Sunday, April 05, 2009

Compare and Contrast

The New York Times has an article today about Harry Truman and his activities after he was no longer President. It provides the background for a book that is being released that follows the President and his wife Bess on a 19 day trip. A vacation if you will, by car, alone.

How alone? In those days a former President didn't receive a pension. They didn't get an office staff. They didn't even get Secret Service protection. Remember this was before JFK and the fated day in Dallas.

So the trip is Harry, Bess, and a car. And considering their income, it was a trip we'd all understand today. It was a trip of frugality. The stayed at the homes of friends. They accepted free dinners and lodging when offered. Yet they didn't go looking for publicity nor have anyone in advance preparing those free items.

It all comes down to this, the former President wanted to be a regular guy. A citizen. Not in the spotlight. Not attracting attention. Not offering commentary on the new commander in chief Eisenhower. He simply wanted to do what many of us enjoy doing during the nice days of the summer. They drove the east coast, they stayed in New York, and they enjoyed themselves.

Compare and contrast this to our former VP Cheney. Weeks out of office and he can't shut up. He can't help himself. He's got to plant the seed that should anything happen around the world, its the Obama Presidency's fault. Forgetting that he was in power when 9/11 happened and their administration was unable to prevent it.

Cheney needs protection for himself. From himself. In the article noted above, a gas station owner wanted Truman to needle one of the shop's mechanics that was a staunch Republican. Truman refused, even in jest, claiming it was too hot to give anyone "hell."

This is a side not well documented in history. Truman wasn't a spitfire every second of his life. Yes, he had his moments, God love him. Yet he also had true compassion. I sense no compassion in either Bush or Cheney. They can fake it, but they just don't seem to have humility in their souls. Bush couldn't even think of a mistake when quizzed in a press conference. When every human knows they are fallible, Bush couldn't think of one. He just couldn't admit to frailty that every human lives with and acknowledges.

I'm no expert, but a lack of humility is to me the definition of arrogance. That arrogance is the defining word for the Bush administration. That they simply thought they knew better than the rest of us. That torture was not only acceptable, but necessary and legal in the "war against terror." That loyalty was the only requirement needed to fill the position of attorney general. That he had no culpability with the Katrina disaster and the feeble attempts to help. That alienation of our allies wasn't a problem. That it was more important to have a "Gay Free" military than to have the needed interpreters while conducting a military action in a pair of countries riddled with unfathomable dialects and culture. That business permitted to operate unfettered by law will only serve itself, not its employees or even its stockholders. That the national budget did not need to include the most expensive single line item, the war against terror in the middle east.

I wish Harry was here to give Dick and George W. some hell, they could really use it. And I think he'd be just the man to give it to them. Rush Limbaugh sure isn't.