The Wit of Franklin Roosevelt

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:03:26
Year Produced: 2009
Description:

Politicians can survive all sorts of attacks--but suffer seriously when people make fun of them. Among the frequent targets of Franklin Roosevelt's wit were his political opponents, particularly hapless Republicans.

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Transcript

Lead: Politicians can survive all sorts of attacks--but suffer seriously when people make fun of them. Among the frequent targets of Franklin Roosevelt's wit were his political opponents, particularly hapless Republicans.

Intro: A Moment In Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Few would accuse FDR of excessive humility. His ego and self-confidence were enormous. They had survived a rocky marriage, electoral defeat, years in the political wilderness and, above all, the deep depression after poliomyelitis gave him a pair of almost useless legs. His supreme confidence in the face of adversity was a powerful source of encouragement to many in a nation which people felt was handicapped by the Great Depression. One of the ways he lifted people's spirits was through humor. Often the targets of his humor were conservative Republicans.

In 1940 Roosevelt ran for a third term. No President had attempted to serve longer than eight years. To deflect attention, he went after the reactionary political leaders who had opposed the New Deal and at that point were resisting his attempts to challenge Hitler. Speaking before the Teamster's convention on October 30, 1940, he turned the names of three Republican congressmen into an alliterative chant:

". . . He is one of that great historic trio which has voted consistently against every measure for the relief of agriculture--Martin, Barton and Fish."

Roosevelt's humor endeared him to millions. They laughed and they voted.

The producer of A Moment In Time is Steve Clark. At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.