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View Diary: Please God Just Give Us One More FDR (125 comments)

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  •  It's nice to dream about an FDR, one of my (6+ / 0-)

    personal heroes too, but you'd unsubscribe in a New York minute to his organization too when he rounded up the Japanese-Americans and put them in internment camps like Manzanar. That would be far over the line for many progressives here.

    Would I vote for him again, though, if I lived in his U.S.?
    Sure. Would I vote for Obama again when it's time? Sure.

    O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." --Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

    by Wildthumb on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 03:44:53 PM PDT

    •  Yes, we've been reminded endlessly... (14+ / 0-)

      ...of the civil rights issues in which FDR's actions and inactions were - um - less than stellar.

      The point is, you can find something to criticize in the term(s) of any President, something egregious.  Yet we still have the ability to compare and weigh the effect of any one President against another, imperfect as both will be.

      Obama ran for office expecting one type of Presidency, one that he felt suited his ambitions and demeanor.  As he was running, those circumstances changed dramatically, and Americans voted for a man who they felt would rise to those altered circumstances as FDR did.  Obama is not that type of President, the type who can pivot to the new and much greater demands of a time of great crisis.  It's not who he is, who he wants to be.  It's what the nation desperately needs, but it's not Obama.  He's the low-drama functionary who wants to achieve a steady press of incremental alterations.  That's not what we need right now, at all, but it's what he is, what we have.

      To keep trying to concentrate readers' attention on FDR's missteps -- which were absolutely the norm of his time -- so as not to give any credit to his achievements from which we, and Obama, could take much-needed lessons today is tiresome, all the more so for being repeated so endlessly by those who only wish to defend this Administration against any comparison to anything that could be better or greater, and it's frankly beneath any worthy thinker.

      •  Ah, so lynching (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal, FiredUpInCA, JoanMar, Lying eyes

        Black people was good in the 1930s because it was the norm back then, and thus it's quite understandable that FDR would do nothing about it.  Yes indeed, you should dance you monster.  I grew up with parents who constantly railed against FDR because of his capitulation to the segregationist, although they liked his wife (who he was screwing around on).  Nevertheless, they voted Democratic anyway because they did not have the luxury of looking for the perfect White leader.  You go boy with your FDR worship.

        •  Abominable straw man noted. (15+ / 0-)

          You really should be ashamed.

          grieving citizen of the murdered Republic, unrepentant rebel against the Empire.

          by khereva on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 04:12:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Show me where in my comment I said... (5+ / 0-)

          ...that lynching -- or interning or any other civil rights issue -- was "good in the 1930s."  Show me, o wizard of wisdom.

          I do not worship FDR, though I appreciate his achievements and wish we were seeing something comparable today, at the same time as I acknowledge what was awful in his time and in his actions regarding them.  And as an historian of the FDR period, and indeed of the AA experience then, I feel confident in saying that Obama will not be regarded as another FDR.  More's the pity.  I would have loved for Obama to have had that esteem.  Honestly (unlike your characterization of my comment above).

        •  Another quote from the 1936 convention speech (5+ / 0-)
          Governments can err, presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted on different scales.

          Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.

          Which scale will the Obama administration be judged on?  I would submit that we don't yet know.

          DC politicians don't realize they're corrupt for the same reason fish don't realize they're wet.

          by Dallasdoc on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 05:20:40 PM PDT

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          •  Thanks for this. (0+ / 0-)

            I'll just explain to the families of the Scottsboro boys that FDR was not cold blooded, so it was OK that he let them rot in jail.  

            •  Do that (2+ / 0-)

              But don't forget to listen to the families of the millions of Americans who derived hope from a president who fought the moneyed interests for them, and won a lot more battles than he lost.

              DC politicians don't realize they're corrupt for the same reason fish don't realize they're wet.

              by Dallasdoc on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 08:26:41 PM PDT

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              •  I appreciate your honesty (0+ / 0-)

                It helps me understand why solving the "class question" will never be enough for me.  Under your reasoning, it was ok for fdr to sacrifice minorities (black and Japanese Americans) in order to serve poor and working class whites.  Can't you come up with a more ethical position than that?

                •  Your straw man is tedious (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Celtic Pugilist

                  You want to blame FDR for lynchings?  Why not blame Obama for the disproportionate incarceration of minorities in prisons today?  

                  LGBT folks in Roosevelt's day were killed too, and he didn't stop that.  But as a gay man I don't blame him personally for that, and if I did I suspect you'd call me ridiculous for doing it.

                  DC politicians don't realize they're corrupt for the same reason fish don't realize they're wet.

                  by Dallasdoc on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 09:09:23 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You reversion to the straw man cliche (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    is also tedious, as is your avoidance of the issue I raised.  I did not blame FDR for lynchings.  That has to be clear to anyone who can read.  I simply said he didn't do anything to stop them because he was too interested in currying favor with the segregationist.  It's true and you know it.  But you want to preserve the myth of FDR, and therefore the double standard you and others use to bash Obama.  I've learned to expect this kind of double standard.  Racial hierarchies that put Whites on top are fundamental to this nation's history.  But I pray that it will end some day.

            •  That was a matter of Alabama state law. (2+ / 0-)
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              Celtic Pugilist, Bluefin

              If FDR had been the governor of Alabama, he'd have some culpability.  Some really horrifying things are going wrong in state criminal trials today, too.  Is President Obama responsible for those?

            •  What about the thousands of blacks helped (0+ / 0-)

              by employment in the WPA and CCC?
              Nothing is ever 'black and white'.

              "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

              by Bluefin on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 11:03:46 AM PDT

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              •  Actually, (0+ / 0-)

                my understanding is that the WPA and the CCC also followed discriminatory hiring practices.  I'll find a citation and post it later, when I have time.  But, as dance you monster would probably tell you (he's a Black history specialist, don't you know), that was the norm in the 1930s.

                •  FDR (probably prodded by Eleanor) (0+ / 0-)

                  set out to apportion the jobs created under those programs based on population demographics (in each state IIRC). He realized that times were bad for everybody, not just anglos.
                  I think that there were attempts to have integrated camp companies that didn't work out too well, and reverted to segregated work groups (thinking of a PBS  tv program on West Texas' Palo Duro Canyon Park). At least they had jobs with equal pay and working conditions.

                  "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

                  by Bluefin on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 03:45:05 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well, I shouldn't do quick posts on this (0+ / 0-)

                    but I'm in the middle of a painting project, and don't have time to look up the source of my understanding that the pay and working conditions were not equal in the WPA especially (I don't remember what I read about the CCC), because the Roosevelt administration also capitulated to the South on setting unequal wage standards for people of color.  I could be wrong about this, and I really want to check it out, but I really need to get this painting done.  But I'll be back.

        •  Lots of starving babies on one's hands... (0+ / 0-)

          black and white would have been victims of legislation that failed anyway after two cloture motions on the lynching bill because Dixicrats made up almost half the party and were on every major committee(though Eleanor worked behind the scenes to pass the bill).

          Life and history is more complicated than that. There were no good choices back then and FDR had real constraints, unlike Obama's fake ones with the backroom deals on HCR among other things.

          The victims from starvation considering the work the WPA gave black and white people would have been exponentially worse, though it was an appalling time in American history that no lynching bill could pass.

          Domestically and in that context as well as financial reform we do need another FDR, though he had a lot of faults, challenging the moneyed class was not one of them and being from that class he certainly didn't have to..

          Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin

          by priceman on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 09:06:18 PM PDT

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      •  Well said. There was little he could have done to (5+ / 0-)

        change the fear on the west coast or the determination of CA's governor at the time (think Earl Warren) or the farmers who were in competition with, and benefited financially from the internment of, the Japanese-Americans.  Yes, he signed the Executive Order, but then rescinded it two and a half years later.  (BTW, Canada did the same - it is hard for us to imagine the fear that was felt on the West Coast of North America at the time.)

        He made a lot of mistakes, as most humans do, but we should focus on what he did right, as that is what we need to repeat.

      •  FDR HAD 59 TO 60 dems in the SENATE (0+ / 0-)

        314 Dems in the house and both parties had people of like ideologies. FDR didn't have a republican party where all but 2 of them voted against him 100% FDR was filibustered according to Rachel Maddow's chart about 16 times his first term. Obama was filibustered 147 times in his first 18 months. If you really looked at FDR even though he did some great things, he did a lot of things conservatives wanted. He even tried to show he was fiscally conservativ on some issues. That's right, he even cut veteran benefits by 15%. Bailed out large financial institution under the economy act and removed the U.S from the gold standard. He compromised and people even took to the street in opposition to what they saw as socialist policies and cuts in veteran pensions.

    •  Of Course That Minute Came in the 3rd Term (0+ / 0-)

      after the nation was attacked by a foreign empire which destroyed its ability to project power over about 1/4 of the globe.

      I think we're relatively unlikely to find FDR II in either a 3rd term or experiencing that kind of empire surprise attack.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 04:05:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of Course That Minute Came in the 3rd Term (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The speech in the video above was given on October 31, 1936, just prior to the election.  Officially, it was FDR's second term.  I should also point out that the United States wasn't attacked until December 7, 1941.

    •  I will trade the internments, which we are clear (3+ / 0-)

      were wrong, for the carte blanche Obama gave torturers, and for the signing of assassination orders of US citizens without trial, which Obama has also done.

      Obama has thrown away my vote, permanently, because I don't vote for Republicans, or for Republican stooges.

      grieving citizen of the murdered Republic, unrepentant rebel against the Empire.

      by khereva on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 04:11:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  cheap shot (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dance you monster, jm214, Sunspots

      What about the camps this administration flings people in, Gitmo for one and immigration detention facilities, Bagram? renditions we seem to out source our heinous human right abuses . The interment caps are a disgraceful part of our past as far as human and civil rights abuse this administration beats FDR's hands down. It also has used the DoJ and courts to legalize and normalize the bushies abuses.  

      •  I love FDR but he was very close to, and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        initially somewhat in the pockets of, Southern politicians. He went to Warm Springs, GA, for help with his polio, and while there he became so close to the people and politicians he met that Eleanor railed at him for accepting and making excuses for Southerners' acceptance of Jim Crow and even lynchings. He needed the Southern pols, he felt, to get into office in the first place. But after his first win, with his popularity running high and Congress 3/4 Dem, he had an opportunity to lift incalculable misery from millions of African Americans. He chose not to, though he was repeatedly begged to do it by Eleanor and others. And look at the numbers he interned (at least 120,000, again with Eleanor and others begging him not to).

        I don't think anyone's trying to run FDR down so Obama looks better. I think it's just acknowledging that even our greatest leader, FDR, couldn't always fully escape being part of the worst of his times. (FDR also took some painfully homophobic actions while he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The worst cabinet member in U.S. history, Wilson's Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, of the first Red Scare fame, had to rein FDR in after he planned and executed a horrible sting where he forced heterosexual sailors to allow themselves to be fellated so he could entrap and prosecute homosexuals in the Navy.)

        The trouble is, even our greatest president doesn't always look great under a microscope. A case can be built against even FDR. That's why it seems to me that it's important to see that a negative case, argued out of frustration, might not be the whole story. Good progressives can be both impeded and flawed but still be good progressives.

    •  If there's a heaven I'm sure FDR (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it resting comfortably and thanking God there was no internet in his day.

      •  Thousands upon thousands of newspapers,... (0+ / 0-)

        ...many with multiple editions daily, not to mention weekly magazines like the New Masses.  I'm guessing FDR would be nodding and thinking "your turn, big guy."

        •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
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          dance you monster

          As I said below, I was a child during those years and my memory includes the two daily newspapers at our door and magazines in the house.  But then if you had disagreement with public officials you had to actually find pen and paper, write it down, put it in an envelope, search for a stamp, go to the mailbox and trust Uncle Sam would deliver it.  Now you can just tweet and instantly tell the President, CNN, Fox,  or the world in general to kiss your ass.  And even better, you can do it annonymously.

          Maybe when twitter gets to heaven FDR can open an account and get back to us with a few words of wisdom.

        •  I don't know how to draw a starker contrast (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          between FDR's media world and today's than to marvel at the fact that during nearly four full terms as President, only one press photo was taken of FDR in the White House in his wheelchair. And that photo didn't run in any newspapers of the day. Except for those who actually met FDR, very few Americans even knew he was wheelchair bound nearly all the time.

          As much as I love the interwebs, sometimes I think it would be interesting to see if our political climate seemed less shallow and cringe-worthy if media, both traditional and new, wasn't prone to apocalyptic rhetoric based on rumors and echoes.

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