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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where are our Roosevelts?

PBS's American Experience last night broadcast a riveting portrait of FDR, the man who led this country out of a devastating depression and through a world war.

Always portrayed as vibrant and confident, it's hard to picture Roosevelt suffering from depression or worrying what he would do in the event of a fire. In fact, it's hard to picture him stricken by polio. Yet this crippled man led our disabled country.

He eventually did conquer that fire phobia, calling his family to his room, where he somehow managed to get out of his bed and proudly slithered along the floor, using his elbows to get to the door.

That's the only time that Eleanor ever broke down in front of him.

When I look and listen to Roosevelt and compare him with those running now, I have one question - what happened?


A.J. Cordi said...

What happened was the almighty dollar.

Anonymous said...

and the chorus goes....

gimmee gimmee gimmee and I don't care about you

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I rarely comment anymore but I think this is really a good question. What happened, in my mind, is first, Madison Avenue. Today's voters want their presidential candidates in nice, neat packages with short soundbite quotes that don't tax the attention span or conscience of the audience.

Can you imagine a Franklin Roosevelt running today? Hell, we get antsy because John McCain is, shudder, old. What are the chances that someone with the physique and mug of an Abe Lincoln -- not to mention his chronic depression -- would ever be taken seriously as a candidate. Or how about a portly old chap with a lisp and a fondness for Scotch, a la Churchill. All he did was lead his nation to survival against unimaginable odds.

What happened? We became shallow, superficial and completely uninvolved with anything that makes us the least bit uncomfortable. Roosevelt's great line "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" would have to be updated today to "We have nothing to fear but fear itself, oh, and the boogeyman in Iran and his cronies who make us all so afraid that we need national ID cards and secret laws and torture camps and let's not even get started on our urban neighborhoods because, boy, are they scary ... and the idea of walking a block or two from a parking lot to a gym ... just plain frightening ... and those kids down the street that hang out on the corner? Don't even want to go there. And let's not get started on illegal immigrants who might be in our communities because they steal the jobs we really don't want, anyway. And our schools are definitely places that need round-the-clock police patrols ... and, what was that again, Frank? Fear itself? Man, get with the times...

That's what happened.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks for an excellent and sad answer.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. I think good leaders still exist. We must not vote just based on someones Name recognition or witty slogan. It is important to listen and study the candidates.

Joe Hilliard said...


The Great Contradiction for me as a conservative.

Domestically I consider him a dangerous failure. He began the process of moving from limited government to massive government.

Foreign policy wise, the guy was the EXACT leader we needed at the time. And for all the Moveon.org types, they should catalog all of the international laws that FDR violated. And he did it proudly and dared the Nazis and the Japanese Empire to do something about it! Without him (and Churchill) the Axis would have kicked the crap out of the few democracies in the world.

Right man, right time.

But again, the New Deal and the beginnings of socialism have been a major ill on our society. But winning WW2 was 100 times more important at the time.

He gets a thumbs up from me. But only for the war.