Pride, Prejudice, and Politics: Roosevelt Versus Recovery, 1933-1938

By Gary Dean Best | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 1
Dramatis Personae

THE PRESIDENT

It was very difficult not to like Franklin Delano Roosevelt. By all accounts he could display immense personal charm, and his radio voice, especially, was nearly irresistible. Caricaturist Peggy Bacon described Roosevelt as follows: "Head like a big trunk, battered by travel and covered with labels, mostly indecipherable. . . . Bright, direct look, the frank, clear gaze of craft. Clever as hell but so innocent." 1 Florence Kerr recalled her first meeting with Roosevelt, how he had instantly put her at ease by calling her by her first name and bantering with her.

Seated at the desk he was a handsome man, broad shouldered, big head, strong arms and so on. None of his weakness and fraility was visible. . . . and, of course, a voice which was really Heaven's gift. What a voice! And the only person I know who could read as though he were talking. The Fireside Chats were read. But they sound as though he was just talking to you. 2

Roosevelt projected a gaiety, an enthusiasm, and a zest for life that was infectious.

One cannot say too much about the appeal of Roosevelt's voice and his skillful use of radio. A New Dealer recalled of the 1932 campaign:

Late one night I turned on my radio, which I didn't listen to very much. Everybody else in the house was in bed, and in the far distance I heard a clear, beautiful voice which attracted my attention. I sat down and waited until the end of the apparently political

-1-

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