The Critical Press and the New Deal: The Press Versus Presidential Power, 1933-1938

By Gary Dean Best | Go to book overview

Epilogue: The Psychology
of Disability

FDR AND DISABILITY

New Deal historians and Roosevelt biographers have applauded FDR's activism and leadership, without confronting the issue of where his activism and leadership would have led the country had he not been stopped by the press, the Supreme Court, and, eventually, the Congress. Richard Neustadt has written: "No President in this century has had a sharper sense of personal power, a sense of what it is and where it comes from; none has had more hunger for it, few have had more use for it, and only one or two could match his faith in his own competence to use it."1 If not checked by outside forces, is not the end result of such a "hunger" for power the establishment of dictatorial rule? If so, why ignore the implications of this Rooseveltian characteristic and honor him, instead, as a "liberal"?

How can one account for this "hunger" for dictatorial power by Franklin Delano Roosevelt? One possible explanation lies in the president's handicap. It is difficult to read the accounts contained in several Roosevelt biographies of his first day in the presidential office without concluding that Roosevelt's mental attitude must surely have been affected by his paralysis. That first day, described most floridly by Kenneth Davis, found Roosevelt alone at his desk, unable to move from it, and without any apparent means of calling for assistance. After experiencing feelings of utter isolation and helplessness, he finally summoned the presence of mind to shout for help. 2 The president of the United States, commander-in-chief of all the armed forces, director of a federal bureaucracy that reached into every hamlet, and with a sizable White House staff at his disposal, "could not," as Davis put it, "have moved himself physically from

-153-

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The Critical Press and the New Deal: The Press Versus Presidential Power, 1933-1938
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • The Critical Press and the New Deal xvii
  • Chapter 1 the Use and Misuse of the Press I 1
  • Chapter 2 the Use and Misuse of the Press II 19
  • Chapter 3 the Honeymoon of the Hundred Days 35
  • Chapter 4 Increasing Doubts 49
  • Chapter 5 a Marriage on the Rocks 61
  • Chapter 6 a Bitter Divorce 79
  • Chapter 7 Name Calling 93
  • Chapter 8 Assault and Defense 113
  • Chapter 9 a Shoulder to Lean On 131
  • Conclusion 147
  • Epilogue: the Psychology of Disability 153
  • Notes 167
  • Bibliography 189
  • Index 193
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