Presidents' Precedents

THE PRESIDENT WHO WON the Cold War’s last campaign is falling over backward to identify himself with the president who won the Cold War’s first. Is this what was meant by the “end of history”? Or is it only trickle-up post-Modernism?

As the Republican convention opened, George Bush let it be known that he was reading David McCullough’s just-published bestseller Truman, a book so openly schlepped by operatives of both parties that it has since become the election’s I Ching. “Bush in a Truman Mode,” the New York Times reported on the eve of the president’s acceptance speech; Harry Truman was now the president’s “patron saint.” It seemed that “the normally chipper Mr. Bush has been blue, but not so much since he bonded with Harry Truman.”

The presidential séance was brokered by Representative Newt Gingrich, who passed Bush a copy of a memo Clark Clifford had given Truman in late ’47: “In times

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