July 12, 2003


Phillip Adams, who has previously railed against nuclear bombs “that incinerated hundreds of thousands of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, dooming even more to lingering deaths from radiation”, now salutes the man who ordered those attacks:

Harry Truman, a failure at just about everything he tried in his pre-political days, became one of the more convincing of the modern presidents. True, he got his job via the grim reaper rather than the ballot box when FDR died in office.

But Harry went on to win in his own right – and to make a greater claim on history than, for example, five-star general/president Eisenhower. Clearly insipid incumbents like Carter and Ford couldn’t compare with such lusties as Kennedy or Clinton – but few in the Oval Office could top Harry, the humble haberdasher, when it came to political courage.

Few can top Phillip, the not-so-humble columnist, when it comes to political inconsistency. His main point today is a perceived similarity between Richard Nixon and John Howard:

And there’s something else Nixon and Howard have in common. Their achievement of power didn’t seem to lead to happiness, or personal security. While Whitlam, Hawke, Keating, Clinton, Reagan and lots of other leaders were exultant in power, exhilarated by high office, Howard, like Nixon, seems utterly joyless.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 12, 2003 05:04 AM

God forbid if someone who holds power is a little bit grave about it. The last thing I want in a leader is someone who gets punch drunk because he is, say, the most powerful man in the world or, in present circumstances, the most powerful man in Australia.

Posted by: Andrew at July 12, 2003 at 06:05 AM

I think it's safe to say that Truman's position in history is NOT superior to Eisenhower's. It might be superior ti Eisenhower's AS PRESIDENT.

Also, he seems unaware that vice presidents are elected as well (so strictly speaking he did gain his job by the ballot box).

Posted by: Mike G at July 12, 2003 at 09:00 AM

Perhaps Adams' newfound admiration for Truman is founded on recent revelations of Harry's anti-Semitism:

"The Jews, I find are very, very selfish," President Harry S. Truman wrote in a 1947 diary that was recently discovered on the shelves of the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., and released by the National Archives yesterday.

Posted by: Mark Harden at July 12, 2003 at 09:26 AM

Nixon didn't look like he was having much fun possibly because he was embroiled in a criminal conspiriacy and facing impeachment for most of his second term, plus being stuck with an ongoing war that had the US military unable to launch an all-out effort and win the bloody thing due to the carryings on of a large and noisy pack of dingbats at home opposing any effort to do so; no wonder he swilled so much gin.

Posted by: paul bickford at July 12, 2003 at 10:02 AM

Keating was a real barrel of laughs while in office as well- Fat Boy may have gotten a few giggles out of him, but I always found him a miserable arsehole.
Why is it that when Phil's mobile phone rings, peole think he is reversing?

Posted by: paul bickford at July 12, 2003 at 10:09 AM

just finished beading the Bolshevik Bloater's item whilst on the dunny- the main reason Clinton was all smiles was because he was being blown from underneath the lecturn, like Commondandt L'Strad in "Police Academy"; no wonder he never made much sense, nothing to do with him being an in-bred hillbilly stuck in a marriage to a rathcet-jawed harridan with a head like a well-chewed mintie. Bob Hawke was our own Clinton as well, according to Truffle-Boy; true, in that Bob would root the hair on a barber-shop's floor, and Hazel was no oil-painting, but at least she kept her trap shut.

Posted by: paul bickford at July 12, 2003 at 10:25 AM

Nixon also came from a relatively poor working class family, and was always annoyed about being accepted to Harvard but being unable to afford it. (Nixon had outstanding grades but not the money.) He also resented the elite clubs at Whittier College that wouldn't admit him and other working-class students because of their background, in response founding his own rival club. He REALLY resented Kennedy for coming from such a rich family. His resentment against the elite really marked his entire attitude in life.

Of course, letting such resentment make you bitter is in general a really bad idea. Still, one might think that the socialists would at least appreciate his attitude towards the elite-- but most socialists are elitists of a sort these days.

Posted by: John Thacker at July 12, 2003 at 09:42 PM

Re Nixon: as Stephen Ambrose said, here's a man who went from obscurity to being one of the youngest vice presidents in history in half a decade, was elected to the two highest offices in the land, and spent his whole life nursing a feeling that he wasn't loved and blessed and lucky like that goddam JFK. Nixon was messed up.

Posted by: Mike G at July 13, 2003 at 12:36 AM

We always get this nonsense about the deaths from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs from dimwit lefties. 'Hundreds of thousands' indeed! The firebombing of Tokyo killed a lot more than the nukes did, combined. Total acute casualties (i.e. those occuring promptly or within a few months of the explosion) for Hiroshima and Nagasaki are estimated at 199,000, with 105,000 of those being fatalities. It is estimated that over a quarter of a million died in the Tokyo firebombing raids. Total excess (i.e. attributable to radiation) cancer deaths in survivors have been estimated at 428 in the period 1950-1990. At the end of 1990, fewer than 10% of the survivors who were exposed under the age of 20 were dead.

Of course, the bombs caused horrendous suffering and death, but they did not kill hundreds of thousands of people. They also stopped the war, which meant my Dad didn't get shipped off to join the invasion so he could get bayoneted by some nutzoid bushido warrior. This had salient effects on my future life prospects.

Posted by: David Gillies at July 13, 2003 at 03:04 AM
Phillip Adams, who has previously railed against nuclear bombs “that incinerated hundreds of thousands of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki...”
Okay, so he doesn't like those. How does he feel about the nuclear bombs that protected the free world and kept peace on the strategic level for 45 years until they finally caused the collapse of the Soviet Union?

Other than that, David said pretty much everything I wanted to say.

Posted by: Ken Summers at July 13, 2003 at 03:45 PM

"How does he feel about ... the collapse of the Soviet Union?"

He's devastated of course.

Posted by: The at July 13, 2003 at 05:01 PM