by Jack Le Moine
From the latest happenings in things historical. This article Chris Matthews on Hillary’s ‘Secretive’ Reputation: Well, FDR Was Too was published 16 days ago in Mediaite. It described Christopher Matthews of MSNBC using Franklin D. Roosevelt’s example of secrecy to excuse Hillary Clinton’s use of e-mails. The video is at the link.
Presidents have used FDR’s example for secrecy and more importantly, his deviousness to inadvertently hurt their administrations for decades now.
In the run-up to World War II, FDR tried to have it both ways, pleasing both isolationists and interventionists.
- FDR based his 1940 re-election on a guarantee to the American people that he would keep America out of World War II. At the time he made his guarantee, the Germans had already conquered Poland, Denmark, Norway, and France. The Battle of Britain was on. At the same time he defended his programs of military preparedness.
- He asked Americans to support Lend-lease to Britain while also asking them to think only neutral thoughts of the combatants.
Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon tried to follow FDR’s example for the Vietnam War but without FDR’s skill and his substantive reasons for acting that way. Vietnam was a different situation that WWII.
FDR governing style of misdirection and deception in war was not just in foreign affairs but in the other policy areas of his administration. His successors admired and attempted to build on that kind of governing style to their detriment. For Lyndon Johnson, “The Credibility Gap” became his worst problem creating many other problems for him and his administration.
For the Clintons of today, it is time at long last to let go of this particular part of the Franklin D. Roosevelt legacy.