Wednesday, January 07, 2004

At the moment I'm reading a book about FDR's presidency, and I read a story last night that I thought I'd post here. The book makes no bones about FDR's personal and political failures or about his (at times) conservative politics. So it's not as if I worship the man as a saint--but many of his accomplishments were heroic. So when, by coincidence, I read this morning about an effort to replace FDR (founder of the March of Dimes) with--ugh!--Reagan on the dime, I couldn't have been more appalled. (As if we don't see Reagan's name enough when travelling in the U.S.)

At any rate, here's the anecdote from the book (p.122-3):

He directed one of his notable explosions of anger against someone who had violated his code. It came in 1943, in the wake of Sumner Welles's resignation from the State Department. Welles had been Roosevelt's most valued contact in the department and, like him, a gentleman of patrician background. Welles resigned following a scandal caused by reports that he had solicited sexual favors from a railroad porter. Prominent among those who had spread the story was William C. Bullitt, a man of similar social position and a long-time friend of Roosevelt and rival of Welles. Roosevelt summoned Bullitt to the White House and ordered him to stand in place and fixed him with a glare. "Saint Peter is at the gate," he began. "Along comes Sumner Welles, who admits to human error. Saint Peter grants him entrance. Then comes William Bullitt. Saint Peter says: 'William Bullitt, you have betrayed a fellow human being. YOU CAN GO DOWN THERE.'" With that he told Bullitt that he wished never to see him again.


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