When Nordstrom announced their intention to drop Ivanka Trump's brand, President Donald Trump slammed back. But Trump's reaction was actually quite tame in comparison to one of his predecessors.
After Trump fired off a tweet Wednesday to defend his daughter and criticize Nordstrom, the president was faced with criticism of his own. Many argued that it came close to a government ethics violation and illustrated how he is too involved with his former business:
During a press briefing that same day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the president, saying he “has every right to stand up for members of his family and applaud their business activity and success.” A letter from President Harry Truman that circulated following Trump's tweet on Wednesday would seem to support that idea.
After a Washington Post writer criticized a musical performance by President Truman's daughter, Truman couldn't fire out a public response via Twitter like President Trump. Instead, Truman responded with the 1950s equivalent: a very strongly worded letter.
According to the Truman Library, Margaret Truman performed at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., on December 6, 1950. The Washington Post's music critic, Paul Hume, published a scathing write-up of the concert.
In his review, Hume called the president's daughter, “a unique American phenomenon with a pleasant voice of little size and fair quality." Hume's review had nothing kind to say about the performance and concluded by saying that Margaret Truman, "has not improved in the years we have heard her [and] still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish.”
Like any good father, President Truman refused to stand idly by and let his daughter be disparaged. The president sent a stinging response to Paul Hume, reading:
I've just read your lousy review of Margaret's concert. I've come to the conclusion that you are an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”
It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you're off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.
Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!
Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you. I hope you'll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.
The Truman Library website says a copy of the letter once hung in President Bill Clinton's office. President Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, had been the subject of cruel media attention during her father's presidency. Perhaps President Clinton wished that he could send a letter as brutal as President Truman's.
While President Trump has had his own confrontations with the media, it's hard to imagine him becoming so unhinged as to threaten to break a reporter's nose as Truman did. Instead of “poppy-cock,” we'll just have to settle for allegations of “fake news.”