We live in an era that is more accepting of disability but still dubious about vulnerability and foibles in a leader. Would Roosevelt have made it as far as the governor’s race in 1928? In a world that second-guesses every politician’s decisions on an almost minute-by-minute basis, would he have tried?
I put both questions to Richard Moe, who knows politics — he was chief of staff for senator and then vice president Walter Mondale — and is the author of the recently published “Roosevelt’s Second Act,” an account of the president’s decision to seek a third term. Moe tells that story so well that it becomes weirdly suspenseful, even though you begin reading with a pretty good idea of who’s going to win the 1940 election.
“Whether big personalities like FDR would be inclined to pursue similar careers today is a separate question because we both know there are plenty of reasons for anyone to avoid politics today,” Moe responded in an e-mail. “That’s one of the great tragedies of the political system we have.
“But, even so, I have no doubt that someone who had many of FDR’s characteristics and abilities — to pick strong people, to see the core of an issue, to make bold decisions and to articulate them compellingly — could prevail today. In fact I think many people are hungering for his kind of leadership.
—Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt asks, “Could America accept another FDR?”
Gee, I thought we already had one:
Certainly, our new FDR and his “New New Deal” has delivered similarly disastrous economic results as the old New Deal. Of course, perhaps leftists wouldn’t be looking a new FDR today, if they hadn’t been so quick to had the moniker to an untried tyro senator whose chief aim for expanding government was dreamed up by his speechwriters looking to trump his fellow Democrat rival for the White House on the debating circuit. But then, as Steven Hayward wrote yesterday at Power Line after Maureen Dowd finally commented on her boss’s obsession with golf, “Behold, among Obama’s hidden talents is his ability to make liberals even more foolish and incoherent than usual.”