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“He was a great president, not because he was a great lawyer, not because he was a brilliant orator, not because he was a statesman of profound learning, but because he was a patriot with the highest sense of public duty; because he was a statesman of clear perceptions, of the utmost courage of his convictions, and of great plainness of speech; because he was a man of the highest character, a father and husband of the best type, and because throughout his political life he showed those rugged virtues of the public servant and citizen.” — William Howard Taft, about Grover Cleveland, in Troy Senik’s new book, A Man of Iron
From the beginning of Troy Senik’s book, I was enthralled with the story of Grover Cleveland. As a man and as President, Cleveland had his struggles, enemies, and critics, but what I most admired about him was his commitment to virtue. As Troy said—
But the defining features of Cleveland’s greatness—a virulent opposition to corruption in all its forms; the willingness to follow principle regardless of the political consequences; the conviction, as he famously put it, that ‘a public office is a public trust’—have nothing sectarian about them. One does not have to share his politics to admire his character.