FDR v. Bush 3-19-04 Letter to the Times

March 19, 2004


The New York Times:

To the Editor:


In today’s NY Times, Mr. David Brooks writes in his column “Too Quiet on the Home Front” about President’s Bush’s so-called compassionate conservative” agenda and its obvious inconsistencies. But recently, with the introduction of the use of September 11th imagery, in President Bush’s re-election advertising campaign, a flurry of controversy has been stirred. As a consequence of that political debate, a comparison, no matter how invidious has arisen between the wartime Presidencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush. Because of the national emergency and threat that World War II posed, President Roosevelt rushed to bring bi-partisanship into his administration by naming to the key posts of Secretary of War and the Navy two eminently powerful and renown Republicans, Henry L. Stimson and Frank Knox. Neither man was known to be an ally or political supporter of the President. He also filled key roles in his administration with other Republicans and business leaders. He understood the need to bring production people onto his team. FDR virtually abandoned his New Deal domestic agenda with his “Dr. Win the War” proclamation. He understood most pointedly that we could not have “guns and butter.”  FDR also put in programs to control prices, ration valuable resources and institute withholding taxes to pay for the war. The amount of taxpayers grew from 3.9 million in 1939 to 42.6 million in 1945. Even though we accumulated massive debt, and the war effort was more than 90% of our GNP, we were able to put in place a world monetary policy at the Bretton Woods Conference. That all-important meeting would shape and create the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development that helped guide the economies and the recovery of the post-War world. FDR also created the concept of the Allies as the United Nations. The coalition he authored prosecuted successfully the world’s most devastating struggle into total and unconditional victory.


George Bush, on the other hand, has sought no bi-partisan support, has fractured the unity of our western alliances, has watched our dollar crumble in value, has mismanaged our debt structure, and has undercut all of the international bodies that took decades to strengthen and nurture. Even though he has tried to link the brutal, and not lamented dictatorship of Sadaam Hussein to Al Quieda, and the war upon terrorism, there is slight evidence that they were ever connected. He has justified a war against Iraq from the earliest days of his administration, while ignoring international terrorism until the disaster of 9/11. With this policy he has alienated our traditional friends, spread thin our manpower resources to dangerous levels, and created new an unacceptable addition to our national debt. Unlike FDR, he has not tried to support the cost of this war, but has placed its burden on unborn generations. Unlike the unified domestic home front of World War II, we here have a divided nation that is being constantly assaulted by a divisive domestic agenda of tax giveaways to the super rich, erosion of personal liberties, confusion over immigration, high job loss, record trade deficits, a health care system out of the reach of multi millions, spending out of control, a “real” unemployment rate approaching 10%, and an erosion of the “establishment” clause, regarding the separation of church and state.


Richard J. Garfunkel


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