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Dave the H.

You are a good writer, Mr. Mannion, and you make good points about how people saw FDR then and saw themselves.

However, what might that mean about how we see ourselves now in regards to the images of the current resident of 1600 PA Avenue?

JVD

"And he had far too many enemies. Far too many people hated him and wanted him to fail."

You're sure right about that. My grandfather loathed him, threatened to march on Washington every time he was re-elected, but oddly enough never mentioned any physical disability FDR had. I have to wonder if he even knew? He knew of course that he'd had polio, but he had never actually seen FDR in person and probably refused to watch newsreels with FDR in them. Grandpa wasn't the kind of guy who'd politely ignore a potentially damaging circumstance when he hated somebody, so I think he had to be ignorant of
the extent of FDR's paralysis.

Linkmeister

In case anyone wonders what an iron lung looks like. . .

Chris the Cop

Unfortuntely, no one with FDR's afflictions could be elected today. Every president since Carter has had to at least appear physically robust.

And the the press would never stop themselves from portraying a crippled President in as helpless a position as possible. These are the same bunch who could not resist showing the first President Bush (admittedly, no FDR but a decent man nevertheless) throwing up on the Prime Minister of Japan.


The Heretik

The chin and the cig and the hat were nothing compared to that flash of teeth. The grin wins.

Mike Schilling

We know what would happen if a disabled Democrat ran for president -- Limbaugh would imitate him.

Kevin Wolf

I, too, think everybody knew (and that the national discourse was a helluva lot more polite then).

I'm thinking of the joke in Woody Allen's Sleeper in which the Dear Leader of the future is basically FDR - identified that way in the film at least partially by his wheelchair.

No one would have got the joke in the 70s if, as kids probably, they hadn't known of FDR's condition.

mac macgillicuddy

Some years ago I had occasion to get into the Governor's Mansion in Albany, N.Y., and see some of the non-public spaces. There is an indoor swimming pool there, and an elevator (which is why I was at the mansion, but that's not the story), both installed by Roosevelt for the sake of his therapy and mobility.

Another tidbit: When they designed the Roosevelt Memorial for the D.C. Mall, you'll recall that many people argued over whether or not his statue should be seated in a wheelchair. Just as many people argued FOR the wheelchair because it served as an inspiration. They settled on a compromise: the wheelchair is there, but the cloak cloaks it.

Dan Cerone

So, linkmeister, are you saying Ford did not appear physically robust, or does history only extend as far back as your memory?

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