The book “In the Shadow of FDR” shows how the next eight presidents used the influence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his office to shape their presidential years. The author discusses how he influenced their domestic and foreign policies, their campaign styles and strategies, and their perceptions of the presidential office. In the section I chose to research Reagan once a Roosevelt admirer, used his large knowledge of FDR quotes to suggest that the two presidents shared the same ideas. The authors believed this to be somewhat comic and astonished that he even tried to make such a connection. “Nothing appeared more preposterous than Reagan’s claim of kinship with FDR.” (209).
The author gave more weight to his beliefs when he wrote, “Reagan had, after all, first come to national political attention in 194 as a Goldwater partisan delivering “the Speech,” a diatribe against the New Deal and all its offspring, and ever since he had been the lodestar of the anti-Roosevelt Right” (209). Before 1964 had been an outspoken opponent of The Tennessee Valley Authority. So when Time did its piece on Reagan they felt it was “awkward” and a far reach for people to connect the two as one during his acceptance speech. “an awkward reach even for a candidate striving for Democratic votes,” and that Hugh Sidey remarked, “When Dutch stood there the other night in his Eastern Establishment dark suit, giving a speech that could have been written by a Democrat and invoking the ghost of F.D.R. in the name of the Republican Party, some of us had to pinch ourselves.” (210).
No one should have felt surprise the author felt because of Reagan’s fondness for using Roosevelt’s quotes quite often. This only enhanced the point the author was making when showing how FDR’s presence has been seen for the past eight presidencies. Reagan cited Roosevelt three times when he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination and opened his presidential campaign in New York he quoted another Roosevelt saying, “A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny” (210).
Leuchtenburg, William E. In the Shadow of FDR. New York: Cornell University Press. 1983
Reference Chosen: #2, pg. 209-210, Notes, pg. 322. Time, July 28, 1980
Time Magazine Article:
Monday, Jul. 28, 1980
We Had to Pinch Ourselves
By Hugh Sidey
Now the nation must get serious about Ronald Reagan, and it may not be all that easy.
For a few of us he has been around almost forever. His was the voice of the Big Ten football games coming out of the maw of the cathedral radio from station WHO in Des Moines during the depths of the Depression. Some of his major league baseball broadcasts, with vivid descriptions of crowds and players, with soaring enthusiasm at the crack of the bat, turned out to be faked in the Iowa studio, which was the way it was done in those days. But by the time we found out, he was in Hollywood, which made “Dutch” Reagan seem just that much more talented.
From the dying Gipper at Notre Dame to George Custer in Santa Fe Trail, Reagan floated through our lives as a two-dimensional celluloid diversion. He never seemed to change much even when he became Governor of California. There he was in his white suit, eating jelly beans. Old Dutch was fun.
When he took to national politics there still was something unreal about him. He was a nice guy in an airplane, with a pretty wife, bumping around the country, dismayingly pleasant, shuffling his file cards and giving audiences his rouser on family and freedom. A lot of people thought that one morning they would wake up and he would be gone, back with his old footage on one of those sunny hills where aging actors go to wrinkle, with only their memories watching.
So when Dutch stood there the other night in his Eastern Establishment dark suit, giving a speech that could have been written by a Democrat and invoking the ghost of F.D.R. in the name of the Republican Party, some of us had to pinch ourselves.
Reagan is for real. But one must wonder sometimes if he totally understands that, or understands the deadly game he has just joined. Demonstrating that he has three dimensions and that he is serious about governing is Reagan’s greatest challenge. He is a far piece from WHO and those ice cream sports jackets that Governors wear and even the fantasyland that was operating in Detroit.
The Reagan hard core of course was there with shining eyes, their enduring faith only deepened and hardened. But beyond convention euphoria, a lot of Americans still are tentative in their belief, as measured by the pollsters and by almost anyone traveling this country in the past few days. It is Reagan against a mean world now, not just out to capture the ears of burned-out farmers or the romantic urges of adolescent movie addicts.
There are a couple of things going for him. The conservatism found in the convention hall may be something new in this nation. The body of this Republicanism came there out of personal experience and alarm, driven to conservatism and Reagan not by birthright but because of the tax burden, Government regulations, inflation and interest rates, fear of another war. If they reflect the majority of this nation, then Ronald Reagan has only to preach his gospel and to keep smiling and he could win.
And once again as events swirled through Detroit we saw the pervasive power of the electronic media in public life. It may be that in our time no man can either achieve the office or be an effective President without being at least half actor, able to get the nation’s attention and educate and inspire those who stop to listen. We know Reagan is at least half actor. But, to steal the title of his autobiography, Where’s the Rest of Me?
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