Magazine article Insight on the News

Democrats Don't Recall FDR's 'Promises'

Magazine article Insight on the News

Democrats Don't Recall FDR's 'Promises'

Article excerpt

Byline: Ralph de Toledano, INSIGHT

Perhaps Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts should study the Democratic past. It might temper their demonizing attacks on President George W. Bush and inject some decency into their political rhetoric. It also would remind them of the mote in their collective eye.

They are giving their tonsils a workout, accusing Bush of having "lied" to the American people about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and his economic program. Their research would introduce them to lies of vast proportions. To wit: Franklin D. Roosevelt's pledge, made "again and again and again," that no American boys would be sent overseas to fight in a foreign war a pledge made at a time when he was working secretly with Winston Churchill to involve us 100 percent in Europe's hostilities.

Today's Democratic leaders have far more on their plate than FDR's wartime prevarications. Belaboring Bush for his economic program, they demonstrate what can be described as a vast ignorance of the Democratic past, or deliberate obfuscation, to be charitable about it. Let me remind them.

When Roosevelt ran for president in 1932, he had made a record of a proposed program that the American people believed reflected his honest convictions. Walter Lippman, the great liberal guru, wrote that FDR's "mind is not very clear, his purposes are not simple and his methods are not direct" a polite way of saying he was deceptive.

FDR pleaded for states' rights and warned eloquently against centralization of power in the hands of the federal government. "The doctrine of regulation and legislation by 'masterminds' ... has been too glaringly apparent at Washington during the [Republican administrations]," the sage of Hyde Park opined. "Were it possible to find ... men almost godlike in their ability to hold the scales of justice with an even hand, such a government might be in the interests of the country, but there are none such on our political horizon."

The Democratic Party and FDR ran on a promise of the "immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures" by reducing the bureaucracy "to accomplish a saving of not less than 25 percent in the cost of the federal government." He fulfilled this promise by adding 100,000 bureaucrats to the federal payroll, not counting those on relief, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Public Works Administration.

FDR and the Democrats promised a balanced budget, and commensurate taxation. …

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