The best part, for me, remains the section on FDR. He was a loveable man. No wonder so many men & women pledged their lives, their full measure of devotion, to his care & well-being. His faithful cousin, his secretary Missy Lehand, Harry Hopkins, Louis Howe, Harold Ickes, his old love Lucy Mercer, his children who literally supported him as he spoke to the nation and helped care for him, ..
The other two Roosevelt’s, Teddy & Eleanor, were not easy people to know. Even in documentary form, their restless energy comes through in leaps and bounds. They are to be admired, respected, and even revered. But to be loved, that task belongs to Franklin. His smile and sunny, engaging personality, his commanding presence compounded with the touching vulnerability of a man bound for life to a chair, all of that commands not just deep and abiding respect but love.
There is love for a man so willing to be pushed and pulled without admitting defeat. There is love for a man who so wanted to be loved by others. There is a great and abiding love for a man who cherished his country, his ideals, his values, and pushed himself literally to the limits where no man had gone before. The pain he must have suffered, and the cheery optimism he brought forth to deal with the pain and suffering, those are the marks of a great man living his life as if in a Greek Tragedy.
He dealt with the pain and found a path forward. He led the nation through the Depression and into the last part of the Great World at War with a confidence and determination no other could have mustered. He did die in service to this country, and those who say that he could not be elected in this day and age, well, I’m not so sure. Many said a black man would never be President. A woman could not have served as President in FDR’s time. But now, things are different.
If a man with the grit, the determination, the optimism and brilliant mind of an FDR appeared in a wheelchair, determined to run for office, I doubt the wheels would bind his wit and style to the earth. The age of mass media, plus the idealized way we treat our Presidents, would serve as both a plus and a minus for a man with physical challenges. But, after seeing what FDR did, and how his determination drove him to great heights, I greatly doubt a little thing like a wheelchair would ever have stopped him.