Like Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman has been a difficult president to categorize, either personally or in terms of his legacy. When he left office he had the lowest ranking of any American president, then or since. But in 1974, two years after his death and after Merle Miller published Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S Truman, Harry was suddenly one of our best presidents. During the following presidential race, one candidate repeatedly swore his unremitting admiration for Harry, even though as a congressman during the Truman administration, he had opposed virtually every one of Harry's policies.
But Harry had one unique distinction that can never be duplicated by any other chief executive. He was the first American president of the television age. Although FDR had made a speech that was broadcast on television in 1939, television was such a rarity that few people viewed the grainy fuzzy image on the tiny screen housed in the humongous wooden cabinet. Harry, though, not only made the first televised presidential address from the White House, but after he retired back home to Independence, Missouri, broadcast journalists regularly sought him out and never had a problem getting Harry to voice his, well, shall we say is frank opinions.
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