(Readers: Please note the blog is constructed as a story. While not all chapters are linked, after reading a few recent entries, you might want to start at the beginning. More about the blog, how the characters are constructed and about the author.)

JC: “Whew, I feel better.  OK, where were we?”

Jordan: “We started out talking about how animals are like children…or was it the other way around?  We decided they both acted in similar ways.”

122813_1403_ThePoundDog1.jpgJC: “Just before the break we concluded that unlike animals and children, which keep things fairly simple, anything that gets sent to Congress is likely to get complicated and messy.”

Jordan: “Well there’s a lesson for the post-revolution Congress – keep it simple like kids, squirrels and an occasional president.”

JC: “When was the last president to keep it simple…and not sound like an idiot?”

Jordan: “Is your idiot reference referring to a 21st Century president by chance…maybe the first president elected in the 21st Century?”

JC: “Never mind.  Who are you thinking about?”

Jordan: “The other night at dinner several of us had an interesting conversation about which president in recent times could be a model for the future.”

JC: “What criteria did you use?”

Jordan: “We didn’t have a checklist per se but the conversation focused on communicating clearly about what decisions were made and the expected outcomes.”

JC: “What about decisions driven by ratings in the polls, satisfying party ideologues, trying to get reelected and all those factors that seem to have taken over the presidency.”

Jordan: “That’s what we tried to sort out.  What president did not seem concerned about all the side issues and got to the point?”

JC: “And your consensus was?”

Jordan: “Harry S. Truman.  We concluded he was simple…not simple minded…straightforward and unpretentious.”

harry_trumanJC: “But life was much simpler then.”

Jordan: “We all say that but I’m not so sure.  We all say life on the prairie was simple but in fact life on the prairie was fairly complicated and required a wide range of skills.”

JC: “OK Daniel Boone.  What was so complicated for Truman?”

Jordan: “First major issue was whether to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.  The initial tradeoff seemed straightforward – trading Japanese lives for American lives…and the Allies.  Who knows if he or anyone beyond a handful of scientists really understood the likely long-term consequences?”

JC: “What else?”

Jordan: “Post-WWII decisions.  Virtually every war is followed by a sharp and severe recession as war production drops and employment decreases.  The transition following WWII was relatively smooth with what I would characterize as minor disruptions compared to the potential disruption.”

JC: “You know, I never thought about the economy following a war.  What do you do with all those people in uniform coming back and what do you do with all the people in factories who replaced the people who went to war?  OK, big problem solved reasonably well.  Next?”

Jordan: “Soviet threat, especially start of the Cold War and blockade in Berlin.”

JC: “The Berlin airlift.  That lasted more than a year, didn’t it?”

Jordan: “Yes.  And then there was the Korean War and firing General Douglas MacArthur.”

JC: “Alright, some heavy-duty decisions.  But every president has those.  Maybe not the same magnitude but heavy-duty nonetheless.  Wasn’t the media friendlier?”

Jordan: “Not sure any friendlier but certainly not 24×7 with all the blowhards on Fox and talk radio.”

JC: “Whether one is left or right politically, hard to dispute that pre cable the news was more fair and balanced than today.”

Jordan: “The balance helped some but some of the press pilloried Truman unmercifully.”

JC: “So what did your dinner group decide was the difference between Truman and most other presidents…at least post-WWII presidents?”

Jordan: “He made himself accountable publicly.”

JC: “He had that sign on his desk.  What did it say, I’ve forgotten.”

Harry Truman's The Buck Stops Here SignJordan: “The Buck Stops Here.”

JC: “Right.  Great sign.  Anything else?”

Jordan: “He was plain-spoken.  No obfuscation of the situation.  Just straight-forward talk.”

JC: “The other day I heard part of a speech he gave to Congress.  The speech was about as easy to understand as anything I’ve heard from Washington.  A lesson there.”

Jordan: “And when his term was up, what do the Truman’s do?  Drive to Independence, Missouri.”

JC: “Where were the Secret Service guys?”

Jordan: “There weren’t any.  If there were, there were only a couple.  No big escort.  Just jump in the car and head out of Dodge…well Washington…for Missouri.”

JC: “What’s happened to our country?  I know you can’t put the genie back in the bottle but we have made life in politics far too complicated.”

Jordan: “Maybe the squirrels, ducks and other back-yard creatures can teach the politicians a thing or two.”

JC: “First lesson would be KISS — keep it simple, stupid.  Second lesson would be pay attention to who’s really feeding you…and it’s the folks whose backyard you live in and not the special interest lobbyists.”

bullwinkle1Jordan: “Here’s an idea.  What about Rocky the Squirrel for President.  His running mate, of course…”

JC: “Bullwinkle.  Rather than the Bull Moose Party we can have the Rocky and Bullwinkle Party!”

Jordan: “Ah, Washington could start functioning again.  Here’s a toast to the Rocky and Bullwinkle Party.”

Advertisements