FDR – PART I: Is FDR Still a Big Deal?

Author’s Note: This series of posts is inspired and informed by last week’s wonderful EconTalk podcast, “John Cogan on Entitlements and the High Cost of Good Intentions.” I highly recommend it (and all EconTalk episodes for that matter). Mr. Cogan is the author of “The High Cost of Good Intentions: A History of U.S. Federal Entitlement Programs” (September 26, 2017).

🙛

I suspect some of you cannot believe I’m going to write multiple posts about a president who was born in 1882 and died over 70 years ago—on top of the many of my earlier posts[i] that discussed Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Here’s the good news: I am not going to reel off a long series of back-to-back posts on FDR—just this one and two other short ones for now.

Why FDR? The idolized FDR (idolized primarily with myths that support the left’s narrative) continues to have a huge impact on what is going on today in America, and the world.  All movements need compelling stories/narratives. Superheroes cause stories to be compelling. FDR is the superhero in the leftist narrative, i.e., stories they use to proselytize their faith. FDR is a big deal.

Given how long ago he lived, you might wonder if FDR is really as big a deal as I’m making him out to be. If you don’t believe me, consider this: The second endnote[ii] contains a list of 90 books about FDR that were published over the last ten years. Seventeen of those 90 were published in 2017. In addition many books that focused exclusively or significantly on FDR’s administration were published during that period. Ones I found particularly interesting were: “Unprecedented Power: Jesse Jones, Capitalism, and the Common Good,” “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression,” and Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change. (I’m looking forward to readying Mr. Cogan’s book cited above.)

Articles that include references to FDR seem to be produced every hour.[iii] I just did a Google search for “Franklin Roosevelt” and Google reported 64.5 million results. Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge, his two predecessors got 17.7 million and 0.7 million results respectively. Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, his two successors got 35.7 million and 19.3 million results respectively. Eisenhower is the most recent of the group, and, unlike FDR, a war hero and a president, and a general who warned the country about the Military Industrial Complex. Yet Eisenhower is the only president in that era whose results were fairly high, at only 55% of FDR’s.

Also note that most informed people today would know to whom I was referring when they saw “FDR” in the title of this post. I dare say that the same would not have been true had the initials been: “JCC,” “HCH,” “HST,” “DDE,” “RMN,” “JC,” “RWR,” “GHWB,” or “WJC?”

Though this post is inspired by the podcast mentioned above, it was spurred on by listening on December 18, 2017 to a Sirius XM POTUS channel (a left leaning talk channel) longer than normal interview of the author of the new book, “The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace.” That lengthy, fawning ode to FDR confirmed my belief that over the last 90 years or so FDR has been and still is a really big deal. Just this morning (December 21, 2017) I listened to a “this day in political history segment” on that same channel. About seven presidents were mentioned. By far the longest portion of that segment was the replaying of a “fireside chat” FDR broadcast in the 1930s.

Why all this fuss about FDR? It is because, according to the left, what FDR did and the resulting positive results validate what leftists want America to do more of today. Convincing Americans that FDR was a superhero helps leftists make their case. For leftists, maintaining, if not elevating, FDR’s superhero status is worth the time, cost, and effort of constant maintenance of that myth.

Maintaining the FDR superhero narrative is worth it because the narrative has been highly successful at gaining true believers over the last several decades. Winning the hearts and minds of ever larger percentages of Americans provides comfort and encouragement to the far leftists who are dead set on imposing on all Americans the policy prescriptions derived from that narrative—by violence if necessary. The growing activity of Antifa is one manifestations of the success of the narrative.

During the Obama administration great strides were made by the left toward a tipping point of no return from the horrors of the collectivist path I discussed in “Two Paths for America” and “More On Two Paths for America.” As my dear readers know, avoiding the leftist path for America is a primary focus of this blog.

Demythologizing and correcting the FDR narrative might be a way to slow or stop the successes of the left. Fortunately the army engaged in the fight against the leftist narrative appear to be growing. Much of the backlash against leftists was spurred on by the progress of the Obama administration toward the collectivist path triggered. Through the efforts of libertarians and limited government conservatives (and their research, news, and information organs) push back against government overreach is on the rise. That somewhat effective competition in the arena of ideas is most unwelcome by those who hold dear the FDR as superhero narrative. A redoubling of efforts to reenergize the FDR myths was to be expected. The fact there were at least 17 new books about FDR in 2017 alone is a sign that the reactionary left is mobilizing.

The election of Trump could be interpreted as the backlash against the left’s successes. While it is possible that the backlash is strong enough to grow and turn the country back from the collectivist path it has been on for decades, it is at least as likely that Trump’s election was a consequence of the flaws of Trump’s competitors.

If we, our children, and our children’s children… (and everyone in the world for that matter) are to avoid the horrors of the collectivist path, it is important to turn as many hearts and minds as possible away from the siren song of the leftist narrative. Because so many of the leftist myths about FDR are so fanciful or fabricated, it is important to highlight its weaknesses and fallacies. Consequently my future posts will be sprinkled with discussions of FDR from time to time. I’m hoping that sorting out the flawed leftist FDR narrative will get us on a better path.

[i]Obamacare – Repeal, or Repeal and Replace? PART II,” “’Progressives’ and the Constitution,” “Non Sequiturs on Parade – PART VII,” “More On Two Paths for America,” “Non Sequiturs on Parade – PART VIII,” and “Non Sequiturs on Parade – CONCLUSION.”

[ii]

1 The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace 12/12/17
2 Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR 11/21/17
3 A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and a Family’s Quest for Justice 11/14/17
4 Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life 11/07/17
5 Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3: The War Years and After, 1939-1962 11/07/17
6 His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt 10/31/17
7 The Simple Faith of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Religion’s Role in the FDR Presidency 10/10/17
8 Eleanor Roosevelt: In Her Words: On Women, Politics, Leadership, and Lessons from Life 09/05/17
9 Uncle Joe, FDR and the DEEP STATE 08/18/17
10 Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Life From Beginning to End 08/14/17
11 The Roosevelts and Their Descendants: Portrait of an American Family 07/28/17
12 Franklin Roosevelt: A Captivating Guide to the Life of FDR 07/20/17
13 Upstairs at the Roosevelts’: Growing Up with Franklin and Eleanor 07/01/17
14 The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency 06/06/17
15 FDR and The Great Depression: 1933-1939 05/18/17
16 The US President Who Served Longer Than Any Other President – Biography of Franklin Roosevelt 04/15/17
17 Churchill, Roosevelt & Company: Studies in Character and Statecraft 01/30/17
18 The Wars of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of America’s Greatest Political Family 12/06/16
19 Captain McCrea’s War: The World War II Memoir of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Naval Aide and USS Iowa’s First Commanding Officer 11/15/16
20 His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt 09/06/16
21 1932: The Rise of Hitler and FDR―Two Tales of Politics, Betrayal, and Unlikely Destiny 09/01/16
22 The Presidents and UFOs: A Secret History from FDR to Obama 08/02/16
23 FDR and the American Crisis 07/12/16
24 A Boy Named FDR: How Franklin D. Roosevelt Grew Up to Change America 01/12/16
25 Franklin D. Roosevelt: The War Years, 1939-1945 03/22/16
26 Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America 03/15/16
27 The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II 01/05/16
28 Off the Record with FDR: 1942-1945 03/22/16
29 Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America 03/15/16
30 Commander in Chief: FDR’s Battle with Churchill, 1943 (FDR at War) 06/07/16
31 Dog Diaries #8: Fala 01/05/16
32 The Four Freedoms: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Evolution of an American Idea 12/21/15
33 Eleanor Roosevelt: Wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt 10/31/15
34 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History 09/22/15
35 Franklin D. Roosevelt: Road to the New Deal, 1882-1939 09/08/15
36 The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941–1942 05/19/15
37 No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War 04/28/15
38 The Speeches of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt 01/28/15
39 Jay Winik: 1944 : FDR and the Year That Changed History  01/01/15
40 Before the Trumpet: Young Franklin Roosevelt, 1882-1905 09/09/14
41 The Sphinx: Franklin Roosevelt, the Isolationists, and the Road to World War II 11/10/14
42 A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, 1905-1928 09/09/14
43 Eleanor and Franklin 08/20/14
44 1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler―the Election amid the Storm 06/06/14
45 Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts–From FDR to Obama 04/14/14
46 The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great 04/08/14
47 Wall Street and FDR 01/01/14
48 The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency 11/12/13
49 On Dupont Circle: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Progressives Who Shaped Our World 07/16/13
50 Rendezvous with Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America into the War a nd into the World 07/03/13
51 FDR: A Life in Pictures 06/14/13
52 Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941 03/26/13
53 FDR and the Jews 03/19/13
54 Their Fair Share: Taxing the Rich in the Age of FDR 01/29/13
55 FDR’s Ambassadors and the Diplomacy of Crisis: From the Rise of Hitler to the End of World War II 01/07/13
56 FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith 01/01/13
57 Dogs of War: The Stories of FDR’s Fala, Patton’s Willie, and Ike’s Telek 11/06/12
58 FDR and the End of Empire: The Origins of American Power in the Middle East 10/16/12
59 FDR and Chief Justice Hughes: The President, the Supreme Court, and the Epic Battle Over the New Deal 02/07/12
60 The Plots Against the President: FDR, A Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right 01/03/12
61 Pearl Harbor: FDR Leads the Nation Into War 10/25/11
62 FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America 10/11/11
63 Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices 10/03/11
64 FDR’s Funeral Train: A Betrayed Widow, a Soviet Spy, and a Presidency in the Balance 06/21/11
65 America’s Dictator: FDR the Red 06/17/11
66 Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court 03/14/11
67 Forged in War: Roosevelt, Churchill, And The Second World War 02/08/11
68 The Fireside Conversations: America Responds to FDR during the Great Depression 09/07/10
69 FDR and the New Deal For Beginners 07/20/10
70 FDR v. The Constitution: The Court-Packing Fight and the Triumph of Democracy 04/27/10
71 Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America 01/26/10
72 FDR’s Alphabet Soup: New Deal America 1932-1939 01/12/10
73 Who Was Franklin Roosevelt 01/07/10
74 FDR: Selected Speeches of President Franklin D Roosevelt 06/03/10
75 Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom 05/11/10
76 Quotations of Franklin D. Roosevelt 04/20/10
77 Franklin Delano Roosevelt 12/30/09
78 Franklin and Lucy: Mrs. Rutherfurd and the Other Remarkable Women in Roosevelt’s Life 05/12/09
79 In the Shadow of FDR: From Harry Truman to Barack Obama 12/04/09
80 New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America 11/17/09
81 Together We Cannot Fail 11/01/09
82 Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt 09/08/09
83 Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal: 1932-1940 02/24/09
84 Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 07/21/09
85 The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt 02/13/09
86 FDR The First Hundred Days 07/31/09
87 Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal: 1932-1940 02/24/09
88 My Dear Mr. Stalin: The Complete Correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin 01/22/08
89 Franklin D. Roosevelt: Our Thirty-Second President 08/01/08
90 FDR 05/13/08

[iii] The Steve Roth article I examined in the series of posts that ended with “Non Sequiturs on Parade – CONCLUSION” is a prime example.

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