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Hall of Fame: The Case for Franklin Delano Roosevelt



FDR. A Hall of Famer? AP Photo

When we unveiled the Fix Political Hall of Fame a few weeks ago, e-mails poured in castigating us for not putting former president Franklin Roosevelt in our inaugural class. (Heck, even the Post political eminence Dan Balz beat us up for not putting FDR in on the first ballot.)

FDR is regularly ranked as one of the best presidents of all time -- a recent Gallup poll put him in fourth -- and he spent more time in the White House than any one before or since.

So, today we aim to turn those catcalls into meows with our case for why FDR deserves a spot in the hallowed halls. (Make sure to read our case for and case against Richard Nixon's entry into the Hall of Fame.)

Huge Challenges, Huge Solutions

At certain times in history, the man and the moment collide with fortuitous benefits for the country. So it was for American when Roosevelt was elected the 32nd president of the United States in 1932.

The country was in the grips of the Great Depression when Roosevelt took office and he acted swiftly, engaging in a flurry of activity aimed as much at restoring public confidence as at jumpstarting the economy. He promised bold, persistent experimentation and was good to his word.

Even as the policies began to show signs of improving the nation's fiscal well-being, President Roosevelt continued to act to further broaden the government's role in Americans' lives -- creating Social Security and the Work Projects Administration in 1935.

With domestic tranquility at least partially restored, Roosevelt turned his attention to Europe where World War II had begun in earnest. The bombing of Pearl Harbor in late 1941 turned Roosevelt -- and the U.S. -- from a behind-the-scenes participant in the conflict into a major combatant and, much like he had done with the Great Depression, Roosevelt threw all the powers of government into the war effort to help the U.S. achieve victory.

Presidencies are often made (or broken) by the chief executive's response to major and/or unforeseen crises during his time in office. For some, like George W. Bush and Hurricane Katrina, these events can badly wound their standing. For others, like Roosevelt, they can prove the mettle of the man.

During his 12 years in office, Roosevelt led the nation through, arguably, its most difficult domestic and foreign policy struggles of the 20th century. That's quite an accomplishment.

A Master Orator

Roosevelt, like all great presidents, grasped the power of his words, and he effectively used the media outlets that broadcast them to rally the American people in times of crisis.

In his 1933 inaugural address, Roosevelt asserted the fundamental strength of the American people in uttering perhaps the most famous line in the history of political oratory: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself".

Just a few months after that speech, Roosevelt began his "Fireside Chats," in an attempt to speak directly to the American people via a series of radio addresses focused on issues crucial to the country.

The broadcasts were extremely popular with the American people and helped further humanize Roosevelt and unite the country behind his programs -- both foreign and domestic. (There was a reason Roosevelt continued to do these chats for the next 11 years as the country struggled through the Great Depression and then waded into the Second World War.)

Roosevelt's nuanced understanding of the power of radio to reach the American public in a personal and powerful way presaged similar revelations by John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan with television and Barack Obama with the Internet.

Roosevelt was there first.

Triumph Over Tragedy

Roosevelt was born into privilege but it was through his struggle with illness that he came to find his political success.

He was a rising star in Democratic politics early in life thanks to his famous last name -- he was a fifth cousin to former president Theodore Roosevelt -- and his wealth.

Roosevelt was elected to the New York state Senate in 1910 and just three years later was appointed assistant Secretary of the Navy by President Woodrow Wilson. Despite losing a Senate race in 1914, Roosevelt was popular enough within the party to win a contested fight for the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 1920 -- a nomination that turned out to be not worth much as Warren Harding crushed the Democratic ticket to claim the presidency.

It was in the wake of that defeat that Roosevelt contracted a disease -- originally thought to be polio but later believed to be Guillain-Barre syndrome -- that paralyzed him from the waist down.

Roosevelt's battle against the disease -- and his refusal to admit that he would never walk again -- came to define his life, politically and otherwise, from then on.

By 1924, Roosevelt was back in the political game albeit hobbled; he appeared on crutches at that year's Democratic National Convention to speak on behalf of New York Gov. Al Smith who lost the presidential nomination after 103(!) ballots to former ambassador John Davis.

Four years later, Roosevelt was elected governor in his own right and four years after that he became president.

Roosevelt's battle against his illness -- documented wonderfully in the 2005 film "Warm Springs" -- was fought almost entirely in private as he sought to hide the extent of his paralysis from the American public, believing it could lead to him being perceived as weak.

But, his resolute approach toward the presidency generally and the Great Depression and World War II specifically was clearly forged by his lifelong battle against the disease. A child of privilege, Roosevelt spent much of his presidency trying to pull Americans out of poverty and into prosperity -- an attitude that grew directly out of the tragedy that had struck him down in the prime of his own life.

Tomorrow: The Case Against Roosevelt.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 9, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Hall of Fame  
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Comments

The "Case Against FDR" thread is weak. We did a better job pointing out why Nixon deserves to be inducted into the Fix Political HOF first here in the comments.

Posted by: JakeD | July 11, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"If you remember the Salk vaccine coming out, then you've seen a lot more of political history than I have (by ~20 years). I think that's why I enjoy reading your posts. Not to go into too much detail, but disease from poliovirus has a lot of different forms, mostly benign, and only very infrequently paralytic (~1%). "

I remember the two summers BEFORE 1955. just starting grade school, 1% is meaningless, my parents were like many parents, scared out of their wits. And them came the news, a POLIO VACCINE!!!.

Those pictures of kids standing in line, the tables full of trays of needles. Went there, did that. Had a brother and sister end up in the Polio Isolation Ward at MVH. (meningitis)stood out on the street to wave to them. Rode a City Bus for the first time to do it. Couldn't understand why my mother wouldn't let me ride in the back. Didn't understand why kids from Maryland were coming to Troy to go to high school because THEIR High Schools were closed. (Montrgomery County Maryland, it turns out.)Liked Ike. Learned better.

Became a political animal, Democratic Species, and never changed.

Earned my opinion.

LBJ, FDR, HST. In that order. The MIGHTY MEN, (as in David's elite).

Posted by: ceflynline | July 10, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

FDR also cheated on his wife.

Posted by: Lisa421 | July 10, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

ceflynline:

If you remember the Salk vaccine coming out, then you've seen a lot more of political history than I have (by ~20 years). I think that's why I enjoy reading your posts.

Not to go into too much detail, but disease from poliovirus has a lot of different forms, mostly benign, and only very infrequently paralytic (~1%). Paralytic polio did put people in iron lungs, but your friend who is worried about it shouldn't be because a) he's probably still immune to polio; and b) there's no wild polio circulating in the US.

In any case, I think we agree that FDR was a consummate politician deserving of the PHoF. My question to you would be why you think LBJ exceeded FDR's political stature.

Posted by: mnteng | July 10, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

You mean like the Japanese-American internment camps? I'm still waiting for today's thread against Franklin Roosevelt's inclusion. I still think that Nixon, whatever his faults, played the game of politics much better than FDR. Apart from their own Vice Presidents, Richard Nixon's legacy arguably spawned Reagan and both Bush Administrations. All FDR gets is Clinton, maybe, if you're stretching it. In addition, FDR never swept all but one State in his four attempts. Only George Washington did better than that.

Posted by: Lisa421 | July 10, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Wow, who would have thought that a political Hall of Fame would warrant such vitriolic ideological chatter. Go Bull-Moose Party!

Posted by: andygoldman | July 10, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

mnteng: "As a virologist, I'm going to have to take issue with your description of paralytic polio."

That is beyond my field, so my terminology isn't what I would like, but I know many people from my generation, (I remember those last couple of summers before Salk and Sabin) who are polio survivors, and while you may not cure polio, you sure can recover, apparently. Roosevelt never seemed to recover at all. I also know at least one polio survivor who currently worries that he might have whatever it is that sometimes put people who long ago had the disease back in an iron lung for a time.

Roosevelt THOUGHT, as did everyone else at the time, that he had polio. He fought whatever he had the rest of his life and was highly inventive in finding ways to appear to be winning, but it was apparently just a very game show.

It is perhaps his best claim to an immediate place in the political hall of fame that he accomplished what he did while gamely "beating" a disease that devastated him far more than he ever admitted. He used his problems like he used (in the better sense) his friends and associates, but he did use up more than one of his "subordinates(?)", and out worked and out lived several. He inspired others, stood unruffled and unpreturbed except when it met his needs to lose his cool, and defend his dog. He was almost always well ahead of his adversaries, and he chose his appointees well, let them have their own fame and sucess, and listened to them when he was wrong as much as when he was right.

He played the political game as well as anyone ever did, and in playing iy he mostly used his power more for the good than not. He has his bad points, especially in the many areas of civil rights and human rights where he might have done more had he the will.

But he had the style and set the bar for politicians very high. Few Democrats and no Republicans reached that level of excellence.

ONLY LBJ exceeded it.

Posted by: ceflynline | July 10, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

ceflynline:

As a virologist, I'm going to have to take issue with your description of paralytic polio.

There is no treatment for paralytic poliomyelitis because destruction of the CNS is something we still haven't quite figured out how to fix. And poliovirus is an acute infection; once you clear the virus, it's gone and you have immunity to that serotype. You may get infected by another serotype if you haven't been vaccinated (there used to be 3 circulating serotypes), but the viral infection is not chronic and doesn't "recur".

There's no known treatment for GBS either, probably because we're not completely sure what the cause is, though it may be an autoimmune disease triggered by infection.

I think it was assumed that FDR's 4th VP would eventually serve out the rest of FDR's last term. Wallace was obviously too close to the Soviets, though I think they threw him a bone and gave him a Cabinet position. HST, if memory serves, wasn't the first choice for VP.

Posted by: mnteng | July 10, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"Oh, and FDR didn't get paralysis (polio or GBS) until later in life (age 39)."

What he THOUGHT he had, usually then called infantile paralysis, never responded to the treatments he sought, which it should have, which is what now leads theoreticians to believe he had GBS. Still, Polio, or IP, is and was known for its ability to "recur" in later years and such recurrence wasn't all that treatable then, especially when it was so painfully obvious to FDR that NONE of his treatments had and useful effect.

I suspect that, knowing he was deteriorating, he picked Truman as VP and hoped, but was hell bent on not letting Tom Dewey get into the White House, not even on a visitor pass.

Posted by: ceflynline | July 9, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Sure, he was 4 times in a wheelchair, but the newspapers let him. Could someone in a wheelchair be elected today? Nixon lost to JFK because he sweat during a debate. I think that Nixon played the game of politics better overall.

Posted by: JakeD | July 9, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

I apologize for the confusion.

Posted by: JakeD | July 9, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

JakeD:

Ah. Henry Wallace was also kept out of the loop for war decisions, which, I believe, were mainly made by Stimson. And Wallace was VP for much longer than HST, so you see where the confusion arises.

ceflynline:

I agree that FDR's decision to continue was puzzling. But you do have to have a pretty big ego to be POTUS. Oh, and FDR didn't get paralysis (polio or GBS) until later in life (age 39).

Posted by: mnteng | July 9, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

We both want the nation to succeed. The only difference is that you HOPE liberal policies will accomplish that. History shows they won't. But liberals have never been real fond of history, so it's understandable that you want to ignore it.

==

I'm no more interested in your cartoon caricatures of liberals than I am in your faith in corporate business.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

chrisfox8:
"And oh, one more thing, "let them fail" was Hoover's approach, and we know how well THAT worked out."

Now you really betray your lack of knowledge. Hoover "let them fail"? Are you kidding? Get a history book and read about all the misteps taken in 1930-1932. I warn you, though. It will sound scarely similar to what Bush and Obama have been doing for the past 12 months. Just don't want you to be scared into becoming a conservative once you actually understand what they are doing today.

Posted by: dbw1 | July 9, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Then you are in good company with your fellow liberals. Explains why you guys keep doing what you do; you don't believe in 'economics'

==

Do you believe in phrenology as well?

It's probably more useful than that "marketplace" spew.

There are economists getting paid to offer reasoning within frameworks that don't have a single qualifying success, and no number of failures will ever diminish confidence in an economic idea.

You can call that science if you want, I call it crap.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

chrisfox8:
"You believe in letting the nation collapse, I don't."

Now you are reaching.

We both want the nation to succeed. The only difference is that you HOPE liberal policies will accomplish that. History shows they won't. But liberals have never been real fond of history, so it's understandable that you want to ignore it.


Posted by: dbw1 | July 9, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

"dbitt: You are 100% spot-on that Abe Lincoln would never support the current GOP. The GOP of the past 8 years looked so much like the spend-like-there-is-no-tomorrow Democrats, Abe would have a hard time telling the difference between the two. The Democrats and GOP both would make Abe puke. Posted by: dbw1 "

The GOP of his time wasn't particularly enamored of Lincoln, either. Half of his Cabinet seemed to believe that one of them, you may assume which one, was destined to be the power behind the throne, as they all had much higher opinions of each of their own talents that they did of Lincolns. His Second Campaign was, technicly not as a Rapublican, but on the Constitutional Union Ticket, and the republicans actually tried to find a replacement, since many of them felt that Lincoln had actually lost the war and the election.

But Lincoln, Jefferson, Jackson, and their age are more properly appropriate to the old timer's committee, or the Negro Leagues committee, as they were of a vastly different era, down to the fact that they all held it unseemly to campaign in their own right. The Rules were different then, and we discuss an entirely different concept of politician.

Posted by: ceflynline | July 9, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

chrisfox8:
"You believe in economics, I think it's crap."

Then you are in good company with your fellow liberals. Explains why you guys keep doing what you do; you don't believe in 'economics'.

Posted by: dbw1 | July 9, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

" "What about FDR's "political" decision to keep his own Vice President out of the loop of war decisions?" Considering Henry Wallace was a Soviet sympathizer, I'd put that decision in FDR's plus column. Luckily for us, FDR didn't pass away until after HST became VP. Posted by: mnteng "

I think mnteng is referring to Truman, not Wallace. Truman WAS kept out of the loop on the Manhattan Project, first as a Senator with oversight responsibility for the money going in, and then as Vice President, that is true, but that was much of Leslie groves doing, and by that time FDR's mind was dulled by exhaustion. Why he hoped to be able to continue for that fourth term is the puzzle, since he must have known how badly what he thought of as Infantile Paralysis was rapidly deteriorating all of his capabilities.

Posted by: ceflynline | July 9, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

And oh, one more thing, "let them fail" was Hoover's approach, and we know how well THAT worked out.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

But that's right...you 'progressives' have the answer, don't you? Collectivism will solve everything. Just ask the U.S.S.R., North Korea, and Cuba.

==

(yawn)

Save it.

I disagree with everything you just posted.

You view business with reverence, I view it with suspicion.

You believe in economics, I think it's crap.

You believe in letting the nation collapse, I don't.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

"Also: If FDR knew that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was comming before it happened (as a lot of evidence has suggested--A+E channel had a special on it a few years ago), and ignored it in order to get us into that war, then FDR should have been put in jail and on the wall of shame. If he knew, then all our soldiers, sailors, and Marines that were killed and wounded in the Pearl Harbor attack, are the result of FDR's political agenda. It would be typical of Democrats to do that though, since they always put their parties interests above our countries. They always have, and probably always will. Posted by: armpeg "

I only know of one President who ignored warnings of hostile action to get a war he wanted. GWB.

Go read "The Broken Seal" by Ladislaus Farago. Farago claims the Roosevelt specificly asked Admiral King if Kimmel needed another warning, and King said Kimmel was a very competent admiral and had more than enough warning to take appropriate action. It turned out, of course, that Kimmel was highly overrated for high command.

I've been on the inside of Signals Intelligence, and I know that sometimes a hint is all we can afford to give from what we have intercepted, and Kimmel was given far more than a hint.

Even HAD Roosevelt ORDERRED Kimmel and Short to take action against a Dawn Sunday raid on Pearl harbor, the japanese would still have attacked, and there would still have been appaling damage to the fleet and the Army and the Army Air Corps. The attack was coming whether we were ready or not. Kimmel didn't like any intelligence that didn't come from the old boy officer net that had once been the basis for Naval Intelligence, and detested Rocheford's unit with ill concealed vigor. Short had much of the same disdain for information that came from enlisted intelligence specialists.

But even were FDR to have been the unscrupulous schemer the republicans wish he were, we here consider his political acumen, and that was of the level of the mighitiest of the mighty men. A few attained his stature.

NONE has ever exceeded it.

Posted by: ceflynline | July 9, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

chrisfox8:
"But Obama gets his advice from people who believe, as you apparently do, that it's only the prosperity at the top that matters."

Ummm, I don't think Obama is getting his advice from ANYONE like me! Conservatives were not mad Obama fired Wagoner. Conservatives were mad that Obama COULD fire Wagoner. No President (or any other politician) should be able to dictate business decisions.

Secondly, I don't think the mortgage bailout should have gone to the top. I also don't believe it should have gone to the bottom, because there should have been NO mortgage bailout. Banks who bet wrong should have been allowed to fail. People who bought houses they couldn't afford should have been allowed to lose them.

When you don't allow 'market forces' to work, that's when you experience the failure of 'market forces'. As Warren Buffet said before he became an Obama fan, having capitalism without failure is like having Christianity without hell.

Under capitalism, you have to let people and businesses fail. If you don't let them fail, you don't teach them to not do it again...you teach them to take even WORSE risks next time, because you train them that they won't have to suffer if their risk fails.

But that's right...you 'progressives' have the answer, don't you? Collectivism will solve everything. Just ask the U.S.S.R., North Korea, and Cuba.

Posted by: dbw1 | July 9, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

chrisfox8:

If "Keynsian stimulus" works so well, then why stop at $700 billion? Why not another $1 trillion? Why not $2 trillion? Why not $10 trillion?

Using the farce of a metric that is "jobs created-or-saved" trumpeted by the Keynsians in the White House, if $700 billion will "create or save" 3 million jobs, why not spend $4 trillion and "create or save" enough jobs for the 15 million unemployed and reduce the unemployment rate to 0%?

Welcome to the concept you deride called "market forces". That's why they won't spend $4 trillion, because the first $700 billion has zilch to do with fixing the economy. It was about rewarding those who got them elected.

Posted by: dbw1 | July 9, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

And in the government doling out billions...or will it be trillions?..., there is nothing but pure-hearted concern for mankind and no illicit activity going on?

C'mon...please tell me you are smarter than that.

==

I've stated many times that I think the trillions being doled out are going to the wrong people.

Conservatives are tearing at their breasts because Obama fired Wagoner; I think every company receiving money should have been subject to a stringent executive review and a LOT of them fired, if not prosecuted.

I've also said many times that the mortgage bailout should have gone to the bottom, not the top, as this would not only save a lot more from foreclosure (and, yes, in some cases rewarding bad faith, so what), it would also have detoxified the toxic assets. But Obama gets his advice from people who believe, as you apparently do, that it's only the prosperity at the top that matters.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I was referring to Truman. I agree that was a marked improvement from an American Vice President being an actual Soviet spy. Don't get mark_in_austin started about that.

==

Yeah he might counter your hysteria with some actual facts, and God knows we musn't have THAT.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I think we should eliminate the entire financial sector, they contribute nothing, create nothing, they just engineer ways to skim massive amounts of money for themselves while performing no recognizable service.

Wall Street is a con game. Billions are created and lost on perceptions alone, perception often unmirrored by any objective reality.

You can sneer-quote progressive all you like but the fact of the matter is that Keynesian stimulus works, and market forces are fairy-dust.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

mnteng:

I was referring to Truman. I agree that was a marked improvement from an American Vice President being an actual Soviet spy. Don't get mark_in_austin started about that.

Posted by: JakeD | July 9, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

chrisfox8:

And in the government doling out billions...or will it be trillions?..., there is nothing but pure-hearted concern for mankind and no illicit activity going on?

C'mon...please tell me you are smarter than that.

The fact is, "Wall St" is always blamed by 'progressives' for anything bad that happens in the economy, and more government programs are the only solutions 'progressives' can ever come up with . To a 'progressive', the fault of bad economic circumstances could never be, I dun'no, politicians twisting arms of local banks to make them loan money to people who wouldn't normally qualify to buy houses they couldn't afford?

Right...it was just the greed of big bad CEO's.

Posted by: dbw1 | July 9, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Another "marketplace" nutbar.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

dbitt:

You are obviously a victim of public schools, as it seems you are prone to employ a healthy dose of "revisionist history". Look of the timing of when the DOW collapsed, and when unemployment skyrocketed. It was after the Republican president was convinced to go along with the Democrats in Congress ideas to implement pro-union, protectionist economic policies, and after FDR was elected and continued those policies. Only after the GOP regained some control in Congress and was able to stop further destructive "progressive" policies did the numbers begin to change back to the positive...and the on set of WWII brought us back to where we were before the 'progressives' took over D.C.

It is always a good day when I get to teach a delusional Democrat the truth of history that their liberal professors conveniently skipped.

Posted by: dbw1 | July 9, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

And if you read up on history, you will find that FDR's cabinet was chock-full of Soviet sympathizers. They believed the U.S.S.R. was finally getting it right, believed private business was the source of all greed and evil, and government was the source of pure altruism and all that's good.

Hmmmm....sounds a bit familiar.

==

Yeah, doesn't it? We have the oil companies spending millions to sow doubt about the rapidly-rising global temperature, encouraging us to render our one and only world uninhabitable so they can make a little extra money in the short term.

We have vastly overcompensated financial titans screwing over the global economy so they can get huge bonuses.

There truly is a lot of evil in business.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

dbitt:

You are 100% spot-on that Abe Lincoln would never support the current GOP. The GOP of the past 8 years looked so much like the spend-like-there-is-no-tomorrow Democrats, Abe would have a hard time telling the difference between the two. The Democrats and GOP both would make Abe puke.

Posted by: dbw1 | July 9, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Question:

Why does "The Fix" give FDR credit for leading the nation through one of it's most troubling times (I assume he means the Great Depression)? History proves the Depression was prolonged and made worse by the protectionistic and anti-business policies of FDR, so why is credit given for leading the country through the mess he was largely responsible for creating?

I suppose I can count on the Fix to nominate George Bush for the Hall of Fame, giving him credit for leading us through the Iraq mess?

Posted by: dbw1
***********
Read a few of the posts below your own, dbw. Republicans pushed FDR to curtail his economic recovery plan before the economy was really stable; it lapsed back into depression because he listened to their bad advice.

And yeah, I do wonder if history will repeat itself.

Posted by: dbitt | July 9, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

mnteng:

And if you read up on history, you will find that FDR's cabinet was chock-full of Soviet sympathizers. They believed the U.S.S.R. was finally getting it right, believed private business was the source of all greed and evil, and government was the source of pure altruism and all that's good.

Hmmmm....sounds a bit familiar.

Posted by: dbw1 | July 9, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Most economists believe that FDR's policies made things much worse and prolonged the 1929 Great Depression, and the only reason the Great Depression ended was because of WW2.
Also: If FDR knew that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was comming before it happened (as a lot of evidence has suggested--A+E channel had a special on it a few years ago), and ignored it in order to get us into that war, then FDR should have been put in jail and on the wall of shame. If he knew, then all our soldiers, sailors, and Marines that were killed and wounded in the Pearl Harbor attack, are the result of FDR's political agenda. It would be typical of Democrats to do that though, since they always put their parties interests above our countries. They always have, and probably always will.

Posted by: armpeg
*****************
I have to admire your commitment, armpeg. When you're wrong, you're 100% wrong and unashamed of it.
Democrats must really hate America, huh?

Guess that's why Democrats led us to victory in the biggest war we ever fought as a nation, while Republicans led us to a stalemate (Korea), a defeat (Vietnam) and an absolute disaster (Iraq II). (I'll except Lincoln and the Civil War, as today's Republican Party is one Lincoln would never endorse.)

There is no proof, except in the minds of ancient and discredited conspiracy buffs, that FDR knew in advance about the attack on Pearl Harbor. That's an urban legend that is a nasty canard, trotted out by the Reps to smear the guy they could never beat while he was alive.

Think about it. The guy was SECRETARY OF THE NAVY. Do you really, in your few moments of calm coherence, believe he would sacrifice the ships and men for whom he was once responsible, for a questionable political objective? Knowing that, if it came out, his Administration would be finished? He didn't NEED to permit this attack; war with the Axis was inevitable by late 1941. So do us a favor and read some history that wasn't written by some nut in a basement.

As for "most economists", you've been laughed at enough over that one. Provide even a single reputable name, armpeg, and it'll all be over.

Posted by: dbitt | July 9, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Question:

Why does "The Fix" give FDR credit for leading the nation through one of it's most troubling times (I assume he means the Great Depression)? History proves the Depression was prolonged and made worse by the protectionistic and anti-business policies of FDR, so why is credit given for leading the country through the mess he was largely responsible for creating?

I suppose I can count on the Fix to nominate George Bush for the Hall of Fame, giving him credit for leading us through the Iraq mess?

Posted by: dbw1 | July 9, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I am a noted fan of Richard Nixon for the Political Hall, but FDR is also a wonderful choice.

Politically, aside from his ability to continually get elected, he began his Presidential career running on the "I'm not like the guy before me ticket" which has been done very well up through our most current presidential election.

FDR left several other political legacies as well: the two term limit for Presidents, the emotional appeal to the American people and my personal favorite, "the stitch in time that saved nine."

The term limit is obvious. FDR also with his fireside chats and, as our only President in a wheelchair, made a consistent emotional appeal to the American people wherever he went. He spoke directly and went to the people for his support, largely to circumvent and put pressure on the legislature and the Court (sound like anyone else we know).

The stitch in time of course refers to his battles with the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of some of the New Deal legislation. While he couldn't overrule the Court, he did note a loophole in the Constitution that he could add two members to the Court and make it 11, giving himself a majority. One justice changed his mind and supported the legislation so he won 5-4. A brilliant strategy worth mentioning.

Posted by: andygoldman | July 9, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"What about FDR's "political" decision to keep his own Vice President out of the loop of war decisions?"

Considering Henry Wallace was a Soviet sympathizer, I'd put that decision in FDR's plus column. Luckily for us, FDR didn't pass away until after HST became VP.

Posted by: mnteng | July 9, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

FDR should be in hall of fame! im history major in college and have read many books on him, wrote my senior thesis on him, he is just a great guy to study. his economic decisions were prob not some of the best, but helped win WW2 so i salute him!

Posted by: dee150586 | July 9, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

What about FDR's "political" decision to keep his own Vice President out of the loop of war decisions?

Posted by: JakeD

==

What about it?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

VTDuffman writes
"I know you're just a troll, armpeg, but I'll risk it...

"Most economists believe that FDR's policies made things much worse and prolonged the 1929 Great Depression,"

I argue that "most econsomists" believe no such thing, but am willing to take a look at any sources you would like to provide to back up that claim."


Technically, armpeg is right, though not in the way he's trying to imply. Where most economists agree that FDR fouled up is when he jumped the gun in identifying an economic turnaround. He started listening to deficit hawks and tried to balance the budget before the economy was fully back on track. This move prolonged the depression.

armpeg erroneously implies that FDR's borrow-and-spend plan to stimulate the economy was bad policy - when in fact it was working. It was the curtailing of this plan - at the urging of the Republican minority at the time - that extended the depression. Funny thing, that repeating history.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 9, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

What about FDR's "political" decision to keep his own Vice President out of the loop of war decisions?

Posted by: JakeD | July 9, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Policy results shouldn't matter, I think, unless they had dramatic effects on the political climate. FDR's policies, of course, had just such an effect, but even if you only want to argue political effectiveness, he dominated in a way not seen before or since.

However, FDR wasn't a political "animal" like Clinton, Nixon, or LBJ. There's quite a bit of "the man meeting the moment" in his story, whereas those three MADE their moments (though look where that got them...)

Still, effectiveness needs to count for something, and FDR swamps all comers in that. It's kinda like Mickey Mantle versus Ted Williams- the Mick didn't try as hard, he didn't think as hard, he didn't strategize as hard- but he still got his rings, he still belongs in the Hall (so does Ted, of course- and to extend the metaphor, I think Nixon and LBJ belong there, too, so this system is kinda whack).

Posted by: colby1983 | July 9, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"Most economists believe that FDR's policies made things much worse and prolonged the 1929 Great Depression"

LOL... only wacky wingie nuttie economists believe that.

btw, ever heard of the dust bowl?

do youknow when europe started gearing up for WW2?

Do you even know there was a WW1?

GROW UP and stop drinking your kool-aid

Posted by: newagent99 | July 9, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Most economists believe that FDR's policies made things much worse and prolonged the 1929 Great Depression, and the only reason the Great Depression ended was because of WW2.

==

Only in GOP lie-land do "most economists" believe this.

Why don't you leap out a 25-storey window and trust in the marketplace

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I know you're just a troll, armpeg, but I'll risk it...

"Most economists believe that FDR's policies made things much worse and prolonged the 1929 Great Depression,"

I argue that "most econsomists" believe no such thing, but am willing to take a look at any sources you would like to provide to back up that claim.

Posted by: VTDuffman | July 9, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

?!@$!? - You put Clinton, LBJ and Reagan in the first class? Reagan is the only one even remotely close to being eligible for the first ballot.

FDR is a no brainer. Great Depression, New Deal, WWII, elected to four terms as President, the whole paralysis thing... Unless you have evidence he was remote controlled by aliens how could he not be in?

Where exactly is Jefferson? Louisiana purchase, words that have inspired people across the planet for centuries, that is not enough? And if you say slavery while promoting Clinton who ignored the Rwandan genocide and tried to suppress US satellite imagery about it until he was publicly shamed into trying to stop it...well I think our moral compass is pointing south.

Teddy Roosevelt only created the National Parks system and made a fact out of the whole concept of conservation. Then there was his trust busting.

I have never been a fan of Lincoln, but without Lincoln we would not have a strong federalist system, which means we never would have had a New Deal. Which only leads to the conclusion that the US and the entire world would probably look a lot different today if not for his dogged pursuit of victory in the civil war. The threads of which are still strongly woven into today's tapestry.

I'd put Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette ahead of both LBJ and Clinton. And the list goes on and on and on. The Fix needs to take a survey course on US political history.

Posted by: caribis | July 9, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Most economists believe that FDR's policies made things much worse and prolonged the 1929 Great Depression, and the only reason the Great Depression ended was because of WW2.
Also: If FDR knew that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was comming before it happened (as a lot of evidence has suggested--A+E channel had a special on it a few years ago), and ignored it in order to get us into that war, then FDR should have been put in jail and on the wall of shame. If he knew, then all our soldiers, sailors, and Marines that were killed and wounded in the Pearl Harbor attack, are the result of FDR's political agenda. It would be typical of Democrats to do that though, since they always put their parties interests above our countries. They always have, and probably always will.

Posted by: armpeg | July 9, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

The issue is not whether FDR was a good President. Was FDR the best player in the game of politics? If he KNEW about the impending attack, did FDR "win" or "lose" that move?

Posted by: JakeD

==

Why do win and lose merit a sneer-quote? Or has this one and only artifice become a reflex with you?

Google Admiral Kimmel and learn something, you ignorant jerk.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 9, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

If a tree falls in a forest & everyone ignores his post, does it make a sound?

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 9, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

The issue is not whether FDR was a good President. Was FDR the best player in the game of politics? If he KNEW about the impending attack, did FDR "win" or "lose" that move?

Posted by: JakeD | July 9, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

>>I suspect its as simple as FDR being from the first half of the century. The Fix may attempt to cover himself via the 'case against,' of course.

I think you're glossing over the fact that while FDR was a good, arguably great President, there were still faults to some of his program. Social Security, which while amazing for the time has proved troublesome today and the internment camps, and likely responses to some of the social events of the time. Possibly the issues within the branches of government at the time, as I seem to recall something about congress and the president clashing greatly.

No man is perfect. And by no means is this me trashing him because I feel the good he did outweighs the faults of his administration. And arguably his wife was in my opinion the greatest first lady we had in the 20th century, and to some ever.

Posted by: mtcooley | July 9, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"I'm more interested in seeing CC's case against FDR and how he justifies leaving him out of the inaugural class in favor of LBJ and WJC."


I suspect its as simple as FDR being from the first half of the century. The Fix may attempt to cover himself via the 'case against,' of course.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 9, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Not only should FDR be in the Hall of Fame, he should have his own wing, for crying out loud. No, he wasn't perfect, but no President is or was. However, he was a true leader who confronted the nation's problems like Barack Obama is attempting to do--not someone who runs away from them like Sarah Palin seems like she's doing. FDR set a new standard for government. Before him, it was thought that government getting out of the way of free markets is best for the economy. After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and the resultant take charge attitude of President Roosevelt's Administration, we learned that government can help solve economic problems if the proper policies are put forth.

Posted by: kind671 | July 9, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Ahh FDR!

My grandmother was an Italian communist. I remember a picture of Togliatti in the house along with a statue of the Madonna of course.

Grandma was so disappointed that I was a Democrat. She swore that it was FDR that kept the revolution from coming to America. FDR, she said, kept the rich and well off from going up against the wall during the Great Depression.

The sealthy never learn said Grandma..."When they took Marie Antoinette to her execution, when they laid her head on the block, after all she had been through, she still didn't know why she was there" After all, "I was a good Queen!".

FDR belongs on the list.

Posted by: toritto | July 9, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm more interested in seeing CC's case against FDR and how he justifies leaving him out of the inaugural class in favor of LBJ and WJC. I expect internment (and Korematsu) will come up as well as scrivener's point about trying to expand SCOTUS to suit his needs. Oh and that silly thing about making it illegal to have gold bullion.

Posted by: mnteng | July 9, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I have to agreee with b simon here. FDR was definitely among the greatest leaders we have ever had, there is no question.

"Did FDR know the Japs were attacking Pearl Harbor."

jaked, seriously, do you have Alzheimer's?

Posted by: drindl | July 9, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

FDR HAD A DESPOTIC STREAK, TOO...


The current Oval Office occupant would be well advised to study FDR's resolve and his adherence to core principles. He rarely equivocated, at least not in public. He never sounded wishy-washy or indecisive. He demonstrated substance that matched his swagger. He was beloved, more than idolized, for these leadership qualities.

But Obama also should take heed of FDR's authoritarian attempt to "pack" the Supreme Court as a means of ramming through the most socialistic aspects of his New Deal. Congress rebuffed this blatant power-grab (even though historians generally agree that from a policy standpoint, he ultimately prevailed.)


***


POTUS CO-OPTED INTO BECOMING ENABLER-IN-CHIEF FOR SECRETIVE MULTI-AGENCY VIGILANTE 'GESTAPO'?

• Bush-legacy extrajudicial targeting/punishment network makes a mockery of the rule of law at the grassroots -- violating civil and human rights.

• Is Team Obama unaware, naive -- or purposely misled by Bush holdovers?


President Obama is being co-opted into becoming the enabler of a federally-funded and overseen "multi-agency coordinated action" program of nationwide extrajudicial targeting and punishment...

...a vigilante Gestapo that is misusing federally-funded volunteer programs to subvert the rule of law -- deploying a civilian "brownshirt"- style army that covertly implants GPS tracking devices to stalk, persecute, vandalize and harass unjustly targeted citizens and their families.

This secretive multi-agency "program" also misuses government surveillance operations to censor, and maliciously tamper with, the telecommunications of many thousands of the unjustly targeted -- and funnels surveillance data to citizen "community stalker" harassers.

An array of "programs of personal financial destruction" decimates the finances of "target" families -- contributing to economic distress. And microwave "directed energy weapons" are being used to degrade their very lives -- a gross violation of human rights, government-enabled crimes against humanity.

And no authorities will investigate -- invoking the "Gulag" tactic of dismissing those who seek justice as "delusional."

Please, Team Obama: Wake up and smell the police state that is co-opting your administration and making POTUS a pitchman and enabler for an American Gestapo.


http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 9, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The Fix writes
"So, today we aim to turn those catcalls into meows with our case for why FDR deserves a spot in the hallowed halls."


You would meet that goal more effectively were you to admit error and promote FDR without a vote.

.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 9, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I argued for TR, HST, and FDR as the first three. Obviously, I favor FDR for this slot.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | July 9, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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