The reader must agree that Mr. Ganesh has, not just a talent for hyperbole, but is a Master of that rhetorical style:
It feels rude to point out how little was expected of Harry Truman when he became US president 75 Aprils ago. He was “just” a Missouri haberdasher. He is still the last non-graduate to attain the office. After Franklin Roosevelt, who matched Albert Einstein as the man of the 20th century, snobs viewed his instalment as an act of bathos.
Truman would end up curating the second half of that century. Nato was his doing, as was Bretton Woods, the Marshall Plan and the nuclear age. Perhaps a Napoleonic gift for command always lurked underneath that Everyman bonhomie. More likely, though, the world happened to be at its most pliable in 1945. Circumstances counted for more than the individual.
Harry Truman hasn’t had this kind of good press,well!, since the Convention of 1948? but then there is this:
Truman, a failed haberdasher turned politician, had the appearance of a meek bookkeeper. In fact, he was feisty and prone to occasional angry outbursts. His upper-South twang did not resonate with much of the country. His many detractors wrote him off as a “little man” who had been unable to deal with difficult post-World War II issues—inflation and consumer shortages, civil rights for African-Americans and a developing cold war with the Soviet Union.
In the off-year elections of 1946, Republicans had gained firm control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1928. Few Democrats believed Truman could lead them to victory in the presidential race. A large group of cold war liberals—many of them organized in the new Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)—joined with other Democratic leaders in an attempt to draft America’s greatest living hero, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, as their candidate. The general seemed momentarily persuadable, then quickly backed away.
Mr. Ganesh recons the rise of Truman provoked the ‘snobs viewed his instalment as an act of bathos.’ and ‘Circumstances counted for more than the individual.’ What is absent from Mr. Ganesh’s historical precise of Truman’s accomplishments, here referred to as ‘the nuclear age’ was Truman’s dropping of two Nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in successive weeks. Some essential background:
Headline: Did We Need to Drop It
By Michael R. Beschloss
Not to get lost in a history of Truman, as some kind of political touchstone for the political present, when in fact Joe Biden is, in Mr. Ganesh’s telling, that virtuous Leader born out of Circumstance. Truman was that man, even though the ADA faction of ‘snobs’ Schlesinger, Niebuhr and Eleanor Roosevelt did some ‘window shopping’, and Ike was their choice.
Biden is most assuredly not just ‘a horse-tranquilisingly dull candidate, at once verbose and content-free,’ he is a man suffering from a completely obvious cognitive impairment. He is also the representative of the Neo-Liberal politics of the Clinton’s, that is being abandoned with an arresting celerity, driven by The Pandemic. As the death toll mounts and Capital collapses, being almost unconditionally bailed out, by a bought and paid for Political Class.
Not to fear Mr. Ganesh abandons hyperbole, in his last paragraph, for a strategically exercised political kitsch, as he dons the guise of an oracle.
So it could be with Mr Biden. This pandemic is not the cold war, much less a hot one, but it is the largest disruption for a generation. Next January, if the worst of it has passed, the world could go in one of two directions. The early decisions of the US will determine which. As such Mr Biden’s plans must widen from the merely curative — fumigate America of Trumpism, make bruised allies good — to the creative work of crafting a post-virus world. Perhaps it is too much to hope that an unremarkable leader can make the planet safe for globalism. But it would not be the first time.