In 1975, the filmed version of the one man play "Give 'Em Hell, Harry" was a critical, if not commercial success, garnering rave reviews and an Academy Award nomination in Best Actor category for its star, veteran actor James Whitmore.
It obviously deals with the life of our 33rd President, Harry S. Truman. It celebrates his plain-spoken decisive nature, and the ability to stick by a decision made, often in the face of brutal criticism. As the movement of History rolls forward, Truman has been elevated in stature and importance, occupying a favored ranking well above that enjoyed in his own time. As recent events unfold, I think of Mr. Truman and his legacy.
It is a curious thing to turn on NBC, CNN, or any of the mainstream outlets and hear a mantra of praise for the "Rise of Democracy" in the Middle East. This new found love for the spread of Liberty in lands where formerly it was but a dream has taken the press by storm, first with the actions in Tunisia, and more spectacularly Egypt. Headlines scream out "Egyptian style protests sweep Middle East," signaling a snowball effect in the most unlikely of places.
Credit for starting such earth-shaking events is being given to students, as well as Facebook and other tech revolutions which both define and divide generations. But sitting quietly in Crawford, Texas, out of the glare of the spotlight but basking in the peace of the righteous man confirmed by the march of History, is the true author of the new found spirit of freedom in the sands, the man whose belief held that when the citizens of once-enslaved nations received a taste of personal freedom, its message would have no borders.
Like a handful of leaders before him, in the face of the most vicious of personal attacks, he stood strong and tall - oft times nearly alone - in support of his vision, now to see it confirmed in his lifetime. The so called "Bush Doctrine" was one of preemptive military action - essentially hit them before they hit us. Simple, clear, resolute.
There existed at the time and remains ample justification for the Iraq action. The existence of weapons of mass destruction - WMD's - was believed by the entire world intelligence community. As the old adage states, absence of proof does not mean proof of absence. The long and drawn out delay, filled with empty threats of action by the U.N. clearly gave the Dictator ample time to move any contraband to safe harbors, Syria most likely.
Nothing has been put forth to substantiate the false premise of an intentional deception. Even the liberal Washington Post debunked the fanciful claims of professional victim Joe Wilson, his not so secret spy wife Valerie Plame and their claims of rigged intelligence.
But the WMDs were only one brick in the wall of freedom. A larger, more global reason justified decisive action, one that was played out in the present, but had a hope for a future unimaginable to the skeptic.
Unlike the present, where everybody and his long lost cousin supports the agenda of freedom, in yester year only George W. Bush, his British ally Tony Blair and a collection of neo-cons possessed with extraordinary foresight saw democracy sprouting from the seeds of a deposed dictator. Indeed, while they embrace the concept now as if heaven-sent, the liberal dominated media of the Bush years treated the spread of democracy in the Middle East as if it were at best yet another example of American imperialism, and at worst the raging of the helpless lunatics, only temporarily at the helm.
But despite the bitter winds of personal assaults, the disappointments of the long and difficult fight, he stayed resolute, finishing the task with "The Surge," a plan whose success stunned and ashamed those who opposed it, but are too classless to admit their mistake. As in the words of Thomas Aquinas, "[T]he will that disobeys conscience is in the end, always wrong..."
President Bush saw his mission through to the end, without exception. His faith and his knowledge that the Arab world is not allergic to freedom and can handle self-government, has been proven correct. Iraq without Saddam is not perfect, but clearly better, clearly an inspiration to the entire region. So shall he be judged.
Like Harry Truman before him, President George W. Bush was vilified in the press, ruthlessly attacked by partisan opponents, and upon leaving office, scored record low numbers in every popularity poll. But also like it has been to Truman, History will be very fair to Bush 43, much more appreciative of his common sense, loyalty and steadfast purpose. It is uncanny to read the commentaries of the early '50s, blasting our war mongering, tongue-tied idiot of a Commander-in-Chief.
Both men were thought to be political "Dead Men Walking" for re-
election, matched up against Eastern snobs, blistered by a biased press, only to be returned to the White House by the good sense of the American people.
The comparison to the Bush haters of the recent past is obvious, as will be the last laugh. Harry Truman, thought at the outset to be an unworthy interloper to the White House, is now believed to be one of our best Presidents by all reputable historians. Such may not be the exact feat for "W," but his term will ultimately be thought of as very successful, very important and historic. He will rank higher than his father, higher than his predecessor, a consequence of his strength of character.
We do well to carry forth such resolution in our daily lives. Be not afraid.