Few shared the president's certitude. Public reaction was swift and furious. "The reaction was stupendous, the outcry from the American people shattering," McCullough later wrote. Angry Republicans discussed impeaching the president. One Gallup poll showed 69 percent of Americans supported the general. Truman's own approval rating would reach 23 percent that month, and did not rise above the low thirties while he was in office. Of course, time grants perspective, and he is generally ranked as one of the near-great presidents, in part because of his strong assertion of civilian control over the rogue general.
Robert Schlesinger, deputy editor for opinion at U.S. News, is author of White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters.