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

By Gary Dean Best | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Megalomania and Mindlessness

GRAND DREAMS, UNPLEASANT REALITIES

More so even than in the previous four years, 1937 would find serious questions raised concerning Roosevelt's mind and character--particularly his ability to grasp reality, and what an increasing number of observers would perceive as a megalomania that seemed to be pushing him relentlessly in the direction of dictatorship. Treasury Secretary Morgenthau was a ringside observer to these growing tendencies in Roosevelt. On January 4, 1937, he recorded in his diary a conversation with the president, in which Roosevelt discussed his "big idea"-- his belief that international cartels should be established in various commodities.

I asked the President whether this had anything to do with the idea he had a couple of years ago where he was going to divide the world up into different production areas. He said, "No, this idea superseded that one." He pictures himself as being called in as a consultant of the various nations of the world. He said, "Maybe I can prescribe for their ailments or, after making a study of their illnesses, I will simply turn up my nose at them and say, 'I am sorry--I cannot treat them.' For example, I would tell England that she had too many people and she should move out ten million of her population. I would take a look at each country and, of course, when we made them disarm we would have to find new work for the munition workers in each country and that is where this international cartel would come in and your job would be to handle the finances.1

With such adolescent and megalomaniacal daydreams was the Roosevelt mind preoccupied as 1937 began. In the midst of the concern of those in the Treasury and the FRB, as well as outside the administration, that the nation faced the

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