I offer this little diversion from the 2016 elections. You can thank me later.

When I debuted in 1948, Harry Truman was president. In the aftermath of World War II, Truman made many difficult decisions — not the least of which was dropping “the bombs” on Japan, effectively ending “the war.” But Truman’s full measure may rest in his conduct after leaving Washington.

When Truman left office in 1953, his income was a U.S. Army pension, reported to be $13,507.72 annually. Congress, noting that the former president was paying for his own stamps and personally licking them, granted him an “allowance” and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year. After Eisenhower’s inauguration, the Trumans quietly drove home to Independence, Missouri by themselves — sans Secret Service escort.

In retirement, Truman declined corporate positions with handsome salaries, stating: “You don’t want me. You want the office of the president. It doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people — and it’s not for sale.” In 1971, on the occasion his 87th birthday, he declined the Medal of Honor, writing: “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be reason for any award — congressional or otherwise.”

Upon his passing, the only asset he had was their small house in Independence. His wife, Bess, inherited it from her parents. Other than the White House years, they lived in that same house their entire lives.

Truman once quipped, “My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. To tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!”

It seems the world is full of piano players today. I have no further point — nothing more to add. Just perhaps something to reflect on, offered by a frequent reflector.

And of course, you’re most welcome!

Buddy Doyle


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