Truman does win in 1948 (barely) but he has a hard road ahead. So hard are the next four years that Truman will elect not to run in 1952 and his poll numbers will be at an all time low for any American president (even Nixon after his resignation). So what happened? How did things go so badly? Part of that story is here, part of it is in the domestic arena, and part of it is in the next chapter, on Korea.
Here, the Soviets get the bomb, China “falls” and Americans are accused of giving away secrets to the communists. Despite the great victory in the Berlin airlift of 1948, the above three events lead many Americans, to look at the enormous “Red” Army in Europe, and conclude we were losing the cold war.
So, NSC-68 rolls out, claims we can spend 20% of our GDP on defense, later Eisenhower warns of the “military industrial complex”, after we join NATO and G. Kennan is rolling in his proverbial grave (he lived until 05) because his idea of containment, had been diplomatic and economic, not military.
So here we roll into the 50s, fear of communism, Korea, the Civil Rights movement will take center stage on the domestic front, and on the lighter side, the Mickey Mouse Club and TV will come along, as will Elvis and Rock & Roll.
The 50s isn’t all “Leave it to Beaver” though. What do you think of, when you think of the 50s?