Magazine July 12, 2021, Issue

FDR’s Tory Pragmatism

FDR in 1938 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division/Harris & Ewing Photograph Collection)
The Left and the Right both get him wrong

In a 1936 New Yorker cartoon, Peter Arno depicts a quartet of upper-crust characters stopping before a well-heeled house where fellow toffs in evening dress are dining. “Come along,” one of the quartet says. “We’re going to the Trans-Lux to hiss Roosevelt.”

The 32nd president was not in good odor with the WASP gentry of the Thirties, but he has, if anything, been even more loathed by the modern Right. Yet a conservative today who goes beyond the ahistorical abstractions in which so much of the debate about FDR is carried on and looks at the actual circumstances in which he

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Michael Knox Beran — Mr. Beran is a lawyer and writer. His book WASPs: The Splendors and Miseries of an American Aristocracy is to be published in August.

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