TIMING IS EVERYTHING (Sunday Reading: 2/17/19)

Sorry for the lack of posting this week. Winter blahs. (Yep, even in Florida.)

What I have been doing is reading a lot, with my attention now turning, as it often does, towards WWII. It’s mostly Nazis and wannabes, but I was struck by this passage on a Saturday night. Since I have to work Sunday, I’m getting the Sunday reading in a few hours early:

He (FDR) was still popular, of course, with millions of voters, particularly those who’d been aided by his economic and social policies. But an increasing number of Americans seemed to be tiring of him and the New Deal, which, although it had alleviated many of the problems of the Depression, had not come up with a solution for ending it. “The President’s leadership in domestic affairs had accomplished everything that he could accomplish,”  Attorney General Robert Jackson later remarked. “I do not think there would have been any justification for a third term on the basis of his domestic program.”

In the 1938 congressional elections, Republicans had picked up eight governorships, eight seats in the Senate, and more than eighty seats in the House. According to polls in the spring of 1940, the Republicans showed more strength than Democrats in a majority of states. “The shift toward the GOP is now so marked that nothing short of a Rooseveltian miracle . . . can save the election for the Democrats.” Time concluded in April.

Hitler’s invasion of Western Europe provided that miracle.

(Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight over World War II, 1939-1941, Lynne Olson, 2013)

One of the books I’m co-reading is Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, which takes place in an alternate universe where Charles Lindbergh becomes President in 1940 (and sides with the Nazis).  It’s well -written. Roth had, by then, pruned his generation’s tendency to use eight adjectives where one would do. But it’s pure fantasy. Roosevelt’s opposition in 1940 turned out to be Wendell Wilkie, who had as much political experience as Donald Trump and snatched the Republican nomination out of thin air because–and only because–he was the only  GOP candidate who was as staunchly interventionist as Roosevelt.

When the Chinese and the Russians are dividing up everything west of the Rockies in about twenty years, I only hope somebody will be willing to do for us what both the major party nominees of 1940, and, ultimately, even Charles Lindbergh, were willing to do for France.

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