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Never has F.D.R. Spoken to Me – but On One Point He Does So Now

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I have never been a fan of Franklin Roosevelt. His presidency, in my view, made America a worse [2] place [3] than it would have been had the chief occupant of the White House in the 1930s [4] been someone more in the mold of Grover Cleveland [5] or Calvin Coolidge [6]. What I know of F.D.R. as a person [7] is also unflattering. He was a venal opportunist, and sometimes cruel [8].

Yet earlier today, as I walked alongside a lake in northern Virginia, one of the most famous of F.D.R.’s many well-turned phrases sprung to mind as I watched people, several of whom were wearing masks and young enough to be my children, spring away from me as if I were a werewolf.

“Omigosh, F.D.R. was correct after all,” I thought, “and perfectly so, at least on one narrow but important point: ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.'”