The More Things Change……


The conservative Chicago Tribune: “an incompetent.”

The Los Angeles Times: “the most complete fumbler and blunderer this nation has seen in high office in a long time.”

Harold Ickes, Franklin Roosevelt’s faithful advisor: “You have the choice of retiring voluntarily and with dignity, or of being driven out of office by a disillusioned and indignant citizenry.”

Probably gave away the answer with the last one, but the person those three quotes were about or addressed to was President Harry Truman, just before the nominating convention of 1948.  Truman went on to an upset victory over New York Governor Thomas Dewey.  Today Truman is admired by many as one of our most effective presidents of all time.

French novelist Alphonse Karr (1808-90) came up with the proverb: The more things change, the more they stay the same.  As I read my book club’s February selection, The Presidents Club, Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity, by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, I am struck once again by the truth of that French proverb and by how much the present relentlessly imitates the past.

Which brings to mind another proverb, from George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it,” from his book Reason In Common Sense, the first volume of his The Life of Reason.

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