FDR’s Last Days

NY Review – The Heights of Charm

This is a shocker – one of the many, many things Americans should know about, but will strongly resist knowing. Self-deception is native to the human race – but Americans have perfected it to an art. With FDR as one of its leading proponents.

Here is a quote about the selection of a vice-president:

The choice turned out to be Harry Truman, of course, but the how and why of the Truman selection has always been a bit of a mystery. Books have been written about it and there are so many variations and contradictions that a precisely accurate account is unlikely ever to be had.

This reflects Roosevelt’s preferred way of operating. He liked to promote confusion, uncertainty, and misunderstanding among colleagues and friends. It was his way of “keeping his options open,” a Washington phrase that means never letting anyone know what you are going to do until you have done it. Conforming to this principle, Wallace’s demise was never announced. Wallace himself did not grasp the bad news until the nominating convention met weeks later. Political news like this was spread soundlessly in the subtle gestures and attitudes that were the political brotherhood’s silent language.

Roosevelt’s doctors get roasted also. They knew he was a dying man. But this news was suppressed – just as the news about Hillary’s pneumonia recently. We like to think our political leaders will live forever.

My father also had heart disease in the Sixties – but it was never diagnosed, or treated. It was considered a disease too shameful to be discussed.

Our bodies and our minds are not closely connected.


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