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“If you want a friend in Washington,” counseled Harry Truman, “get a dog.” 

While it’s not clear the plain-spoken Missourian (who gave his dog to his White House physician) said exactly those words, he would have recognized the sentiment when he left Washington in January 1953, one of the least popular Presidents in history. Trailed by approval ratings in the 20s because of the unpopular and stalemated Korean War, he and Bess headed back to Independence, and friends—at least of the Washington variety—seemed in short supply. Incredibly by today’s standards, they drove across country in Harry’s Chrysler New Yorker, without a single Secret Service agent, assistant or reporter in tow.

For Winston Churchill, the English-speaking world’s iconic statesman of the last hundred years, friendship was an essential element of both public and private life—which, when combined with magnanimity, became central to statesmanship itself. His concept of friendship looked back to the Aristotelian ideal of “sunaisthesis,” or shared vision.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Author: By Lee Pollock