Friday, December 05, 2008

Our Different Trumans

Americans, what do you think of when you see the name Harry Truman? Got it? Now, let me translate a recent Kyodo wire for you.
U.S. President Bush, Disapproval Rate Post-WW II High

U.S. President Bush’s “disapproval rate” reached 76%, the highest post-WW II level, according to a public opinion poll counduted by CNN TV and others and announced on [November] 10.

The highest up till now had been 67% recorded in 1952 by President Truman, who made the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, followed by 66% in 1974 for President Nixon, who resigned as the result of the Watergate Incident (ah, the magic word “incidents”, a translation into which some Western liberals read too much meaning where modern history is concerned). According to CNN, President Bush’s disapproval rate has climbed above 70% three times this year; his unpopularity is heads and shoulders above everyone else’s.
Is Kyodo expressing its disapproval of Truman when it juxtaposes Hiroshima/Nagasaki and Watergate. No, surely. But for better or worse, Truman is remembered as the guy who dropped the bomb on us. And not remembered in a nice way. We cannot help that, and we cannot help that it colors our view of history in a way that is different from yours, more generally a useful perspective as your thoughts cross borders.

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