The Harry S Truman Interview
Former President Harry S Truman was kind enough to sit down with A Large Regular to discuss the state of politics and his place in history. We humbly thank President Truman for his time which in the interest of not wasting ALR will get right to the questions.
ALR: Perhaps the biggest topic of conversation during this current election cycle is negative advertising. Does it seem to you that the level of political discourse in this country has sunk to such low levels?
HST: Low levels as compared to when? Politics has always been the dirtiest of games. Think back to our founding where you had a man who lost the closest Presidential election in history and who served as Vice-President killing the man who created our banking system in a duel over rumors spread by one that the other was having inappropriate relations with his own daughter. Maybe I missed it but has anyone killed an opponent over rumors of incest like Aaron Burr killer Alexander Hamilton in this election cycle?
ALR: I see your point but I guess I was thinking of more recent, more modern history to compare to.
HST: Like when? The 50’s when accusations that a person was a Communist or “liked dark meat” could ruin not just the person’s election chances but also his life? The 60’s when protester’s threatened the water supplies of major cities or clashed with police on a regular basis in the late 60’s or in the early 60’s when violence was worse and civil rights workers in the South were killed for their beliefs or leaders assassinated like JFK, RFK or MLK? No the myth of a golden age of political civility is just a myth like the Easter Bunny. If anything politics are probably more civil today than the past. It has just become harder to keep a secret today.
ALR: Recently many people have been comparing the Presidency of George W Bush to that of your own. Do you see this as a valid comparison?
HST: From terms of background no two people could be more different than George W and me. I came from a very modest background while Bush’s father was President. He went to Yale and Harvard while I had to work instead of getting a college degree. However, I got us into the Korean War and had very low poll numbers at the end of my Presidency. Bush got us into the Iraq War and has very low poll numbers. I think Korea was the right thing to do. I still believe it and I never really gave a damn about poll numbers. Bush is involved in a war that is more and more unpopular and that has dragged his poll numbers down too. I have to believe that Bush is doing what he thinks is right though and I’ll leave it to history to see if he was correct.
ALR: Changing gears. Maybe nothing in recent history has caused more turmoil that the creation of the State of Israel. Do you ever second-guess your role in the creation of Israel?
HST: Not for one second! Why do people want to forget the horror the Jewish people went through in World War II? I don’t understand. Why is it that Israel can literally make the desert bloom and commerce thrive in an area of the world where nothing has born fruit in the past and yet Israel and not the ones who seek to eradicate Israel are the bad guys? Israel is a thriving democracy in a sea of thieving thugs but it is the thieving thugs who get the love and attention? Arafat was a terrorist and a thief but he was more loved than any Israeli Prime Minister. Have you ever been to Haifa? It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and yet the thugs who rain mortar shells upon it from Hamas are not condemned. Palestine has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world yet they lie in rubble because these people can only destroy not build but we are supposed to feel sorry for them? They are not victims – they are thugs and people from my generation knew how to deal with thugs.
ALR: Maybe the most controversial thing you did as President was authorize the use of the atomic bomb on Japan in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Do you ever regret that decision?
HST: I firmly believed that decision saved countless lives. The Japanese lost some 150,000 people in the battle of Okinawa. Invading the mainland of Japan would have produced ten times the fatalities. Our forces suffered about 72,000 casualties in the Battle of Okinawa. Invading mainland Japan would have caused ten times the casualties among US armed forces. I couldn’t have not used the bomb. I haven’t lost any sleep over that decision. I am bothered by the fact that nuclear power in general has come under attack. Nuclear power is the cleanest and cheapest form of energy known to man – yet we fail to utilize it and instead have become dependent on foreign oil. There are some things I just don’t understand about the modern era.
ALR: Speaking of the modern era – are there any things which you find particularly attractive?
HST: I love all the poker shows you see on TV these days. I was a very handy poker player in my day and would have loved to try my hand in some of these tournaments they have today with prizes worth millions of dollars.
ALR: I thank you for your time.
HST: You are most welcome.