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Old May 17th, 2017, 04:38 PM   #1

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Why did Harry Truman have the lowest approval rating?


According to a statistic on gallup.com, President Harry Truman had the lowest approval rating in American History. Was this true and what was the reasoning behind this? I've searched onto other websites and none of them seemed to make sense to me. If you don't mind, can you please explain why people disliked Truman.

Earlier today, I asked my father and my humanities teacher if they thought Truman was a good president, and they responded yes. So why did people think down on him?

I mean he had great attributes and characteristics;
- He was plain-spoken, blunt, confident, and decisive. He was willing to do what others weren't going to. Isn't this everything that we would want as a president today? He was honest, he was no phony. Truman didn't need people to write speeches for him, he spoke from the heart.

- He was also responsible for the nation's recovery and drastic economic growth after the war. Also, just like his predecessor, he brought hope to the country.

I understand that his bombings of the cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki were very controversial, but was his whole presidency overlooked by that? This is probably a stupid question, but it's just a hard question for me to grasp
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Old May 17th, 2017, 05:02 PM   #2
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1. He fired General MacAuthur

2. He integrated the military.

3. He didn't end the Korean War

4. He used bad language (for the time)

5. He wasn't FDR

His reputation has improved over the years and now many presidential historians put him in the top 10.

Last edited by stevev; May 17th, 2017 at 05:11 PM.
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Old May 17th, 2017, 05:30 PM   #3

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In a sense it was politics. Truman ended up having to face the difficulty of the start of the Cold War, where the Soviets got half of Europe and the Communist Chinese got China. And even if FDR lived and was allowed to remain in office, the tactics the Republican Party used to bring down Truman would have brought down FDR as well. And by that time, the Republicans had control of Congress. They made the accusation that Truman's administration was filled with Communists and that Truman had done NOTHING to stop it, and that the fall of Nationalist China to Communist China was proof. Truman's move into the Korean War was ultimately a big part of that, and that didn't quite go well. Now, much of that was more on MacArthur's failings, but that was something that wasn't going to be believed by the Republicans in Congress, particularly after the speech MacArthur gave, essentially blaming the President.

So in the end, he didn't fight a war to prevent the Communists from getting China and did fight war to prevent the Communists from getting Korea.
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Old May 17th, 2017, 07:08 PM   #4

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He was in a bad situation to start with, the republicans played party politics to a ridiculous level, and MacArthur isn't the nicest/fairest of guys to start with. He bore the brunt of roughly 20 years of republican frustration for not having won the presidency and it showed...By the time he was elected the Republican party was frothing from the mouth for not being able to win the presidency. It doesn't help that he won his second term in spectacular fashion against Dewey which left the Republicans even madder and more irate at the situation.

Last edited by mark87; May 17th, 2017 at 07:11 PM.
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Old May 18th, 2017, 03:09 AM   #5
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Where foreign policy was concerned, Truman was dealt the most difficult hand of all Presidents. The US led a coalition of nations which won WW11 but winning the peace was never going to be easy. Context is everything and many Americans must have presumed that the US would revert to some sort of isolationism and simplicity (with the low military expenditure that was the way before 1939). The problems were immense and included the future of Germany, Japan, Asia, Europe generally, the wartime coalition, the USSR, Communism generally, the demise of global Empires, and so on. One only has to look at Churchill's Iron Curtain speech, the Kennan letters, the Chinese Civil War and problems in Korea to appreciate Truman's difficulty. The fact that several competitors would develop Nuclear bombs explains much. The US under Truman was forced into many unpalatable polices including creating NATO, Marshall Aid, the UNO, the Korean War, general interventionist postures, a German presence (which juxtaposes with Washington's Farewell Message) and many others.
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Old May 18th, 2017, 04:44 AM   #6

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The gallup approval of presidents since Bush I have been abysmal as well. Look at today's approval (-19 from gallup) and Truman was a shining beacon of approval.
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Old May 18th, 2017, 06:13 AM   #7
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Mostly for two reasons.

During the Korean War, he fired Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur was the general who oversaw the Pacific Theater in World War 2 and was beloved by many Americans. Firing him really hit his popularity big time. Another reason was many Americans believed he was too "soft on communism". After all China, one of the largest nations fell to the communism.
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Old May 18th, 2017, 06:13 AM   #8

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Just shows that public opinion knows squat. That's what makes history fun, and that's what will make those contemporary historians who claim that certain contemporary Presidents are the best or the worst look like fools in the long run.
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Old May 18th, 2017, 08:33 AM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevev View Post
1. He fired General MacAuthur

2. He integrated the military.

3. He didn't end the Korean War

4. He used bad language (for the time)

5. He wasn't FDR

His reputation has improved over the years and now many presidential historians put him in the top 10.
Just to add:

3.5- He didn't end it with a decisive US/UN victory. It was a stalemate that pretty much brought everything back to what it was BEFORE the war started.

6- He dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While it did end the war with Japan quicker, no doubt there were those in America who were quite displeased with his decision.
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Old May 18th, 2017, 09:16 AM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by HistoryFreak1912 View Post
Just to add:

3.5- He didn't end it with a decisive US/UN victory. It was a stalemate that pretty much brought everything back to what it was BEFORE the war started.

6- He dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While it did end the war with Japan quicker, no doubt there were those in America who were quite displeased with his decision.
I really don't think that your "6" had anything to do with it, and although I was too young at the time to have conscious memories, I've never met anyone who was around at the time of the end of WWII who disapproved of using the bombs. Anti-nuclear sentiment post-dates WWII by at least a decade.
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