Monday, 7 January 2013

Want to Know about FDR? Read a Book

Friends--Old Lefties like us--suggested we take in "Hyde Park on the Hudson," a film about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a distant cousin and affairs of state. It sounded like a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, followed by good conversation over supper.

My one visit to Hyde Park 20 years ago was a very moving experience. I'd grown up hearing from my parents how the New Deal saved the world, and when we were there, Bill Clinton had just been elected president, so our hopes were high for a new day of progressive ideas.

But the movie was a disapointment. It  has far less politics than I would have liked, unfortunately. And if you want to know more about FDR and his amazing wife Eleanor, read Joseph P. Lash's masterful biography Eleanor and Franklin.

There is a certain in irony in mentioning FDR and Clinton in the same post, though: a good part of "Hyde Park on Hudson" hinges on the extra-marital, somewhat sexual relationship FDR had with a number of women.  No one officially knew about them at them at the time, any more than FDR's paralysis was every pubicly commented upon.  But the movie would have us think that what Clinton did was no that much different from what FDR did.  The question, as always, arises: when should a private  life become public.   

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