Over the past few months, I've read two biographies back-to-back. One, Traitor to His Class by H.W. Brands. Two, Truman by David McCullough. About the American Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman respectively, it got me to thinking about which of them would be considered the greater president by our day's standards (by which you can read: my own). A naturally objective topic, needless to say that this is my own opinion and I do not force that opinion upon anyone.
Before beginning the debate, I want to explain how I'm going to judge them and why I thought this would be an interesting, balanced faceoff. Both presidents entered into office during extremely difficult time periods and both presidents left office (or died) during a similarly stressful time. Yet they were both radically different types of people from very different backgrounds, and handled the office of presidency in very different ways.
Given these intriguing similarities and contrasts, I'm going to be analyzing them based on three factors.
Personality is an excellent characteristic to look at, particularly in how each of their personalities affected the decisions they made in office, how they treated their cabinets, and how they approached people in general. In the United States, we tend to view the ideal president as a man (or woman) who can get things done, be charismatic and yet humble at the same time. We want to see a president who we feel is one of us, or at the very least we feel we can empathize with. Personality is a decisive factor in we elect our politicians, and thus warrants our attention in how we regard the effectiveness of presidents Roosevelt and Truman.
Every president has made decisions and policy that has affected the nation for years to come. Through this category, I'll be looking at things that each president did that had positive ramifications for both their administration and the future of America. Domestic and foreign policy wll be handled evenly, which should be fair given the fact that both presidents had major domestic concerns along with intense foreign challenges.
Controversies and Failures
Yet each president created policies or executed orders that proved to be controversial or poor decisions viewed in hindsight. Each major controversy/failure will be looked at in an effort to see who handled theirs better than the other.
Now that we have the three categories of personality, accomplishments, and controversies I will write out a brief assessment of each president, some facts, and the specific successes and failures that will be looked out in posts to come. I figure that to give each president a fair amount of detail each president will be covered in their own separate blog post, with one final one deciding on who was the better president.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
FDR entered into office at the height of the Great Depression.
+ Created the New Deal to bring America out of the Depression.
+ Prepared the nation industrially and economically for World War II.
+ Led the Allies in defeating Nazi Germany in the War itself.
- Rapidly expanded government powers as no other president had done before.
- Attempted to pass legislation to pack the Supreme Court in his favor.
- Passed the executive order to intern Japanese during the war.
Harry S. Truman
Truman entered into office near the end of World War II and near the beginning of the Cold War.
+ Brought a fragile peacetime economy back into full gear.
+ Dealt with Soviet Russia in a way that avoided direct conflict during the Cold War.
+ Did major work on expanding civil rights.
- Authorized use of the Atomic Bomb on Japan.
- Entered America into the Korean War.
- Failed to take decisive action against the threat of the Red Scare and McCarthyism.
As we can see, each president had major successes and failures on the domestic and foreign level, warranting an even competition between the two. Now to see who will win...
On to Roosevelt!
On to Roosevelt!