When Harry Truman became President of the United States in 1945 upon the death of Franklin Roosevelt, he faced some of the problems that Donald Trump will encounter.
The country he inherited was war weary, after nearly four years of conflict with the dual powers of Germany in Europe and Japan in the Pacific. The U.S had an uneasy alliance with the Soviet Union, based more on the premise of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, rather than any shared values or mutual affection. It fell on Truman’s shoulders to keep Russia and Great Britain both happy, not a simple task when one is dealing with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill.
Many in the Roosevelt administration, as well as Congress, questioned his ability to govern effectively. Roosevelt had completed nearly four terms as President, while Truman was a relative unknown. Like Trump, he had been a businessman before entering politics, although Truman ran a haberdashery shop. For millennials and others who are unfamiliar with this term, it means he ran a store for men’s hats. Back in the day when men wore hats. He was certainly the opposite of the billionaire showman that Trump appears to be.
But the former president had some good advice that Donald Trump would do well to heed.
The Buck Stops Here
You don’t just get the credit when things go right, you accept the responsibility when they don’t. This means standing up for and standing behind the people who work for you. This may prove to be difficult for Trump, who has been sued countless times by contractors he either failed to pay completely or never paid at all. In fact, he plays the “blame game” better than “The Apprentice.” But being President means that you are, in fact, the person who is ultimately responsible to the American people, for both the good and the bad things that happen.
By accepting the power, you also accept the consequences of how you use that power.
Never Kick A Fresh Turd On A Hot Day
Everyone knows that at some time or other, s&it happens. You don’t make it better by kicking it and spreading it around. All that happens is that the s&it gets all over your shoes and it takes forever to get rid of the smell. This is definitely advice that Donald Trump should heed. His petty and thin-skinned reactions on Twitter to the slightest criticisms need to stop. Immediately!
It’s one thing to use Twitter to kick some s&it back at Rosie O’Donnell or even Megyn Kelly, the stink from that only smelled bad on Trump’s shoes. But Trump will find himself in an entirely different pile of doo-doo if he tries that act on someone like the leader of North Korea, who is just as sensitive to personal slights and ALSO has nuclear weapons.
He needs to recognize the pitfalls and not step in it or kick it on a hot day.
If You Want A Friend in Washington, Get A Dog
President Truman recognized that when you are extremely powerful, you are also extremely popular. He was wise enough to recognize being popular does not translate into having friends. The same maxim applies to being extremely wealthy. Yet despite a lifetime wealth and privilege, does Trump have the self-awareness to recognize that most people are attracted by his money, not his charming personality?
Trump clearly relishes the adoration he received during his campaign rallies. So much so that he is continuing to hold rallies after the election. He frequently appears on TV programs hosted by people like Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly, whose sole raison d’etre seems to be making Donald Trump felt really, really great about being Donald Trump. Yet if another news organization, like CNN or NBC, dares to ask an uncomfortable question about him, he immediately slams them. While the media is a particularly favorite target of his ire, he doesn’t shy away from aircraft manufacturers or union leaders. What he may not realize is that the criticism of him is only going to increase, bigly, when he becomes President.
Trump also needs to realize that he really doesn’t have friends in Washington. He might have political allies who support him to further their own agendas. He might find himself surrounded by political opportunists who hope to exploit their relationship with him. Does he honestly think that the Republicans he insulted, trashed, and destroyed during the primaries are accepting positions in his administration because they like him? That they are his friends?
Many former presidents have followed this advice. Nixon had Checkers, LBJ had his beagles, and Reagan had his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rex. Even Obama caved to his daughters’ pleas and brought the Portuguese Water Dog Bo into the White House. The Clintons had a cat named Sox, but he was also impeached. Sadly, for him, Trump does not have a dog. On the other hand, if he did, it would probably bite him.
It’s Amazing What You Can Accomplish When You Don’t Care Who Gets The Credit
Okay, that’s NEVER going to happen.