Publisher's note: This is the second installment of Gene Scarborough's reviews on Ken Burn's series on the Roosevelts. The first installment can be found here.
WOW!!! I hope you made a personal copy for review at least 10 times! It is so full of more recent history. It is totally full of "history repeating itself."
It covers the Great Depression / FDR run for the Democratic nomination as President / ultimate election and Public Works projects / another Recession (brief) / the approach to WWII. If you see it and look closely, it has the personal angst of a man trying to cover his crippled condition / his new relationship with a supportive female / his wife "doing her own thing" / a battle between the Office of President a the most conservative Supreme Court.
Here is the essence of what the film says:
1. My friends, may this be the symbol of my intention to be honest and to avoid all hypocrisy or sham, to avoid all silly shutting of the eyes to the truth in this campaign. You have nominated me and I know it, and I am here to thank you for the honor.
2. Let it also be symbolic that in so doing I broke traditions. Let it be from now on the task of our Party to break foolish traditions. We will break foolish traditions and leave it to the Republican leadership, far more skilled in that art, to break promises.
3. Let us now and here highly resolve to resume the country's interrupted march along the path of real progress, of real justice, of real equality for all of our citizens, great and small. Our indomitable leader in that interrupted march is no longer with us, but there still survives today his spirit. Many of his captains, thank God, are still with us, to give us wise counsel. Let us feel that in everything we do there still lives with us, if not the body, the great indomitable, unquenchable, progressive soul of our Commander-in-Chief, Woodrow Wilson.
Franklin Roosevelt laid down his ideals for the Office of President in a few clear points. He ran quickly into criticism that he was a "Socialist / Fascist / Communist / etc. His response was that he was attempting to bring into focus and programs the ideals of the Preamble to the Constitution: "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . ."
He was faced with an old Supreme Court which was ready to take his programs on in light of the Constitution, itself. His response to that threat was legislation proposing the forced retirement of any Justice over age 70 (most were). His own party was not behind him, especially the Conservative Democrats of the South whose seniority in Congress gave them much power. His proposed legislation languished in committee. He lost it then, but got later legislation which brought about his goal after more wrangling through Congress.
In his words: "I lost the battle, but won the war in time!" Eternal optimism was one of the marks of FDR. It was the beginning of a Supreme Count powerful relation to law such as the enforcement of Voter Rights in the South and integration of Public Schools.
The campaign had an opponent --- first declaring FDR to be a weak and feeble man who pandered to popular opinion. His immediate response was "I face an opponent of Republican persuasion who wants EXACTLY WHAT I, AS A DEMOCRAT, am proposing to do. Have the Republicans before me fulfilled a single one of these type promises?"
He won the election in a landslide of no precedent.
The only similar election landslide has been that of Ronald Reagan. Reagan entered his office in similar turmoil: Oil Embargo / hostages in Iran becoming the focus of every newscast as Carter ran against him / a Congress determined to defeat any legislation proposed from the "outsider from the South" occupying the Oval Office / Saturday Night Live pundits focusing on brother, Billy Carter, and his southern redneck ways (remember Billy Beer). He was being turned into a Village Idiot by the media. The Iran Hostage situation was the focus --- in comparison to the Camp David Peace Conference where President Carter got the Arabs and Israelis to shake hands and smile as they signed a Peace Agreement of unprecedented nature since the Jews got the Holy Land after WWII.
President Reagan immediately began to UNDO the many social programs, financial regulation, and achievements of the 3 terms FDR served. Roosevelt was denied a possible 4th term through death and the installation of Truman, his Vice-President, to complete the term. Truman discovered the Atom Bomb was complete. He made the fateful decision to drop on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That ended the impending invasion of Japan with great loss of life to all involved.
It is still debated today, but it appears the tough choice was wise --- to start the Nuclear Age by saving American lives over taking thousands of lives of the citizens of those "melted cities."
We all know it did not end war, but resulted in the Cold War and abject fear between America Democracy and Russian Communism. The age of "limited engagement" resulted in the Korean War / Cuban Missile Crisis / Vietnam War / divided Berlin / ultimate fall of Communism under Reagan / ungodly amounts of money spent on development of war machines and space war.
I make the extended comparisons above as proof that "history is being repeated / war is hell."
I encourage everyone to view this critical series on "The Roosevelts." More episodes remain. You can get them via streamed media at --- http://video.pbs.org/program/roosevelts/
This post appears courtesy of our sister site, Beaufort County NOW, with their expressed permission.