Monday, April 18, 2005

Bob Herbert of the NYT on FDR

Today's NYT has an op-ed piece by the excellent Bob Herbert about one of our greatest presidents, Franklin Roosevelt. (My personal opinion is that FDR was our best president, and Bush is (by far) our worst president. The irony of ironies is that the evidence is fairly clear (and overlooked by most media) that Bush could only be president by stealing it. TWICE. He wanted it that bad and manages to royally &$*^#-up everything he and his regime has touched. Way to go. Your mother must be very proud.)

As Herbert points out, last week was the 60th anniversary of FDR's death -- an event which went un-noticed by the Bush regime in their headlong dash to dismantle FDR's policies.

His [Roosevelt's] goal was "to make a country in which no one is left out." That kind of thinking has long since been consigned to the political dumpster. We're now in the age of Bush, Cheney and DeLay, small men committed to the concentration of big bucks in the hands of the fortunate few.
Herbert goes on to quote from Roosevelt's last State of the Union speech:

...the president offered what should have been recognized immediately for what it was, nothing less than a blueprint for the future of the United States. It was the clearest statement I've ever seen of the kind of nation the U.S. could have become in the years between the end of World War II and now. Roosevelt referred to his proposals in that speech as "a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race or creed."

Among these rights, he said, are:

"The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.

"The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.

"The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.

"The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.

"The right of every family to a decent home.

"The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.

"The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.

"The right to a good education."

As a nation, we lurched awkwardly and imperfectly forward toward ultimate attainment of those goals. Now, led as we are by small men whose goals are wholly self-serving, we are taking great strides backward and paving the way for China to gain the crown of Superpower of the World.

Way to go!

Roosevelt was far from a perfect president, but he gave hope and a sense of the possible to a nation in dire need. And he famously warned against giving in to fear.

The nation is now in the hands of leaders who are experts at exploiting fear, and indifferent to the needs and hopes, even the suffering, of ordinary people.

"The test of our progress," said Roosevelt, "is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

Sixty years after his death we should be raising a toast to F.D.R. and his progressive ideas. And we should take that opportunity to ask: How in the world did we allow ourselves to get from there to here?

We allowed this surreal horror to unfold because we got too fat and lazy as a nation. For an average American like myself, I never had any interest in the minutiae of politics. I'd base my voting on what I read in newspapers or saw on the news. I didn't bother to do any more than that. I figured that all politicians were greedy & smarmy & generally not the kind of folks I wanted to waste my time knowing about. It took Bush and his illegal reign of terror (yes, reign of terror -- this man goes out of his way to play the "terror hand" at every opportunity, so that Judy & Joe Regular will have the bejesus scared out of them and allow Bush a free hand to do whatever he wants) to wake me up. And what I saw when I opened my eyes scared the bejesus out of me: bullies and bigots holding sway over the minds of a big chunk of our populace by playing to their "rights" (most of which include guns, for some reason) and natural "superiority." (Spend some time with RedState Harry and see firsthand how superior he is. I dare ya. Hitting his coffee-can spittoon 5 out of 10 tries is the highlight of his day as he polishes up his arsenel of guns and dreams of the day he can, by God, defend himself (probably against some pansy who wants to make a pass at him!) and be a hero and get a mention on Mr Limbaugh's broadcast.)

It's shameful.

But you know what's worst of all?

We have small men "leading" us because we don't deserve the FDRs of the world any longer.

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