Sunday, September 15, 2013

Presidential Character: Week Thirty-Two, The Two Faces Part Two

This is the follow-up to the first parter posted earlier.

Previously, on Presidential Character:
"Cut the red wire!  Cut it!"
"You don't go telling me how to stop a madman!  I'm the only one who thinks like he does!  Don't stop me here!  Or we're ALL DEAD!"
"The car's going over the cliff!  JUMP!"
"Are you telling me I'm the father?  I'M THE FATHER?"
"Mr. Worf.  FIRE..."
"Who ordered the pizza?" (explodes)

...what, had to be done.

By 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt had served two full terms and by tradition was expected to "retire" from the Presidency to allow another candidate - Democrat or Republican by this point in the two-party system - the chance to lead.  But 1940 wasn't a normal year by any measure.

There was another world war.  Less than a generation after the Great War that Wilson sought to be the last.  And unlike the last war which focused mostly on Europe and the Middle East, this was truly a world war: Germany razing across Europe, Italy flailing across the Mediterranean and Africa, Japan marching across China and Asia.  And in most respects it wasn't the good guys winning the battlefields.  You had the fascists of Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Italy turning Europe into dictator-held hell, and the militaristic Japan leaving massacres in their wake in China.

While the trauma of the Great Depression was still affecting the United States, it was expected that the next President would either continue Roosevelt's work or the Republican come in on his own agenda.  In that regards there was no reason for Roosevelt to try for a third term.  He could have easily picked a successor from his administration who shared his goals and moved on. 

Why did Roosevelt go for a third term?

The official reason was World War II, and the fact that Roosevelt and most of the Democratic Party leadership did not trust the Republicans (who as a party were leaning Isolationist even against Great Britain) to do the right thing.  And their polling was telling the leadership that FDR was the surest way to keep the Republicans out of the White House.

But here's the truth.  A lot of it had to do with FDR's Active-Positive traits.  In certain personalities it leads to a kind of recklessness where tradition and expectations take a backseat.  Any other character trait in the office at that point in time - especially a Negative - would have stuck to tradition.  A Passive-Positive might have been talked into it, but only if there were no other voices in the party threatening to rock the boat.

While the 1940 election still went for FDR, there were now the present worries about the war storm.  The United States had remained neutral but the pressures to get involved were enormous.  The nation remained divided over the issues and with a strong pro-Bundist movement supporting Germany alongside the isolationists there was little FDR could do to help England, standing alone (at the time) against the German juggernaut.

FDR got around it with a Lend-Lease program that still upset the isolationists but basically avoided direct involvement in the war.  With regards to what was going on in the Pacific, there wasn't much the United States could do about Japan outside of boycotting and setting up oil embargoes to crimp Japan's war machinery.

In this, FDR shows the first face of the Active-Positive, thinking out solutions to achieve the long-term goal of being there for England when the United States would get dragged into the war (Nazi Germany's aggressiveness - seriously, going to war against the Soviets?  In WINTER? - made this a near certainty).  The Adaptive confidence of getting things done.

However, the reaction to the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7 1941 shows FDR's darker A-P habit of overreach.  With Japan aggressively attacking the United States, the fear of the Pacific coast being vulnerable became a sudden possibility.  And with the fear of hidden saboteurs (one of the Nazis' best tricks was getting Fifth Columnist/Quislings to betray nations from the inside), Roosevelt went with one of the sorrier national security plans our nation signed off on.

We interred - basically imprisoned without evidence - 150,000 Japanese Americans, about 2/3rds of them full-fledged citizens. Wanna know how bad this was?  J. Edgar Hoover, himself a trampler of civil liberties, thought it was a bad idea.  This fear is usually something you see out of an Active-Negative?  Why did an Active-Positive sign off on it?

The Overreach that A-P Presidents indulge.  FDR had to be convinced this was something legal and legitimate, that it would settle the fears of residents on the West Coast, and at the time it had that effect.  But the long-term consequences were not, are not ever a consideration for A-Ps.  'Tis the pity, because in the long-term the nation had to pay reparations and had to recognize that it made the United States look hypocritical as an Arsenal of Democracy jailing innocent families and kids.

With regards to the management of the war effort overall, Roosevelt left it to the generals he could trust, and worked amicably with his major ally Winston Churchill from England.  He overtrusted Stalin too much, but that was more a matter of hindsight, and with Soviet Russia a needed ally to trap Hitler's Germany between two fronts it was necessary to make that deal with this particular devil.

By 1944 Roosevelt running for a fourth term was pretty much anticlimactic.  We were still in the war, the economy had finally been fixed by the massive wartime stimulus, and there wasn't any reason to throw the Democrats out of the White House.  The only big issue FDR had to worry about was his health.  He was clearly getting sicker and the leadership worried about the Vice Presidency (for probably the first time ever).  Disregarding the current Veep Wallace who was openly Far Left, they sought out the best likely replacement for FDR, someone recognized as a fervent New Deal supporter but also a solid war backer and personally incorruptable.

They went with some guy named Truman.

Next: Serving Crow Since 1948.

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