Reformist presidents and upper-class ingrates

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This quote from Richard Hofstadter’s The American Political Tradition, by way of historian Eric Rauchway, is awfully interesting:

He was surprised and wounded at the way the upper classes turned on him…. Consider the situation in which he came to office. The economic machinery of the nation had broken down…. People who had anything to lose were frightened; they were willing to accept any way out that would leave them still in possession…. Although he had adopted many novel, perhaps risky expedients, he had avoided vital disturbances to the interests. For example, he had passed by an easy chance to solve the bank crisis by nationalization…. His basic policies for industry and agriculture had been designed after models supplied by great vested-interest groups. Of course, he had adopted several measures of relief and reform, but mainly of the sort that any wise and humane conservative would admit to be necessary….

Nothing that [he] had done warranted the vituperation he soon got in the conservative press or the obscenities that the … maniacs were bruiting about in their clubs and dining-rooms. Quite understandably he began to feel that the people who were castigating him were muddle-headed ingrates.

He’s talking about FDR, of course. It made me think of a dinner party a couple of weeks ago with a Wall Street friend who complained that Barack Obama was out to get him and his kind. “What?!?!” I said. “He’s doing what he can to protect you from the baying wolves.”