The Late Halberstam's Final Verdict on Bush: "He's No Truman"

As you may remember, celebrated journalist and author David Halberstam died back in April at the age of 73 in a car crash. Next month's Vanity Fair includes Halberstam's last piece, and I'm enthusiastically anticipating it because it includes a terrific broadside against George W. Bush. Those familiar with Halberstam know he was a giant in journalism and his coverage of sports, civil rights and the Vietnam War (The Best and The Brightest) in particular were legendary. I was honored to have Mr. Halberstam deliver the keynote speech at my journalism school graduation and terribly saddened by his tragic death. Now, thanks to this upcoming Vanity Fair article we can get some final insights from a brilliant man.


Examining the history of American foreign policy since World War II in next month's Vanity Fair, author and journalist David Halberstam undercuts President Bush's assertion that his presidency will be viewed in the same vein as Harry Truman's, and concludes that America's folly in Iraq is largely the by-product of historical ignorance.

Halberstam, in his last magazine piece written before his sudden death in April, explains that he is familiar with Truman's legacy because of a book he wrote on the Korean War, The Coldest War, which will be published in September.

"Yes, like Bush, Truman was embattled, and, yes, his popularity had plummeted at the end of his presidency, and, yes, he governed during an increasingly unpopular war," Halberstam writes. "But the similarities end there."

Unlike Truman, who -- Halberstam observed -- had to reign in General Douglas MacArthur from widening the Korean War to include all-out war with China, Bush used his political capital in the wake of Sept. 11 and his "ever so malleable" military commander, Tommy Franks, to pursue his goal of war with Iraq.

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