• Re: H.W. Brands, *Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical

    From Steve Hayes@21:1/5 to All on Fri Jan 7 04:39:28 2022
    XPost: alt.history

    On Thu, 6 Jan 2022 14:12:25 -0800 (PST), Jeffrey Rubard <jeffreydanielrubard@gmail.com> wrote:


    Franklin Roosevelt’s Sunday morning began as most of his Sundays
    began: with a cigarette and the Sunday papers in bed. He wasn’t a
    regular churchgoer, con?ning his attendance mainly to special
    occasions: weddings, funerals, his three inaugurations. In his youth
    and young adulthood he had often spent Sundays on the golf course, but
    his gol?ng days were long over, to his lasting regret. This Sunday morning–the ?rst Sunday of December 1941–he read about himself in the papers. The New York Times gave him the top head, explaining how he
    had sent a personal appeal for peace to the Japanese emperor. Neither
    the Times nor the Washington Post, which provided similar coverage,
    included the substance of his appeal, as he had directed the State
    Department to release only the fact of his having approached the
    emperor. This way he got credit for his efforts on behalf of peace
    without having to acknowledge how hopeless those efforts were. The
    papers put the burden of warmongering on Japan; the government in
    Tokyo declared that its “patience” with the Western powers was at an
    end. Heavy movements of Japanese troops in occupied
    Indochina–movements about which Roosevelt had quietly released
    corroborating information–suggested an imminent thrust against
    Thailand or Malaya.

    Sharing the headlines with the prospect of war in the Pacific was the
    reality of war in the Atlantic and Europe. The German offensive
    against the Soviet Union, begun the previous June, seemed to have
    stalled just short of Moscow. Temperatures of twenty below zero were
    punishing the German attackers, searing their flesh and freezing their crankcases. The Germans were forced to find shelter from the cold; the
    front apparently had locked into place for the winter. On the
    Atlantic, the British had just sunk a German commerce raider, or so
    they claimed. The report from the war zone was sketchy and
    unconfirmed. The admiralty in London volunteered that its cruiser
    Dorsetshire had declined to look for survivors, as it feared German
    submarines in the area.

    Roosevelt supposed he’d get the details from Winston Churchill. The
    president and the prime minister shared a love of the sea, and
    Churchill, since assuming his current of?ce eighteen months ago, had
    made a point of apprising Roosevelt of aspects of the naval war kept
    secret from others outside the British government. Churchill and
    Roosevelt wrote each other several times a week; they spoke by
    telephone less often but still regularly.

    An inside account of the war was the least the prime minister could
    provide, as Roosevelt was furnishing Churchill and the British the
    arms and equipment that kept their struggle against Germany alive.
    Until now Roosevelt had left the actual ?ghting to the British, but he
    made certain they got what they needed to remain in the battle.

    The situation might change at any moment, though, the Sunday papers
    implied. The Navy Department–which was to say, Roosevelt–had just
    ordered the seizure of Finnish vessels in American ports, on the
    ground that Finland had become a de facto member of the Axis alliance.
    Navy secretary Frank Knox, reporting to Congress on the war readiness
    of the American ?eet, assured the legislators that it was “second to
    none.” Yet it still wasn’t strong enough, Knox said. “The
    international situation is such that we must arm as rapidly as
    possible to meet our naval defense requirements simultaneously in both
    oceans against any possible combination of powers concerting against

    Roosevelt read these remarks with satisfaction. The president had long
    prided himself on clever appointments, but no appointment had tickled
    him more than his tapping of Knox, a Republican from the stronghold of
    American isolationism, Chicago. By reaching out to the Republicans–not
    once but twice: at the same time that he chose Knox, Roosevelt named
    Republican Henry Stimson secretary of war–the president signaled a
    desire for a bipar­tisan foreign policy. By picking a Chicagoan,
    Roosevelt poked a ?nger in the eye of the arch- isolationist Chicago
    Tribune, a poke that hurt the more as Knox was the publisher of the
    rival Chicago Daily News.

    Roosevelt might have chuckled to himself again, re?ecting on how he
    had cut the ground from under the isolationists, one square foot at a
    time; but the recent developments were no laughing matter. Four years
    had passed since his “quarantine” speech in Chicago, which had warned against German and Japanese aggression. The strength of the
    isolationists had prevented him from following up at that time, or for
    many months thereafter. But by reiterating his message again and
    again–and with the help of Hitler and the Japanese, who repeatedly
    proved him right–he gradually brought the American people around to
    his way of thinking. He persuaded Congress to amend America’s
    neutrality laws and to let the democracies purchase American weapons
    for use against the fascists. He sent American destroyers to Britain
    to keep the sea lanes open. His greatest coup was Lend- Lease, the
    program that made Amer­ica the armory of the anti- fascist alliance.
    He had done everything but ask Congress to declare war. The Sunday
    papers thought this ?nal step might come soon. He knew more than the
    papers did, and he thought so, too.


    But there was something he didn’t know, or even imagine. Roosevelt was
    still reading the papers when an American minesweeper on a predawn
    patrol two miles off the southern coast of the Hawaiian island of
    Oahu, near the entrance to Pearl Harbor, spotted what looked like a
    periscope. No Amer­ican submarines were supposed to be in the area,
    and the minesweeper reported the sighting to its backup, the destroyer
    Ward. The report provoked little alarm, partly because Hawaii was so
    far from Japan and partly because Pearl Harbor’s shallow bottom seemed suf?cient protection against enemy subs. Some of?cers on the Ward
    questioned the sighting; eyes play tricks in the dark. Perhaps there
    was an American sub in the area; this wouldn’t have been the ?rst time overzealous security or a simple screwup had prevented information
    from reaching the patrols. In any event, the Ward responded slowly to
    the asserted sighting and spent most of the next two hours cruising
    the area and discovering nothing.

    While the desultory search continued off Oahu, Roosevelt in Washington
    pondered the latest diplomatic correspondence. American experts had
    cracked Japan’s code more than a year earlier; since then Roosevelt
    had been secretly reading over the shoulder of the Japanese
    ambassador. Yesterday evening– Saturday, December 6–he had read a long message from Tokyo to the Japanese embassy. The message answered an
    ultimatum from Roosevelt, coming after many weeks of negotiations with
    the Japanese, in which the president insisted that Japan give up the
    territory it had seized in Southeast Asia and disavow designs on more.
    The Saturday message from Tokyo left no doubt that the Japanese
    government rejected the president’s ultimatum.

    “This means war,” Roosevelt told Harry Hopkins, his closest adviser
    and constant companion these days. Hopkins agreed. Hopkins added that
    since war had become unavoidable, there would be advantages to
    striking the ?rst blow.

    Roosevelt shook his head. “We can’t do that,” he said. “We are a democracy and a peaceful people.” He paused. “We have a good record.”

    But there was something strange about the Saturday message. The
    introduction explained that it contained fourteen parts, yet only
    thirteen were included. The ?nal part had been withheld until this
    morning, Sunday. A courier brought it to the White House just before
    ten o’clock. Roosevelt read it quickly. It said what anyone could have inferred from the previous parts: that Japan was breaking off the
    negotiations with the United States. The Japanese ambassador was
    instructed to deliver this news to the State Department at one o’clock
    that afternoon. The precision of the instruction was unusual. Why one o’clock? The most probable answer appeared to be that the delivery
    would coincide with the expected Japanese attack against Thailand or

    At six o’clock Hawaiian time–eleven o’clock in Washington–a task force of six Japanese aircraft carriers turned into a stiff wind three
    hundred miles north of Oahu. The ships and their four hundred
    warplanes constituted the most powerful naval strike force ever
    assembled till then–a fact that made it all the more remarkable that
    the carriers had managed to slip away from Japan and steam for eleven
    days toward Hawaii undetected by American intelligence or
    reconnaissance. Nor did any Americans see or hear the wave after wave
    of torpedo planes, bombers, and ?ghters the carriers launched into the
    predawn sky. The planes formed into assigned groups and headed south.

    Roosevelt frequently took lunch at his desk in the Oval Of?ce, and he
    did so this Sunday. Hopkins joined him. They were eating and
    discussing the crisis in the Paci?c and the war in Europe when a radar
    station on the north shore of Oahu detected signals on its screens
    unlike anything the operators had ever observed. Radar was a new
    technology, introduced in Hawaii only months before. The operators
    were novices, and their screens had often been blank. But suddenly the
    screens lit up, indicating scores of aircraft approaching Oahu from
    the north. One of the operators telephoned headquarters. The duty
    of?cer there told him not to worry. A reinforcement squadron of
    American bombers was expected from California; the headquarters of?cer
    assumed that these were the aircraft on the north shore radar screens.

    Roosevelt and Hopkins had ?nished eating when the ?rst wave of
    Japanese planes approached Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt had a mental image
    of Pearl, as he had visited the naval base early in his presidency.
    But it had grown tremendously in the seven years since then. It
    boasted one of the largest dry-docks in the world, a rail yard with
    locomotives and cars that moved freight between the berthed vessels
    and various warehouses, a factory complex that could fabricate
    anything needed to maintain or repair a ship, tank farms with fuel
    enough for extended campaigns across the Paci?c, a midharbor naval air
    station on Ford Island to defend the base and the ships, a naval
    hospital to treat the sick and wounded, barracks for the enlisted men
    and civilian personnel, and other support facilities along the harbor
    and in the surrounding area.

    But the heart of Pearl Harbor was “Battleship Row,” on the east side
    of Ford Island, where seven of America’s greatest warships were moored
    this Sunday morning. An eighth was in the drydock. These vessels, the
    pride of America’s Paci?c ?eet, embodied a generation of efforts to
    secure America’s national interest in the western ocean. Their
    construction had begun on the Navy Department watch of Franklin
    Roosevelt, who as assistant navy secretary from 1913 to 1920 had
    employed every means of patriotic persuasion, bureaucratic guile, and
    political ?nesse to augment America’s naval power. The Arizona, the
    Oklahoma, the Tennessee, and the Nevada, now gleaming in the Sunday
    morning sun, were his babies, and no father was ever prouder.

    All was calm aboard the battleships as the Japanese planes approached
    the base. The sailors and civilians on the ships and ground initially
    mistook the planes for American aircraft. When the sirens wailed a
    warning, most within earshot assumed it was another drill. But as the
    Japanese ?ghters screamed low over the air?eld, stra?ng the runways
    and the American planes on the tarmac, the reality of the assault
    became unmistakable. Some Americans on the ground thought they could
    almost reach out and touch the rising sun painted on the wings of the
    Japanese aircraft, so low did the ?ghters descend; others, with a
    different angle, could peer into the faces of the Japanese pilots
    through the cockpit windows as the planes tore by.

    The Japanese ?ghters suppressed any defensive reaction by American
    aircraft, guaranteeing the attackers control of the air. The Japanese
    bombers and torpedo planes concentrated on the primary targets of the operation: the American battleships. The torpedo planes approached low
    and ?at, dropping their munitions into the open water beside
    Battleship Row. The torpedo war­heads contained a quarter ton of high explosives each, and the torpedoes’ guidance systems had been
    specially calibrated for Pearl’s shallow waters. The American crewmen
    aboard the battleships saw the torpedo planes approaching; they
    watched the torpedoes splash into the water; they followed the trails
    from the propellers as the torpedoes closed in on the ships. With the
    ships motionless and moored, and the surprise complete, there was
    nothing the seamen could do to prevent the underwater missiles from
    ?nding their targets. The California took two torpedo hits, the West
    Virginia six, the Arizona one, the Nevada one, the Utah two. The
    Oklahoma suffered the most grievously from the torpedo barrage. Five
    torpedoes blasted gaping holes in its exposed port side; it swiftly
    took on water, rolled over, and sank. More than four hundred of?cers
    and men were killed by the explosions, by the ?res the torpedoes
    touched off, or by drowning.

    The destruction from below the surface of the harbor was complemented
    by the Japanese bombers’ attacks from high overhead. Dive bombers
    climbed two miles into the sky to gain potential energy for their
    bombing runs; the Americans on the ground and ships heard their rising
    whine long before the planes burst through the scattered clouds and
    released their munitions upon the ships and the facilities on shore. Conventional bombers dropped their pay­loads from a few thousand feet
    in elevation; what those on the ground and ships ?rst heard of these
    was the whistling of the armor-piercing bombs as gravity sucked them
    down. The misses were more obvious at ?rst than the hits; geysers of
    water spewed into the air from the physical impact of the errant
    bombs. The ones that hit their targets disappeared into the holes they
    punched in the decks, hatches, and gun turrets of the vessels. Only
    when they had plumbed the depths of the ships did they detonate, and
    even then the overburden of steel muf?ed and shrouded their

    But the explosions were more destructive for being contained. Nearly
    all the battleships sustained severe bomb damage; by far the worst
    befell the Arizona. Several bombs set it a?re and triggered a massive
    secondary explosion that split its deck and burst its hull. More than
    a thousand seamen died in the ?res and blast, and the vessel settled
    on the harbor bottom, its superstructure still burning ferociously
    above the waterline.


    Roosevelt had finished lunch by now. He received a call from the State Department informing him that the Japanese ambassador had postponed
    his visit until two o’clock. The president was pondering this new
    wrinkle when the Oval Of?ce phone rang again. It was Frank Knox, who
    said the Navy Department had received a radio report from Oahu, where
    the American commander was advising all stations that an air raid was
    under way. “This is no drill!” the commander emphasized.

    Harry Hopkins reacted the way nearly every other knowledgeable person
    did on hearing the report. “There must be some mistake,” Hopkins said. “Surely Japan would not attack in Honolulu.”

    Roosevelt was as astonished as Hopkins. He had expected an attack on
    Thailand or Malaya, conceivably the Philippines. But not Hawaii.
    Hawaii was too far from Japan, too far from the Dutch East Indies,
    whose oil was the chief object of Japan’s southward expansion, and too
    well defended.

    Yet the president listened calmly to the news. Now that he thought
    about it, the very improbability of an attack on Pearl Harbor must
    have made it appealing to the Japanese, who had a history of doing the unexpected. He assumed that the American forces at Pearl would acquit themselves well.

    If the report from Hawaii was true, Roosevelt thought, it made his job
    easier. He had been prepared to ask Congress for a war declaration in
    response to a Japanese attack against Southeast Asia. He had believed
    he could get a declaration, but because that region meant little to
    most Americans, he knew he would have to work at it. Now that American territory had been attacked, he would hardly have to ask.

    He called the State Department, where the Japanese ambassador and an
    associate had just arrived for the ambassador’s postponed meeting.
    Roosevelt spoke with Cordell Hull, the secretary of state. “There’s a report that the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor,” Roosevelt said.

    “Has the report been con?rmed?” Hull asked.


    Hull agreed with Roosevelt that the report was probably true, but he
    didn’t mention it in his meeting with the two Japanese diplomats. By
    now the timing of the original appointment was obvious: it had been
    intended to coincide with the onset of war between Japan and the
    United States. The postponement remained a mystery. The Japanese
    diplomats said nothing of the events in Hawaii, but the secretary’s
    knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack colored his response to the note
    the diplomats handed him, the intercepted version of which he had read previously. “In all my ?fty years of public service,” Hull said,
    letting his anger rise as he spoke, “I have never seen a document that
    was more crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions–infamous
    falsehoods and distortions on a scale so huge that I never imagined
    until today that any government was capable of uttering them.” He
    ordered the Japanese diplomats from his of?ce.


    The bombing and stra?ng continued for more than an hour and a half.
    Many of the Japanese bombers made multiple passes before dropping
    their ordnance, as the broken clouds and then the heavy smoke blocked
    their view of their targets. The ?ghters crisscrossed the area, too,
    in their case to machine- gun sailors in the water, soldiers and
    civilians ?eeing burning buildings, and aircraft and facilities they
    had missed or not aimed at before. The Americans now returned the ?re,
    with modest success. Anti-aircraft guns brought down two dozen of the
    more than three hundred attacking planes. As the Japanese planes
    crashed to earth and sea, their hurtling wreckage added to the

    By quarter to ten, the last of the Japanese planes ran out of bombs
    and am­munition and turned away to the north. Their pilots looked back
    and down upon a remarkable morning’s work. The placid scene of resting
    power that had greeted their approach had become a burning, bloody
    chaos; the core of America’s mighty Paci?c ?eet was a ruin of twisted
    steel, ?aming oil, ?oating bodies, and battered pride.


    Roosevelt now knew that the initial reports were accurate, as he had
    expected. What he hadn’t expected, and what shocked him far more than
    he let on, was how much damage the attack did. The initial notice had
    suggested a raid, but this was far more than a raid. It was a major
    strike with potentially strategic implications. And the American
    defenders had been caught inexplicably unready. The news from Hawaii
    remained incomplete, but each additional report revealed an unfolding

    At three o’clock Washington time, as the Japanese planes were clearing Oahu’s north shore en route to their rendezvous with their carriers, Roosevelt convened a meeting of his principal diplomatic and military
    advisers. Cordell Hull, Frank Knox, and Henry Stimson were there,
    along with Admiral Harold Stark, the chief of naval operations, and
    General George Marshall, the army chief of staff. The mood was grim
    but determined. For months all had expected war; now all exhibited a
    certain relief that it had ?nally come. All were stunned by the manner
    in which the ?ghting had commenced; all anticipated a long and
    dif?cult, though ultimately successful, struggle.

    Roosevelt asked Marshall about the disposition of the army in the
    Paci?c and particularly of the army’s air forces in the Philippines.
    Marshall said he had ordered Douglas MacArthur, the commanding general
    in Manila, to take every precautionary measure. The president directed
    that the Japanese embassy in Washington and Japan’s consulates in
    other cities be protected against vigilante violence and that Japanese
    citizens in the United States be placed under surveillance. He
    rejected a military cordon around the White House but ordered Stimson
    and Knox to safeguard America’s arsenals, private munitions factories,
    and key bridges.

    Roosevelt told the group he would go to Congress the next day. Cordell
    Hull recommended a detailed description of Japan’s history of
    aggression in Asia and the Paci?c. Roosevelt rejected the advice. His
    statement would be succinct, he said. The only thing that mattered at
    the moment was that Japan had attacked America and killed many

    As the group dispersed to carry out his orders, Roosevelt dealt with
    messages and queries that arrived by phone, cable, and courier.
    Winston Churchill called from England. “Mr. President, what’s this
    about Japan?” the prime minister asked.

    “It’s quite true,” Roosevelt answered. “They have attacked us at Pearl Harbor. We are all in the same boat now.”

    “This certainly simpli?es things,” Churchill said.

    During the course of the afternoon, new information detailed the
    disaster in Hawaii. Five battleships had been sunk or were on ?re and
    sinking. Several other vessels had been destroyed or seriously
    damaged. More than a hundred aircraft had been blasted beyond repair.
    More than two thousand sailors and soldiers had been killed, and more
    than a thousand others wounded. Late in the afternoon, word arrived
    that Japanese planes had attacked American bases in the Philippines
    and, despite Marshall’s warning to MacArthur, in?icted heavy damage.

    Calls came from the Justice and Treasury departments, where of?cials
    needed guidance on how to respond to the apparent state of war with
    Japan. Press secretary Stephen Early ran in and out of the Oval Of?ce,
    relaying information from the president to reporters. Harry Hopkins
    recommended a meeting of the full cabinet and a presidential brie?ng
    of the congressional leadership. Roosevelt summoned Grace Tully, his
    personal secretary, and dictated a draft of the message he would
    deliver to Congress the next day.

    The cabinet gathered at half past eight in the Oval Of?ce. The
    department secretaries crowded around the president’s desk, feeling
    the weight of history on their shoulders. Roosevelt reinforced the
    feeling by describing the session as the most important cabinet
    meeting since Lincoln had convened his secretaries at the beginning of
    the Civil War.

    Roosevelt read the group the draft of his message to Congress. Hull
    complained that it was too short and unspeci?c. The president ignored

    At nine-thirty the congressional leaders arrived. Roosevelt explained
    the situation in the Paci?c. He formally requested the opportunity to
    speak to Congress the next day. A time was set: half past noon. The
    lawmakers asked whether the president would seek a war declaration. He
    said he hadn’t decided.

    They didn’t believe him, and he didn’t expect them to. He realized
    that if he acknowledged a decision for war, the news would be all over Washington within minutes of the legislators’ leaving, and all over
    the world within hours. He didn’t want to preempt himself or slight

    The lawmakers were ready to declare war even without a presidential
    re­quest. Tom Connally of Texas emerged from the White House demanding vengeance against the Japanese.“Japan started this war in treachery,” Connally said. “We will end it in victory.” Warren Austin of Vermont considered war a foregone conclusion. “Of course it’s war,” Austin
    said. “I can’t see any other sequel.” Harry Byrd of Virginia vowed to “wipe Japan off the map.”

    Even the isolationists supported war. Robert Taft of Ohio
    characterized a war declaration as necessary and inevitable. Arthur
    Vandenberg of Michigan had previously charged Roosevelt with trying to
    take America to war and had criticized him harshly. “But when war
    comes to us,” Vandenberg now said, “I stand for the swiftest and most invincible answer.” New York’s Hamilton Fish promised to address
    America from the ?oor of the House of Representatives and urge the
    people to unite behind the president. “And if there is a call for
    troops,” Fish said, “I expect to offer my services to a combat


    The American people reacted more slowly. Most had followed the
    grow­ing crisis in Asia with varying degrees of concern but also with
    the knowledge that previous crises had come and gone without
    entangling America directly. Most had expected that this crisis too
    would pass. The small number paying the closest attention had, with
    Roosevelt, supposed that the Japanese would attack somewhere; with
    Roosevelt nearly all of these imagined the blow would fall on Thailand
    or Malaya. Almost no one considered Hawaii a likely target.

    The news from Pearl Harbor shocked the nation. The ?rst reports
    reached Seattle and San Francisco as churches were emptying from
    morning services; congregants shared the ill tidings in shocked
    whispers. The news caught Kansas farm families sitting down to midday
    dinner; fathers and mothers looked at their teenage sons and suddenly
    saw soldiers about to be sent overseas. The news arrived in Chicago at
    halftime of a football game between the hometown Bears and the
    archrival Green Bay Packers and made the game seem suddenly
    unimportant. The news halted tourists in Manhattan’s Times Square,
    where they huddled against the December chill to read the sobering
    bulletins crawling along the headline tickers. In Boston the local CBS
    radio af?liate interrupted its review of the year’s top stories to
    break the story that outdid them all.

    For the rest of that day and through the night, Americans listened and
    waited. They listened to their radios to learn the extent of the
    damage. How many ships had been lost? How many servicemen killed? They
    waited to hear what the disaster meant. Would it be war? Surely yes,
    but what kind of war? War against whom? Japan, of course, but Germany
    as well? War for how long? To what end?

    Their questions extended to the person who would provide them the
    be­ginning of answers. All knew the aspect Roosevelt presented to the
    public. How could they not know the face and voice of the man who had
    served longer than any other president in American history? Yet few
    professed, and none convincingly, to fathom the mind and heart, the
    motives and inspirations, that lay beneath and behind this familiar

    Not that people didn’t form opinions–strong opinions. His enemies excoriated him as a communist and damned him for disregarding property
    rights and violating the canons of the capitalist marketplace. The
    wealthy de­nounced him for having betrayed the class of his birth.
    Time magazine devoted a lead article to the “burning bitterness” the better-off felt for Roosevelt. “Regardless of party and regardless of region,” the Henry Luce weekly asserted, “today, with few exceptions, members of the so- called Upper Class frankly hate Franklin
    Roosevelt.” Their hatred was heightened by their confusion as they
    re?ected on Roosevelt’s apostasy. Why did he do it? What could have
    converted this scion of privilege into a radical critic of the
    established order?

    Roosevelt’s friends were no less mysti?ed. They applauded his
    boundless energy, his unsinkable optimism, his bold willingness to
    employ the engines of government to tackle the social and human
    consequences of the worst industrial depression the nation had ever experienced. But they too wondered at the sources of his governing
    philosophy. What traumas or epiphanies had transformed a Hudson Valley patrician into a champion of the common people of America? Those on
    the inside scratched their heads, and sometimes tore their hair, at
    his leadership style, which set aides against aides, cabinet
    secretaries against cabinet secretaries, and the Democratic party
    against itself. After more than eight years they remained astonished
    at his ability to make visitors to the White House come away thinking
    he had agreed with whatever they had told him, without in fact his
    agreeing to anything.

    Mostly they marveled at the calm he exuded at the eye of one storm
    after another. The signature line of his ?rst inaugural address–that
    the only thing America had to fear was fear itself–had seemed a
    rhetorical ?ourish when inserted into the text, a brave but
    essentially empty effort to calm the country at the most dangerous
    moment of its worst ?nancial crisis. But once those words were spoken,
    in his steady, con?dent tenor, and after they ?ashed across the radio
    waves to every neighborhood, village, and hamlet in the country, they
    magically acquired a substance that soothed the worst of the fears and
    allowed the president and Congress to pull the ?nancial system back
    from the brink.

    The insiders knew something of the source of his con?dence. They knew
    how his golden youth of wealth, travel, and athletic vitality had
    segued into a charmed young adulthood of political preference and
    rapid advance–and how the brilliant career had been cut short,
    apparently, by a devastating attack of polio. Crushed by despair, he
    had clawed his way back to hope; struck down physically, he gradually
    regained his feet. He reentered the political arena, a fuller man for
    what he had lost, a deeper soul for what he suffered. His touch with
    the people seemed surer than ever, his voice more convincing. The
    people responded effusively, electing him governor of New York twice,
    then president overwhelmingly. They applauded his performance on their
    behalf and reelected him by a still larger margin. And after another
    four years they de?ed historical precedent and conventional wisdom to
    reelect him again. It was a record to imbue anyone with con?dence.

    Yet much of the mystery remained. He was gregarious, genuinely
    enjoying spirited conversation and the company of others. But the
    substance of the conversations ?owed in one direction; though he
    talked a lot, he gave nothing away. Not even his wife–his companion
    and ally of thirty- six years– professed to know his mind. He rarely
    read books other than dime mysteries, so his tastes in reading
    furnished few clues. He kept no diary. His letters were singularly
    opaque. He spoke with journalists more often than any president in
    American history, yet though his remarks treated policy in detail,
    they revealed little of the policy maker. His speeches evinced his
    devotion to democracy, to fair treatment of ordinary people, and to
    American national security, and did so with passion and eloquence. But
    the wellsprings of that devotion, the source of that passion, remained
    hidden. He seemed to like it that way.


    Roosevelt left the White House at noon on Monday, December 8, for the
    mile- and- a- quarter drive to the Capitol. His Secret Service
    contingent, mustered to maximum strength and tuned to a quivering
    degree of suspicion, scowled at the masses that lined both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue. After yesterday, who knew what form the enemy
    might take? The scores of thousands, however, registered only support
    for the president. They cheered, not lustily, not even
    enthusiastically, but with a strangely moving somberness.

    His car pulled close to the rear entrance of the House chamber. In his
    early days in politics he would leap from his car at every opportunity
    to shake hands and kiss babies. Now he had to be lifted into a

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