The second F factor that helped Truman was foreign policy. As Ornstein correctly notes, Truman's Cold War policies -- the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan -- were supported by Republican congressional leaders and by Dewey. Top Dewey advisers were taken into confidence by Truman's foreign policy appointees. It was the golden era of bipartisan foreign policy.
But on one policy, Truman went further than his top advisers and Dewey's. When the Soviets blocked land access to West Berlin in June 1948, Truman's advisers -- men of the caliber of George Marshall and Omar Bradley -- said that it was impossible to supply food and fuel to Berlin and that we should just abandon it.
At a crucial meeting in July 1948, Truman listened to this advice. After others had finished talking, Truman said simply, "We're not leaving Berlin." Gen. Lucius Clay, our proconsul in Germany, set about organizing what became the Berlin Airlift.
Gen. William Tunner, who had run the wartime airlift from Burma to China, made the Berlin Airlift work. Vast quantities of food and coal -- far more than experts had estimated -- were brought into Tempelhof Airport on planes landing in foul weather every 90 seconds. And the pilots took to throwing out pieces of candy to the hungry kids lining the runways.
Andrei Cherny, now the chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, tells the story in his book "The Candy Bombers." He argues persuasively that the Berlin Airlift -- an example of American strength, determination, technological prowess and generosity -- played a key role in re-electing Truman.
So Truman's tough stand against communist aggression played a key part in his upset victory in 1948. Will Barack Obama have a similar accomplishment? Or will he be seen as impotent against our enemies, as was Jimmy Carter?
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