Letter to the California Progress Report -September 9, 2008


Letter to the California Progress Report –September 9, 2008

Column by Irwin Novick “Happy Days are Here Again, the Resurgence of FDR.”


Thank you Mr. Nowick!

FDR was the single greatest elected politician in modern history and was
able to overcome the devastating physical challenge of Polio. He was a vigorous
man who overcame a lifetime of sickness. He had wonderful mentors, Theodore
Roosevelt, Al Smith, and Woodrow Wilson. He took something from all of them,
and was smart enough to avoid the problems they all experienced. He shaped his
own destiny, built the new Democratic Party, halted the panic that paralyzed America after four years of Depression, created
the New Deal, and led America
towards recovery. He was labor’s greatest friend, created social safety nets
for the average American. He restored faith in the market places, the banks and
government. He created the Social Security, and rebuilt America’s
devastated middle class. He was one of our greatest conservationists and he
brought electricity to parts of rural America that had been ignored for
200 years.

He rallied the public, instilled great respect from the world at large, and
inspired great enemies and opposition. He took on the Fascists when America wanted
no part of that fight, created the United Nations, and built the “Arsenal
of Democracy.” Through his actions at the Atlantic Conference in Argentia Bay, he put forth his vision of the
world based on the “Four Freedoms.” His vision is the vision of
today’s modern world; his vision is of the world community pulling together for
the common good. FDR had to withstand an “American First” style isolationism
that cut across almost all social and political barriers and subgroups. FDR had
to use his unequaled mastery of the America
political landscape to, on one hand, re-arm America, and on the other hand,
battle the limitations of our Neutrality Laws and the passion of people like
Charles Lindbergh, who were his most vocal critics.

FDR mobilized the American economy in an unprecedented way, as we fought an
effective and remarkable two-ocean war. He selected and appointed our excellent
overall leadership with his Joint Chief’s Command, led by Admiral William D.
Leahy, who coordinated the activities of Generals Marshall and Arnold along
with Admiral King. FDR's selections, in all of the theaters of his
responsibility, of MacArthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, reflected excellent and
carefully thought out judgment. Their choices of subordinates, which included
Bedell-Smith, Clark, Bradley, Patton, Hodges, Simpson, Eaker, Doolittle,
Stillwell, Halsey, Spruance, Vandergrift, Smith, Lemay and many others spelled
eventual success. His speeches and cool leadership gave the people confidence
after Pearl Harbor and the loss of the Philippines. FDR's leadership of
the wartime conferences at Argentia Bay, Quebec, Casablanca,
Teheran and Yalta
were the driving force behind victory and the post-war dominance of the West.
His sponsoring of the Bretton Woods Conference had the most lasting effect on
the future world's economies vis-à-vis monetary stability. All in all FDR's
domestic leadership before and during the war were unprecedented. The late
President, the architect of victory, won a hard earned election in 1944, with
excellent majorities in Congress, even with his health suffering from advance
heart disease and arterial sclerosis. One of FDR’s final achievements was the
“GI Bill,” which brought educational benefits, training and opportunity to

He was able to maintain his majorities in Congress all through his tenure in
office, and even though the Democrats narrowly lost Congress in 1946, they
quickly recovered their majorities until the Eisenhower landslide of 1952. But
from 1954 until the 1980's the FDR-New Deal coalition of Democrats maintained
Congressional hegemony.

FDR's legacy was one of not only unprecedented leadership, but of government
innovation, reform and restructuring. Both have great-unequaled places in the
history of our world and our time. Not only did James McGregor Burns write his
wonderful book, “FDR, The Lion and the Fox,” but he followed it up
with the award-winning, “FDR, The Soldier of Freedom.”

Both books still make great reading. FDR is the most written about man in
history, and I had the pleasure of being at the Roosevelt Summer reading Fest
at Hyde Park, NY this past June 21st. It was hosted by the
FDR Library under the wonderful leadership of Ms. Cynthia Kock. I also had the
pleasure of having a number of the authors there that day as a guest on my
radio show, “The Advocates.” One can hear the broadcasts of those
shows by accessing its archives at http://advocates-wvox.com.

Richard J. Garfunkel
Tarrytown, NY


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