The Buck Stops Here
President Harry Truman placed on his desk in the Oval Office a sign that said “The Buck Stops Here.” The sign had to do with a saying that was popular in his day: “Pass the buck,” which meant to shirk responsibility. Some government agencies were notorious for passing the buck, for failing to make decisions and take responsibility for them.
When Truman said “The buck stops here,” he meant, “As president of the United States, I am responsible. I will make decisions. And I will own up to those decisions.” As an energetic and wise ruler, God has pondered the smallest details and largest themes of your life and has made comprehensive decisions about each one.
Burglars in the Senate Maybe, but Not in the House
While serving as President of the United States, Grover Cleveland fought constantly with the Senate, but got along rather well with the House of Representatives. A story circulated around town that one night, while asleep, his wife roused him, saying, “Wake up! I think there are burglars in the house.” “No, no, my dear,” President responded drowsily, “in the Senate maybe, but not in the House.”
Stuart R Strachan Jr.
As a committed Southern Baptist, president Jimmy Carter was often questioned by reporters on a variety of moral issues. One day, a reporter asked, “How would you feel if you were told that your daughter was having an affair?” “Shocked and overwhelmed,” Carter responded, “but then, she’s only seven years old.”
Stuart Strachan Jr.
The Drama of Leadership
The most highly classified document in the United States government is called the President’s Daily Brief. Usually delivered to the president in person each morning by the director of national intelligence, the brief summarizes the most critical information that the United States’ vast network of intelligence agencies has learned in the previous twenty-four hours. Of all the briefs prepared since the practice began in 1961, only two pages have ever been released to the public—an entry called “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US” that was presented to the president on August 6, 2001.
Every morning, the president hears an unvarnished, detailed account of all the threats facing the country. Then comes the rest of the day’s agenda. Ceremonies, meetings, phone calls, the occasional press conference, state dinners—and during them all, the president knows what almost no one else knows to the same degree of detail. And of all that troubling and terrifying knowledge, the president cannot speak a word. The drama of leadership is hidden vulnerability.
Nelson Mandela and a Presidency of Reconciliation
What does true forgiveness and reconciliation look like? The world was given such an image the day Nelson Mandela was sworn in as President of South Africa. What was so significant was not just that a person of color was becoming the head of a state with years of segregation and mistreatment of its black citizens, but it was also Mandela’s gracious inclusion of his former adversaries that was so inspiring.
When Mandela arrived, he was accompanied by his eldest daughter, as well as the South African security forces. But that was not all. The police and the correctional services (the same people in charge of his 27 years in prison) walked alongside his car, saluted him and escorted him to his inauguration. It was a powerful moment for many reasons, but most of all provided a reminder that just a few years ago, Mandela had been considered by the South African state as a public enemy, a terrorist to be arrested and exiled to a remote prison.
Stuart Strachan Jr.
A President’s Preoccupation with his/her Election
Imagine a president who was elected who spent all his time talking about his election…he ordered studies on how he was elected…people wouldn’t be happy…right, you are elected to do something…it’s the same thing with our own election.
This is the Last of Earth
John Quincy Adams, the son of the second president John Adams, dedicated his life to public service and the great American project, serving in numerous distinguished positions throughout his career. He is to this day, the only U.S. President to ever serve in congress afterbecoming commander in chief. At the end of his life, in 1848, Adams was writing at his desk when the Speaker of the House asked him a question. Adams rose to his feet to answer, whereupon he immediately collapsed and entered a semiconscious state that lasted for the next few days. His last words were, “This is the last of Earth. I am content.”
Stuart R. Strachan Jr.
Some of you may be remember the classic photograph from the 1948 Presidential Election, in which Harry Truman holds a newspaper triumphantly, with the title, “Dewey Defeats Truman”. What you may not know, is why the newspaper made such a big mistake.
It turned out to be the result of the polling work of George Gallup. Gallup’s company and polls, named after himself, had confidently predicted Dewey’s presidential victory, which the newspapers depended upon to confidently print the now infamous headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman.”
A couple months later, Gallup was pulled over in his hometown of Princeton, New Jersey, for driving the wrong direction on a one-way street. When the officer read Gallup’s driver’s license, he grinned and said, “Wrong again!”
Stuart R Strachan Jr.
Still Looking for inspiration?
Consider checking out our quotes page on Presidents. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!