Where’s our Truman when we need him?

Sometimes politicians seem to be like wives. Over and over I’m told by many of our clients who are widowed or divorced that they didn’t truly appreciate their spouse when they were around. They seldom understood the value of a companion, particularly one who went about doing good things without seeking appropriate recognition.

It seems many of our presidents are the same; we have not fully appreciated their worth until long after they are gone. A classic example of this is Harry Truman. In hindsight, more and more Americans are beginning to say Harry Truman should be counted among our greatest presidents.Truman took over the presidency with no notice following the death of a revered president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was handed a daunting plate of problems for our country but fearlessly accepted every challenge.

Those familiar with Truman’s biography will know he came from Missouri with a history of service in local government and survived the rough and rowdy politics of the Pendergast Machine in that state. After being selected as a member of Congress, however, Truman did not hesitate to take on the huge special interests that existed in his time. Contractors, particularly those with military attachments, were taking advantage of the country. They ruled the roost in Washington, D.C. Even under threat of political retribution, Truman took them on — not only took them on, but whipped them.

Unfortunately for our time, we had a president who led us into a war that was completely unnecessary and based on a false premise. His cabinet and vice-president were so beholden to private business interests that we, the taxpayers, are left with a larger war-budget deficit than that of any war in the history of the United States. Most of those private businessmen were pals or cronies of Vice President Dick Chaney. While the Republican Party, which was in control of Congress most of the Bush era, touts fiscal responsibility and condemns taxing and spending, there was more waste and unaccounted-for spending under its watch than any time in American history.

Harry Truman, in his war against waste, named names and laid responsibility for taxpayer waste at the feet of the big spenders. Unfortunately, we have no hero in Congress like Truman. Recent reports of the General Accounting Office of the United States estimate that between $31 billion and $60 billion has gone to contractors in Iraq, and yet no one has any earthly idea where it went. Accounts of plane loads of $100 bills stacked on pallets going to Iraq have been the hallmark of the lack of fiscal responsibility during the Bush era, and it seems that even now there will be no great effort to find the recipients of our taxpayer-financed largesse. Nor will anyone be branded with the blame of such blatant waste, if not corruption. Again, I ask the question, where is our modern day Harry Truman when we need him? We miss him.

Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976, Parker continued to practice law while writing and sponsoring hundreds of bills that became laws relating to every aspect of life in Texas.