2
The White House Goes into Business

IT IS NOW NECESSARY TO PAUSE FOR A MOMENT TO HAVE A LOOK AT the White House and its tenants. The result of this inspection cannot possibly be very agreeable to Americans. As men rise the steep ascent of public life the people instinctively expect from them a progressively more exacting code of public and private conduct. At the top, the White House is held to the highest standard of all. It must be so. The standards of conduct of the President and his family will inevitably shape the conduct of all the orders and levels of public office below them. The nation elects the President. It does not elect his wife or his children. But an unwritten law, rooted deeply in the mores of the people, demands of the President's wife the same high ethical standards as it does of him. There can be no such thing as the President putting his conscience in his wife's name. This canon of noblesse oblige extends its reasonable requirements over the President's whole immediate family. And it must be said for the long line of men and women who have lived in the White House that, so far as their immediate families were concerned, they have sustained the high tradition.

The Roosevelt family entered the White House under the universal assumption that they represented the very best in the traditions of an American family. They were descended from a long line of supposedly fine stock. They were wealthy. Thse President himself had inherited from his father and step-brother around $600,000. He was an only son and his mother was worth more than a million.

He was supposed to be a reformer. While he was Governor of New York the country was seemingly shocked by a long series of

-235-

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The Roosevelt Myth
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