A date in two presidencies

On Jan. 6, 1941, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke to congress for his 10th State of the Union address.

Roosevelt’s speech flipped between foreboding and reassurance. An optimist by nature, saw this country as the white city on a hill promised to future generations in our founding documents. A realist by nurture, he saw what was happening in Europe and Asia as a true threat to our ideals.

I suppose that every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world — assailed either by arms or by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace. During 16 long months this assault has blotted out the whole pattern of democratic life in an appalling number of independent nations, great and small. And the assailants are still on the march, threatening other nations, great and small.

Roosevelt, who was moving us toward war with Europe’s Axis Powers faced backlash from the America First crowd of Henry Ford and Co. He was addressing their concerns as he moved forward, including:

No realistic American can expect from a dictator’s peace international generosity, or return of true independence, or world disarmament, or freedom of expression, or freedom of religion — or even good business.  Such a peace would bring no security for us or for our neighbors.  Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

He then added:

As a nation we may take pride in the fact that we are soft-hearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed.  We must always be wary of those who with sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal preach the “ism” of appeasement.  We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests.

Roosevelt was also assuring our allies abroad.

Let us say to the democracies: “We Americans are vitally concerned in your defense of freedom. We are putting forth our energies, our resources, and our organizing powers to give you the strength to regain and maintain a free world. We shall send you in ever-increasing numbers, ships, planes, tanks, guns. That is our purpose and our pledge.”

He would go on to discuss the Four Freedoms.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.

The entire speech is powerful. Of course, we should – no, we must – hold Roosevelt responsible for not living up to those ideals when he signed the order to send Japanese Americans to internment camps. It truly was one of the most grievous mistakes any president has ever made.

This doesn’t excuse Roosevelt’s shameful action, but there truly isn’t a president who didn’t make grievous mistakes. But the point is Roosevelt was far and away one of our greatest presidents despite the internment atrocity.

Which brings us to Jan. 6, 2018.

Here is Herr Trump’s powerful rhetoric from the morning, arriving to the American public through the president’s favorite mode of communication: Twitter.

Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence………Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star………Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star…..

That’s one for the history books, folks.

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A date in two presidencies

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