Responding to the “outrage” over the Bush campaign’s use of images of 9/11 in campaign ads, the Washington Post’s David Broder asked the right question: What would FDR do?
Or rather, What did FDR do? Broder and researcher Brian Faler went to the archives for FDR’s 1944 campaign, three years after Pearl Harbor.
“What you learn from such an exercise,” writes Broder, “is that Bush is a piker compared to FDR when it comes to wrapping himself in the mantle of commander-in-chief.”
FDR even delivered his acceptance speech for the nomination from the San Diego Naval Station. “The war waits for no election,” he said. FDR had skipped the convention but wrote a letter saying that, though “all within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River,” his duties as commander-in-chief meant, “I have as little right to withdraw as the soldier has to leave his post in the line.”
“If FDR’s politicizing of his wartime role seems blatant,” writes Broder, he was a piker compared Oklahoma’s Governor Robert Kerr, the keynote speaker at the convention.
“How many battleships would a Democratic defeat be worth to Tojo?” he asked. “How many Nazi legions would it be worth to Hitler?…We must not allow the American ballot box to be made Hitler’s secret weapon?”
Can you imagine the outrage if the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention asked who Osama wants for president?