Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
E-Mail: bergen.anthony@gmail.com
Posts tagged "President Truman"
Some of the Presidents were great and some of them weren’t. I can say that because I wasn’t one of the great Presidents; but, I had a good time trying to be one.
Harry S Truman, April 27, 1959

britishpathe:

Riots in Puerto Rico and an attempt on President Truman’s life, 1950: http://youtu.be/upbvXCgHwJo

This assassination attempt on President Harry Truman is one of two major incidents in the 1950s connected to the Puerto Rican Nationalist movement that are strangely overlooked or flat-out forgotten about in history.

During the Truman Administration, extensive renovations were done on the White House — basically, the interior of the Executive Mansion was completely gutted and rebuilt — and the First Family spent four years (1948-1952) living across the street in Blair House, which is traditionally used as an official guest house for visiting dignitaries and the place that the President-elect stays the night before being inaugurated.

On November 1, 1950, President Truman was taking a nap in an upstairs bedroom when Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo approached Blair House with a brazen attack plan; they intended to shoot their way past Truman’s protective detail on Pennsylvania Avenue in broad daylight, enter the building through the front door, and kill the President.

Collazo opened fire first, wounding a uniformed White House Police officer, and alerting Secret Service about the attack, triggering a gunfight in the streets below the window of the room where the President was sleeping. Collazo’s progress was halted by a Secret Service agent who shot him in the chest and left him badly wounded. Collazo continued firing at police officers and Secret Service agents despite being wounded. Other agents rushed to secure all entries to Blair House and engage the gunmen.

Torresola reached one of the security booths where White House Police officers — who are essentially uniformed members of the United States Secret Service — were stationed to secure the perimeter surrounding Blair House and opened fire at nearly point-blank range on Officer Leslie Coffelt. Torresola shot Coffelt four times with wounds that would be mortal; Torresola figured that Coffelt had been neutralized and continued towards to building while Collazo continued to fire at some of the other agents and police officers, without striking anyone.

Officer Coffelt was down and gravely wounded, and Torresola was still standing and shooting. Collazo was wildly firing shots, but was down near the steps of Blair House, unable to get any further due to his chest wound. White House Police Officer Joseph Downs made a dash towards a door leading to the basement of Blair House, hoping to keep Torresola from getting into the building, but became Torresola’s next target in the process. Downs was shot three times, but was able to secure the basement door despite his wounds.

Officer Donald Birdzell had been the first person wounded in the attack, and the only person who was hit by one of Oscar Collazo’s bullets. Collazo had shot Birdzell in the knee as the attack commenced, and as Birdzell attempted to steady himself and take aim at the gunman, Torresola shot him in the other knee. Officer Birdzell survived his wounds, but Torresola was still fighting his way to get into Blair House. At this point, a head poked out of an upstairs window, curious about the cause of the commotion interrupting his nap. With a gunfight raging in the streets below, an officer had to order the President of the United States to “Get the hell back!”. Two weeks after the attack, Truman shared details about the assassination attempt to his cousin, Ethel Noland, and said that the director of the Secret Service, U.E. Baughman later pointed out, “Mr. President, don’t you know that when there’s an Air Raid Alarm you don’t run out and look up, you go for cover!”

As President Truman got a quick bird’s-eye view of the carnage below, Griselio Torresola reloaded his 9 mm for one last do-or-die charge into the President’s temporary residence. Bleeding profusely and mortally wounded, Officer Leslie Coffelt had been left for dead in the security booth after Torresola shot him four times at the beginning of the rampage. The President ducked out of sight as a Secret Service agent demanded of him. Torresola inched near the steps of Blair House. Officer Coffelt summoned his last surge of strength, his final burst of action, and in his life’s closing seconds of consciousness, he pulled himself up to a standing position, leaned against the security booth, and fired one shot for the people, for the President, and for public service. After firing his one, single, final shot, Officer Leslie Coffelt collapsed and never regained consciousness; he died from his wounds four hours later at a Washington hospital and remains the only Secret Service agent in American history to be killed while protecting the President.

Griselio Torresola had reloaded his gun and was within several feet of the steps leading to the entrance of Blair House when Officer Coffelt fired his last shot. Torresola didn’t get an inch closer than that. From a distance of about ten yards, Coffelt shot the assassin — the man who was trying to kill the President, had shot two of Coffelt’s colleagues, and caused the severe wounds that Coffelt would soon die from — in the head, killing him instantly. President Truman wore that Coffelt had “put a bullet in one ear and it came out the other.” Leslie Coffelt was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

The other Secret Service agents, White House Police officers, U.S. Capitol Police officers, and responders involved in the attack on Blair House were honored by the President and their respective law enforcement organizations. Officers Donald Birdzell and Joseph Downs fully recovered from their wounds. The other Puerto Rican gunman, Oscar Collazo, recovered from his wounds. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but shortly before Collazo’s scheduled execution in 1952, President Truman commuted his sentenced to life in prison. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter further commuted his sentence to time served and Collazo was released from prison. He returned to Puerto Rico and continued to advocate independence for his home island until his death in 1994.

Nearly four years later, another dramatic incident by Puerto Rican Nationalists occurred which many Americans aren’t aware of despite the magnitude of the event. On March 1, 1954, four members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, three men and one woman were viewing the proceedings of the United States House of Representatives from the chamber’s “Ladies Gallery”. On the floor of the House, over 240 Representatives were debating an immigration bill when the Puerto Rican woman, Lolita Lebrón, the leader of the Nationalist team, displayed a Puerto Rican flag and yelled “¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre!” All four Puerto Ricans were armed with semi-automatic weapons and opened fire on Congress. Over 30 shots were fired and five Congressmen — Ben Jensen of Iowa, Kenneth Roberts of Alabama, George Hyde Fallon of Maryland, Clifford Davis of Tennessee, and Alvin Bentley of Michigan — were wounded. Shockingly, those were the only five people who were shot and nobody was killed; Bentley’s chest wound was the most serious, but House pages quickly carried him out of the chamber and he received immediate medical attention. The four attackers were quickly arrested and eventually convicted and sentenced to a minimum of 76 years in prison instead of the death penalty, as the government had requested. One of the attackers was released from prison in 1978, and the other three had their sentences commuted by President Carter in 1979 at the same time as Oscar Collazo. They returned together to Puerto Rico and were welcomed home as heroes in San Juan.

Asker bbkld Asks:
This is kind of a wide open question: In your opinion, when was the single most difficult day of the American Presidency? There's the days a President decides to send American youth to war, for instance. For me, it may be the day LBJ became POTUS with his predecessor's widow standing next to him.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

That is such a GREAT question because the answer can go so many different ways and spur some fantastic debate. The Presidency is a difficult and terribly exhausting job every day and most Presidents have faced a lot of adversity throughout their terms simply because of the very nature of the position and its responsibilities. There are dozens of individual days that are hard to argue with if they are suggested by someone to be the most difficult single day faced by a President over the 225 years that the job has been in service.

I think that the day you suggested is undoubtedly near the top of the list, as are any of the days when a Vice President assumes the office upon the assassination or death from natural causes of the incumbent President, and November 22, 1963 was, of course, one of the darkest days in the nation’s history. The emotions and thoughts possessed by the people on Air Force One as LBJ took the oath office and they prepared to fly back to Washington, D.C. with JFK in a casket just a couple of hours after he arrived in Dallas on that same airplane very much alive are unimaginable. There are just no words for a tragedy of that magnitude, and, as you mentioned, the presence of a newly-widowed Jackie Kennedy, clearly in shock and standing in the crowded cabin of the plane with her husband’s blood and brain matter staining her clothing, adds a whole different dimension to the tragic day and was a hell of a way for someone to begin their Presidency. There was also the fact that nobody knew the scope of the assassination and whether there might be something even more sinister — an international conspiracy or a plot to decapitate the entire federal government — going on. Plus, LBJ was the only President to actually witness his predecessor’s assassination. As if a Presidential assassination isn’t shocking and traumatic enough, Johnson was only a couple of cars back in the motorcade. He saw what happened and he was taken to Parkland Hospital right behind JFK; LBJ caught a glimpse of the scene inside JFK’s limousine as the Secret Service past the vehicle in order to keep him protected inside the hospital; Johnson was in the building when Kennedy was officially pronounced dead. I’ve always thought that one of the strangest feelings ever experienced by a President had to have been when an aide entered the room where LBJ was being held inside Parkland Hospital and addressed him as “Mr. President” — the moment he realized that JFK was dead and that he was now President. Imagine that.

And yet, even with everything mentioned above, I think there are two other more difficult days faced by Presidents. One is April 12, 1945 — another day in which a President died in office and was succeeded by his Vice President. In this case, it was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died suddenly at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia, and was succeeded by Harry S Truman.

FDR was clearly dying when he won an unprecedented fourth term as President in 1944, and his health was declining noticeably. When he took the oath of office for his fourth term in January 1945, FDR was sworn in on the South Portico of the White House instead of at the U.S. Capitol. It was said that the inaugural festivities were scaled back because of World War II and that certainly played a part, but FDR’s failing health was also a factor. At just 557 words, Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address was the second-shortest in American history — only George Washington’s second Inaugural Address (March 4, 1793), which was 135 words long, was shorter than FDR’s fourth. After the physically taxing trip and summit with Stalin and Churchill at Yalta and meetings with other Allied leaders in February 1945 — a journey which would have been punishing for even a healthy person — FDR gave a report on the agreements to a Joint Session of Congress. At Yalta, officials from the other Allied delegations were alarmed by FDR’s appearance and when FDR gave his speech to Congress he did so from a seated position, apologizing for his “unusual posture” and noted that it was “easier for me not to have to carry about ten pounds of steel around on the bottom of my legs.” The reference to the leg braces he had worn since contracting polio in 1921 was the first time Roosevelt had ever publicly acknowledged his physical disability, and members of Congress now saw what those at the Yalta Conference had seen — FDR was gravely ill.

One person who did not realize how badly the President was ailing was the Vice President, Harry Truman. In 1944, President Roosevelt had dumped his Vice President, Henry Wallace, from the ticket, and seemingly put the decision of his running mate largely in the hands of the Democratic National Convention. In reality, Roosevelt was virtually positive that he would not survive his fourth term and he wasn’t simply choosing a Vice President — he was choosing a successor. Vice President Wallace didn’t cut it as a successor (not to FDR and definitely not to the leaders of the Democratic Party), and Truman steered the Convention towards Truman, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, and James F. Byrnes, a former Congressman, former Senator, former Supreme Court Justice, a longtime advisor-without-portfolio to FDR and the ultra-powerful director of the War Mobilization Board.

Roosevelt eventually decided that Truman was the guy he wanted and worked behind-the-scenes to get him nominated at the Convention despite a floor fight by passionate supporters of Wallace who wanted to keep him on the ticket and by Truman’s own reluctance to leave the Senate, a job he loved more than anything he had ever done in his life, for the Vice Presidency, which was powerless and boring and lacked even a hint of influence within Presidential Administrations at that point in history. Once elected and sworn in as Vice President, Truman was no different than any of the previous Vice Presidents — he had nothing to do, wasn’t included in on decisions or discussions of policy, and had almost no personal or professional relationship with President Roosevelt. The only thing of note that Truman did during his Vice Presidency was cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate to help his predecessor in the Vice Presidency, Henry Wallace, get confirmed as Secretary of Commerce. Truman spent most of his days on Capitol Hill, and was at having drinks with a small group of Congressmen and Senator in the office of House Speaker Sam Rayburn on April 12, 1945 when he got a call summoning him to the White House ASAP.

Truman wasn’t sure what was going on, but Allied troops were quickly closing in on Berlin that month from the west and the east, so it could have been just about anything. When he arrived at the White House, it was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who told him, quite bluntly, “Harry, the President is dead.” Despite FDR’s poor health, Truman was stunned. “Is there anything I can do for you?”, the new President asked Eleanor Roosevelt, and the new widow responded, “Is there anything we can do for you? For you are the one in trouble now.”

That wasn’t an exaggeration. World War II was coming to a close in Europe and still raging in the Pacific. Within two-and-a-half weeks of Truman’s succession to the Presidency, Mussolini was captured and killed by his own people in Italy, Berlin fell to the Soviets, Hitler killed himself in his bunker, Germany surrendered, and the war ended in Europe. And, at some point shortly after Truman was sworn into office, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson briefed him on the work being done to build an atomic bomb. Truman — the only President to order a nuclear strike — was completely in the dark about the Manhattan Project and the goal of building a nuclear weapon until after he became President. With all of that to come, everything going in on the world, and the fact that he had suddenly succeeded the longest-serving President in American history — a man whose image was hanging in the houses of millions Americans next to an image of Jesus — in the midst of the bloodiest war in the history of the world is why Truman’s April 12, 1945 was a more difficult day than LBJ’s November 22, 1963. The day after he was sworn into office, Truman said to reporters, “I don’t know whether you fellows ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me what had happened, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.”

The other day that I would consider one of the single most difficult days experienced by a President doesn’t require much of an explanation because most of us remember it well. We lived through it and it’s tragically memorable in the same way that older generations remember November 22, 1963 or another day that was very difficult for a President, December 7, 1941 (the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor). No matter how I voted, or how I felt about George W. Bush when it came to other issues and his Presidency overall, I will never forget his poise during the days after September 11, 2001, which was without a doubt one of the toughest days any President has ever experienced. He was a bit unsteady on the day of the attacks, at least in his statements early in the day, but we were all unsteady. We didn’t know what the hell was going on, and the President was in the frustrating position of not being allowed by the Secret Service to return to Washington, D.C. until later in the evening. He was removed from the situation, forced to remain in the air aboard Air Force One as it flew across the country, protected by fighter jets, to a secure location in Nebraska. President Bush began to find his footing with his address to the nation that night from the Oval Office once he finally ordered to be taken home to Washington, and he was fantastic throughout the rest of that week, especially at the National Prayer Service and when he visited with the family members of victims and with rescue workers at Ground Zero.

Knowing how difficult 9/11 was for regular Americans like me, far removed from the horror in Manhattan, in Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, I can’t imagine how hard that day was to the actual victims of the attacks, or those people connected to the victims. And it’s impossible to understand how hard September 11, 2001 was for the President of the United States, from the moment Andy Card whispered the news to him in that classroom in Sarasota, Florida until he finally went to sleep that night after a day of attacks on the country unlike any that any other President has ever faced. Like I said at the beginning of this answer (approximately 90,000 words ago), this is a great question because it has so many possible answers and opens up a very interesting debate. But in my opinion, no President had a more difficult single day than George W. Bush on September 11, 2001.

HARRY S TRUMAN

33rd President of the United States (1945-1953)

Full Name: Harry S Truman
Born: May 8, 1884, Lamar, Missouri
Political Party: Democratic
State Represented: Missouri
Term: April 12, 1945-March 4, 1953 (Assumed office upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt)
Age at Inauguration: 60 years, 337 days
Administration: 40th (Completed the 4th term of President Roosevelt) and 41st
Congresses: 79th, 80th, 81st, and 82nd
Vice President: None (1st term: 1945-1949) and Alben William Barkley (2nd term: 1949-1953)
Died: December 26, 1972, Research Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri
Age at Death: 88 years, 232 days
Buried: Harry S Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Independence, Missouri

2012 Dead Presidents Ranking: 8 of 43 [↓2]

When Harry Truman left office, he had one of the lowest approval ratings in American History.  As the years passed — as we frequently see happen — Americans and historians began to remember him more fondly.  They looked at his style of leadership and his decisive manner and recognized that Truman was a straight-shooter, confident in his ability, his power, and with the decisions that he made.  We don’t have many politicians like Harry Truman anymore.  That’s why he’s a favorite of leaders from both sides of the aisle — George W. Bush was a big fan of Truman (and has often mentioned the rehabilitation of Truman’s legacy when asked about his own low approval ratings).  Truman wasn’t cool and unemotional like FDR was in private or calm and collected like Eisenhower was in public, but he was decisive and he never second-guessed himself.  Truman doesn’t have a list of accomplishments that propel him to the top of the rankings, but his personality and his decisive leadership make him one of the greats.

PREVIOUS RANKINGS:
1948: Schlesinger Sr./Life Magazine:  Not Ranked
1962: Schlesinger Sr./New York Times Magazine:  9 of 31
1982: Neal/Chicago Tribune Magazine:  8 of 38
1990: Siena Institute:  7 of 40
1996: Schlesinger Jr./New York Times Magazine:  8 of 39
2000: C-SPAN Survey of Historians:  5 of 41
2000: C-SPAN Public Opinion Poll:  7 of 41
2005: Wall Street Journal/Presidential Leadership:  7 of 40
2009: C-SPAN Survey of Historians:  5 of 42
2010: Siena Institute:  9 of 43
2011: University of London’s U.S. Presidency Centre:  7 of 40

The next man…was ‘Ole Rough ‘n’ Ready,’ old Zack Taylor, the hero of Buena Vista, and he was another of those damn fool generals that didn’t know anything about politics, nothing at all in any way, shape or form, and so Daniel Webster, who was Secretary of State, and Henry Clay ran things, and after sixteen months in office, on July 4, 1850, he went to an Independence Day celebration, and they say he ate too much watermelon and died.
Harry Truman, on Zachary Taylor, giving his candid opinion on some of his Presidential predecessors, to Merle Miller
Harrison didn’t accomplish a thing during the month he was in office. He made no contribution whatsoever. He had no policy. He didn’t know what the government was about, to tell the truth. About the only thing he did during that brief period was see friends and friends of friends, because he was such an easy mark that he couldn’t say no to anybody, and everybody and his brother was beseeching him for jobs.
Harry Truman, on the lack of accomplishments during the brief, one-month-long Presidency of William Henry Harrison
Asker Anonymous Asks:
How did the Truman-Eisenhower hatred towards each other start?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I’ve answered a similar question about their relationship before, so I’m just going to cut and paste my previous answer:

Truman and Eisenhower had a very complicated relationship.  It started out well enough and in 1948, Truman even privately suggested to Eisenhower that Ike run for President and Truman would serve as his Vice President.  Part of that was probably Truman trying to draw Eisenhower out to see whether Ike was a Democrat or a Republican (he hadn’t come clean on his party affiliation yet) and whether Ike had any designs on the Presidency (he did but not as a Democrat and not in 1948).

When Eisenhower did decide to run for President in 1952, Truman, while campaigning for Adlai E. Stevenson, was vicious and unrelenting on the campaign trail when talking about Eisenhower.  Eisenhower, in turn, was critical towards Truman about Korea, among other things.  Truman was most vicious when it came to what he saw as Ike’s failure to defend his friend General George C. Marshall, who Truman felt was one of the country’s greatest patriots and had been slandered by Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy.  Eisenhower, in reality, was angry about McCarthy’s attacks towards General Marshall, but McCarthy was popular within the GOP in 1952 as Eisenhower was seeking the Presidency and he allowed himself to be photographed with McCarthy at a rally in Wisconsin.  This really set Truman off and resulted in harsh words.  During the 1952 campaign, Truman said of Eisenhower, “This much is clear to me:  A man who betrays his friends in such a fashion is not to be trusted with the great Office of President of the United States.”   

Then, there was a misunderstanding involving Eisenhower’s son who had been fighting in Korea but was back in the United States for Eisenhower’s inauguration.  Truman had ordered Eisenhower’s son, John, home so that he could attend his father’s inauguration, but Eisenhower thought that Truman was trying to embarrass him and make it appear as if John Eisenhower was receiving preferential treatment. 

Everything boiled over on Inauguration Day 1953 as Truman handed the Presidency over to Eisenhower.  At one point, Eisenhower had threatened to break tradition and not even ride to the Capitol with Truman.  He didn’t follow through on that threat, but he did arrive at the White House too late to share a small lunch that the outgoing First Couple had prepared for the incoming First Couple.  Truman and Eisenhower did end up sharing a car, as by tradition, from the White House to the Capitol, but the conversation was anything but light.  They were still sniping at each other by the time they arrived at the Capitol.

Still fuming about his son’s surprise appearance at the inauguration (which Truman actually meant as a nice gesture), Eisenhower asked Truman just minutes before Ike took the oath of office, “I wonder who is responsible for my son John being ordered to Washington from Korea?  I wonder who is trying to embarrass me?”

Truman, still Commander-in-Chief for a few more minutes at least, responded in the third person, “The President of the United States ordered your son to attend your inauguration.  The President thought it was right and proper for your son to witness the swearing-in of his father to the Presidency.  If you think somebody was trying to embarrass you by this order, then the President assumes full responsibility.”

A few minutes later, Eisenhower was officially sworn in as President.  Ike did eventually thank Truman for the gesture in a letter, but the relationship between the two Presidents remained very, very frosty.  During Eisenhower’s two terms in office, Truman was not hesitant to take shots at Ike and continued even as late as 1961 as Eisenhower was leaving office, saying, “All I’ll say now is that when the people elect a man to the Presidency who doesn’t take care of the job, they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves.  The trouble with Eisenhower is he’s just a coward.  He hasn’t got any backbone at all…Ike didn’t know anything, and all the time he was in office he didn’t learn a thing.”  Eisenhower was quieter than Truman, but snubbed him in different ways such as skipping the opening of the Truman Presidential Library - — and asking the only other living President, Herbert Hoover, to skip it, too (Hoover, who was close with Truman, said “I wouldn’t miss it” and was front-and-center).

Truman and Eisenhower saw each other briefly every once in a while — mostly at funerals — but it was at JFK’s funeral that they finally put everything behind them.  They shared a limousine the funeral service, sat in the same pew, and chatted with each other to-and-from the Cathedral.  When the Eisenhowers dropped Truman off after the funeral, Truman invited them inside and over drinks, in the wake of a young President’s tragic assassination, the two old Presidents squashed the longtime bitterness that they had towards each other.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Did Harry Truman talk shit about everybody? Cause damn it seems that way
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Yeah, pretty much.  Truman was very candid and didn’t have much of a filter.  He’s also one of the only Presidents who actually gave his personal and historical opinion about nearly all of his predecessors (and the successors that he lived to see take office).

I tend to pair up Benjamin Harrison and Dwight Eisenhower because they’re the two Presidents I can think of who most preferred laziness to labor…There’s not much else you can say about Harrison except that he was President of the United States.
Harry Truman
He was the coldest man I ever met. He didn’t give a damn personally for me or anyone else in the world as far as I could see. But he was a great President. He brought this country into the twentieth century.
Harry Truman, on his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
It’s interesting that a single thing — that great smile of Eisenhower’s — gave him the worldwide and lifelong reputation of being a sunny and amiable man, when those of us who knew him well were all too well aware that he was essentially a surly, angry, and disagreeable man.
Harry Truman, contrasting Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous smile with the personality that Truman experienced.

At one point he [Eisenhower] says to me, ‘Who’s your chief of staff?’ I held my temper. I said to him, ‘The President of the United States is his own chief of staff.’ But he just could not understand that. In all the years he was in the White House he never did understand that the President has to act. That’s why the people of the United States elect you They don’t elect you to sit around waiting for other people to tell you what to do.

Now when Castro came into power, if I’d have been President, I’d have picked up the phone and called him direct in Havana. I wouldn’t have gone through protocol or anything like that. I’d have called him up, and I’d have said, ‘Fidel, this is Harry Truman in Washington, and I’d like to have you come up here and have a little talk.’

He’d have come, of course, and he’d have come to the White House, and I’d have said, ‘Fidel, it looks to me like you’ve had a pretty good revolution down there, and it’s been a long time coming. Now you’re going to need help, and there’s only two places you can go to get it. One’s right here, and the other’s — well, we both know where the other place is. Now you just tell me what you need, and I’ll see to it that you get it.’

Well, he’d have thanked me, and we’d have talked awhile, and then as he got up to go, I’d have said to him, ‘Now, Fidel, I’ve told you what we’ll do for you. There’s one thing you can do for me. Would you get a shave and a haircut and take a bath?’

Of course, that son of a bitch Eisenhower was too damn dumb to do anything like that. When Castro decided to go in the other direction for support, Eisenhower was probably still waiting for a goddamn staff report on what to think.

Harry Truman, on the differences between his style of leadership and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s style, to Merle Miller, as recounted in Miller’s Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman
The people can never understand why the President does not use his powers to make them behave. Well, all the President is is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.
Harry S. Truman, letter to his sister, Mary Jane Truman, November 14, 1947