The Presidential podcast, with Lillian Cunningham:
The more the American political climate today resembles a personality-driven reality show, the more the country’s nostalgia seems to grow for restrained elder statesmen like George H. W. Bush. “There’s clearly a new appreciation of his grace, of his dignity,” biographer Jon Meacham says.
“But we miss the point of Bush if we simply focus on his good manners and neglect the genuine historical legacy that he’s left us,” according to Meacham. “There are sound historical, intellectual, philosophical reasons to appreciate with high regard the presidency of George H. W. Bush.”
In this week’s episode of the Presidential podcast, Meacham and fellow historian Jeffrey Engel discuss President Bush’s unique form of political leadership—a vintage combination of public service, conservatism and emotional restraint—and examine why his legacy has grown more positive over time.
Bush was a man who’d enjoyed great success at the head of American society, and saw at as his duty to protect and extend that society into the future. He didn’t think America was broken and so saw no need to fix it.
Everybody knew for months that Truman was going to lose to Thomas Dewey, so much so that Dewey took long breaks from campaigning, says Lillian Cunningham on the Washington Post’s Presidential podcast. And by the time Truman left office, he was staggeringly unpopular. But now he’s one of the most-respected and best-loved Presidents in American history.
In the newest episode of the Presidential podcast, biographer David McCullough looks at some of the most difficult calls President Truman made during his time in the White House, including the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, push for civil rights legislation and fire Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Washington Post polling manager Scott Clement also joins the episode to explain the biggest polling failure in presidential history—when Truman won the 1948 election, despite the many polls that seemed to show he didn’t stand a chance.