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After the Applause

May 6, 2014

In retirement the President often played the role of curmudgeon, and this suited his audiences most of the time.

Sometime during a lecture tour – some say he was speaking to a group of high-schoolers, others say it was a college audience – during the Q & A on American government, a young man asked for the former President’s opinion of the state’s governor.  His exact words were: “What do you think of our local yokel?”

The President immediately scolded the questioner for showing such disrespect to the high office of governor.  The audience then applauded as the young man turned pale and sat down.

By the end of the session the President realized that a harsh rebuke from a former President could be a crushing blow to the young man’s self-esteem and standing in his community.  He sought him out and spoke with him at length.  He showed a genuine interest in the young man’s development which continued for years afterward.

That’s just how Harry Truman was.

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