Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the United States of America.
The wealthy and patrician New Yorker, whose New Deal policies helped pull the U.S. out of the Great Depression and laid the foundation for much of its existing social policy, was the guy in charge the year I was born.
Roosevelt died before I was old enough to savour any of his reassuring “fireside chats” on the radio, but he and his wife, Eleanor, remained beloved figures in our Canadian household. For the record, FDR was also widely reviled by many of his fellow citizens.
He was succeeded in 1945 by Harry Truman, who embodied the “show-me” skepticism of his home state of Missouri. Although he was responsible for the only wartime use of nuclear weaponry, he also opened the doors for the U.S. to play a positive role internationally.
While Truman was blunt and ascerbic, his successor came across as comfortably bland. Dwight D. Eisenhower was a genuine war hero, but also the one who issued an unequivocal warning to be wary of the “military-industrial complex”.
Between “Ike” and “the Donald”, our southern neighbours sent their first Roman Catholic (#35), first Quaker (#37) and first African-American (#44) presidents to the White House. Not to mention a certified movie star (#40).
Among the 14 presidents who have held office in my lifetime so far have been some remarkable and inspiring men. And, yes, all U.S. presidents so far have been men, which says something disturbing about a nation whose population is more than 50 per cent female.
There have also been various duds, bores, hopeless romantics, crooks, cheats, prevaricators, do-gooders and do-nothings. I’ll leave it to your imagination which commanders-in-chief I would put into which category.
The youngest person ever sworn in as U.S. president was 43-year-old Teddy Roosevelt. At 70 years and a few odd months, Trump is the oldest. Not that age matters one way or another to a fair-minded Geezer.
Recently, the U.S. officially installed its 45th president. I can say without fear of contradiction that he is truly one of a kind.
Instead of radio chats from a mythical fireside, or savvy use of the “cool” medium of television, his preferred method of mass communication is 140-character outbursts from we don’t want to know where.
Like Eisenhower, he has never held public office before. Unlike Eisenhower, he has never worn his country’s uniform. Unlike Woodrow Wilson, he has never been called an intellectual; unlike Jimmy Carter, he has never been accused of modesty.
Many, many other things make President #45 unique. Discretion suggests a quiet withdrawal from the debate is now in order, perhaps with a cryptic reminder of that so-called “Chinese curse”:
We definitely live in interesting times.