Repeat After Me: Zakaria, Plagiarism and Magnanimity

Fareed Zakaria, the host of the CNN news show GPS and a Washington Post columnist, is on the hot seat for the second time in two years for allegations that he plagiarized material for use in his written work. Some of you will recall that in August 2010 Zakaria was briefly suspended for posting a passage in his Time magazine column that bore a close resemblance to a passage written by Jill LePore in her New Yorker article on the same topic. Zakaria admitted that the event was a “terrible mistake” and was briefly suspended, but was reinstated after his editors deemed it a one-time event.  At the time the original accusation occurred, I posted this response that, while not necessarily defending Zakaria, certainly expressed some empathy for how that mistake could occur, since I had nearly made a similar mistake myself.

Now, however, two anonymous bloggers at the Our Bad Media website are claiming that Zakaria “has a history of lifting material in his work across several major publications – despite public assurances from his employers that a previous plagiarism scandal was only an isolated incident.” This is the same duo who accused Buzzfeed’s Benny Johnson of multiple instances of copying material verbatim from various online sources.  Johnson was subsequently fired.

It is not clear that Zakaria is even guilty of the charges, never mind that he might suffer Johnson’s fate. In a communication sent to Politico he vigorously denied the accusations, arguing that he did in fact cite sources and otherwise drew on material that was clearly part of the public record. Here is part of his defense: “My usual procedure with a piece of data that I encounter is to check it out, going as close to the original source as is possible. If the data is government generated (GDP, spending on pensions, tax rates, defense spending, etc.) then I often don’t cite a source since it is in the public domain. If it is a study or survey produced by a think tank, then I usually cite the institution that conducted the survey. In many of these cases, there was a link in my column to the source. This was not always possible, however, because Time magazine, for example, did not always allow for links. My columns are often data-heavy, so I try to use common sense, putting a source into the text when it was necessary. In many of the columns cited by the bloggers, I found the data they refer to in a primary source not the secondary one that they highlight.” Fred Hiatt, Zakaria’s boss at the Washington Post has already dismissed the one case cited by the bloggers that involved a Zakaria column for that paper.  As I noted in my earlier post on this topic, I’m not completely objective here, but I find some of the latest claims against Zakaria to stretch the meaning of the term plagiarism as I understand it. However, I’ll let you be the judge.

So why take up this topic in a blog devoted to analyzing the presidency and American politics, if not to debate Zakaria’s guilt or innocence?  One reason is that this topic is increasingly relevant to those of us who blog – and to those who read our blogs. The charges against Zakaria are likely to resurrect an earlier debate triggered by the Johnson case regarding what constitutes plagiarism in the digital age. While some participants dismissed Johnson’s actions as a trivial copying of fluffy material, the New York Times’ public editor Margaret Sullivan did not: “It’s pretty simple, at BuzzFeed or at The New York Times: Write your own stuff; when you can’t or won’t, make sure you attribute and link. Use multiple sources; compare, contrast, verify.” She went on to point out that with the availability of online search programs, it is becoming increasingly easy to catch cases of plagiarism.

The flip side of that, however, is that in the digital age, the temptation to cut and paste, or more typically to closely paraphrase on-line sources, is all the greater. Anyone who blogs frequently, as I do, is aware of this. As I noted in my earlier post on Zakaria’s initial plagiarism charge, “the proliferation of news aggregators has made it easier to justify using other writers’ material without attribution. I am not immune to this temptation. Almost every day I post an 800-1,500 word comment that more often than not is based in part on someone else’s research and/or insights. I work without an editor, and although I am careful to follow journalistic norms by citing other’s work (thanks to my year as a cub reporter for a daily paper, I have some journalistic training), I live in constant fear that I will have forgotten a link, or dropped a reference such as “As so-and-so said” in my blog post. And once I hit the send button, it’s very hard to make corrections.”

Those fears have, if anything, become slightly more magnified now that I’m posting almost daily at the Christian Science Monitor and weekly at U.S. News. I appreciate the broader audience, and I would not be able to produce material on an almost daily basis for their consumption were it not for the fact we live in the digital age, where a world of information is available at a keystroke – even here, in God’s Green Hills, where woodchucks outnumber people. But it’s not just bloggers who have to remain vigilant against falling into sloppy attribution practices.  My students are returning to campus, and if the past is any guide, more than one of them is going to wrestle this year with the issues that have gotten Zakaria in hot water.  So that I might prevent a trip before the judicial board (never mind Our Bad Media!), let me reiterate some simple but important guidelines that students might find helpful as they navigate through the Brave New Digital world.

1. When I directly quote anything, I put it in quotations marks and cite the source. Even if I paraphrase, my general rule is to err on the side of caution and cite the source if this can be even remotely construed as someone else’s material.  You are never going to get in trouble by crediting someone else for inspiring what you wrote, no matter how trivial the material.

2. When I come up with a wonderful idea (say, the special theory of relativity) but am vaguely aware that someone else might have discussed this too (that Al guy?), my default option is to be generous and cite the previous work. I’m cognizant that my “original” idea might in fact owe something to someone else’s research. Moreover, citing related work helps situate my argument in the broader literature, and gives reader a way to assess the intellectual background associated with the particular topic.

I’m acutely aware that the pressure to publish regularly, and to drive audiences to one’s site can tempt one to take shortcuts when it comes to citing sources for ideas and information. “I was first!” is an emotion that dates back to kindergarten, if not earlier. I suspect those pressures are magnified as one moves up the media food chain. However, I know from experience that my students feel similar pressure when they realize that the 5-page paper analyzing Obama’s sources of power is due the next morning. My advice under those circumstances is to be magnanimous – cite your sources, no matter how tangential to your argument. You’ll be glad you did. And it just might keep you from becoming the inspiration for the new website Our Bad Student.

Obama’s Michael Brown Address: I Won’t Do Stupid Things

The sense of disappointment among many progressive pundits yesterday, particularly denizens of the twitterverse, to what they viewed as President Obama’s tepid remarks  on the Michael Brown killing was palpable. Rather than attempting to condemn the actions of the white police officer who shot Brown, or to place Brown’s death in the larger context of police shootings of black men and race relations more generally, the President gave a decidedly more measured response, stressing the need to maintain the peace in Ferguson while the facts are gathered. Perhaps the most noteworthy takeaway from the press conference is that he is sending Attorney General Eric Holder to Missouri.

Needless to say, this was not the response many progressives wanted to hear, and they weren’t shy about making their disappointment known, as this sampling from my twitter feed and other sources indicates:

“Barack Obama is either very tired, doesn’t believe a single word he’s saying re: Michael Brown, or both.”

And this:

“The suggestion that My Brother’s Keeper could have helped save Michael Brown is ludicrous to the point of being willfully ignorant.”

And this:

“Barack Hussein Cosby”.

Ouch. And when asked whether he would personally travel to Ferguson, instead of a dramatic version of Eisenhower’s “I shall go to Korea”  the president was noncommittal, prompting twitter responses like this:

“Even Bush didn’t take this long to get down to Katrina. Jesus.”

In trying to explain the President’s failure to take a more strident stand, some progressives defended him by suggesting he was likely hiding his true views in order to avoid inflaming an already unstable situation. Ezra Klein’s take is not uncharacteristic of this perspective: “The problem is the White House no longer believes Obama can bridge divides. They believe — with good reason — that he widens them. They learned this early in his presidency, when Obama said that the police had ‘acted stupidly’ when they arrested Harvard University professor Skip Gates on the porch of his own home. The backlash was fierce.”

Maybe. But here’s a radical thought. Perhaps there’s another explanation for the President’s muted response – one that is admittedly more outlandish than what progressive pundits would have us believe: it’s that the President actually meant what he said yesterday. Maybe – just maybe – he really does want to wait until all the facts are in, rather than following the Twitterverse into a headlong rush to judgment. Maybe he understands that the circumstances surrounding this incident may not be as black and white as the armchair analysts twitting their views from their computers thousands of miles from the scene of the shooting would have one think. Maybe he sincerely believes that the best way to defuse the tension is to let the investigation run its course, rather than trying to force facts and rumors of facts into a pre-existing framework of analysis designed to confirm what some pundits are certain happened.

Shocking, I know. But, as I have argued from day one of Obama’s time in office, this pragmatic, show-me-the-facts – dare I say “moderate”? – take on the presidency is exactly what we – progressives included – should have expected from Obama, based on his prior history. And it is entirely consistent with a President whose operating mantra is captured in the phrase “don’t do stupid things.”  Yes, there may yet be a time for the President to reprise his stirring 2004 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention – “There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America” – or to echo the theme of racial harmony that characterized his Reverend Wright condemnation speech – “As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems.” But those speeches were made by a man who dreamed of becoming president and they were, in large part, designed to further that goal. As President, however, Obama no longer has the luxury to be quite so self-indulgent. Yes, there may come the moment when he can use the Michael Brown tragedy as an opportunity to talk about race relations, civil rights, police shootings and the myriad other issues that progressives wish Obama had addressed yesterday. But as President he has evidently concluded that this moment is not now. Some find this disappointing. Others, however, may interpret the President’s reticence as a sign of true leadership.

For notifications of future posts, join me on twitter at @MattDickinson44

The Arrogance of Power and the Case For Presidential Term Limits

A week ago Larry Summers, the former Clinton Treasury secretary and Obama economic adviser, came out with this op ed piece that proposed a way of “ending presidents’ second term curse.” By curse, Summers’ refers to a recurring pattern of both legislative gridlock and political scandal that he believes characterizes the second term of presidents dating back at least to FDR’s presidency. As he summarizes, “Second presidential terms are almost without exception very difficult for the president and his team, for the government and for the country.” To break this pattern, Summers argues that we should consider a single presidential term of perhaps six years: “Would the U.S. government function better if presidents were limited to one term, perhaps of six years? The unfortunate, bipartisan experience with second terms suggests the issue is worthy of debate. The historical record helps makes the case for change.”

To be sure, Summers acknowledges that one reason second terms are problematic is that the 22nd amendment  essentially relegates presidents who win reelection to four years of lame-duck status. Restricting a president to a single-term without the possibility of reelection would only mean the president becomes a lameduck that much earlier. For Summers, however, the “problems caused by lame-duck effects are much smaller than those caused by a toxic combination of hubris and exhaustion after the extraordinary effort that a president and his team must exert to achieve reelection.”

What are we to make of Summers’ proposal? To begin, as Andy Rudalevige points out, there’s nothing particularly novel about Summers’ recommendation. In fact, delegates to the 1787 constitutional convention charged with drawing up a framework for the presidency initially gravitated toward establishing one seven-year presidential term.  Since then amendments to this effect have been proposed in Congress on at least 160 different occasions, dating back at least to 1826. Of perhaps greater significance, at least 15 presidents have endorsed a single presidential term. Clearly Summers’ proposal has a long and impressive pedigree.:

So why hasn’t it been implemented? To begin, not everyone agrees with Summers’ diagnosis, never mind his proposed solution. As Jonathan Bernstein points out, the roots of some of the second-term scandals and policy fiascos, such as Watergate or Bush’s Iraq debacle, actually trace back to a president’s first term. Moreover, it’s not clear that the imposition of formal term limits via the 22nd amendment significantly weakened a presidency whose previous occupants almost always adhered to the two-term limit by tradition. To this I would add that one reason second terms seem less productive is that most of the low-hanging legislative fruit is typically picked early during the president’s time in office, leaving the problems that lack either a ready solution, or political support – or both – for the second term. In short, the lack of legislative productivity may be more a function of dwindling opportunities for success, and not a president’s weakened political state. More generally, James Hedtke  finds no convincing evidence that second-term presidents are weaker as a result of their ineligibility to run again.

Nonetheless, as I have noted elsewhere in an argument that foreshadows Summers’, second terms do seem to present their own problems, usually in the form of policy overreach or scandal. The explanation seems rooted in part, I think, by a decline in presidents’ and their aides’ political sensitivity combined with a heightened focus on their historical legacy as their time in office winds down. The result is a greater tendency toward risk taking during a second term. If this diagnosis is true, however, it is not clear that a single six or seven-year term will obviate the problem since presidents who are ineligible to run again would lack any incentive to remain sensitive to constituents’ concerns. This has led some reformers to advocate repealing the 22nd amendment, thus effectively returning to the Founders’ original constitutional framework that allowed presidents unlimited eligibility to seek reelection.

Before embracing that proposal, however, it is worth looking more closely at why the 22nd amendment was passed. Analysts often assume it was Republican payback for the Democratic Franklin Roosevelt’s long tenure as president. But, as Michael Korzi’s excellent study of presidential terms limits reveals, while partisan payback was part of the impetus for the 22nd amendment, the debate in 1947 over the proposed reform was far more nuanced, and in many respects reprised the arguments for and against presidential term limits that were aired during the constitutional convention. Essentially, the debate pitted the Republican/Whig “constitutionalists’” concern to limit executive power against the Democrats’ “plebiscitary” model of leadership that sees a popularly elected president as, in Korzi’s words, “the engine of the U.S. political system, with the president deriving power from a strong connection with the American people.”

In assessing these competing visions, both sides too often forget that we have one empirical case in which to assess a president who broke the two-term limit: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In assessing the Roosevelt case, supporters of unlimited reelection often cite how the nation benefited from FDR’s willingness to serve a third term on the eve of World War II.  They argue that had the 22nd amendment been in place, we would have been prevented from drawing on his experience, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

However, rather than FDR’s decision to run for a third term in 1940, the more telling case for me is FDR’s decision to pursue a fourth term in 1944 despite obvious health issues. My concern here is not that FDR hid his failing health from the public – we have ample examples of presidents doing just that at all times in office.  Instead, the more worrisome aspect of his decision to run again is that FDR, and his aides, seemed not to fully grasp the implications of his failing health. As Korzi writes, “The impression one is left with is that FDR and advisers engaged in self-delusion on a rather large scale.” Despite FDR’s haggard appearance, not to mention his cardiologist’s diagnosis in March 1944 that FDR had serious heart disease, Korzi argues that the “artificial atmosphere” associated with FDR’s long tenure as president “promotes arrogance and even self-deception, as if the normal rule – in this case, the simple laws of physiology – are not applicable to the president.” One consequence of that arrogance is that FDR didn’t seem to pay much attention in 1944 to who his vice president was going to be, and after Truman was chosen, FDR failed to include him in any discussions of the major issues with which the President was grappling.

In magisterial study of the Presidency , Richard Neustadt notes approvingly, “Roosevelt had a love affair with power in that place.” Roosevelt, Neustadt writes, viewed the White House as “almost a family seat….and he regarded the whole country as almost a family property.” That conception of his place as president made FDR acutely sensitive, Neustadt argues, to protecting his sources of power in any decision he made. But there is a potential risk in this type of love affair – one exemplified, I think, by FDR’s decision to seek a fourth term. It is that presidents, and their advisers, may delude themselves into thinking they have become indispensable to the well-being of the nation. For most of our nation’s history, that temptation was held in check by virtue of the two-term tradition. As the plebiscitary mode of leadership has gained prominence, however, can we trust tradition alone to prevent presidents from seeking a third term? I, for one, am not willing to take that risk. If the 22nd amendment serves any purpose, then, it is to protect the nation against the arrogance of power associated with long tenure in office.

For notifications of future posts, join me on twitter at @MattDickinson44

Give ‘Em Hell! Bears, Bubbles, Teleprompters and A Republic

This Sunday’s Shorts:

The Bear Is On The Loose

At some point in their presidency, all presidents chafe at the isolation imposed by living in the White House “bubble” and seek ways to partake in some “normal” activities, even something as mundane as eating a burrito bowl at Chipotles.  Of course, sometimes this is for photo opportunities, but more often it reflects a genuine desire to break the isolation that is an inevitable part of being president. On this topic, Harry Truman told the following story as part of the conversation that I recounted in yesterday’s post: “I sat on the porch one Sunday afternoon, and there was a ballgame down there on the Ellipse, and I thought I would go down and see the ball-game, and I started to walk down there, and I looked around and there were two or three policemen on one side and Secret Serviceman on the other side, and when I got to the fence, it broke up the ball-game – they all came over to look at me. By experience you learn those things. What President Taft said is true. It is an extremely lonesome job, and I can’t see why anybody in his right mind would want the job. It was rather forced on me.”

A Republic (Not a Democracy) – If You Can Keep It

I rarely disagree with the always interesting Jonathan Bernstein, but I’m going to take issue with Jon’s latest post,  in which he argues that the terms “democracy” and “republic” are largely synonymous. Jon’s broader point is that those, like Philip Klein, who persist in claiming the American political system is a republic and not a democracy are splitting hairs. In fact, Jon argues, there are only different types of democracies, each characterized by different rules governing representation, decisionmaking, etc. To argue otherwise, he believes, “encourages sloppy thinking, including excuses for some seemingly undemocratic practice that we have no other reason to support.”

Well, maybe. But recall that Madison writes Federalist 10 with the specific intent to defend what some might call undemocratic practices embedded in the new constitutional system. In this essay he explicitly labels the newly-established governmental system a “republic”, and takes pains to distinguish it from a “pure democracy” because he sees them as fundamentally different types of government, with different strengths and weaknesses. Madison argues that a “pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction.” A republic, in contrast, “by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises a cure for which we are seeking.” Madison then goes on to make a point-by-point comparison between a republic and a “pure democracy” emphasizing in particular the strong points of a republic: the delegation of governing control to a small number of citizens elected by the rest, and the corresponding ability to expand the polity to include many more interests, thus weakening the ability of any one faction to dominate the political system. Anyone who has sat through a debate on school funding in a Vermont town meeting can certainly appreciate Madison’s distinction!

Jon is clearly aware of Madison’s famous argument, of course, but he believes Madison’s “republic” “can and should be supported as a strong version of democracy.” However, it seems to me that this “strong version” represents a fundamental difference in kind, rather than simply a version of democracy that falls along one end of the democracy continuum. Of course, although Madison seems to think there is a fundamental difference between a pure democracy and a republic, he also acknowledges variations among republican forms of government: “Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic…” Nonetheless, I’ll let Madison have the final word: “In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government.”  In the end, while Jon prefers to channel political scientist Bob Dahl, I’m sticking with Madison.

Use a teleprompter? Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!

It’s no secret that President Obama, like almost every president before him dating back to Eisenhower, uses a teleprompter when giving most public speeches. Still, the fact that previous presidents have relied on the teleprompter to various degrees has not stopped partisan critics from suggesting Obama’s frequent use of this device indicates that he is somehow not up to the job or lacks command of the issues. (It also prompted this wonderful Onion parody of what happened when Obama’s “home teleprompter” failed during a family dinner.)

Given the criticism, why bother with the teleprompter? One reason is that everything a president says has policy implications – hence, why take a chance that the president might misspeak? In fact, this was the very point Truman White House aide Charles Murphy made in an internal memo, dated September 13, 1950,  that he sent to Truman in response to criticisms of the President’s speeches. In discussing how to address the criticisms, Murphy notes, “A Presidential speech is a different animal from a news broadcast. Its primary requirement is accuracy, not style.” Murphy then went on to make the following suggestion: “I believe we should continue to seek improvements in the mechanical arrangements – such as lighting, etc. Particularly, we should explore thoroughly the possibilities of readings from a screen for television purposes and also the possibility of using larger type for the readings copy.” Truman, however, was having none of it. Here he is, a month after the Murphy memo, speaking to the United Nations on October 24, 1950, without a teleprompter, regarding the Korean War.

Indeed, as Rob Schlesinger recounts, Truman never did adopt the teleprompter. Instead, it came into regular use under his Republican successor, Dwight Eisenhower – a president who is rarely charged with lacking command of the issues.  But I doubt that will mollify Obama’s critics.

Have a great Sunday!

For notifications of future posts, join me on twitter at @MattDickinson44

Is The Loneliest Job In the World Getting Lonelier?

This week we take the WayBack machine to revisit an exchange in the White House Oval Office between President Harry Truman and some public administration scholars that provides a fascinating window into Truman’s perspective on being president – and what President Obama can learn from Truman’s views. According to the transcript of the meeting, Truman is asked at one point whether he agrees with President Taft’s characterization of the Presidency as “the loneliest job in the world”. Truman replied, “Oh yes, it’s true.” Here is part of his full response to that question:

Truman interview lonely job.1

The irony of Truman’s observation, of course, is that he was anything but alone in this, the loneliest job in the world. As Truman explained earlier in the conversation, “I have a number of Secretaries and assistants here, who are of immense help to me.” One of those was his Appointment Secretary, Matt Connelly, “whose business it is to see that the people get in that should get in. You see, I can’t see everybody that wants to see me….It took me a long time to figure that out.” Truman noted that as a Senator, he had been used to seeing “two or three hundred [people] a day…and saw each one individually. … But the President can’t do that. His callers have to be screened and confined to those who really have business that the President needs to talk about, or needs to transact.”

Who were those people that Truman deemed “really” necessary to see? Truman’s review of his daily schedule above shows that he was a very busy man, but it does not indicate with whom he met with regularly. However, notes from a study by his White House assistant Richard Neustadt gives us a glimpse into Truman’s regular appointments throughout his presidency. Here is an overview of Neustadt’s findings:

Truman Schedule
In looking at Truman’s regular schedule of meetings, there are several items of particular interest. First, he operated without a chief of staff, choosing instead to manage his staff on his own. This meant scheduling a daily staff meeting with his senior White House aides, during which he would hand out assignments and receive oral reports. By all accounts this was a tremendously helpful administrative exercise, not least because it kept each senior aide apprised of what his colleagues were doing. Presidents have long since given up this practice, choosing instead to delegate staff oversight to a single senior aide.

Second, Truman does not begin daily intelligence briefings until 1950 which, not coincidentally, marks the start of the Korean War that June. Interestingly, however, those briefings were conducted initially by General Omar Bradly, who was serving as the first chairman of the newly created Joint Chiefs of Staff, and not by the CIA director or a personal White House equivalent to the national security adviser.

Third, Truman met weekly with both his full cabinet and with the press. Neither practice continues today. Most of Truman’s successors, beginning with JFK, complained that the cabinet had become simply too large and unwieldy to justify regular cabinet meetings. Instead presidents have opted to meet with smaller, issue-based cabinet councils, usually under the direction of a White House aide. At the same time, for reasons I discuss here, presidents find regular press conferences far less useful than in Truman’s day.

But perhaps of greatest relevance to today are Truman’s regular Monday meetings with the congressional “Big Four” – the House Speaker and majority leader, and the Senate majority leader and president pro tempore. In addition to these weekly get togethers with the congressional party leadership, however, Truman’s schedule is studded with additional meetings with senators and representatives of both parties. Neustadt’s notations indicate that many of these meetings dealt with regional issues of concern to the particular member of Congress, while others dealt with national policy. For example, in June 1947 Truman met with Senator John Overton to discuss flood control in Louisiana, with Alabama Senator John Sparkman “re War Dept. run out on cotton”, and with House Labor Committee Republicans to discuss their opposition to the Taft-Hartley act – just three of 13 separate meetings with senators and seven more with representatives Neustadt records for that month.

It is perhaps not surprising that Truman, the former Senator, took such pains to keep in regular personal contact with those at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. In the notes Neustadt kept of his 1958 interview with the ex-president for his book Presidential Power, Truman discusses his views toward Congress in the context of his disapproval of White House aides “swarming over the Hill” on the president’s behalf: “I didn’t believe in it; never did….[M]y attitude formed in my early years in the Senate. I always believed Congress was a co-equal branch, just like the Court; the President should tell them what he thinks right and then it’s up to them…There’s bound to be some inefficiency [but] it’s worth it. [A] Congressman’s entitled to talk to the President directly and be talked to directly, not second hand….they resent it.”

I thought about Truman’s remarks after having dinner recently with a former member of the House who remains in somewhat close contact with current members of Congress. According to him, legislators on Capitol Hill from both parties do not believe President Obama is sensitive enough to the need for reaching out to the Hill on a regular basis.  Of course, this is a complaint one hears voiced on a frequent basis in media reports, but it is difficult in the absence of records like Neustadt’s to verify just how often the President meets with his legislative counterparts. If true, however, it may explain in part why a President – and former Senator – ostensibly committed to changing the culture of Washington has apparently made so little headway toward reaching this objective.

The Presidency is already the loneliest job in the world. Truman’s words, and actions, are a reminder that it makes no sense to further the isolation by failing to reach out regularly to those with whom you share power.