes that people will connect her folksy manner with Harry's. Maybe if she uses the word "hell" more in her speeches and actually gets a brain she might make some headway, but it's unlikely.

My Dad might come close and that's because he's no politician.

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