A Man of the People

When on April 12, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia, the nation's grief was overwhelming. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt would receive thousands if not millions of condolences but few more poignant than this one:

I didn't know FDR but FDR knew me.

That note, I think, encapsulates why FDR was a transformative President and why he was ultimately a successful one who is fondly remembered. FDR, who despite being crippled and largely unable to travel the length and breadth of this great land, still was able to intimately judge the mood of the country, to realize and reflect upon the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the nation he governed.

The White House, they say, can be a bubble. Harry Truman called the White House a "glamorous prison." Bill Clinton said the White House was the "crown jewel of the federal penitentiary system." William Howard Taft thought it was "the loneliest place in the world." It's certainly a tough job but if Obama is to succeed, I suggest, that he look at FDR and how he approached the Presidency. To quote FDR:

"The Democratic Party is the party of the people. I'm a man of the people." - FDR

It doesn't have to be more complicated than that.

Tags: Barack Obama, FDR, The Presidency (all tags)

Comments

6 Comments

For The People

I'm a man of the people.

That phrase reminds of something Queen Elizabeth I said in one of her final speeches looking back on her long reign. I'm not sure the exact words but I believe she said told her people "I have always been your virgin."

Elizabeth was known as The Virgin Queen in part because she never married but there is more to it than that. I interpreted this statement as saying she was a virgin because the people were more important to her than a husband. She gave up a family life to serve the people. Note also that FDR could not have sexual intercourse because of his paralysis.

An ancient Greek belief was that the best leaders are those who do not marry because they can devote themselves entirely to serving their people. I think a person can be married and still be a great leader, but it is important to note the mindset of the public servant who is "wedded" to the people.

by Creeter 2009-01-19 06:15PM | 0 recs
Re: A Man of the People

Good post.  It can be that simple.

by TomP 2009-01-19 07:25PM | 0 recs
Re: A Man of the People

Nice post. Just one quibble,

despite being crippled and largely unable to travel the length and breadth of this great land

Huh? Other than Forrest Gump, most folks don't travel long distances on foot.  Roosevelt was able to and did travel like anyone else, by train - and of course by ship when traveling abroad.

Nor did he let his disability stop him from driving his own car, which was customized with manual controls.

by Rob in Vermont 2009-01-19 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: A Man of the People

I was rather uncomfortable with that phrasing as well... I know it wasn't intentioned badly but the use of the word "crippled" in this context is rather tone-deaf, and Roosevelt is actually known for his travels, including a fairly unusual plane flight to the 1932 DNC.

by auronrenouille 2009-01-19 09:10PM | 0 recs
Re: A Man of the People

Despite that, though, he was unable to walk from '21 on.  Polio did cripple him physically.

Mentally, though, it was one of the reasons he became the man of the people he was.  He understood the problems of the ordinary American because he was living through one of the most heinous ones.  I would say that FDR didn't become a great President in spite of his disability, to a certain extent it was because of it.

by Sean Fitzpatrick 2009-01-20 12:34AM | 0 recs
Re: A Man of the People

The presidency can not get much better than that!  To think, FDR was raised as an affluent scion of wealth.  Yet he was a man of the people.  What greater tribute than FDR knew us.

by captain dan 2009-01-20 04:31AM | 0 recs

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