Two items amidst the many arriving at all of our homes today include historical lessons, and support for those who preach that we learn from the past.
The New York Times Book Review discusses the so-called "court packing" which President Roosevelt proposed when the Supreme Court kept striking down key New Deal legislation. There is no pressing need to discuss the proposal, or what made the president move in that direction. The book that is reviewed discusses that and seems wirth reading. The point that jumps out for today is in the review by the great Alan Brinkley (the historian who is the son of the Brinkley we all used to watch on Sundays).
It was not surprising that the court-packing controversy would arouse the rage of the right, which already detested Roosevelt and the New Deal and believed the White House was building a dictatorship. More startling to the president was the outrage from within his own party — even among many staunch progressives — and the lukewarm loyalty he received even from those who agreed to support him. Many opponents of the proposal shared Roosevelt’s dismay at the court’s conservatism, but tampering with the institution seemed even to many liberals to represent excessive presidential power and a threat to the Constitution.
It is, indeed, not hard to imagine a raging debate on the Daily Kos, TPM circuit had they been around then. Those of us who would see theoretical perils in the proposal but actual threats to a critical legislative program would doubtless have been called names, told we have deified the president, and blamed for every horrible thing imaginable. Our side works mightily to be fair, and while that is one of the attractions for many of us, there comes a time to accept presidential leadership and the idea that the White House may know what it is doing.
The other blast from the past was the Meet the Press minute, presenting one of their former favorites, when President Ford was the House Minority Leader. After the 1966 elections (basically a correction from the large Johnson landslide against Goldwater a year after the President's assassination) there was Mr. Ford, at his familiar perch on MTP (even then, they had favorites) bobbing and weaving as Neil McNeill of Time magazine tried to get him to tell us whether he would seek to repeal medicaid. They had better ideas, the future president said, but as the year goes forward they expect to be a moderating force on the administration. With McNeill smirking at him, the Minority Leader (using that curious pronunciation of judg-a-mint we remember) seemed to be asking, Repeal medicaid? Are you bleeping kidding?
Those were the days.