Harry S. Truman: The Man from Independence

By William F. Levantrosser | Go to book overview

THE DOMESTIC SCENE DURING THE TRUMAN ADMINISTRATION

The interests of conference participants in areas usually assigned to the domestic category included public perception of President Truman, the role of women during that era, major economic issues, and the work of the courts. In a few cases implications for foreign policy are clearly indicated. Initially President Truman probably felt more secure in dealing with domestic policy matters because of his earlier governmental experience including his work as a U.S. senator from Missouri.

However, in each of these areas President Truman encountered difficulties which are analyzed here. In the matter of public perceptions of his conduct of the office Harry Truman started out with at least one strike against him by laboring in the shadow of an illustrious predecessor. Current impressions of Mr. Truman as President make it difficult to grasp the reality that at one time Mr. Truman's public approval rating was lower than for any postwar president up to the present. On the one hand Truman did not seem to worry about the public reaction to his decisions but he was careful to present his case to the public as his responsibility in a democratic system. One chapter here relates the public opinion factor to leadership in the Truman administration and presents an analysis of Truman's concept of the office. It places a strong emphasis on the informing, educative responsibility of a president.

Mr. Truman's use of the "bully pulpit" in press conferences and speech formats also receives attention in another selection. His language and speech style were consistent throughout his political career. In foreign affairs President Truman embraced the idea of reporting to the public after each diplomatic conference and major policy decision.

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